English Grammar Could | 8 uses of Could

In this article, we’re going to explain the “could” grammar. “Would”, “Should”, and “Could” grammar is something that many ESL speakers struggle with. Today, we will be focusing on “could”.

YouTube Video

Title: English Grammar Could | 8 uses of Could

Video Transcript

Hello everyone! My name is Lacey and I am your English teacher for today. Welcome to the Eigo Love Youtube Channel! Today, I am going to explain the “could” grammar. “Would”, “Should”, and “Could” grammar is something that many ESL speakers struggle with. Today, we will be focusing on “could”, but I have a video for the other two.

“Could” has a few different uses. First, you can use “could” to express “past ability”.

For example:

Example #1
I could run a mile in 7 minutes when I was ten

So this sentence means that in the past, I could run a mile in 7 minutes, but now I can’t.

Example #2
She could do a handstand when she was five

This means that (when I was five) when she was five, she could do a handstand. This sentence means maybe she can do it now, maybe she can’t. Most of the time, when you are implying “past ability”, it means you can’t do it anymore.

You can also use this in the negative.

Example #3
I couldn’t speak Japanese 5 years ago

So, with this sentence it implies that you can speak Japanese now, but you couldn’t before.

Example #4
I couldn’t talk yesterday

For negative sentences, it can be used to explain a one time experience, but it can’t in positive sentences.

Example #5
I couldn’t leave work early yesterday.

This is correct.

Here is an incorrect sentence.

Example
I could leave work early yesterday

This is incorrect grammar, so please don’t do this.

Moving on.

“Could” can also be used to express possibility or impossibility in the past, present, or future.
First, here is a past tense example:

Example #6
You could have called me

Example #7
I couldn’t have called you

The key here is that “could” is followed by “have”. That’s how you know it is past tense.

Here is a present tense example:

Example #8
I could be sick

Example #9
I couldn’t be sick

The key here is that “could” is followed by “be” and that’s how we know it is present tense.

And last, here is an example in the future tense:

Example #10
I could skip school tomorrow

Example #11
I couldn’t possibly skip school tomorrow

In this case, “could” is followed by the verb in the base form.

Great. “Could” is also used to give suggestions.

For example:

Example #12
You could sell your car

So maybe my friend has no money, so I will tell her, “You could sell your car.”

OK and next.

Example #13
You could go to Japan.

I use this a lot when I am recommending travel to my friends because, of course, I’m in Japan.

“Could” can be used as a conditional form of can.

Example #14
If I had more money, I could travel the world.

So the conditional form always has if, so it’s describing a situation that is not currently true. Of course I don’t have a lot of money, so I can’t do this, but if, then I would or I could.

Example #15
If I had more time, I could make more Youtube videos for you

Example #16
If I had a bigger house, I could have a party

And last, but not least, “Could” is used to make polite requests. It is very similar to requests using can, but it is just a little more polite. Here are some examples:

Example #17
Could I have some water?
Can I have some water?

Example #18
Could you call me back tomorrow?
Can you call me back tomorrow?

That’s all! You made it through! At first, it might be a little confusing! But don’t worry, take the time to process each use. Work on each one, one by one. You will begin to understand it more. Listen or read the uses of could a couple of times, until it clicks!

If you liked this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to the Eigo Love Youtube channel down below! Also, check out my “should” and “could” videos! If you have any questions or comments, leave them in the comment box down below! Until next time! Bye!