Unit 8.1

Can y Could: Modales de Capacidad


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Introduction

Un verbo modal [modal verb] es un tipo de verbo auxiliar (ayudante) que no tiene significado por sí solo sino que modifica el verbo principal, cambia su significado y da más detalles sobre la acción.

Could es la forma del pasado del verbo can. Estos son tipos de verbos modales auxiliares utilizados para expresar la idea de capacidad o permiso. {ver Modales de Capacidad– Can, Nivel A1}.

Form

Can/could siempre tienen la misma forma, incluso para la tercera persona del singular. Se utiliza como un verbo modal y lo podemos usar de tres formas.

Afirmativo

Su estructura, en la forma afirmativa, es:
Subject + could + verb + …

Subject could Verb
I/You could work
He/She/It could work
We/You/They could work

Negativo

Su estructura, en la forma negativa, es:
Subject + could + not + verb + …

  • La forma abreviada de la forma negativa es: can’t/couldn’t.
Subject could + not Verb
I/You could not work
He/She/It could not work
We/You/They could not work

Interrogativo

Su estructura, en la forma interrogativa, es:
Could + subject + verb + …?

Could Subject Verb Question
Mark
Could I/you work ?
Could he/she/it work ?
Could we/you/they work ?

Example

  1. Capacidad/habilidad
    • I can cook very well.
    • I could cook very well when I wanted to (not always).
  2. Oferta respetuosa
    • Can I make you dinner?
    • Could I make you dinner?
  3. Solicitud respetuosa
    • Can you pass me the milk from the fridge?
    • Could you pass me the milk from the fridge, please?
  4. Posibilidad
    • She can rent this flat. She has a good job.
    • She could rent this flat if she finds a job.
  5. Desagrado
    • How can you call the owner without telling me?
    • How could you call the owner without telling me?
  6. Con verbos de los sentidos (smell, taste, see, hear, touch…) y procesos mentales (think, believe, remember, understand…)
    • The house was in a bad state. I can smell the moisture.
    • The house was in a bad state. I could smell the moisture.

Use

Could es la forma pasada, menos directa y más respetuosa de can y tienen usos parecidos, pero could puede referirse al pasado. Además, se usa para expresar desagrado y con los verbos de sentidos y procesos mentales. Podemos usar could en el presente para ser más respetuoso.  Se usa could para expresar:

  1. Capacidad;
  2. Ofertas respetuosas;
  3. Solicitudes respetuosas;
  4. Posibilidades;
  5. Desagrado;
  6. Con los verbos de sentidos (smell, taste, see, hear, touch…) y procesos mentales (think, believe, remember, understand…).

Summary

Los verbos modales [modal verbs] can y could expresan capacidad, ofertas, solicitudes y posibilidad. Se utiliza could también para expresar desagrado, sentidos y procesos mentales y es el pasado de can.

Las estructuras son:

  • Afirmativo: Subject + could + verb + …
  • Negativo: Subject + could + not + verb + …
  • Interrogativo: Could + subject + verb + …?

Por ejemplo:
— Afirmativo: “Moving could be stressful.“ / “Moving can be stressful.“ = Usamos could para expresar que mudarse es estresante a veces y can que es estresante la mayoría de la veces.
— Negativo: “We couldn´t share a flat!“ / “We can´t share a flat!“ = Usamos could para expresar rechazo y can para expresar imposibilidad.
— Interrogativo: “Could I use the microwave?“ / “Can I use the microwave?“ = Usamos could para pedir algo en una manera más respetuosa.

NOTA: No usamos could para dar o rechazar permiso.
—  “Could I leave early today?» – «Yes, you can»; «No, you can’t.“ / “Yes, you could«; «No, you couldn’t.

Vamos a revisar este contenido dentro de la sección {Form}. Echa un vistazo a la sección {Example} que muestra su uso en contexto.

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