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using "couldn't" in conditionals

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using "couldn't" in conditionals

Unread postby xxkilo » Mon Sep 01, 2008 12:19 pm

I was teaching to a student when I cane across this strange case:

Is it possible to use "couldn't" in 2nd and 3rd conditional? For example:

If it rained, I couldn't come to your house.

it sounds strange to me but I can't find a grammar rule against it. I would use "wouldn't be able to"
Similarialy, the use of "suppose"

Suppose you were poor. You couldn't buy a house.
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Re: using "couldn't" in conditionals

Unread postby marcchehab » Sun Sep 28, 2008 10:55 pm

Hello

Yes in unreal conditionals, we can use 'could' or 'might' instead of 'would'.

If I was not poor, I would buy a house.
If I was not poor, I could buy a house.

So, yes, the sentence is right I would say.

A nice evening, take care.
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Re: using "couldn't" in conditionals

Unread postby xxkilo » Mon Sep 29, 2008 1:00 pm

in the affirmative, i agree, it is totally correct but somehow in the negative it sounds strange and I can't explain why. Maybe it's correct but just sounds strange to me.
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Re: using "couldn't" in conditionals

Unread postby marcchehab » Mon Sep 29, 2008 3:02 pm

It is strange, because the likelihood of rain is above what, in my opinion, suits a 2nd conditional.

'If it rains, I cannot come.' is not strange at all. Even with the most accurate weather forecast, the 2nd conditional is for unlikely situations, e.g. 'If I was president, ...', 'If I had three legs, ...'.

The 3rd conditional then is for conditional sentences that happened already and thus there is no way of the following sentence to be true. Again, you can use could or might as well as would.

If I had had more time, I could have fixed it.
If I had had less time, I couldn't have fixed it. (But fortunately, I could.)

Kind regards
Marc
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Re: using "couldn't" in conditionals

Unread postby cadeburton » Tue Sep 30, 2008 5:47 am

We can not learn english without using grammer. Some predefined words have been provided to use english language. These word must be used in correct situation. Especially some words like may,might be....etc.
Could is also used like this. This word can tells the capacity of the one person. It can also used for showing the politeness and also used in past tense and could't gives the negative meaning.
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Re: using "couldn't" in conditionals

Unread postby negrita » Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:16 pm

Hi sorry to jump in on your posts but I cant see how to start a new one :oops:

A simple question that perplexes me.

Take the following conditional

If I hadn't taken the job in New York, I wouldn't have met the President.

This is a third conditional I think so is it "real or unreal"

To me it's real because I would only say it if both conditions occurred.

Yet I can find no mention of such a conditional anywhere.

Comments welcomed
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Re: using "couldn't" in conditionals

Unread postby Syl » Mon Mar 16, 2009 11:21 am

negrita wrote:Hi sorry to jump in on your posts but I cant see how to start a new one :oops:

A simple question that perplexes me.

Take the following conditional

If I hadn't taken the job in New York, I wouldn't have met the President.

This is a third conditional I think so is it "real or unreal"

To me it's real because I would only say it if both conditions occurred.

Yet I can find no mention of such a conditional anywhere.

Comments welcomed


See if you can find an answer to your question here:

http://www.englishclub.com/grammar/verb ... tional.htm

(to open a new thread, go back to the category - like this one, Grammar and Usage, for example - and click on "Post a new topic" at the top of the page ) :D
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Re: using "couldn't" in conditionals

Unread postby xiahuangtiao » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:13 pm

well,in my opinion,maybe this is better
"If it rained, I couldn't have come to your house."
just as "negrita" wrote "If I hadn't taken the job in New York, I wouldn't have met the President."
and "marcchehab" wrote "If I had had more time, I could have fixed it.
If I had had less time, I couldn't have fixed it."
they are all virtual sentences
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