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English definition of “could”

could

 /kʊd, kəd/ us  

could (CAN)

past simple of can: You said we could watch television when we finished our homework. When I was younger I could stay up all night and then go to work.

could

modal verb  /kʊd, kəd/ us  

could modal verb (ASK PERMISSION)

(present tense could) used as a more polite form of can when asking for permission: Could I speak to Mr. Harley, please?

could modal verb (REQUEST)

(present tense could) used as a more polite form of can when making a request: Could you lend me $5?

could modal verb (BE POSSIBLE)

used to express possibility, esp. slight or uncertain possibility: A lot of these problems could be prevented. It could be days before we hear from her. I could have been an actor.

could modal verb (SUGGEST)

(present tense could) used for making a suggestion: We could go to the movies.

could modal verb (SHOULD)

(present tense could) used for saying what you think someone else should do: You could try to look a little more enthusiastic.
(Definition of could from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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