Children's, Intermediate and Advanced Online English Dictionary & Thesaurus

Dictionary Suite


grammatical pattern:
modal verb + bare inf.
part of speech: auxiliary verb
definition 1: used to express that there was ability to do something in the past, or that an action or state was possible in the past.
She could swim even as a young child.[modal verb + bare inf. ] Could you see the stage well from where you were sitting?[modal verb + bare inf. ] I couldn't sleep last night because of the noise.[modal verb + bare inf. ] He could be very kind at times.[modal verb + bare inf. ]
definition 2: used as a past form of "can" after verbs in the past tense that report speech or thoughts.
I can drive that truck, and I told him I could drive it![modal verb + bare inf. ] I knew you could succeed if you tried.[modal verb + bare inf. ]
definition 3: used in present or future time to talk about some action or state that is possible but not certain; often used in polite requests or offers.
Maybe I could do it tomorrow, but I can't promise right now.[modal verb + bare inf. ] Could you help me with this?[modal verb + bare inf. ] Could I speak to the doctor, please?[modal verb + bare inf. ] I could bring it to you now, if you'd like.
definition 4: used to express ability or possibility in the present or in the future under the condition that something else were to happen or were true.
If I ordered the parts today, I could fix your car next week.[modal verb + bare inf. ] If we made more money, we could live in a better place than this.[modal verb + bare inf. ]