Usage of could/can ('It could go anywhere' vs 'It can go anywhere')

what are the issues, correctness, difference of meaning, of these two similar phrases?:

It could go anywhere.

It can go anywhere.

i thought to start with could is for past tense use but that’s just one of its uses i think. e.g. for requests: “Could you tell me where the bank is please?” could has nothing to do with the past.

i think they’re both correct but what about their meanings; how do their meanings differ? (and i guess it may come down to a personal view, not something that’s written down as a formal correctness i suppose). is it a meaningless question without the phrases’ context?

to start with i thought this: the could version implies “it” is not in control by you, the reader, or some other person / group of people; “it” has a mind of its own (a bird for example). and the can version is more in control by the reader/person/people. but then no, can can be equally random or known and controlled, so i think that’s rubbish now. i have no idea. that’s why i’m asking.

any opinions’d be much aprpeciated.


Some of these modal verbs - can/may/will often change to could/might/ would to indicate a remoteness/a doubt or a deference.

Could you and would you are used to indicate a polite request.

I could come is less positive as is I may come in contrast to I might come.