Can vs. Could

Difference Between Can and Could

Both, can and could are modals. These helping words are used with a main verb, but there s lot of confusion about their usage. The main difference between the two is that can is present tense while could is past tense. Let us find out the differences in their usage.


Can is used for stating facts and declaring capacity. When used in the sentence, the word may express the fact that someone has the ability, or he knows how to do certain thing and possess capability to do it. Can is used to express the possibility and the things that can be accomplished


Could be used as a past form of can for expressing ability in the past or things we were able to do before, but cannot do them now. On top of that, could is also used to express the possibility but the time expressed the past. The word could also be used to report the condition as the sentence is, “If I had money, I could buy a car.”

Can vs could

‘Can’ and ‘could’ can be used while asking question. They are used for requesting or seeking permissions, but could is slightly more polite. The example of this usage is the sentence, “Can I go now? Could you get a glass of water? In addition, ‘could’ shows a level of doubt and uncertainty. This means that when ‘could’ is used in the sentence may suggest that the information given may be true or not. ‘Can’ shows that a person is able to do a given task while use of ‘could’ reduces its possibility by 50%.

Use of Can and could is at times extremely confusing, with the help of information given in the article you will be able to use them appropriately.


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