# houses built in those days <can't / couldn't> perform

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#### Evonne

##### New Member
Do you say?
These houses that were built back in those days couldn't even perform the most basic functions.OR can't even perform the most basic functions.
Personally, it sounds to me that ' couldn't' is the right word to use here....
Thank you.

• #### PaulQ

##### Senior Member
It depends on what you mean:

... couldn't even perform the most basic functions. = couldn't even perform the most basic functions at the time they were built/at the time we tested them.
... can't even perform the most basic functions. = can't even perform the most basic functions now.

##### Senior Member
This is in the past, so I'd expect couldn't.

However, there is an alternative view, because you've said these houses. So, are the houses still existing? If so, you might mean "they were OK then, but now they're in poor condition". So can't becomes possible.

In brief, you neeed to clarify your thoughts.

[Cross-posted with PaulQ.]

#### Evonne

##### New Member
It depends on what you mean:

... couldn't even perform the most basic functions. = couldn't even perform the most basic functions at the time they were built/at the time we tested them.
... can't even perform the most basic functions. = can't even perform the most basic functions now.
so can you say these houses that were built back in those days can't even perform the most basic functions.If you want to express that these houses still exist in thesedays bu t the basic facilities are now very backward and underdeveloped

#### Barque

##### Senior Member
A house isn't a machine and I find it strange to hear the expression "performing functions" used with it. Your second sentence sounds better. The houses built at that time didn't have facilities that are considered basic now.

#### Evonne

##### New Member
A house isn't a machine and I find it strange to hear the expression "performing functions" used with it. Your second sentence sounds better. The houses built at that time didn't have facilities that are considered basic now.
So should I just say the design of the houses is now outdated .which many of its facilities are now antiqued and are no longer be able to perform the most basic fuctions

Would it sound better to your ears

#### Loob

##### Senior Member
I agree with Barque. The idea of houses "performing functions" sounds strange to me.

Welcome to the forums, Evonne!

#### Barque

##### Senior Member
the design of the houses is now outdated .
This is fine. ("The" needs a capital T.)

mMany of its facilities are now antiquated
are no longer be able to perform the most basic fuctions
This suggests that those facilities used to be able to perform basic functions but can't do so anymore. I don't think that's what you want to say.

#### Andygc

##### Senior Member
Evonne, welcome to the forum. The answer to the grammar question is in post #2. The greater problem with your sentence, as Barque and Loob have said, is the meaning. It is most unusual to describe houses as performing basic functions, but the most basic functions of a house are to provide shelter from the wind and rain. Those functions require walls and a roof, and it doesn't matter how old they are - they can't be described as "antiquated".

#### Evonne

##### New Member
This is fine. ("The" needs a capital T.)

This suggests that those facilities used to be able to perform basic functions but can't do so anymore. I don't think that's what you want to say.

This suggests that those facilities used to be able to perform basic functions but can't do so anymore. I don't think that's what you want to say.[/QUOTE]

#### Evonne

##### New Member
Evonne, welcome to the forum. The answer to the grammar question is in post #2. The greater problem with your sentence, as Barque and Loob have said, is the meaning. It is most unusual to describe houses as performing basic functions, but the most basic functions of a house are to provide shelter from the wind and rain. Those functions require walls and a roof, and it doesn't matter how old they are - they can't be described as "antiquated".
Here I mean the fuction of the facilities inside the house..... by that I mea the toilet system.... ect or I might mean the furnitures inside the house are antiquated
sorry... cause it was just an example

#### Andygc

##### Senior Member
Here I mean the fuction of the facilities inside the house.
The facilities in the houses that were built back in those days are antiquated and can't provide even the most basic functions today.

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