+0
Hi,

1. I think the modal verb 'could' could be used as a past form of the modal verb 'can' and the modal verb 'would' can be used to express the sense of past-ness. Can you tell me if these uses are correct?

When I was fifeen years old, I could do many push-ups.

Now, if I ask someone about his capability to do push-ups at the age of fifteen, I would probably have to phrase it this way.

Q: Hi, John, nice to meet you. How many push-ups could you do when you were fifteen?

A: Oh, let me think, I think I could do twenty of them at that age.

But, I think this is acceptable too. If it is acceptable, why is that?

A: Oh, let me think, I think I could have done twenty back then at the age of fifteen. -- Sure I changed some words but I think the overall pattern remained the same.

2. As to the modal verb 'would', both forms 'would + verb' and 'would + have + participle' would convey the notion of past-ness, but the use of them seems to deserve close scrutiny.

When I was fifteen years old, I would do many push-ups in one day.

This says how many he was able to do when he was fifteen.

Conversation:

A: When I was fifteen, I would ride my uni-cycle to go to school. (the notion of past-ness expressed.)

B: Is that right? I wouldn't have ridden a uni-cycle at that age to go to school. Riding it causes too much strain on a person's legs and that isn't good for a kid.

Why isn't it more natural to say in this way?

B: Is that right? I wouldn't ride a uni-cycle at that age to go to school. Riding it ...

I think 'wouldn't ride' is OK to express the past-ness and the latter version is correct but I have heard people using the formenr version with 'wouldn't have ridden'. Is this correct?
+0
Believer My try:

Hi,

1. I think the modal verb 'could' could be used as a past form of the modal verb 'can' and the modal verb 'would' can be used to express the sense of past-ness. Yes. Can you tell me if these uses are correct?

When I was fifeen years old, I could do many push-ups.

Now, if I ask someone about his capability to do push-ups at the age of fifteen, I would probably have to phrase it this way.

Q: Hi, John, nice to meet you. How many push-ups could you do when you were fifteen?

A: Oh, let me think, I think I could do twenty of them at that age. No problem with the sentences.

But, I think this is acceptable too. If it is acceptable, why is that?

A: Oh, let me think, I think I could have done twenty back then at the age of fifteen. -- Sure I changed some words but I think the overall pattern remained the same. No my dear. You miss one point. Could have done means there was a possibilty that he could do ... at that time . Another example: A mother sees her child go acroos the road without checking cars so she shouts at him saying :" silly boy! You could have been run over by a car!" Of course at the time of speaking the child is still living. She just means that with a high probability a car may have hit him because every condition was ready for such a situation.

2. As to the modal verb 'would', both forms 'would + verb' and 'would + have + participle' would convey the notion of past-ness, but the use of them seems to deserve close scrutiny.

When I was fifteen years old, I would do many push-ups in one day.

This says how many he was able to do when he was fifteen. You can change would with used to here. Here he says what he used to do before.

Conversation:

A: When I was fifteen, I would ride my uni-cycle to go to school. (the notion of past-ness expressed.) yes.

B: Is that right? I wouldn't have ridden a uni-cycle at that age to go to school. Riding it causes too much strain on a person's legs and that isn't good for a kid. here we are talking about a hypothetical situation of the past. A is telling us a real situation done by him in the past but this is not valid for B. Because of this, B says wouldn't have. I wouldn't have ridden a uni-cycle if I had had it because riding it causes...

Why isn't it more natural to say in this way?

B: Is that right? I wouldn't ride a uni-cycle at that age to go to school. Riding it ... hmm I have to think about this before telling anything butI wouldn't reply so if I were asked such a question. Here it sounds like it was a regular-basis for B not to ride uni-cycle at taht age... I wouldn't guess that B was talking about past when I heard this.

I think 'wouldn't ride' is OK to express the past-ness and the latter version is correct but I have heard people using the formenr version with 'wouldn't have ridden'. Is this correct?
+0
I think you intended to compare could with would and ended up comparing could with would not. would not has the sense of would refuse to; would not have, the sense of would have refused to, so that complicates matters.

<<Why isn't it more natural to say it this way?>>

The short answer is that the grammar of could does not exactly parallel the grammar of would. Even if there were closer parallels historically, not all of that parallelism of grammar and usage is preserved in modern English.

CJ
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Comments  
 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Thank you, Doll, for your help.