Can or could? Learn The difference between can and could in English with examples.
Difference Between Can or Could
Can or Could | Ability
CAN is used to talk about the ability to do something at a given time in the present or future
He can speak Chinese fluently.
COULD is used to talk about past time
I could run 10 miles when I was young.
Can or Could | Request
COULD is used as a polite way of telling or asking someone to do something
Could you lock the door when you leave?
Can is more informal
Can you take me to the Victoria station?
Can or Could | Possibility
CAN is used to make general statements about what is possible
In Norway, temperatures can be low as -50°C in winter.
COULD is used to show that something is/was possible now or at specific event in the past
The weather station said temperatures could be as low as -10°C tonight.
Can or Could | Asking Permission
CAN is used to ask for permission to do something in informal way
Can I borrow your car tomorrow?
Could is more formal and polite than can
Could I choose my own doctor?
Can or Could | Talking about Things which Are Allowed
We use can to talk about things which are allowed in the present or future
You can take a holiday tomorrow if you want.
We use could to talk about things which are allowed in the past
When I first started this job we could take holiday when we wanted.