Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Would and Could

Would vs Could

“Would” and “could” are two English language words which are the past tense of the words “will” and “can.” “Would” and “could” are used for representing the past tense as well as in the present tense to express a request. They are used for other expressions also which will be discussed here.

Usage in the past tense
The past tense of the word “will” is “would.” “Will” by itself is used for the future tense; it denotes the future possibility of somebody doing something or some event happening in the future. For instance,

“I will go to the market in the evening today.”
When we refer to a past incident, we use “would” in place of “will,” as in;
“I remember my mother would take me to the market everyday when I was little.”

The past tense of the word “can” is “could.” “Can” is used in the present tense and expresses the capacity to do something or the capability of someone to be able to do something. For example,

“The parents and teachers of the girl know that she can excel in her class and can get admission to the best colleges.”
When referring to the past tense, the same can be written as;
“The parents and teachers of the girl knew that she could excel in her class and could get admission to the best colleges.”

Usage in interrogative sentences
“Will” and “would” are used in interrogative sentences. Sometimes, to be extra polite, “would” is used in place of “will” to ask a question. For example,
“Will  you go out for coffee with me?”
To make it extra polite, the same thing can be asked as;
“Would you like to go out for coffee with me?”

“Can” and “could” are also used for interrogation, but we know “can” is used to express someone’s ability to do something. It is an auxiliary verb which expresses a polite request, possibility, or seeks permission. The context where it is used is different. For example,
“Can you look after my children for one hour?”
For being extra polite the same can be written as;
“Could you please look after my children for one hour?”
“Could” is also used to seek permission, for example,
“Could I leave the office one hour early today?”
“Could I take one month’s leave?”

Other usages
“Would” is used to express a habitual act or repeated act in the past. When somebody does something out of habit, it is denoted by “would” like;
“He would go for a morning walk every day at 5:00 a.m. sharp.”
“She would bake cookies for her grandchildren every Sunday.”


  1. “Would” is the past tense form of the word “will” while “could” is the past tense form of the word “can.”
  2. “Would” is used to express an habitual act or repeated act in the past, seek permission, or for being polite while “could” is an auxiliary verb which expresses a polite request, possibility, or used for seeking permission.

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    1. Thank you for clearing up my mind. it really helps a lot.

    2. very good explanation and it will be helpful to all

    3. Thank you very much.

    4. so helpful God bless you all

    5. Still confused . . . likely because English is my second language!

    6. My question is could and would both are using for polite request. How will I find out that where we use could and would so please correct my confusion.

    7. Very good explanation given on the words could and would. Tanks alot.

    8. thank a lot, the way you would explain the “could and would”.

      also explain difference between can, could and will , would with simple example…

    9. It is very clear now after seeing this.and explaining by giving examples is effective one

    10. Would is more formal than could so always sort out could if there comes the matter of polite request..

    11. In which polite request would come not could how can I know this

    12. So please would is only use for past tense only?
      Could is also use to seek permission only?

    13. Thanks so much i haven lost for all along but jowbi can fiffereciate bo7ld and would thanks

    14. Can vs could, will vs would comparatively explained in a very simple manner. It is very helpful in classrooms to teachers. As a red teacher I appreciate your work. Thanks.

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