Why English writers and even speakers feel confusion with word choice? Is this language very difficult to understand?
There are hundreds of confusing words in English vocabulary; for instance, there are many words that sound same but they have different meanings from each other; or there are many words that are so closely related to each other that people start using them interchangeably. Today, I will compare could vs. would. Let us find out the differences between them and check out the reason that drags both of these words in the category of confusing words.
Could vs. Would – What is the Difference, Definition & Meaning?
Is it could or would?
Especially, the fresh English language learners often get confused with word choice. Could vs. would is one of the cases for creating confusion. Most of the people use these words interchangeably as, there is a very slight difference in their usage. The difference has to be understood in order to make your writing error-free and productive, let us define each one of these words.
Could is used as a verb within a sentence. It is the past tense of ‘can’. It means that could is used to refer someone’s ability that he/she had in the past.
It can also be used as a modal verb, which is used to denote possibility.
1. My mother said that I could make beautiful paintings when I was so young.
2. You could have called me for help. I was right there.
3. You could have finished your work without asking me. (as a modal verb)
Note: As a modal verb, you can use “could” for future and present tenses as well; i.e. used to denote possibility. For instance, ‘you could win this match.’
Would is also used as a verb within a sentence. It is the past tense of ‘will’, which is used to refer certainty or ability.
1. When we were together, me with my friends would go to the beach every weekend.
2. My mother said that I would make beautiful paintings when I was so young.
Got the Difference?
Take a look, in the above example (2), ‘my mother said that I would make beautiful paintings when I was so young.’
If we replace the word ‘would’ with ‘could’, the entire meaning of the sentence will be changed.
‘Would’ means that you made beautiful paintings in the past. In this example, would is expressing your past action.
On the other hand, if you use ‘could’, it means that you had the ability to make beautiful paintings. It is not expressing an action.
It is concluded that ‘would’ is the past tense of ‘will’ whereas, ‘could’ is the past tense of ‘can’. ‘Could’ is mostly used to denote possibility and ‘would’ is used to refer ability and certainty.