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English The Easy Way


The Verb "could" - English Grammar

How is the verb tense "could" used?

The English verb "could" is used as both an auxiliary verb and a modal verb? Could is almost always used with a main verb tenses.

  • Could is used as the past tense of "can".
  • Could is used to is used to request something in the present tense.
  • Usually when could is used in the present tense, it is used to ask a question.

Examples:

  • Could the girls come with me to the store?
  • I could not go to the moves last night, I had to study.
  • We couldn't help you clean the house.

Structure of "could":

  • When using as a model verb or an auxiliary verb the verb "could" stays in its base form.
  • Could does not change form according to the subject.
  • Could is followed by a main verb. The main verb also stays in its base form. (The main verb that is used with could doesn't change form according to the subject.)

-

Subject

"could"

-

"Main Verb"

-

Positive Sentences

I

could

-

go

to the store

Negative Sentences

We

could

not

go

to the store

Questions**

Could

they

-

go

to the store

* All subjects are: I, we, they, you, plural nouns, singular nouns and uncountable nouns.

**Questions - When could is used to ask a question, could comes before the subject.