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

modal verb
 
 
strong /kʊd/ weak /kəd/
CAN 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 what he was doing. You said we could watch television when we'd finished our homework.Skill, talent and ability
POSSIBLE B1 used to talk about what is possible or might happen: The baby could arrive any day now. This kind of crime could easily be prevented. She could have been seriously injured.Possible and probable
ASK A2 used to ask someone politely to do or provide something: Could you lend me £5? Could I have another drink?Polite expressions
ASK PERMISSION B1 used to ask politely for permission to do something: Could I speak to Mr Davis, please?Polite expressions
SUGGEST B1 used to make a suggestion: You could try painting it a different colour.Suggestions and proposals
I could (have) used when you feel so happy, sad, angry, etc that you would like to do something: I was so grateful I could have kissed her! Wanting thingsHoping and hopefulness
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) 許可, (禮貌地請求許可)可以,能…
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) 许可, (礼貌地请求许可)可以,能…
(Definition of could from the Cambridge Learners Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “could” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

illusion

an idea or belief that is not true

Word of the Day

Lies, lies, lies!

by Kate Woodford,
February 25, 2015
​​​ According to sociologists (=people who study the relationships between people living in groups), we are good at lying. As a species, we have developed a remarkable ability to deceive each other (= persuade each other that something false is true). Being able to say things that are not true can help with

Read More 

showrooming noun

February 23, 2015
the activity of examining a product in a physical store and then making the purchase with an online retailer Amazon’s new smartphone is specifically designed to make showrooming fast and easy.

Read More