How to use
cuthe, past tense of cunnan (
); influenced by should and would
negative short form
used as the past tense of 'can' to say what someone was able to do or was allowed to do in the past
By the time she was eight, she could read Greek and Latin.
In those days you could buy a box of cigars for a dollar.
Could you hear what I was saying?
I couldn't get tickets after all, they were sold out.
I knew I couldn't afford the rent.
The teacher said we could all go home.
used to say that something is possible or might happen
Most accidents in the home could be prevented.
It could be weeks before we get a reply.
If you're not careful, you could get into even worse trouble.
A faulty connection
would be likely to
cause a fire.
used to say that something was a possibility in the past, but did not actually happen
Somebody could have been killed.
I could have warned you if I had known where you were.
He could have escaped, but he chose to stand and fight.
emphasizing your feelings
used to emphasize how happy, angry etc you are by saying how you want to express your feelings
He irritates me so much I could scream.
I was so angry I could have killed her.
I was so relieved I could have kissed them all.
used to make a polite request
Could you help me with these boxes?
Could I have a drink of water, please?
How about Sam? Could he come along too?
I wonder if I could just ask you to sign this.
used to suggest doing something
You could ask your doctor for a check-up.
try phoning her at the office.
Maybe we could get together sometime next week?
Couldn't you get one of your friends to help you?
used to show that you are annoyed about someone's behaviour
You could have told me you were going to be late
you should have told me but you did not
could at least
say that you're sorry.
How could you be so stupid!
couldn't be better/worse/more pleased etc
used to emphasize how good, bad etc something is
Their lifestyles couldn't be more different.
'How are things?' 'Fine! Couldn't be better.'
Ordering on-line couldn't be simpler.
used to politely say that you do not want any more food or drink
'Would you like another piece of pie?' 'Oh, no thanks, I couldn't.'
could do with something
to need or want something
I could do with a hot drink.
➔ could do worse (than)
➔ couldn't care less
➔ couldn't agree more
Definition from the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
Advanced Learner's Dictionary.
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