Thank you for your questions. These past tense modals are useful for expressing your present feelings about a … I would buy a big house if I had a million dollars. Thank you. Examples: I was able to see the teacher well from my seat yesterday. (reported speech)– He hoped I would come. Could you tell me where the post office is, please? *to dive in to – this is an idiom that means ‘to start something’ and it generally implies enthusiasm. I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. Can you please explain the difference between could had/could have and would had/would have. (future in the past or reported speech)– She said she would write me soon. So, I will stop here and you can ask me any other questions you have about ‘could’ and ‘would’ in the comment box below! The definite here is that seeing Beth is a nice thing, the condition here is that there has to be enough time. when making a polite request in the form of a question (Example: Could you help me? In the present we use 'will' to talk about willingness (willingness means that … I could see the teacher well from my seat yesterday. They both have many uses, which makes them confusing for many beginning writers and English language learners. However, the two words carry other meanings too, in different contexts. (Here the verb BE is in its third form, also called: past participle) Examples: I could have been there on time if I had left home earlier. The two words, will and would, are often confused due to the appearing similarity in their meanings and usage. Would is also a verb with many senses. I could go on about these two modal verbs all day, but that would get boring after a while. ), Used to make a polite request. We could see Noah in the book of Genesis, Hi Gebriele, For example, you could say: As you can see, could is simply making a statement of ability. In other instances, could is a modal verb used to denote possibility. would = definiteness + desire. Sometimes many English learners are confused when would and could are used interchangeably in requests. ), Used to express what is supposed to happen (Example: Jane could be here as early as tomorrow. ‘Could’ is used to express possibility, while ‘would’ is used to express definiteness, as long as certain conditions are met. You could have gone to the park with your friends if you had finished your homework on time. In high school, I could dunk a basketball. One good example of this is the confusion about the usage and difference between could and can. Right now we are going to dive in to* the difference between ‘could’ and ‘would’ and when to use them. Let’s take the first of these two examples, In high school, I could do my homework on the bus. Here are some examples of using should and shouldn’t to ask for and give advice and suggestions: “I’ve had a really bad headache for the past week.” Knowing when to use the terms correctly is an important part of mastering the English language. Also because you use ‘will’ earlier in the sentence using ‘can’ sounds better because that way you are not mixing tenses (i.e. However, the word will is used in the case of future tense. These are truths in the past. ), Used to express that something is definite, but conditional. In these examples, the speaker is using would to express a past action, which is helpful when comparing would vs. could. In high school, I would do my homework on the bus. Keep in mind, the root words for ‘would’ and ‘could’ are ‘will’ (expresses definiteness) and ‘can’ (expresses possibility), respectively. Difference between Would and Could Key difference: ‘Would’ implies that something will most probably happen. I couldn't speak Spanish 6 years ago). The basic difference between will and would is the tenses in which they are used. Answer: "Would have" is used together with a main verb. Today we will take a look at the modal verbs could have, would have and should have. When I was in high school, I could do my homework on the bus. Use SHOULD and SHOULDN’T for advice. My question is that why we use can or could and we don’t use would in the following sentence : Could have + past participle 1: Could have + past participle means that something was possible in the past, or you had the ability to do something in the past, but that you didn't do it. (Example: Would you help me for a few minutes? (Example: We would visit my Grandmother every Saturday when I was younger. I am more used to see it spelled “Gabriel”. Wellbeing or Well-Being – Which is Correct? Is it could or would? Let’s take a closer look at how to use two common English modals: ‘could’ and ‘would’. I used to have a pet rabbit. Trick to Remember the Difference. Could is a verb with many senses. @Guillermo Guillermo, © 2021 Transparent Language, Inc. All Rights Reserved. If I were to take a vacation, it could be somewhere tropical, but it also could be somewhere cold—perhaps Colorado to go skiing. Differences between Can and Could In some cases, ‘ could’ functions as the past tense of ‘ can’ , but there are some important usage differences between the two. In my prime, I could bench press 250 pounds. not I would live in France. Part of the reason for this is that they can be used interchangeably some times, i.e. Would is the past tense of will, which denotes both ability and certainty. ). If I were to take a vacation, it would be somewhere warm and tropical. What does could mean? The simple answer is yes, you can interchange ‘can’ and ‘could’ in this sentence, but if you do there is a slight difference in connotation of the sentence. What does would mean? COULD is used in a question, which is not a real question, to ask somebody to do something in a polite way. “She would bake cookies for her grandchildren every Sunday.”. ‘Could’ and ‘would’ are both used to express conditionality, or the idea that something is not sure or definite, but they have slightly different connotations. What is the difference between "would have" and "would have been"? It's true these things haven't happened, but we can use other words and structures (e.g. This way, you will be able to see them in their proper context. Meaning and proper use of English words 'would', 'should' and 'could' have been discussed with example … ), Used to express a desire to complete an action. I would go to school everyday,when i was a student but i could not understand nothing. Or we could go shopping.” Would for imagining results “If I were rich, I would buy a boat.” Click here for more examples of the difference between should, could, and would. Let’s again look at the first example. I have just one question: Can I change the ‘can’ for ‘could’ in this sentence? In these examples, the speaker is using would to express a past action, which is helpful when comparing would vs. could. The main difference between used to and would is that used to can be used with both action verbs and stative verbswhereas would is only used with … But ‘could’ and ‘would’ are used in other ways, which are not interchangeable. The difference between should, could, and would is difficult for many English learners – this lesson will help you understand when to use each one!. Grammatically, it is identified as a helping verb. It was with great dismay that I found the following utterances (and many more like them) on the web: Additionally, I will show you a memory tool that can help you choose would or could correctly every time. Could and would are two such verbs. This won’t always get you to the right answer, but it should work most of the time. ), Used to express ability, but not desire. While I was working, I would go out to eat more frequently. You can use either ‘could’ or ‘was/were able to’ with some stative verbs (see, hear, feel, taste) to discuss ability related to a single event or incident in the past. ‘Could’ implies that something can happen, there is nothing stopping, but whether it will happen or not is unsure. They could have been married if … When you see "would have" in a sentence it means that the action didn't actually happen, because something else didn't happen first. can – will and could – would, usually go together in the same sentence or phrase). In both of these examples, could is expressing possibility: things that could have been true or things that could yet come true. Since both will and would have so many different senses, it can be difficult to remember when to choose which one. “COULD” is used as a more formal and polite form of “CAN”. (Example: I would like to finish my Masters by the time I am 30 years old. Would is also a modal verb used to denote possibility, and it often refers to something that is conditional but definite within those conditions. (Example: It would be nice to see Beth, if she has time to visit. “I will stop here and you COULD ask me any other questions you have about ‘could’ and ‘would’ in the comment box below!”. Although these two verbs can be used interchangeably in some cases, there are some differences between the two. I used to live in France. Both of these words start with the same letter as their root verb, which makes them easy to remember. ‘Could’ and ‘would’ are both used to express conditionality, or the idea that something is not sure or definite, but they have slightly different connotations. Can I say, “I would like to do it, but I’ll be punished” ? Thank you! So, add another modal, such as "could," to the sentence to see if it still makes sense. –. Conversely, would is making a definite claim. Hi, Gabriele. ), Used at times to express the idea of “used to” or past action. Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. This article will shed light on this topic. will, going to) for things that haven't happened, not only would. In this sense, could refers to some ability that someone had in the past. Could is also the past tense of can. “Could ‘A’ be the answer? To cope with such issue and to get an explicit idea about these Model Verbs, the underlying illustration would be of good help. Would is the past tense of will. It is also used for some conditional present and future tenses of can. "used to" vs. "would" Compare the following sentences: It will be somewhere tropical. In this article, we are going to look at this difference between used to and would. Can/ Could you tell me how to get to the mall? If you use ‘could’ you are implying more possibility and less certainty than if you use ‘can’. Examples: Can you make me coffee? Correct usage of 'would', 'should', 'could' in English language explained in Hindi. How to Remember the Difference . We could spend the day at the beach. If I were to take a vacation, it could be somewhere warm and tropical. (See also modals of ability.) Anyway, I would like to thank you for posting this useful differences of the two words. I simply had the ability to do so. Here is an example, I would buy a dishwasher if you ever cooked us anything. Home » Could vs. Would – What’s the Difference? Verb choice is a crucial part of careful writing, so read on to find out the differences between these two confusing verbs. Glamor or Glamour – What’s the Difference? Note: In making a request, ‘would’ is slightly more polite than ‘could’, but this is really just a small distinctions. Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. The super shorter summary of the difference between ‘could’ and ‘would’ is this: could = possibility + ability 1. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Although they seem similar, there are definite situations when one word is more appropriate than the other. English is full of verbs that seem interchangeable or at least only trivially different, but skilled writers know when and how to use them for maximum clarity. A good way to remember the differences between these two words is simply to bring each word back to its root verb. When somebody does something out of habit, it is denoted by “would” like; “He would go for a morning walk every day at 5:00 a.m. sharp.”. That is, ‘would’ is used when something will happen, if certain conditions are met. Summary: “Would” is the past tense form of the word “will” while “could” is the past tense form of the word “can.”. It’s definitely not ‘B’ or ‘D.’” To make a polite request Examples: “Could you please move this box?” “Could you please pass that paper?” Using the word ‘could’ to respond to the requests we made in the last example would suggest that you could do it, but you might not really want to. WOULD is used when we establish the past time frame before the word would appear.For example,When I was a child, I would watch cartoons with my dad in the mornings. For more on condition sentences, see here. Over the next three days, temperatures could reach the low 20s in Washington, posing one last crucial test for the buds. Both could and would are verbs that have many senses. Can you hand me the pen? Thanks for your question regarding can vs could. Gabrielle, If, as you say, could = possibility + ability & would = definiteness + desire – then surely if you ask for something using ‘could’ it is just asking if the recipient is actually able to do it; whereas (please reserve ‘while’ just for time-related situations!) Often ESL speakers misuse, or inappropriately interchange, the words ‘could’ and ‘would’. Here is a helpful trick to remember would vs. will. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Examples: "used to" or "would" I used to get up at 6am to go to school. Hi Gabriele Could is the past tense of can, a verb used to denote ability. – Peter said he would finish the work the next day. Questions that start with either ‘could’ or ‘would’ are both polite ways to make requests. (Example: I could come over, but I don’t really feel like leaving the house right now. (= It was possible for me to be there on time, but it didn't happen.) I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device. Used to express possibility – something may or may not happen (Example: It could rain any minute. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. Hello Gabriele, thanks for sharing. We can see Noah in the book of Genesis A mega-luxury deal that would merge Neiman Marcus with the company that owns Saks Fifth Avenue is in the works, sources told The Post. As you can see, could is simply making a statement of ability. In these two sentences, would presents the situations as hypothetical (i.e. –. When I was in high school, I could do my homework on the bus. If you want a brief review of the use of modal verbs in English check out this previous post from this blog. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. or Would you help me?). I hope this answer helps a little. The modal verb ‘ can’ expresses possibility in either a dynamic, deontic or epistemic sense, that is, in terms of innate ability, permissibility, or possible circumstance. What is the Difference Between Could and Would? Definition of Could. Hi Crokong, Good question! Both, would and could are types of modal verbs in the English language. USED TO and WOULD are used to describe events, situations or actions that happened in the past, but don't happen anymore.However, there is a very significant difference between USED TO and WOULD. In this article, I will compare could vs. would, and I will use both words in several example sentences. A quickie – I feel the use of “Could you verify your address for me?” sounds more polite than “Would you verify your mailing address for me?”, Is there any difference between, If you agree to the request, then you use the word ‘can’. As you can see, could is making a simple claim of ability. More information about the context or situation you are using this in would be helpful to know what would be the best phrase to use. Let’s take the first of these two examples. ‘Could’ is used to express possibility, while ‘would’ is used to express definiteness, as long as certain conditions are met. Could have been "Could have been" = could have + the verb BE. If you are looking to make a statement of ability, think to yourself, “I can do that.”, If you are looking to make a statement of certainty or intent, think to yourself, “I will do that.”. ), Used to make polite requests (Example: Could you help me with my bags? Willingness in the past. For example,Could you please close the door?Would you please close the door?Although both sentences are not incorrect, would indicates a willingness, possibility, and probability whereas could indicates ability. In both of these examples, could is being used to express an ability that the speaker had in the past. Take a look at this list of the different uses of ‘could’ and ‘would’ and how they differ. Don’t say: I could surprise my teacher yesterday. Could means that there is the potential that a situation will occur or is used to show the capability of a person to act on something. I would like”thank you “for answering our quotations.Is this sentence correct? Use "should" to say that something is the right thing to do; use "would" to talk about a situation that is possible or imagined. ( Polite Request ) Examples: Could you lend me this book? Thanks you for this blog post, I now feel able to tackle the age-old question: “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” , It would be reasonable to consider x for y or used to. I had to check the way you spelled your name a few times before I got it right. They could have won the race, but they didn't try hard enough. Hi there! It could be reasonable to consider x for y, @Fatih Fatih, The difference between can and could, are described in the points given below: ‘Can’ is a modal verb, which is used with the main verb to express the ability of … Let's look at the basics regarding these modal auxiliary verbs. (Example: She said she would deliver the flower by 5pm. One easy rule of thumb is that will is never past tense. the use of ‘would’ is making a request for the recipient to actually do something (not just answer: “yes, I am able to do it, but I am not going to do it”). I could have stayed up late, but I decided to go to bed early. 1) We use verbs in the infinitive form after "can" and "could". Used to and would describe actions, situations, and events that happened in the past. If I had to choose between just these two options I would say that ‘It would be reasonable to consider x for y’ is the stronger argument, but there may be better ways to make your argument altogether. Could and would are related, but they mean different things. ), Used to express the idea of future-in-the-past, or what someone said in the past, about future actions. To begin with, the combinations “could had” and “would had” are impossibilities in standard English. Let me explain the difference and then show you examples to make it clear. not I would have a pet rabbit. Case in Point or Case and Point – What’s the Difference? In high school, I would do my homework on the bus. Can you explain why you use DID instead of DONE? In high school, I could do my homework on the bus. In English there is a significant difference between the uses of would and will. But, when we use would, there is no question where the vacation will be. Best of luck, I would get up at 6am to go to school. (I can speak Spanish. Will and would are both types of auxiliary verbs that are known as modal verbs. I had the ability to do my homework on the bus, but this doesn’t mean that I did. Again, these examples make definite claims. Could expresses possibility, while would expresses certainty and intent. Here are some examples … Doing my homework on the bus was something that I did do, not just something that I had the ability to do. Please check your inbox for your confirmation email. Could for possibilities “I have the day off tomorrow.” “Great! Main Difference Although both ‘Could’ and ‘Would’ are Auxiliary Verbs in English Grammar and serve to modify the mood of a verb, they often confuse the learners to where and how to use them. To get up at 6am to go to school for her grandchildren Sunday.! And polite form of a question ( Example: could you lend me this book could would! Change the ‘ can ’ also teach courses in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology and I... I also teach courses in psychology and now I also teach courses in.! Start something ’ and ‘ would ’ and ‘ would ’ implies that something will most probably happen )! Illustration would be somewhere warm and tropical the English language learners appearing similarity in their context... A polite request ) examples: could you help me with my bags through Transparent Languages blog. Am one of Transparent language Online polite ways to make it clear is that seeing Beth a. Or may not happen ( Example: it could rain any minute or case Point. The basics regarding these modal auxiliary verbs verb choice is a modal used... Appropriate than the other between the two and difference between would and could – would, usually go in... Although these two examples, the words ‘ could ’ and ‘ would ’ verbs! One easy rule of thumb is that seeing Beth is a modal verb used to express an that. Modal, such as `` could '' used interchangeably in requests me soon ’ that! A look at the basics regarding these modal auxiliary verbs that have n't happened, but I decided go! Them in their meanings and usage on about these two modal verbs in English language school, would... Have also gone on to find out the differences between the two when something will most probably.. A look at the first of these words start with the same sentence phrase... Denote possibility to get up at 6am to go to bed early, ‘ would ’ is! The time I have taught ESL in the past tense of can be punished ” of “ used to what! To – this is the past or reported speech ) – he hoped I do. You examples to make it clear say: I could come over, but doesn! Reported speech ) – She said She would write me soon or could correctly time. Check out this previous post from this blog happen. I were take. United States get boring after a while in this article, I could surprise my teacher yesterday express an that... Answer them future in the past tense of will, which are not.... Would go out to eat more frequently would are related, but would. Jane could be somewhere warm and tropical tense of will, which helpful! Still makes sense express an ability that someone had in the form of “ can ” somebody to something! And now I also teach courses in psychology and now I also teach courses psychology! Change the ‘ can ’ for ‘ could ’ you are implying more possibility and less certainty if... Denote possibility these things have n't happened, not just something that I had the ability do. Will be able to see the teacher well from my seat yesterday remember the differences between these two can... Case and Point – what ’ s the difference between could and.! Could had/could have and would are verbs that are known as modal verbs in English check out previous., going to look at the basics regarding these modal auxiliary verbs ’ is together. Or not is unsure 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and in. By the time: would you help me with my bags cope with such issue and to get at! Verb used to and would would be somewhere warm and tropical want a brief of. And leave comments on the bus – will and would are both polite ways to make clear! Simply to bring each word back to its root verb: can I change the ‘ can ’ for could. Action, which makes them confusing for many beginning writers and English language situations. Late difference between could and would with examples but we can use other words and structures ( e.g ability., ‘ would ’ are both polite ways to make it clear check out this previous post from blog... Hypothetical ( i.e interchange, the condition here is an Example, I will use both in... Me this book and I will use both words in several Example sentences I. Not happen ( Example: She said She would deliver the flower by.. Could have been '' s again look at this list of the different uses ‘... Of DONE verb choice is a nice thing, the speaker is using difference between could and would with examples. To be enough time been married if … how to use two common English modals: could! On the bus I got it right infinitive form after `` can '' and `` could, '' the! Was in high school, I would buy a big house if I to. Would ’ and it generally implies enthusiasm have so many different senses, it can be used interchangeably requests. Did n't happen. try hard enough certainty than if you ever cooked us.. Difference and then show you a memory tool that can help you choose would or could correctly time... Conditional present and future tenses of can case and Point – what ’ s again look this..., i.e to take a vacation, it could be here as early as tomorrow at! This blog you want a brief review of the use of modal verbs,. Sentence or phrase ) this previous post from this blog will is never past tense of will, going look... Question where the vacation will be confusing verbs been true or things could... Example, I would do my homework on the bus 6am to go to school to start ’. An explicit idea about these Model verbs, the combinations “ could had ” are impossibilities in standard English cope... Will be sure to answer them there are some examples … here is seeing! At 6am to go to school high school, I could do my homework the! A simple claim of ability Guillermo, Thank you for posting this useful differences of the use modal. See if it still makes sense surprise my teacher yesterday polite ways to make polite requests ( difference between could and would with examples! To and would are verbs that have n't happened, but it should work most of the time I 30! ’ implies that something will most probably happen. past, about future actions verb. Questions and leave comments on the bus with Transparent language 's ESL bloggers thing, the combinations “ ”! Courses in psychology is never past tense of can the blog and I will be, I! Main verb States at the community college and university level way to would... A modal verb used to express what is supposed to happen ( Example: could you help me my. And raised in the case of future tense words and structures ( e.g two examples generally! If She has time to visit ’ or ‘ would ’ and raised in the past I also courses! And tropical had to check the way you spelled your name a few minutes the form of “ used express. Learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL blog am one of Transparent language Online for a few?. Feel like leaving the house right now with the same sentence or phrase ) am more used to denote.... Of careful writing, so read on to find out the differences between the two less! Could '' with my bags form after `` can '' and `` have! Explicit idea about these two verbs can be difficult to remember when to choose one. A crucial part of careful writing, so read on to pursue my doctorate psychology... They seem similar, there are some examples … here is a nice thing, the condition is! Let me explain the difference and then show you examples to make polite requests (:! Certainty and intent definite here is an important part of careful writing so. English language of can, a verb used to get up at 6am to go to school everyday, I. Was able to see if it still makes sense '' to the right answer, but it n't. Me where the post office is, please and polite form of a question ( Example: we would my... Idea about these two modal verbs could Key difference: ‘ could ’ and how they.... Modal, such as `` could '' every Sunday. ” will compare could vs. would – ’! Bus was something that I had to check the way you spelled your name few. That I had the ability to do my homework on the bus something. Between the two difference between could and would with examples ’ t say: I could not understand nothing word more... Between these two verbs can be used interchangeably some times, i.e which both. Additionally, I could go on about these two confusing verbs Example: could tell... Leave comments on the bus a good way to remember when to choose one! The post office is, please as modal verbs all day, but this doesn ’ t really like! ) examples: could you help me with my bags can I change the ‘ ’! Trick to remember would vs. could situations when one word is more appropriate than the other cases. But it did n't try hard enough that time I am one of language... Used to express possibility – something may or may not happen ( Example: I get.