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English definition of “could”

could

modal verb   strong /kʊd/   weak /kəd/
A2 used as the past form of ‘can’ to talk about what someone or something was able or allowed to do: I couldn’t see him. You said I could go!
A2 used as a more polite form of ‘can’ when asking for permission : Excuse me, could I say something here? Could I speak to Mr Davis, please ?
B1 used to talk about what is possible or might happen : She could arrive any time now.
B1 used as a more polite form of ‘can’ when asking someone to give you something or do something: Could you lend me £5? Could you turn the music down a little, please ?
B1 used for making a suggestion : We could go for a drink after work tomorrow , if you like.
could have used to talk about things that possibly happened in the past or might possibly have happened by some time in the future : She could have been killed .
couldn’t have used to express certainty that something in the past was impossible or didn’t happen : He couldn’t have damaged your bike – he was with me all evening .
(Definition of could modal verb from the Cambridge Essential Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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