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Caber Conjugation: Imperative & Conditional Moods

Instructor: Elena Sacramento Lechado

Elena has a PhD in linguistics from University of La Laguna (Spain). Currently, she teaches Spanish as a foreign language and creates teaching resources.

The Spanish verb ''caber'' means 'to fit', but it is also used with other meanings in some interesting expressions. In this lesson, we will closely look at its conjugation in the conditional and the imperative, as well as its uses and meanings.

What Does Caber Mean?

Have you experienced moving into a new home? Did you buy furniture but then weren't sure whether it would fit in the spot you were thinking? In contexts like these, you will need to use the verb caber (pronounced: kah-BAYHR) in Spanish.

In this lesson, we take a look at its conjugation in the conditional and the imperative, and we analyze other uses of caber in several idiomatic expressions.

Conditional of Caber

The conditional tense is used to talk about hypotheses or possibilities. So use this tense to say if you think something would fit somewhere or not.

To conjugate caber in the conditional, we need to take its irregular stem (cabr-) and add the following endings:

VERB: caber (kah-BAYR) - to fit

Subject Pronouns Conditional Pronunciation Translation
yo cabría (kah-BREE-ah) I would fit
cabrías (kah-BREE-ahs) you would fit
él/ella
usted
cabría (kah-BREE-ah) he/she
you (formal) would fit
nosotros/nosotras cabríamos (kah-BREE-ah-mohs) we would fit
vosotros/vosotras cabríais (kah-BREE-iys) you all would fit
ellos/ellas
ustedes
cabrían (kah-BREE-ahn) they/you all (formal) would fit

Examples in the Conditional

Ana and Daniel have moved in together and are buying furniture for their new flat. They will take the furniture home in the pickup truck Daniel's brother lent them.

Ana: Me encanta esta cómoda para nuestra habitación. (I love this chest of drawers for our bedroom.) ¿Crees que cabría? (Do you think it would fit?)

Daniel: ¡Claro! (Of course!) Además, la cómoda y la mesa que elegimos cabrían en la camioneta. (Besides, the chest of drawers and the table we chose would fit in the pickup truck.)

Ana: Perfecto. (Perfect.) Menos mal que tu hermano nos prestó la camioneta. (Luckily, your brother lent us the pickup truck.) Ciertamente, no cabríamos con todo en nuestro coche. (Certainly, we wouldn't fit with everything in our car.)

Translation: Do you think this chest of drawers would fit in the room?
chestofdrawers

Imperative of Caber

We use the imperative to give direct orders or commands. Also, we normally use the form for nosotros/as to make suggestions. However, we don't really use the verb caber in the imperative, as it would sound strange or illogical to give someone an order with this verb (fit)! It's because of this that the rare instances of the imperative caber would likely be in a humoristic context.

However, let's look at how we would conjugate caber in the imperative. To form the imperative of caber, we only keep the stem (cab-) in the second person (both singular and plural). For the rest of the subject pronouns, we need its irregular stem quep-:

VERB: caber (kah-BAYR) - to fit

Subject Pronouns Imperative Pronunciation Translation
cabe (KAH-bay) (you) fit
usted quepa (KAY-pah) (you - formal) fit
nosotros/nosotras quepamos (kay-PAH-mohs) (we) let's fit
vosotros/vosotras cabed (kah-BAYD) (you all - informal) fit
ustedes quepan (KAY-pahn) (you all - formal) fit

Other Uses & Meanings of Caber

Here are some useful expressions with the verb caber, which you can use in the conditional as well:

Expression Pronunciation Translation
No caber un alfiler (noh kah-BAYR oon
ahl-fee-LAYR)
to be completely full, packed
(literally: not to fit a pin)
No caber en sí de contento (noh kah-BAYR ehn see
deh kohn-TAYN-toh)
to be over the moon
(literally: not to fit in oneself with happiness)
Caber la posibilidad de (kah-BAYR lah
poh-see-bee-lee-DAHD deh)
to be possible that
(literally: to fit a possibility)

Let's see how we can use these expressions:

1. Taking the underground at peak hours in the city center is chaotic. Daniel says:

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