602 – Using Could Have & Couldn’t Have – Past Modals In English

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Today, we’re going to look at could have and couldn’t have. Your English teacher probably calls these past modals. In general, we use could have and couldn’t have to talk about what was or what was not possible in the past. Knowing this grammar is important for you to be able to communicate effectively in English.

Here are the example sentences from this episode. To get the details of this English lesson, you need to listen to the podcast or check the transcript for the details.

  • I could have passed the exam.
  • Last night, I could-uh (could have) stayed up late, but I decided to go to bed early.
  • When I bought the car, the dealer could-uh (could have) charged the full price, but instead, she gave me a discount.
  • Dirk could have (could have) bought the book, but he borrowed it from the library instead.
  • I cooh-dih-nuh (couldn’t have) studied more because I had to work.
  • I cooh-dih-nuh (couldn’t have) gotten to work any earlier. There was an accident on the highway.
  • It’s too bad Jenny didn’t come to dinner with us last night. She cooh-dih-nuh (couldn’t have) come because she had a Zoom meeting with a client in Taipei. 
  • He could-uh got stuck in traffic.
  • No way! He cooh-dih-nuh (couldn’t have) gotten stuck in traffic because he commutes by train. He could-uh
  • Nah, he cooh-dih-nuh (couldn’t have) overslept because he plays tennis every Thursday before work.

If you know anyone who might be interested in this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them. Thanks for studying today!

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