could
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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.
could(
kood
)
An auxiliary verb, or helper verb, is a conjugated verb that comes before a main verb and determines the main verb's tense, mood, or aspect (e.g. I have gone.).
1. (past of "can")
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
He could play the piano when he was three.Sabía tocar el piano a los tres años.
I came as soon as I could.Vine en cuanto pude.
2. (past conditional)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Joe said he would help us if he could get off work early.Joe dijo que nos ayudaría si podía salir temprano del trabajo.
We would move if we could afford anything bigger, but everywhere is too expensive.Nos mudaríamos si pudiéramos permitirnos algo más grande pero todo es demasiado caro.
3. (used in suggestions)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
I could take your aunt to her hospital appointment if you'd like.Si quieres, yo podría llevar a tu tía a su cita en el hospital.
You could try him on his cell phone.Podrías llamarlo al celular.
4. (used in polite questions and requests)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Could I give you a hand with those bags?¿Le puedo ayudar con las bolsas?
Could you get me a glass of water, please?¿Me traes un vaso de agua, por favor?
5. (indicating possibility)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
That's what my boss told me but she could be lying.Eso es lo que me dijo la jefa pero puede que mienta.
The key speaker hasn't arrived yet but he could be stuck in traffic.El orador principal no ha llegado todavía pero puede que se encuentre en un atasco.
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could
[kʊd]
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
Copyright © 2006 Harrap Publishers Limited
could [kʊd]
"Skills" See culture box in entry able.
Collins Complete Spanish Electronic Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers 2011
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