couldn't

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Usage note
“Couldn’t” is a contraction of “could” and “not.” In English "could" is classified as an auxiliary verb to indicate the past of "can," the past conditional, a more remote possibility than that conveyed by “can” in the present, or a more polite version of "can" in the present. In Spanish these functions are expressed by verb inflections. Additionally, when "couldn't" is used instead of "could" in a question, the tone may be less polite and more commanding.
couldn't(
kood
-
ihnt
)
A contraction is a shortened form of a word or group of words made by omitting a sound or letter (e.g. don't).
contraction
1. (could not; past of "can't")
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
I couldn't go to the movies with my friends last night, because I had to study for an exam today.No pude ir al cine con mis amigos anoche, porque tuve que estudiar para un examen hoy.
Nick could't read until he was 12 years old.Nick no supo leer hasta que tuvo 12 años.
2. (could not; past conditional)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Had it not been for your help, we couldn't have finished our project in time.Si no hubiera sido por tu ayuda, no podríamos haber terminado el proyecto a tiempo.
If you didn't have an extra key, we couldn't open the door, but fortunately you do!Si no tuvieras una llave de más, no podríamos abrir la puerta, pero por suerte la tienes.
3. (could not; used in suggestions)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Couldn't you for once wash your dishes before I remind you?¿No podrías lavar los platos por una vez sin que yo te lo recordara?
I'm busy this afternoon. Couldn't you take Robby to baseball practice?Estoy ocupado esta tarde. ¿No podrías llevar a Robby al entrenamiento de béisbol?
4. (could not; indicating possibility)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Don't believe everything he says. It's not like he couldn't be wrong.No le creas todo lo que dice. No es que no pueda equivocarse.
I couldn't be prouder of my daughter's accomplishments.No podría sentirme más orgulloso de los logros de mi hija.
5. (could not; used in question tags)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
They could have warned us they were coming, couldn't they?Podrían habernos dicho que venían, ¿verdad?
You could at least apologize, couldn't you?Al menos podrías disculparte, ¿no?
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