View Full Version : One Line of Doom

June 11th, 2016, 08:30 AM
I felt slightly ashamed of my jeans and hoodie, but Yvette wasn’t intimidating in the way that pretty girls can be.

Should this be can or could?

June 11th, 2016, 10:37 AM
Lol. I would think "could" but I also think "can" works. I'd probably go with "could". Sounds more right.

June 11th, 2016, 10:44 AM
Either can work. The difference, subtle as it is, is in the mood and implication. Could suggests that girls may potentially be intimidating but probably aren't often. Can suggests they may be, and frequently are. This difference will feed into both your character's personality and voice, and also flesh out the world as either a benign or hostile place respectively.

June 12th, 2016, 05:31 AM
These aren't interchangeable. "Can" means that something is capable of demonstrating something. "Could" means that something has the potential to demonstrate something.

In this instance, you want to use the word "can." You're not talking about the potential of pretty girls to be intimidating; you're talking about a quality that some pretty girls ​actually have.