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English Grammar

The Verb "Could"

Could is used as both an auxiliary verb and a modal verb.

Could is almost always used with a main verb.

  • I could not call you last week.
  • We could not drive the car yesterday.
  • They could not take the exam last week.

Could is used as the past tense of "can".

  • I could help you learn English.
  • We could come over next week.
  • My friends could fix your car.

Could is used to request something in the present tense.

  • Could you give me some money?
  • Could you help me with my car?
  • Could you come and pick us up?

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 does not 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.