“Can” and “could” are modal verbs that indicate possibility or ability. “Could” is often used as the past tense of “can,” but it can also be used to express possibility or to make a polite request.
Examples of “can”
- I can speak Spanish. (I have the ability to speak Spanish.)
- Can you pass the salt? (Do you have the ability to pass the salt?)
- It can be cold in the mountains. (It is possible for it to be cold in the mountains.)
Examples of “could”
- I could swim when I was a child. (I had the ability to swim when I was a child.)
- Could you lend me some money? (Do you have the ability to lend me some money?)
- It could rain tomorrow. (It is possible that it will rain tomorrow.)
Use of “can” with examples
- You can come with me if you want.
- I can help you with your homework if you need it.
- Can you pass me the salt, please?
- She can speak both French and Spanish fluently.
- Can I borrow your pen?
- He can run faster than anyone else in his class.
- Can we meet at the library later?
- We can go to the park if the weather is nice.
- Can you please turn off the light before you go to bed?
- She can play the piano beautifully.
- Can I have a piece of cake?
- They can finish the project on time if they work together.
- Can you tell me the way to the museum?
- We can have a barbecue in the backyard if you want.
- Can I use your phone to make a call?
- He can lift twice his body weight.
- Can we have a meeting at 2 pm tomorrow?
- She can sing and play the guitar at the same time.
- Can you give me a ride to the airport?
- We can go hiking in the mountains this weekend if the weather is good.
Use of “could” with examples
- I could go to the store for you if you need me to.
- You could try calling the customer service line for assistance.
- If you need help, I could come over and lend a hand.
- He could have taken the wrong exit on the highway.
- She could have left her phone at the office.
- They could have missed their flight due to traffic.
- You could use some extra practice before the test.
- I could use a cup of coffee right now.
- We could go out for dinner tonight if you’d like.
- You could ask your supervisor for clarification on the project.
- I’m not sure if I could run a marathon.
- You could try a different technique for solving the problem.
- I could meet you at the park in an hour.
- He could have forgotten his keys at home.
- She could have left her wallet on the kitchen counter.
- They could have arrived early for their appointment.
- You could ask your neighbor to borrow some sugar.
- I could use some help with the dishes.
- We could go on a hike tomorrow if the weather is nice.