could


could
could
W1S1 [kəd strong kud] modal v negative short form couldn't
▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
1¦(past ability)¦
2¦(possibility)¦
3¦(emphasizing your feelings)¦
4¦(requesting)¦
5¦(suggesting)¦
6¦(annoyance)¦
7 couldn't be better/worse/more pleased etc
8 I couldn't
9 could do with something
▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
[: Old English; Origin: cuthe, past tense of cunnan ( CAN1); influenced by should and would]
1.) ¦(PAST ABILITY)¦
used as the past tense of 'can' to say what someone was able to do or was allowed to do in the past
By the time she was eight, she could read Greek and Latin.
In those days you could buy a box of cigars for a dollar.
Could you hear what I was saying?
I couldn't get tickets after all, they were sold out.
I knew I couldn't afford the rent.
The teacher said we could all go home.
2.) ¦(POSSIBILITY)¦
a) used to say that something is possible or might happen
Most accidents in the home could be prevented.
It could be weeks before we get a reply.
If you're not careful, you could get into even worse trouble.
A faulty connection could easily (=would be likely to) cause a fire.
b) used to say that something was a possibility in the past, but did not actually happen
Somebody could have been killed.
I could have warned you if I had known where you were.
He could have escaped, but he chose to stand and fight.
3.) ¦(EMPHASIZING YOUR FEELINGS)¦
spoken used to emphasize how happy, angry etc you are by saying how you want to express your feelings
Sometimes he irritates me so much I could scream.
I was so angry I could have killed her.
I was so relieved I could have kissed them all.
4.) ¦(REQUESTING)¦
spoken used to make a polite request
Could you help me with these boxes?
Could I have a drink of water, please?
How about Sam? Could he come along too?
I wonder if I could just ask you to sign this.
5.) ¦(SUGGESTING)¦
used to suggest doing something
You could ask your doctor for a check-up.
You could always try phoning her at the office.
Maybe we could get together sometime next week?
Couldn't you get one of your friends to help you?
6.) ¦(ANNOYANCE)¦
spoken used to show that you are annoyed about someone's behaviour
You could have told me you were going to be late (=you should have told me but you did not) !
You could at least say that you're sorry.
How could you be so stupid!
7.) couldn't be better/worse/more pleased etc
used to emphasize how good, bad etc something is
Their lifestyles couldn't be more different.
'How are things?' 'Fine! Couldn't be better.'
Ordering on-line couldn't be simpler.
8.) I couldn't
BrE spoken used to politely say that you do not want any more food or drink
'Would you like another piece of pie?' 'Oh, no thanks, I couldn't.'
9.) could do with sth
spoken to need or want something
I could do with a hot drink.
could do worse (than) atworse1 (5)
couldn't care less atcare2 (5)
couldn't agree more atagree

Dictionary of contemporary English. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • could — [ weak kəd, strong kud ] modal verb *** Could is usually followed by an infinitive without to : I m glad you could come. Sometimes it is used without a following infinitive: I came as quickly as I could. Could does not change its form, so the… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • could — [kood] v.aux. [altered (infl. by WOULD, SHOULD) < ME coud < OE cuthe (akin to Goth kuntha, OHG konda, ON kunna), pt. of cunnan, to be able: see CAN1] 1. pt. of CAN1 [he gave what he could give] 2 …   English World dictionary

  • could — modal auxiliary. 1. See can. It functions as (1) the past tense of can, as in We could see for miles, (2) as a conditional equivalent to would be able to, as in I could take you in the car if you like, and (3) as a more tentative form of can in… …   Modern English usage

  • Could — (k??d), imp. of {Can}. [OF. coude. The l was inserted by mistake, under the influence of should and would.] Was, should be, or would be, able, capable, or susceptible. Used as an auxiliary, in the past tense or in the conditional present. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • could've — [kood′əv] contraction could have * * * …   Universalium

  • could've — (could have) v. used to express the possibility that one may have been able to do something …   English contemporary dictionary

  • could — could; could·est; …   English syllables

  • could've — [kood′əv] contraction could have …   English World dictionary

  • could|n't — «KUD uhnt», could not …   Useful english dictionary

  • could — O.E. cuðe, pt. of cunnan to be able (see CAN (Cf. can) (v.)); ending changed 14c. to standard English d(e). The excrescent l was added 15c. 16c. on model of would, should, where it is historical …   Etymology dictionary