Difference between Can and Could | Could vs Can

What is the Difference between Can and Could

English grammar is an important aspect of the English language. The use of correct grammar, word usage, and punctuation can make or break a sentence. In this article, we shall explore the difference between can and could, their meaning, usage and other important facets.

Table of Content:

Grammar is important because it helps the reader understand the meaning of what you are trying to say. Correct grammar also helps with clarity. Regardless, English is easy to learn and understand with enough practice.

Table Summarising the Difference between Can and Could:

Can

Could

Meaning

Both ‘can’ and ‘ could’ are modal verbs that refer to ‘a possibility’, ‘ability’ or ‘capacity’.

Primary difference

‘Can’ refers to a general truth or something that has a strong possibility.

‘Could’ refers to something that has a weak possibility, or something that might happen, but not necessarily a general truth.

Example

A scorpion’s sting can cause intense pain and other unpleasant side effects.

I could hear her, but she could not hear me.

Meaning of Can and Could

As discussed above, ‘can’ and ‘could’ seem like they have similar meanings, but there are enough differences which distinguish them from each other.

To recap:

  • Can is used to describe an ability or permission. It can also refer to a general truth or something that has a strong possibility of being true.
  • Could is used to describe a (weak) possibility.

Examples for Could and Can:

We shall explore some examples for ‘can’ and ‘could’ so that their differences are more apparent:

  • Can – In India, driving without a driver’s license can land you a hefty fine.
  • Could – Cars that are maintained and serviced regularly could last several decades.

Can vs. Could – Conclusion

Grammar is important for many reasons. It provides people with a shared understanding of rules that govern language. This helps people understand how to speak and write in the English language correctly. Additionally, it is necessary for people to maintain some consistency when writing or speaking English. Grammar also aids in organising thoughts within one’s mind, which can increase the quality of their thinking. Explore more difference between articles or discover other important concepts in grammar, only on BYJU’S.

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