Today’s blog post on modal verbs looks at how we use

CAN and COULD to talk about ABILITY.

We use CAN and CAN’T to talk about someone’s general ability or skill.

Melissa will help you to move house. She CAN drive a truck.

He CAN run really fast. He should focus fully on athletics.

They CAN’T sing very well. They are really annoying me!

Michael just CAN’T save money. He’s always broke.

We also use CAN and CAN’T to talk about the ability to do something at a specific time in the present or future:

I CAN help you with that! No problem!

Please turn the music down. I CAN’T concentrate.

I CAN help you tomorrow at 9 pm.

We use COULD and COULDN’T to talk about past situations

He COULD run 100 meters in 11 seconds when he was at university.

I COULD speak Spanish well a few years ago but I’ve forgotten most of it.

Sorry that I COULDN’T meet you last Saturday. I was too busy.

I studied hard but I just COULDN’T get the result I needed

We use COULD HAVE to say that we had the ability or opportunity to do something, but did not do it.

I COULD HAVE been a professional footballer.

I didn’t want to go home, I COULD HAVE danced all night.

I COULD HAVE got a band score 7 in IELTS if I had contacted PJC English!

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