Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “could”

See all translations

could

verb uk   strong /kʊd/ weak /kəd/ us  

could verb (CAN)

A2 past simple of "can", used to talk about what someone or something was able or allowed to do: When I was younger I could stay up all night and not get tired. It was so noisy that we couldn't hear ourselves speak. You said we could watch television when we've finished our homework. We asked if the computer could access the internet.
More examples

could

modal verb uk   strong /kʊd/ weak /kəd/ us  

could modal verb (PERMISSION)

B1 used as a more polite form of "can" when asking for permission: Could I speak to Mr Davis, please? Excuse me, could I just say something?
More examples

could modal verb (REQUEST)

A2 used as a more polite form of "can" when asking someone to provide something or do something: Could you lend me £5? Could you possibly turn that music down a little, please?
More examples

could modal verb (POSSIBILITY)

B1 used to express possibility, especially slight or uncertain possibility: A lot of crime could be prevented. She could arrive anytime now. This new drug could be an important step in the fight against cancer. Be careful with that stick - it could have gone in my eye!
More examples

could modal verb (SUGGESTION)

B1 used for making a suggestion: We could go for a drink after work tomorrow, if you like. You could always call Susie and see if she will babysit.
More examples

could modal verb (SHOULD)

used for saying, especially angrily, what you think someone else should do: Well, you could try to look a little more enthusiastic! I waited ages for you - you could have said that you weren't coming!
Translations of “could”
in Korean “can”의 과거형, 허락을 구할때 “can”보다 공손한 표현으로 “could”가 쓰임, 가능성이 있음을 표현할 때 쓰임…
in Arabic يُمكِن, يَسْتَطيع, هَل بالإمْكان؟…
in French pouvoir…
in Turkish can' fiilinin geçmiş zaman hali, bir şeyin olma olasılığını anlatmada kullanılır, bir şeyi nazikçe istemede veya sormada kullanılır…
in Italian usato come passato semplice di “can” per esprimere capacità o permesso al passato, usato come forma più gentile di “can” per chiedere permesso di fare qualcosa, usato per esprimere ciò che è possibile o che potrebbe accadere…
in Chinese (Traditional) 能, (表示能夠或允許)能,可以…
in Russian прош. вр. гл. can, может, мог бы…
in Polish mógł itp., można było, może…
in Spanish pasado del verbo ‘‘poder’’, para expresar posibilidad…
in Portuguese passado de “can”, forma educada de “can” quando usado para pedir algo, poderia…
in German pret. von ‘können‘, Konjunktiv von ‘können‘…
in Catalan passat de “can”, s’utilitza per a expressar el que algú sabia, o el que algú o alguna cosa podia fer…
in Japanese “can” の過去形, (許可を求める疑問文で、”can” よりも丁寧)~してもよろしいですか, (推量を表す)~かもしれない…
in Chinese (Simplified) 能, (表示能够或允许)能,可以…
(Definition of could from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of could?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “could” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

past participle

the form of a verb, usually made by adding -ed, used in some grammatical structures such as the passive and the present perfect

Word of the Day

Euphemisms (Words used to Avoid Offending People)

by Kate Woodford,
March 04, 2015
​​​ We recently looked at the language that we use to describe lies and lying. One area of lying that we considered was ‘being slightly dishonest, or not speaking the complete truth’. One reason for not speaking the complete truth is to avoid saying something that might upset or offend people. Words and

Read More 

snapchat verb

March 02, 2015
to send someone a message using the photomessaging application Snapchat We used to have a thing until he got a girlfriend. now

Read More