can vs could. offer and suggestion

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Ilyana

Senior Member
Russian
Hello!

I've read that we should use 'can' for offering (Can I open the bottle of wine for you?) and 'could' for suggestions (We could go out for a while).

However, can I offer not by a question, but by a statement (I can open the bottle of wine for you.)? Or does it become a suggestion in this case, hence I should use 'could' (I could open the bottle of wine for you.)?

Thanks for your attention!
 
  • e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    You can make I can open the bottle of wine for you into an offer by adding if you like.
    If you want to make a suggestion, you could say "Why don't I open the bottle of wine for you?"
    The difference between an offer and a suggestion in the case of the wine is not very large.

    I don't know this helps to answer your question. But the idea that can should used for an offer is clearly wrong. You can say "Shall I open it for you?" The same applies to suggestions: "Shall we go out for a walk?"

    Thomas's advice about keeping to one particular formula is sound. But you should be aware (as you probably are) that there are different ways of offering and suggesting things.
     

    Ilyana

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks! I was just trying to clarify the difference between 'can' and 'could' only, so I didn't consider other possibilities of expressing an offer/suggestion. As I understand, any offers (both statements and questions) go with 'can' ('Can I ...'; 'I can ... if you like'), whereas suggestions (which likely begin with 'we', not 'I') are used with 'could' (We could open the bottle of wine.).
     
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