Learn more about how to use could in the conditional tense in the Answers section.
usage note
In English "could" is classified as an auxiliary verb to indicate the past of "can," the past conditional, a less forceful version of "can" in the present, or a polite version of "can" in the present. In Spanish these functions are expressed by verb inflections.
modal auxiliar verbo
En el inglés hablado, y en el escrito en estilo coloquial, la forma negativa could not se transforma en couldn't.
1. [was able to: past of can]
  • I could swim well at that age a esa edad nadaba muy bien
  • I could hear them talking los oía hablar
  • I could have tried harder podía haberme esforzado más
  • he couldn't have been kinder fue de lo más amable
  • how COULD you! ¡cómo has podido!
  • I could have hit him! ¡me dieron ganas de pegarle! (I was so angry)
  • you could have warned me! ¡me podías haber avisado!, ¡haberme avisado!
2. (in requests)
  • could you get me some water? ¿me puedes traer un poco de agua?
  • could you be quiet please? ¿te podrías callar, por favor?
  • could I borrow your newspaper? ¿me prestas el periódico?
3. (in conditional, suggestions)
  • (it) could be podría ser
  • if I had more money, I could buy a new car si tuviera más dinero podría comprarme un coche nuevo
  • we could always telephone siempre podríamos llamar or hablar por teléfono (Am)
  • you could go to the beach podrías ir a la playa
could [kʊd]
"Skills" See culture box in entry able.
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