Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

  

English definition of “could”

could

  strong /kʊd/   weak /kəd/ modal verb
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.
(Definition of could modal verb from the Cambridge Essential Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

More Essential British English definitions for “could”

Definitions of “could” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

cruise

a journey on a large ship for pleasure, during which you visit several places

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More