how can/could

Definition of how can/could

1 used to show that one thinks that someone has done or said something shocking or wrong
  • "We don't need his help anyway." "How can you say that?!"
  • How could she just walk away from her children like that?
2 used to express doubt that something will happen, is possible, etc.
  • How could I (ever/possibly) leave this job?
  • How can I (ever/possibly) thank you?
3 informal used to show disappointment in someone's actions, thoughts, words, etc.
  • He threw away my gift? Oh, how could he?

Word by Word Definitions

how play
  1. : in what manner or way

  2. : for what reason : why

  3. : with what meaning : to what effect

  1. : the way or manner in which

  2. : that

  3. : however, as

  1. : a question about manner or method

  2. : manner, method

can play
  1. : know, understand

  2. : to be able to do, make, or accomplish

  3. : to have knowledge or skill

  1. : a usually cylindrical receptacle:

  2. : a vessel for holding liquids

  3. : a usually metal typically cylindrical receptacle usually with an open top, often with a removable cover, and sometimes with a spout or side handles (as for holding liquid or trash)

  1. : to put in a can : preserve by sealing in airtight cans or jars

  2. : to hit (a golf shot) into the cup

  3. : to hit (a shot) in basketball

could play
  1. : past tense of can

  2. used in auxiliary function in the past, in the past conditional, and as an alternative to can suggesting less force or certainty or as a polite form in the present


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