like tell me the difference between these sentences:
i can fly.
i could fly.
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Anonymouscan somebody help me when to use can or could like tell me the difference between these sentences: i can fly. i could fly."I can fly" refer to the present.
"I could fly" refer to the past.
AnonymousPlease explain the different uses of modalsSorry, Anon, your question is broad to an absurd degree. Entire books have been written on modals.
If you can ask specific questions, you can get answers.
The simplest uses are as follows. There are many others not shown here.
will: future of the present; like am/is/are going to
would: future of the past; like was/were going to
Sally says that Matt will arrive at noon tomorrow.
Sally said that Matt would arrive at noon the next day.
might (also may): It is possible that ...
could (sometimes): It is possible that ...
must: The only possible conclusion is that ...
should: It is expected / probable that ...
I might go shopping later today. ~ It is possible that I will go shopping later today.
I may go shopping later today. ~ It is possible that I will go shopping later today.
Don't go near that machine. It could be dangerous. ~ It is possible that it is dangerous.
George has a big house and several cars. He must be rich. ~ The only possible conclusion is that he is rich.
The total should be between 20 and 25. ~ It is expected that the total will be between 20 and 25.
OBLIGATION, PERMISSION, ADVICE:
has/have to: have a commitment/obligation to; be committed/obliged to; have as a duty
(past had to)
I have to be at work by 8:00. ~ I am committed/obliged to be at work by 8:00.
Employees must wash their hands before returning to the kitchen. ~ It is the duty of employees to wash ...
The road was closed so they had to take a detour. ~ ... so they were obliged to take a detour ~ ... so they had no alternative except to take a detour.
can: ... am/is/are permitted to ...
Lily's father says that she can go to the movies Saturday. ~ ... she is permitted to go ...
Lily's father says that she may go to the movies Saturday. ~ ... she is permitted to go ...
should: It is advisable that ...
You should leave before it's too dark. ~ It is advisable that you leave before it's too dark.
ABILITY, CAPABILITY, SKILL:
can: ... am/is/are able to; ... am/is/are capable of; know(s) how to
Charlene can run five miles without a rest. ~ ... is able to run ...
Jane can sometimes be very sarcastic. ~ ... is capable of being very sarcastic.
Fran can speak five languages fluently. ~ ... knows how to speak ...
could: (often with a when clause) ... was/were able to; ... was/were capable of; knew how to
(past of can)
When she was much younger, she could [run five miles / sometimes be sarcastic / speak five languages].
will: present habit; it is usual/typical for ... to ...
would: past habit (often with a when clause); like used to; it was usual for ... to ...
Of the two, would is more commonly heard with this meaning.
Ken and Helen love to dance. They'll dance for hours at a time. ~ It is usual for them to dance for hours ...
When they were still students at the university, they would often take long walks together. ~ ... they often used to take ... ~ ... it was usual for them to take ...
Negative form only.
will not; won't: refuse(s) to
would not; wouldn't: refused to
The car won't start. The car wouldn't start.
The child won't obey her mother. The child wouldn't obey her mother.
shall is almost never used in American English.
Avoid the use of will, can, and may when presenting a past situation like this:
I always [said / knew / believed / thought] that John [would / could / might] do something like that.
NOT: I always [said / knew / believed / thought] that John [will / can / may] do something like that.
I could fly expresses what uou would be able to do if something else was the case i.e. if I had wings I could fly. Technically, I could fly is the apodosis of a condition sentence whose protasis is if I had wings.
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