How to Use Could Have (with Examples)

Could have is used to talk about something that was or wasn’t possible in the past. You could have bought the cheaper jacket, it looked great on you. Ben couldn’t have known about the promotion, I haven’t told anyone yet! We also use could have to say that we were capable of doing something but we didn’t. The boy could have run away from the bullies, but he decided to confront them. or I couldn’t have done that to him, he is my best friend after all. Could have is often used with a tone of criticism. You could have just been honest with me. When there is a possibility that something has happened but we are not sure it actually did and we speculate about it, then we can also use could have. They could have heard our conversation at the office. It is also used for speculations about things that didn’t happen. Are you out of your mind?! You could have crashed into that wall! It’s almost 10 o’clock. Jim could have come home now. Could have can also be used for possible situations in the present which have not actually happened. They could have been married now but his mother didn’t approve. The difference between could and could have We use could to make polite offers and requests. Could I help you with those bags? Could you open the window, please? Also, to talk about possibilities in the future. I”m not sure that’s a good idea, it could be cold tomorrow. Could is used to show that something was or wasn’t possible in the past. People couldn’t travel by planes a hundred years ago. The only way you could watch a film in those days was at the cinema. One of the biggest differences between could and could have is that could shows a past ability while could have shows only a past possibility. He could swim very fast before the accident. He could have swum faster if his leg hadn’t hurt him. Here are some more examples: People could do so much more for their community. I couldn’t have said it better myself. We could have left the party earlier. The girl was crying because she couldn’t find her parents. You could have stopped by the grocery store. We need some milk. I couldn’t have done it without you.

In this lesson, you will learn how to use could have.

Below the video, you’ll find lots of examples to help you understand this modal verb.

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Could Have

Could have is used to talk about something that was or wasn’t possible in the past.

  • You could have bought the cheaper jacket, it looked great on you.
  • Ben couldn’t have known about the promotion, I haven’t told anyone yet!

We also use could have to say that we were capable of doing something but we didn’t.

  • The boy could have run away from the bullies, but he decided to confront them. or
  • I couldn’t have done that to him, he is my best friend after all.

Could have is often used with a tone of criticism.

  • You could have just been honest with me.

It is also used for speculations about things that didn’t happen.

  • Are you out of your mind?! You could have crashed into that wall!

 

One of the biggest differences between could and could have is that could shows a past ability while could have shows only a past possibility.

  • He could swim very fast before the accident.
  • He could have swum faster if his leg hadn’t hurt him.

Here are some more examples:

  • People could do so much more for their community.
  • I couldn’t have said it better myself.
  • We could have left the party earlier.
  • The girl was crying because she couldn’t find her parents.
  • You could have stopped by the grocery store. We need some milk.
  • I couldn’t have done it without you.

What to Do Now:

1. Give an example of ‘could have’ in the comment section below.
2. Check out my video on should have
3.
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  • getton sousa

    You could have helped me in this job. I could be off earlier.

  • 1) I could draw when I was three . ( past ability )
    2) I could have left earlier if you hadn’t arrived so late . ( past possibility )

  • Asela

    I could have started learning English much earlier
    I could sawing dress earlier