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In this chapter the difference between the modal verbs 'can' and 'could' will be explained. These verbs are always used together with another verb.
'Can' is a modal verb that can be used to express ability, permission, possibility, request or offer. The following tables show the usage of the modal verb 'can'
|Abiliity||I can dance.|
|Permission||Can I go to my friends today?|
|Possibility||It can be very hot in the summer here.|
|Request||Can you help me?|
|Offer||Can we help you?|
'Could' is a modal verb that can be used to express ability, permission, possibility, request or offer.The following tables show the usage of the modal verb 'could'.
|Ability||I could speak English.|
|Permission||He could go to the city center his mom said.|
|Possibility||It could be a nice party tomorrow.|
|Request||Could you give me the paper, please?|
|Offer||I could help you, if you want.|
'Could' is a form of the verb 'can' and they seem to be used the same way in the same situations. But these forms are not always used the same.'Could' is considered to be more polite than 'can'.
The table below shows the different uses of the verbs and shows what the difference between 'can' and 'could' is.
|Situation||Examples||Can vs. could|
||When talking about abilities, 'can' is used for the present or future and 'could' is used for the past.|
||'Can' and 'could' can both be used to ask or give permission, but 'could' is more polite.|
'Can' is used to make general statements and 'could' is used for:
||To use 'could' to do a request is more polite than to use 'can'.|
||Normally 'can I...' is used to make offers, but sometimes 'I can...' or 'I could...' are used.|
Practice your knowledge of 'can' and 'could' with the following exercises.
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