LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||16/MAR/2008 3:05 PM|
|Assunto:||could vs. was able to (HEY, DALE?????)|
Indeed if we are going to talk about COULD-CAN and ABLE TO we would write an entire book on this subject.
Thus, to make a long history short:
1-COULD is used as past tense of CAN (in indirect speech)
ex: He says he can speak English well. --> He said he could speak English well.
2-COULD can refer to past physical or intelectual abilities (though, these habilities may or may not exist in the present)
ex: When I was in senior high school, I could understand math well.
(not necessarilly means that I am not a skilled at math now, but people usually
assume that this ability no longer exist)
When she was younger, she could dance better than anyone.
(same above remark)
3-COULD is used to ask something to somebody (to make a request).
4-COULD is used in present, past , and future.
5-CAN is used only in present and future.
6-(be) able to... is possible instead of can, but CAN is more usual.
7-As CAN has only two forms, be able to provides the way to refer to abilities in other tenses:
ex: I can´t sleep. (present)
I haven´t been able to sleep recently (present perfect)
Tom can come tomorrow.
Tom might be able to come tomorrow. (can has no infinitive)
8-Still, as for CAN vs WAS ABLE TO; sometimes CAN is the past of can.
You use could especially with: see, hear, smell, taste, feel, remember, understand.
9-COULD, to refer to permission to do something.
ex: We could do what we wanted.
These are some aspects, but you should see more or in books or sites or Forums.
Good grammar books on the subject:
1-Michaelis inglês-gramática aplicada ed. Melhoramentos
2-English Grammar in Use -a self study reference and practice book for intermediate students, with answers. Author: Raymond Murphy -Cambridge Univ. Press.
Lots of luck, see you later.
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