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LoM: when to use “could” & “would be able to”

February 19, 2013

If you need to make a proposal, you will be using “could”: “In the past days, I’ve been thinking about activities we could do in class to improve our oral skill.” Here, we cannot use “would be able to do” because this wording indicates ability, not a proposal.

However, you could say (proposal): “We could prepare (proposal) Oral Presentations in small groups. In this way, we would be able to overcome (ability) our fear of speaking in public, because we would do it as a team.”

It’s true it can be tricky to work this out. Just keep in mind you need to consider the other elements in the sentence, the supporting elements, so to say, like “In this way.”

What would you say?:

Case 1: a) “You could choose a few student to perform a speaking task every week” or b) “You would be able to choose a few students to…”

Case 2: a) “If we were willing to speak in public, you would be able to choose a few students to prepare monologs” or b) “If we were willing to speak in public, you could choose a few students to prepare monologs.”

Think about it!

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