''could take'' vs ''could have taken''

ullas84

Senior Member
turkish
''Mr Heathcliff certainly does not look like a farmer.
His hair and skin are dark,like a gipsy's ,but he has the manners of a gentleman.
He could perhaps take more care with his appearance, but he is handsome.
I think he is proud ,and also unhappy.''

Wuthering Heights ,by Emily Bronte

is not it supposed to be ''He could perhaps have taken more .........'' ?
is not it more idiomatic?
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    This is an 1847 book. But in modern English, the sentence is correct. Your suggestion changes it.

    It uses the present tense (talking about present, recurring, and future actions).
    You suggest present perfect tense (talking about the past).

    I disagree. The speaker is not talking about the past.
     

    ullas84

    Senior Member
    turkish
    what about ''can'' ?
    Does it work in this sentence instead of ''could'' ?

    ''He can perhaps take more care with his appearance, but he is handsome.''

    And if yes , what is the difference between the sentences which are with ''can'' and ''could''?
     
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