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Guest:
Hi,
i would like to to know the rules that need to be followed when using the words, "would " and "could"
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To make things more clear:
Would is just the past tense of will;
could the past tense of can.
Full Member157
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I would use 'would' (heheh) when I want to say something that I will do. So, "I would go to the cinema if I didn't have so much work" would mean that if I had less work, then its off to the cinema for me to catch a movie.

If I said instead "I could go to the cinema if I didn't have so much work", then it means that I have other choices, maybe stay at home, or go shopping or whatever. 'Would' is more definite and 'could' expresses more of a possibility.
Junior Member58
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"Would is just the past tense of will"

I don't beleive that it is proper to say that a modal has a past "tense." Modals can not be inflected for tense.

"Will" and "would" are modals of volition/prediction. "Would" is sometimes a modal that corresponds with "will" but refers to past time...but it is not a past tense form of "will."

"Will" is also used to refer to future time as English does not have a future "tense," strictly speaking.

Lets see...what else? "Would" and "could" are used in "unreal" conditional sentences such as:

I would run in the marathon next week if I could . = I can't run in the marathon so I won't.

Note that "would" is in association with an event in future time in this instance...
New Member33
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I'm not sure anyone has actually compiled a set of "rules", but note that "could" often means "would be able to", so in a way "could" sometimes contains the meaning of "would" within it. "could" cannot always be paraphrased this way, but it very often can.

I thought I could do it. = I thought I would be able to do it.

CJ
Veteran Member51,849
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Jim wrote:
I'm not sure anyone has actually compiled a set of "rules", but note that "could" often means "would be able to", so in a way "could" sometimes contains the meaning of "would" within it. "could" cannot always be paraphrased this way, but it very often can.

I thought I could do it. = I thought I would be able to do it.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

I respectfully submit that you have misanalysed this, Jim.

does not mean or .

equals . is simply a reporting mechanism.

I thought I would be able to do it. = I thought, "I will be able to do it".

==

Cacarr is dead on with her/his description of the modal as not having past tense. Sure, is used in past time situations, but so is ;

----------------
That flight will have already arrived.

This request is in the form of an Information / Pro-Forma
pack which your organisation will have already received.

Everyone Will Have Already Seen This But I Thought It
Was Funny ...

The families of those who have already died or been injured will have already
been helped by the 3 Service Benevolent Funds
-------------------

The modal auxiliary verbs, which can operate in any tense/time situation, can only be one thing, tenseless.
Regular Member849
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CJ:

. . . "could" often means "would be able to", so in a way "could" sometimes contains the meaning of "would" within it.


Agreed. Not true synonyms of course, as you noted, but close enough. My dialect shares that distribution.

EX: I would (be able to) do it, but. . .
EX: I could do it, but . . .
Regular Member547
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.
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I respectfully submit that you have misanalysed this, Jim.

does not mean or .

Terry,

Could you, (i.e., Would you be able to), show me where in my post I said either that "would" means "could" or that "would" means "be able to"? Because if you can, then you must not be able to read and understand English very well.

The use of "respectfully" in this context is, pragmatically, a sign that you do not mean any respect whatsoever.

I respectfully submit that you are an idiot.

Emotion: smile
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Jim:
Terry, could you, (i.e., Would you be able to), show me where in my post I said either that "would" means "could" or that "would" means "be able to"?


JTT: Gladly, Jim, because you've asked so nicely.
Jim:
"... so in a way "could" sometimes contains the meaning of "would" within it.

CJ
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