# 'Could' In Hypothetical Meaning

•  6
Hi,

I have two questions today. I'd really appreciate it if anyone could take the time to answer them

1. "You could go to a baseball game with me"

Can the above sentence mean two things?

A:You can go to a baseball game with me

So 'could' is a more polite way of making a suggestion than 'can'

B:You could go to a baseball game with me(if you didn't have an exam on Monday):

According to my grammar book, there are some circumstances in which a hypothetical main clause can stand on its own. So it's possible for "You could go to a baseball game with me" to have that interpretation, right?

2. "Do you know anyone who could repair this clock for me?"

This sentence basically means "My clock works fine, but if it broke down, who could repair it?" Do I get it right?
1. According to my grammar book, there are some circumstances in which a hypothetical main clause can stand on its own. So it's possible for "You could go to a baseball game with me" to have that interpretation, right?-- Yes, that is possible.

2. "Do you know anyone who could repair this clock for me?" This sentence basically means "My clock works fine, but if it broke down, who could repair it?" Do I get it right?-- No, we expect the clock in need of repair.
Hi

I shall risk the wrath of Mr M and say - yes - you can ask a hypothetical question in that way

If someone is messing around with your clock - but they haven't broken it yet - you can say:

- "Do you know anyone who could repair this clock for me?"

It means: "If you break my clock, who do you think is going to mend it?"

That's a hypothetical question and you have stated it correctly

Dave
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Of course you can, Dave - but that is not what the sentence 'basically means', which is what the poster inquired about. If someone asks, "Do you know anyone who could repair this clock for me?" the listener expects that the clock is broken.
Thank you both of you for answering my questions.

That example(question #2) was taken directly from my grammar book and the author intended it to have a hypothetical meaning;'could=would be able to'

But I guess that particular sentence is not normally interpreted that way as Mister Micawber pointed out.

I'm kind of confused.
Hi

Some sentences are definitely hypothetical - because that is their grammatical structure. Others can be hypothetical because of the way they are used..

- If you wanted to, you could go to a baseball game with me

- You think I could mend your clock

The first is definitely hypothetical because it has "if" and "could"

The second does not seem to have a hypothetical structure but very often it will mean..

- If for one moment you were to think I could mend your clock then you'd be very much mistaken!

..in which case there is a hypothetical use

I think your textbook is saying that, on the one hand you need to see how the words: if, were, could, would and so on are used to form hypotheses; but on the other hand, you need to know that, in English, hypothesis is sometimes implied with only a hint of those words

Best regards, Dave
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Dave, Thank you for your helpful comments. I think that's exactly what the author is trying to say. Thanks a lot!