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1)I sat on the terrace, drinking coffee. From there I could see the vineyard and olive groves bellow me

- Why do we use drinking here but not drank?

- Why use could here since could doesn't imply the idea" achievement on a particular occasion in the past", I think it would be better if we have were able to here. How about you?

2)She was planning to ring her friend but she forgot

Can I use: She was to ring her friend....

?

3) Every child will have chance to go to vocational school or schools?

Thanks in advance
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Comments  (Page 3) 
CalifJimGoodman,

In the relevant reading, where could is used in the affirmative in an attempt to convey the meaning succeeded, which is what Belly (and Michael Swan) were talking about, could cannot be used.

We ran; therefore, we [*could catch / were able to catch / succeeded in catching / caught] the bus.
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Compare the following two examples, with different meanings:

-- Were you able to notify the police in time to prevent the crime?
-- Yes, fortunately, I was able to.

(Meaning: Did you succeed in notifying the police ...? Yes, I succeeded.)
-----------------------------
-- Could you notify the police in time to prevent the crime?
-- Yes, I could.

(Meaning: Would you be able (hypothetically) to notify the police ...? Yes, I would.)
("Coded" meaning: Please notify the police .... Yes, I will.)
(Not the same meaning as above. could cannot be used to convey the "success" meaning above.)
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Certainly, could can be used in other readings, such as would be able to. This alternate reading is typical in a so that clause of purpose, examples of which you have quoted above.

CJ

Now, I start to get a picture. So if we put sat and use an adverbial clause, it is equal to two gerunds clause, it's the grammar of English which I cannot, say,have any protest.

Another idea I can withdraw from is, the difference between could and to be able to is now lessen in contemporary English (or Informal English), is not it? And what is relevant reading, CJ?
When we say "In the relevant reading" or "On the relevant reading", we mean, "Using the meaning of the word(s) that we have been discussing, and not a different meaning".

In this thread, when we say "On the relevant reading of could", we mean, "Using the 'success' meaning of could", because that's the meaning of could we have been discussing here.

CJ
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
the difference between could and to be able to is now lessen in contemporary English (or Informal English),
No. It has nothing to do with contemporary English or informal English.

There are certain meanings that can be conveyed by could, and there are certain meanings that can be conveyed by was/were able to. Very many of these meanings can be conveyed by either one or the other, and it doesn't make much difference which you use, but there are some cases where it makes a difference, and then you have to choose one or the other.

CJ