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Poder Conjugation: Imperative, Subjunctive & 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 ''poder'' means 'can' or 'to be able to'. In this lesson, you will learn its conjugation in the imperative, the present subjunctive and the conditional, as well as some useful expressions to talk about wishes and possibilities.

Using the Verb Poder

We often talk about what we might do and discuss possibilities. To do that in Spanish, you will need to use the verb poder (pronounced: poh-DEHR), which means 'can' or 'to be able to'.

In this lesson, we take a close look at the conjugation of poder in three different tenses - the imperative, the present subjunctive and the conditional. Learn how to use this verb in context with Silvia and Nadia, who are making plans for the weekend.

Translation: Can, to be able to.
poder

Imperative of Poder

To form the imperative of poder, we keep the regular stem (pod-) in the forms for nosotros/as and vosotros/as, but we use the irregular stem pued- for the rest of the subject pronouns:

VERB: poder (poh-DEHR) - can / to be able to

Subject Pronouns Imperative Pronunciation Translation
puede (PWEH-deh) (you) can/be able to
usted pueda (PWEH-dah) (you - formal) can/be able to
nosotros/nosotras podamos (poh-DAH-mohs) (we) let's be able to
vosotros/vosotras poded (poh-DEHD) (you all - informal) can/be able to
ustedes puedan (PWEH-dahn) (you all - formal) can/be able to

Using the Imperative

We use the imperative to give direct orders or commands. Also, we normally use the first person plural (nosotros/as) to make suggestions.

However, we rarely use the imperative of the verb poder in Spanish, since it doesn't refer to an action that someone can control themselves. The only (and rare) instance you might find is the form Podamos in a context in which the speaker wants to encourage others to do something.

Subjunctive of Poder

The subjunctive is a mood or way of expressing information which is not factual, but subjective, such as wishes, uncertainty, or possibilities.

To conjugate poder in the present subjunctive, we need the irregular stem pued-, EXCEPT FOR nosotros/as and vosotros/as, which take the regular stem again.

Take a look at the conjugation:

VERB: poder (poh-DEHR) - can / to be able to

Subject Pronouns Present Subjunctive Pronunciation Translation
yo pueda (PWEH-dah) I can/am able to
puedas (PWEH-dahs) you can/are able to
él/ella
usted
pueda (PWEH-dah) he/she can/is able to -
you (formal) can/are able to
nosotros/nosotras podamos (poh-DAH-mohs) we can/are able to
vosotros/vosotras podáis (poh-DIYS) you all can/are able to
ellos/ellas
ustedes
puedan (PWEH-dahn) they/you all (formal)
can/are able to

Subjunctive Uses & Examples

Expressing Wishes

The most frequently used expressions to talk about wishes are:

  • Espero que (I hope)
  • Ojalá (Hopefully/I hope)

Silvia's friend, Nadia, is having a party on Saturday. Silvia would love to go, but she has a test coming up on Monday and she doesn't know if she'll have the time:

Silvia: Tengo que estudiar mucho esta semana, pero ojalá pueda ir a la fiesta. (I have to study a lot this week, but I hope I can go to the party.)

Nadia: ¡Sí, espero que puedas venir! (Yes, I hope you can come!) Y espero que tu hermano pueda pasarse también. (And I hope your brother can come over as well.) ¡Ojalá podáis los dos! (Hopefully both of you will be able to (come)!)

Translation: I have to study, but I hope I can go.
estudiando

Possibilities

To talk about present or future possibilities, use these expressions:

  • Posiblemente (Possibly)
  • Probablemente (Probably)
  • Quizás (Maybe)

On Friday morning, Silvia is feeling confident about her test, because she has studied a lot during the week. She tells Nadia:

Silvia: Probablemente pueda ir mañana. (I will probably be able to go tomorrow.)

Nadia: ¡Genial! (Great!) Quizá Laura y Javi puedan venir también. (Maybe Laura and Javi can come as well.)

Negative Suppositions

Start your sentence with No creo que (I don't think that).

Silvia: No creo que pueda llevar el coche, así que iré en autobús. (I don't think I can take the car, so I will go by bus.)

Conditional of Poder

We use the conditional to talk about hypotheses or possibilities. So use this tense to say what someone could or couldn't do.

To conjugate poder in the conditional, use the stem podr- and add the following endings:

VERB: poder (poh-DEHR) - can / to be able to

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