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Hi,

Have a great school year and the gift could be used as textbook money or something.

Have a great school year and the gift can be used as textbook money or something.

What's the difference between can and could that makes this sentence different?
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PreciousJonesWhat's the difference between can and could that makes this sentence different?
The most obvious difference for native speakers is that the first one sounds strange, but it's hard to explain why. We would probably say it like this:

Have a great school year, and use the money for whatever you want. (Parallel structure with two imperatives.)

That aside,

The gift can be used ... is a straightforward statement. You can use this gift ...

The gift could be used ... sounds more like a hypothetical statement. You would be able to use this gift ... if ...

But there is nothing hypothetical about the situation. You're giving someone money. They can (obviously) spend it. So could seems wrong.

Maybe someone else will have a better explanation.

CJ
Comments  
PreciousJonesHave a great school year, and the gift could be used as textbook money or something.

Have a great school year, and the gift can be used as textbook money or something.

What's the difference between can and could that makes this sentence different?

1. The "or something" at the end is meaningless.

2. You could say 'or something else' at the end, but that would really mean that you could use it for anything. So there would not be much sense in making a suggestion for the money's use.

3. You could say 'or something like that'.

To me the difference between "could" and "can" is that "could" is only a suggestion, while "can" is a stronger suggestion, perhaps even an order.

In theory, 'may' is used for permission and "can" is used for ability. But in reality, "can" is very very often used for permission.

It may seem strange to have a gift come with an order, but it is certainly possible. And should you choose not to use the money as suggested, this gift might be the last gift.