Last week we had a look at how to use can. Today, let’s look at could. This word can be confusing because it has a few different uses and meanings, so let’s see how it’s used.
Could is used as the past of can in a negative sentence meaning ability.
- I couldn’t swim well when I was a kid.
- Jack couldn’t find his wallet this morning.
- Because of the heavy traffic, we couldn’t catch the flight.
However….when we talk about ability in a positive sentence in the past, we prefer to use was able to.
- I was able to find the jacket I was looking for.
- We were able to get on the next flight.
- Finally, Jack was able to find his wallet…it was in the washing machine!
Could is used to indicate possibility.
- They could be right. This dirt road looks a little unsafe.
- I would go if I could afford it.
- If Jack wasn’t busy he could help us with this project.
Could is used in making polite requests:
- Could I use the phone?
- Could we have some more coffee?
Could is used to indicate annoyance because of something that has not been done. The if condition is often unstated.
- They could have told me that they were coming late!
- We cold have gotten a free dessert!
Could is used to indicate a strong inclination to do something
- He irritates me so much that I could scream.
- This shelf was not installed properly. I think it could easily fall.
Do you know any other ways to use could? If so, leave me a message here.
If you know anyone who has trouble with this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them.
Thanks for studying today!