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takkk asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 2 months ago

Native English speakers: Is it possible to use "could" meaning the accomplishment of something?

If you hear the sentence below, do you think Jack handed in the report on time to not? Or are you not sure?

Jack: I could hand in the report on time.I think it would be better to say, "I handed in the report on time" or "I was able to hand in the report on time" if you want to say that you have actually accomplished something because "could" shows ability and does not indicate the accomplishment. Thank you. I'd appreciate your feedback.

4 Answers

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    Could is capability/ability, rather than accomplishment. You are correct.

    I could hand in the report on time. = capable to do so in the future.

    I could have handed in the report on time. = was capable in the past, but did not do so.

    "Handed in" is past tense

    "was able to" is past tense.

    There is a special use of "could" based on past events.

    Jack could lift 30 kg.

    This means Jack is capable of lifting 30kg because in the past he lifted 30kg. He is capable in the present or future because he has done so in the past. 

    Jack could eat a whole pie himself.

    Jack is capable because he has done so.

    We do not use it with "hand in the report" to imply past.

    These two are similar, but not identical:

    Jack would always hand in reports on time.

    Jack always handed in reports on time.The second is definite. The first could have an exception. It states a pattern of doing so.English tense can get complicated. It takes many examples to learn its exact uses. That is among reasons contracts globally use English. There is a precision, and ways to see ambiguity.   

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    If the only thing I heard was "I could hand in the report on time", it would indicate that the conversation is taking place BEFORE the report is due, and he's speaking hypothetically.

    If you're speaking of the past, and the report was handed in, then you're correct, either "I handed in..." or, if you have reason to say it, "I was able to...", which would suggest that there was some doubt beforehand about your ability to turn it in before the deadline, but you did accomplish it. 

    If you're speaking of the past and you did NOT turn in the report, then you could say "I could have handed in the report on time".  It's hypothetical, and would indicate regret at your failure to turn it in on time.

  • 2 months ago

    you are correct. I could sounds like sure he could but will not

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    U'r welcome    

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