Q: Could? A: Can!!! -> always? I feel like I've seen a grammar rule somewhere that explained like, "You must answer could questions with the modal can". But I've seen quite a few cases that are opposite, such as... Q: (turns on AC) Could you feel the cool breeze from outside? A: Yes! I could really feel it! Is it just a trivial grammar misuse that even natives make all the time, or does 'could' have some other usages for it, or does the word 'really' neutrallize(?) the hypothetical senses of could here?
Nov 12, 2019 11:22 PM
Answers · 4
Hi Dolco, I am not sure I fully understand your question, but I will try to give you some examples that I hope will make things clearer for you. In your example sentences, the use of "could" (meaning "able to") implies past tense; perhaps the two people were together in the same room that morning, and person 1 asks whether person 2 could (=was able to) feel the cool breeze from outside in that room. Person 2 replies that they could (=were able to). In contrast, if person 1 has just turned on the AC and wants to ask whether person 2 can feel it, they would say "Can you feel the air from the AC?" and person 2 would say "Yes, I can really feel it." "Could" can also be used to politely request someone to do something. In such cases, "can" or "can't" can be used in the response. Q: "Could you please turn on the AC?" A: "Yes, of course I can." or "Sorry, I can't--it's broken." I hope that helps, and please let me know if I didn't answer your question.
November 12, 2019
@Gary // Thank you so much!!!
November 13, 2019
Sarah gave a good answer. Your example doesn't make sense though. AC doesn't give a 'breeze from outside', and as Sarah said, you would not say past tense 'could' when they have just turned it on.
November 13, 2019
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