English Grammar Basic Grammar and syntax

Different uses of could in English

Different uses of COULD in English

In this post, we understand the use of could in English. Could is a modal auxiliary verb used to express possibility, ability and requests, and permissions. It is also used in conditional sentences to express possibility or ability.


  • We could win this match. (possibility)
    (It is possible for us to win this match.)
  • Monu could finish the entire lamb on his lamb. (ability)
    (Monu has the ability to finish this entire lamb on his lamb.)
  • Could you pass me the bottle? (Request)
  • You could go home now. It is getting late. (Giving permission)
  • If we could have won the match if Jon had not been ill. (Conditional sentence)
  • We could go for dinner after the class. (Suggestion)

Comprendamos todos los usos de COULD por separado en detalle.

1. Could for ABILITY

The modal ‘could’ is often used to express the ability of a situation in the past or present.


  • He could beat us in chess right now.
    (He has to ability to beat us in chess right now.)
  • Rohan could eat all of this.
    (Rohan has the ability to eat all of this.)

Nota: generalmente usamos el modal ‘can’ para expresar la habilidad en el presente. Pero también se puede usar el modal ‘could’.

Here, we use could as the past tense form of can.

  • He could lift me a few years back.
    (A few years back, he had the ability to lift me.)
  • I could speak Chinese in school.
    (When I was in school, I had the ability to speak Chinese.)
  • She couldn’t draw well a few years back.
    (She did not have the ability to draw well a few years back.)

2. Could for POSSIBILITY

Present Mangesh could be in Bangalore right now.
They could be in trouble. Let’s go and check on them.
Aarushi could be upset with you. That is why she didn’t join us.
Past could pass the exam if I had a person to guide me.
She could have come with us if her parents had not gone out.
Future It could rain today.
They could call you tomorrow for a demo class.

3. Could for REQUEST

Podría se utiliza a menudo para hacer una solicitud. Se considera muy educado y formal.


  • Could you drop me to at work?
  • Could I use your phone for a minute to make an urgent call? Mine is not working.
  • Could you please teach me how to dance?
  • Could I come with you?

4. Could for PERMISSION

Asking for permission

  • Could I date your sister? I won’t if you don’t allow it.
  • Could I use your laptop for some time?
  • Could I sit on your spot?

Giving permission

  • You could bring your friends on the trip. Just make sure they don’t create havoc there.
  • You could go back to your work. You are not needed here anymore.
  • You could come in.

Nota: para prohibir que alguien haga algo, use ‘can’t’. No usamos could’t.

  • You can’t park your car here?
  • Students can’t use a calculator in the exam.

5. Could for SUGGESTION

El verbo modal podría también se usa para dar sugerencias.


  • We could go shopping in the evening. That would be fun.
  • You could go to Shimla for your honeymoon. That is a nice place.
  • Until you find a place to live, you could live at my place.
  • We could eat Chinese or Italian food.


Podría también usarse en oraciones condicionales, generalmente para indicar la posibilidad de un evento.


  • I did not have an exam tomorrow, I could join you on the trip. (Type 2 conditional sentence)
  • The doctors could have saved his life if he had been taken to the hospital on time. (Type 3 conditional sentence)
  • If you work hard, you could clear the exam. (Type 1 conditional sentence)

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