Poder – can, to be able

Poder - can, to be able
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An able Spanish verb

Poder is a very common Spanish stem-changing verb with an unusual relationship to some of its English equivalents.* Poder generally means "can" or "to be able," but it’s a bit more complicated in certain tenses.

Poder = can, to be able (ability)

Puedes terminar este proyecto.   You can finish this project.
Puedo comer una pizza entera.   I can eat a whole pizza.

Poder = can (request)

¿Puedes encontrar mis llaves?   Can you find my keys?
¿Puede abrir la puerta?   Can you open the door?

Poder = may, might (possibility)

Puede que llegue alrededor del mediodía.   I may arrive around noon.
Anne podría llamar mañana.   Anne might call tomorrow.

Poder = may (permission)

¿Podemos salir a las 2 de la tarde?   May we leave at 2pm?
¿Puedo ayudarle?   May I help you?

In other tenses and moods, poder is a little more complicated.

Poder in the past

In the pretérito, poder expresses that you were able to do something at a specific point in the past.

Pudo ver por la primera vez.   He could see for the first time.
No pudimos ayudar el hombre.   We couldn’t help the man.

In the imperfecto, poder indicates that you were able to do something over a period of time.

Podía ver todo que estaba pasando.   He could see everything that was happening.
No podíamos dormir.   We couldn’t sleep.

Poder present tense conjugations

Poder is a stem-changing verb.

yo puedo    nosotros  podemos
puedes vosotros podéis
él, ella, Ud. puede ellos, ellas, Uds. pueden

 Related lessons

Learn French En français

Learn Italian In italiano

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Poder - can, to be able

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