Expressions with "Poder"
Poder is an irregular verb in most forms and tenses. To review how to conjugate poder, click here.
Expressing the Ability to Perform an Action
Poder is used to express whether someone is able or not able to perform an action. This is straightforward in the present tense, but it can get a little tricky in the past tense because the verb can have a slightly different meaning.
- Poder conjugated in the preterite translates as managed or could, and is used to express that you were able to do something at a specific point in the past.
- Poder conjugated in the imperfect translates as was/were able to, and is used to express that you were able to do something over a period of time.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of poder in the present, preterite, and imperfect.
Talking about your Skills and Abilities
One of the most common uses of poder is talking about your skills/abilities. To do this, conjugate poder and add an infinitive.
When talking about someone’s skills/abilities in the past, the imperfect is used.
Check out these examples.
Making Polite Requests
To ask someone politely to do something in Spanish, use poder in the conditional followed by an infinitive.
To indicate possibility, the verb poder can be used in a variety of tenses to express could, may, or might.
- Use podríafollowed by an infinitive to express could or might.
- Use the phrase puede quefollowed by the present subjunctive to express may.
Take a look at these examples.
Poder conjugated in the conditional tense followed by an infinitive is a common way to make a suggestion in Spanish.
Poder and the Impersonal Se
Poder can be used in impersonal se constructions to make general observations about what people can or can't do.
Impersonal Se Formula
se + verb in third person singular
Let's put this into practice!
The verb poder is used in a variety of useful expressions.
|Expression in Spanish||Meaning in English|
|to the max|
|can’t help but|
|to not to be able to stand the sight of|
|I don’t believe it!|
|I wish I could|
|where there's a will there's a way|
|it can be said|