Hi!

I have a question about when to use can or could. Here's an example:

"While I get along with most people very well, I can see how not getting along with a co-worker could affect the workplace."

Can someone tell me why they used "could affect the workplace" there instead of "can affect the workplace"?

According to this page (http://www.englishpage.com/modals/could.html ), "could" is used when expressing possibility, such as in "John could be the one who stole the money." Is this why "could" was used in my sample sentence and not "can"?

Here is another one:

Q: How would you handle a situation where a customer is angry at you or the company?
A: I would listen to the customer explain why they are upset and I would do everything I can to solve the problem and make sure they leave satisfied.

Why did they use "everything I can" instead of "everything I could"? Is it because "can" carries a meaning of "having the means to" or "to be able to" more so than "could," thus it was more appropriate to use can there? I think it sounds more natural to say "I would do everything I can to solve the problem..." but the reason for WHY that is, I have no idea.
New Member39
"While I get along with most people very well, I can see how not getting along with a co-worker could affect the workplace."

could affect: it might affect, possible, but not sure, more doubtful in that respect

Strongly suggest making a search (top right Search box) with
can could
there are many great threads already out there.
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So "could" has a more doubtful tone to it than the word "can"? I just don't understand why the writer chose to use "could" instead of "can." Thanks for the suggestion, though. I'll try it.
I can see how not getting along with a co-worker could affect the workplace.

You're talking about a hypothetical situation. That is, you're talking about the situation of not getting along with a co-worker in the abstract. You're talking about its effect on the workplace hypothetically -- in the abstract. You're not talking about an actual case of not getting along with a co-worker and its effect on a particular workplace. The use of could (or might) is better than can for showing this hypothetical way of thinking about the relationship.

I would do everything I can to solve the problem.

could seems better to me here. To me, can goes with will, and could goes with would in these cases.

I will do what I can. I would do what I could.

It's possible that the speaker is emphasizing the problem-solving skills he actually has at the present moment.

CJ
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Thanks CJ!
The use of could (or might) is better than can for showing this hypothetical way of thinking about the relationship.
Is the quoted reason why you used "couldn't" here instead of "can"?

-- I have to attend a funeral for my boss's pet pig.
-- It couldn't be that bad. You'll manage, I'm sure.

1. Can and its past tense, could, only cover the present and past tenses. For the future and perfect tenses, one has no choice but to switch to be able to.
You also said that in a previous post. So how would I say something like, "I am as happy as I could ever be." I don't mean "I am as happy as I will ever be," but I mean it as "I am as happy as I can ever possibly be" so would "could" still be appropriate there?
Is the quoted reason why you used "couldn't" here instead of "can"?

Yes, I suppose you could look at it that way.
could may be treated as a weaker form of can -- a form that shows more remoteness from reality.
___________

I am as happy as I could ever be

could is appropriate here, yes, with the meaning you want.

CJ
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Anonymous:
I have to disagree with you. Using could with would sounds redundant. You have already expressed a hypothetical situation by using the former, so there's no need to reiterate the concept further with the latter.
Anonymous:
I totally agree with this statement..
Can goes with will and could goes with would
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