I'm so angry I can scream. -- "can" right or wrong?

wanabee

Senior Member
Japanese
Dear all,

The noise from the construction site hasn't stopped for a year.
Yes, you're right. I'm so angry I can scream.

I made up the conversation.
Is the use of the "can" right or wrong?
I think both can and could are possible, but I'm not sure.

Thank you in advance.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    No, it's not possible, but it's hard to say why. If we change it a bit, we can use 'can': I'm so strong I can pick up this big rock. (*picks up rock*) You don't have to actually pick up the rock to say that, but we would use 'can' there. If I'm so angry I could scream, I probably won't actually scream, but I might. So it's not a matter of whether I really do do the action.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I suspect one reason it's wrong is that being angry in no way contributes to one's ability to scream.

    That doesn't go far to explaining why we say I'm so angry I could scream. I suppose the person is saying that his anger could easily provoke him to scream; his ability to do so at any moment isn't in question.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I suspect one reason it's wrong is that being angry in no way contributes to one's ability to scream.

    That doesn't go far to explaining why we say I'm so angry I could scream. I suppose the person is saying that his anger could easily provoke him to scream; his ability to do so at any moment isn't in question.
    :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

    (I wish I'd thought of TT's excellent explanation:(:eek:)
     
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