Uses of Modals CAN & COULD and Example Sentences

Uses of Modals CAN & COULD and Example Sentences

Uses of Modals CAN & COULD and Example Sentences

There are a few modals that are confusing for some ESL students: can and could. This blog post will clear up the confusion by providing examples of how to use these modals correctly. Plus, we’ll take a closer look at when to use can and when to use could.

Use of Modal Verb Can

The modal verb can is used to express ability or capacity. It can also be used to ask for or give permission. Here are some examples:

  • Can you please close the door?
  • I can play the guitar.
  • Can I ask you a question?

Example Using “Can”

1-Permission: Can I come in?

2-Asking for ability: Can you help me with this?

3-Capacity: There are only a few cookies left, so I can’t have any.

4-Possibility: It’s cloudy outside, so it could rain.

Use of Modal Verb Could

The modal verb could is used to express ability or capacity in the past. It can also be used to ask for or give permission in the past. Here are some examples:

  • Could you please close the door?
  • I could play the guitar.
  • Could I ask you a question?

Example Sentences Using “Could”

1-Asking for ability: Could you help me with this?

2-Ability in the past: I could play the guitar when I was younger.

3-Permission in the past: Could I come in?

4-Possibility in the past: It might have rained, but I couldn’t tell because it was so dark.

As you can see, both models have different uses. It is important to understand when to use each one in order to avoid confusion.

Can is used for ability or capacity and could is used for ability or capacity in the past. Asking for or giving permission are also common uses for both modals.

Could is also often used to express possibility. For example, “It could rain” means that there is a chance that it will rain.

Note: Remember, the modal verb can express ability or capacity in the present tense and could express ability or capacity in the past tense. When in doubt, think about which tense you need to use for the situation.