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"Still lie the sheltering snows, undimmed and white;
And reigns the winter's pregnant silence still;
No sign of spring, save that the catkins fill,
And willow stems grow daily red and bright.
These are days when ancients held a rite
Of expiation for the old year's ill,
And prayer to purify the new year's will."
Helen Hunt Jackson, A Calendar of Sonnet's: February
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For Shiva

LynneLynne Your TeacherHomePosts: 8,631 mod
Shiva asked in the lessons about the difference between could and could be.

Could is what we call a modal verb:-


Click on the link and you will see it can be used in a variety of ways, and that could be why people get confused.

Did you see what I did there?

"Could be" can be used to express the possibility of something being true (or not).

For example: This could be the next forum.

It can also be used to describe the way something / someone behaved in the past:-

For example: As a child I could be a pain in the neck. / My first computer could be very temperamental.

Shiva, if you read this, the best thing to do now is practise a few sentences here.


  • HermineHermine Moderator Posts: 5,884 mod
    Hi Lynne, I have a question. As a child I would/could be a pain in the neck. Do you agree I could use both of them?
  • HermineHermine Moderator Posts: 5,884 mod
    Sorry Shiva have I been in your section?
  • LynneLynne Your Teacher HomePosts: 8,631 mod
    @Hermine. No, I'm afraid not.

    When I was a child I would try hard to be a pain in the neck. (Would shows intent.)

    When I was a child, I could be a pain in the neck. (Here "could" shows that it wasn't always deliberate.)

    Put it together:-

    When I was a child I would often read two books a week. My mother said I could be a real pain in the neck about it as she was always having to take me to the library.
  • HermineHermine Moderator Posts: 5,884 mod
    I know now why I always have broblems with could and would. In German we have just one word for it. Thanks for the excellent explanation.
This discussion has been closed.