0
   

I could find some useful books in the library.

 
 
WBYeats
 
Reply Thu 6 Jun, 2013 08:28 pm
For a particular instance, we cannot use COULD, but is CAN possible?

* I could find some useful books in the library.

How about this:

-I can find some useful books in the library.
(suppposed meaning: I am able to....)
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Jun, 2013 08:58 pm
@WBYeats,
Quote:
For a particular instance, we cannot use COULD, but is CAN possible?

* I could find some useful books in the library.

How about this:

-I can find some useful books in the library.
(suppposed meaning: I am able to....)


What kind of particular instance, WB?
WBYeats
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Jun, 2013 11:40 pm
@JTT,
I think the kind is talking about the present, not the past....
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Jun, 2013 10:27 am
@WBYeats,
Quote:
For a particular instance, we cannot use COULD, but is CAN possible?

* I could find some useful books in the library.



Quote:
I think the kind that is talking about the present, not the past....


If you are talking about the present, a potential future, then you certainly can/could use 'could'

I could find some useful books in the library. = It's possible for me to find some useful books in the library.

Quote:
How about this:

-I can find some useful books in the library.
(supposed meaning: I am able to....)


It sounds slightly odd when used with 'I', but in the right context I'm pretty sure that it would work.

It's very natural used -

You can find some useful books in the library.

with the meaning "It's possible to find useful books in the library" OR A library is a natural place to locate useful books".
WBYeats
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Jun, 2013 07:13 pm
@JTT,
Thank you, JTT.

In Why Me Lord? A Marines Story is a sentence:

-By then I could walk again, and for some reason, we started at each other with knife in hand.

Isn't COULD here referring to a past particular instance? Should COULD be changed to WAS ABLE TO?
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Jun, 2013 09:06 pm
@WBYeats,
Quote:
In Why Me Lord? A Marines Story is a sentence:

-By then I could walk again, and for some reason, we started at each other with knife in hand.

Isn't COULD here referring to a past particular instance? Should COULD be changed to WAS ABLE TO?


It refers to a general ability, the ability to walk, that was lost [for some reason] and then returned. It could be changed to WAS ABLE TO.

0 Replies
 
WBYeats
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Jun, 2013 09:47 am
Thank you, JTT. I've got another question:

In the Murder of Roger Ackroyd:

-'I don't see how that can well be'

Since DON'T is a negative element, the meaning of the sentence is IT CAN'T WELL BE, so it's possible. Then, am I correct in saying that when referring to a present particular situation about possibility we can't say?:

-That can well be XYZ....
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Jun, 2013 11:07 am
@WBYeats,
Quote:
Thank you, JTT.


You're most welcome, WB.

Quote:
I've got another question:

In the Murder of Roger Ackroyd:

-'I don't see how that can well be'

Since DON'T is a negative element, the meaning of the sentence is IT CAN'T WELL BE, so it's possible.


The speaker isn't stating that STH CAN'T BE. The speaker is providing an opinion with I DON'T SEE meaning I CAN'T COMPREHEND HOW THAT CAN BE.

Qualifying the statement with I DON'T SEE makes it a good bit weaker than THAT CAN'T BE.

Quote:
Then, am I correct in saying that when referring to a present particular situation about possibility we can't say?:

-That can well be XYZ....


The most important thing in determining language use is CONTEXT. The 2nd most important thing in determining language use is CONTEXT. The 3rd, 4th and 5th most important things in determining language use is CONTEXT, CONTEXT & CONTEXT.

Here's a made up scenario that illustrates that we can/could do what you suggested we couldn't/can't do depending on the CONTEXT.

============
Jack: Jimmy is hiking in the Rocky Mountains. He texted me that it is snowing there right now and it's the middle of June!!

Sam: That can well be. That can even happen in July and August.
============

What Sam says, underlined, addresses "a present particular situation about possibility".
0 Replies
 
WBYeats
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Jul, 2013 09:40 am
Context: Someone died. His friends tried to console the wife of the deceased. So should I say?:

-His friends have done all they can/could.

CAN seems OK because it should be describing general ability at present, but COULD seems also OK because HAVE DONE links past to present, and CAN can't be used of past things. But on second thoughts COULD might be ambiguous in that we can't know whether it's present or past; but on 'third' thoughts the context should be already clear; but on 'fourth' thoughts, context being clear can't be used to justify something intrinsically wrong, just as HE DO IT YESTERDAY should also be very clear. I think I need to stop thinking before driving myself crazy.
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Jul, 2013 11:05 am
@WBYeats,

Quote:
For a particular instance


For a particular instance, I found some books in the library.

For a particular purpose, I could find some books in the library.

For a particular topic, I can find some books in the library.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Jul, 2013 11:32 am
@WBYeats,
Quote:
and CAN can't be used of past things


She can't have said such a thing.

Google exact phrase search - English only pages
"can't have done"
About 3,870,000,000 results

"can't have seen"
About 616,000,000 results

"can't have been"
About 4,930,000,000 results

Even 'will', supposedly the quintessential 'future' is used in the past, WB.





McTag
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Jul, 2013 02:46 pm
@JTT,
Very well played, JTT.

"You will have seen this over and over".

No wonder foreigners have problems!
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Jul, 2013 05:39 pm
@McTag,
Quote:
For a particular instance, I found some books in the library.

For a particular purpose, I could find some books in the library.

For a particular topic, I can find some books in the library.


It isn't the specific use of the collocation, "For a particular ..." that WB is asking about, McTag. It's the use of the modal verbs 'can/could' in certain particular instances.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Jul, 2013 05:44 pm
@McTag,
Quote:
Very well played, JTT.


Thank you, ... I think. Smile

Quote:
"You will have seen this over and over".

No wonder foreigners have problems!


Modals are tough stuff to grasp but the main problem has come because ESLs have been told that the modal verbs have tense.

I'd love to see any more examples you can think of like the one above.

"That plane will have already arrived."

A: I'm going upstairs to make my bed.

B: Don't bother. Mom will have already made the beds.
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Jul, 2013 01:54 am
@JTT,

Quote:
I'd love to see any more examples you can think of like the one above.


It's not a thing we lay people think a lot about. Off the top of my head, I can't think of an example which doesn't include the word "have" in referring to past events.
I also think there's a subtle shift in the meaning of "will" in this sense, because instead of referring to the future, it means something else...a degree of certainty perhaps.

e.g. "You will have seen this before" means "You must have seen this before."
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Jul, 2013 04:11 pm
@McTag,
Quote:
e.g. "You will have seen this before" means "You must have seen this before."


If the former means the latter, then why wouldn't we just say the latter?

Ah, the little things, once again. Smile
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Jul, 2013 12:41 am
@JTT,

If there is a difference in meaning, would you explain what you think it is?

I've thought about this, and although the phrases look very different, the actual meaning seems to me to be identical for all practical purposes.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Jul, 2013 12:10 am
@McTag,
Quote:
I've thought about this, and although the phrases look very different, the actual meaning seems to me to be identical for all practical purposes.


Again, with no rancor, McTag. Do you believe that the limited amount of thought that you have given to this matter is sufficient to determine that "the actual meaning seems to me to be identical for all practical purposes"?

I say "limited" because you must consider that the greatest minds in language devote years and years to issues regarding language and there remains still a great deal unknown about language and why it is used.

More on the differences later.

Adios, muchacho!
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Jul, 2013 04:05 am
@JTT,

Quote:
Again, with no rancor, McTag. Do you believe that the limited amount of thought that you have given to this matter is sufficient to determine that "the actual meaning seems to me to be identical for all practical purposes"?


Yes, of course.

Quote:
I say "limited" because you must consider that the greatest minds in language devote years and years to issues regarding language and there remains still a great deal unknown about language and why it is used.


I look forward to learning some more, once the greatest minds have been brought to bear on the subject.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Jul, 2013 06:30 pm
@McTag,
Quote:
Yes, of course.


Your reply must be deep tongue in cheek.

How can that be when you've exhibited a not at all inquisitive nature on all those peeves you've personally defended [eg. can/may] and all the peeves of so many others that you greenlighted?
 

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