Can and Could

Can and could are present and past forms of can. Can is the most commonly used modal verb. We use can to express ability, possibility, impossibility, opportunity, to request and to offer permission. In this chapter, we shall learn the use of can and could to show ability, possibility and impossibility.

Use of can and could to show ability

We use can and could to tell about someone’s ability.

Here are some examples. Let’s have a look-

  • She can ride a bike like train.
  • I can speak four languages.
  • Girls can’t stay there for long time. (Ability to stay at a given time.)
  • She can go now but she can’t stay there.
  • They can’t sing well.
  • I can earn money if I do it seriously.

Use of could

  • She could ride a bike like train.
  • I could speak four languages.
  • Girls couldn’t stay there for long time. (Ability to stay at a given time.)
  • She could go then but she couldn’t stay there.
  • They couldn’t sing well.
  • I could earn money if I did it seriously.

Use of can and could to express possibility 

We use can and could to express the possibility of something.

Have a look-

  • We can go to the market today.
  • Anyone can become a prime minister.
  • I can participate in singing competition.
  • It can pour today.
  • We can lose our money at share market.
  • It can be very cold at the peak of mountain.

In past tense- could

  • We could go to the market that day.
  • Anyone could become a prime minister at that time.
  • I could participate in singing competition last year.
  • It could pour that day.
  • We could lose our money at share market.
  • It could be very cold at the peak of mountain.

Use of can and could to express impossibility 

We use can and could to express impossibility of something.

Have a look-

  • We can’t go to the market today.
  • Anyone can’t become a prime minister.
  • I can’t participate in singing competition.
  • It can’t pour today.
  • We can’t lose our money at share market.
  • It can’t be very cold at the peak of mountain.

In past tense – could

  • We couldn’t go to the market that day.
  • Anyone couldn’t become a prime minister at that time.
  • I couldn’t participate in singing competition last year.
  • It couldn’t pour that day.
  • We couldn’t lose our money at share market.
  • It couldn’t be very cold at the peak of mountain.

Switch from Use of can and could to Grammar index.