can and be allowed to


Senior Member

1a. In prison, I could watch TV on Sundays. b. In prison, I was allowed to watch TV on Sundays.
2a. While I stayed at home, I could sleep all day long. b. While I stayed at home, I was allowed to sleep all day long.

In (1) sentences, since 'I' was in prison and usually couldn't watch TV freely, 'could' in 1a means 'was allowed to' in 1b. In other words, I think both 1a and 1b have the completely same meaning. But in (2) sentences, since 'I' was at home, can 'could' in 2a mean 'was allowed to' in 2b? If 'I' am a soldier and in army, 'I' can't sleep all day long freely but when 'I' gets a vacation and comes back home for a while, I can sleep all day long freely. If the situation is like this, can both 2a and 2b have the same meaning?
I wonder whether 'could' can always have the meaning of 'be allowed to'.

Thank you always~.
  • JustKate

    Senior Member
    No, not exactly. Sometimes could means "was able to":
    When I was a teenager, I could eat as much as I wanted without gaining weight.
    My car is right around the corner, so I could give you a lift if you need one.
    He could leap tall buildings in a single bound.

    But it can certainly mean "was allowed to." Context will usually tell you which meaning is intended.
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