This is a comprehensive guide to the conjugation of the Spanish verb “poder” (“to be able to”).

In Spanish grammar, “poder” is an irregular verb (with an “au” to ”ue” stem change), meaning it doesn’t follow the typical conjugation patterns of regular verbs. It also often serves as an auxiliary verb in compound tenses.

Understanding the basic “poder” conjugations in the Spanish language is essential as it is commonly used to express capability, permission, or potentiality in various contexts.

I’m James from Learn Spanish With James. This post provides detailed charts on how to conjugate ”poder” and offers a full tense guide, including its conditional forms and English translations with examples. 

By the end of this guide, you should know how to master this versatile Spanish verb in all its forms.

Present Tense

PronounsPronombres
Iyopuedo
youpuedes
he/she/it/you (formal)él, ella, ustedpuede
wenosotros, nosotraspodemos
you (plural)vosotros, vosotraspodéis
they, you (pl. formal)ellos, ellas, ustedespueden

When We Use The Present Tense

In Spanish, the present tense of “poder” (to be able to) in the indicative mood is used to express current capabilities or possibilities, both physical and hypothetical, as in “No puedo más”, meaning “I can’t do any more”.

For example, “Puedo nadar” (I can swim) or the conjugated form for “you” – “¿Puedes venir mañana?” (Can you come tomorrow?). 

It can also convey potential or likelihood, as in “Él puede ganar la competencia” (He can win the competition).

Examples of the Spanish Verb “Poder” in the Present Tense

  1. Yo puedo estudiar. (I can study.)
  2. Tú puedes ayudarme. (You can help me.)
  3. Él puede hablar español. (He can speak Spanish.)
  4. Ella puede bailar muy bien. (She can dance very well.)
  5. Nosotros podemos aprender juntos. (We can learn together.)
  6. Vosotros podéis venir con nosotros. (You all can come with us.)
  7. Ellos/ellas/ustedes pueden entender el problema. (They can understand the problem.)

Preterite Tense 

PronounsPronombres
Iyopude
youpudiste
he, she. it, you (formal)él, ella, ustedpudo
wenosotros, nosotraspudimos
you (plural)vosotros, vosotraspudisteis
they, you (pl. formal)ellos, ellas, ustedespudieron

When We Use The Preterite Tense

The preterite tense of “poder” in Spanish is used to denote specific actions or events that occurred in the past and are completed.

It indicates instances where someone was able to or managed to do something at a particular moment in the past. For example, “pude resolver el problema” (I managed to solve the problem), emphasizing the accomplishment of solving it at a specific time.

Examples of the “Poder” Conjugations in the Preterite Tense

  1. Yo pude llegar primero. (I was able to arrive first.)
  2. Tú pudiste ser mi amigo cuando más te necesité. (You were able to be my friend when I needed you the most.)
  3. Él/ella pudo ser un gran líder para nuestro equipo. (He was able to be a great leader for our team.)
  4. Nosotros pudimos ser campeones una vez el año pasado. (We were able to become champions once last year.)
  5. Vosotros pudisteis ser invitados a la fiesta, ¿verdad? (You all got invited to the party, right?)
  6. Ellos/ellas/ustedes pudieron ser los primeros en terminar el proyecto. (They were able to be the first to finish the project.)

Imperfect Tense

PronounsPronombres
Iyopodía
youpodías
he, she, it, you (formal)él, ella, usted podía
wenosotros, nosotraspodíamos
you (plural)vosotros, vosotraspodíais
they, you(pl. formal)ellos, ellas, ustedespodían

When We Use The Imperfect Tense

The imperfect tense of the verb “poder” in Spanish is used to describe ongoing or habitual actions in the past, as well as to express abilities or permissions in the past without specifying a definite endpoint.

It portrays the past ability to do something without emphasizing the completion or achievement of that action. For instance, “podía hablar francés cuando era joven” (I could speak French when I was young).

Examples of the Imperfect Tense “Poder” Conjugation

  1. Yo podía jugar mucho en mi infancia. (I could play a lot in my childhood.)
  2. Tú podías destacarte como el mejor jugador del equipo. (You could excel as the best player on the team.)
  3. Él/ella podía enseñar antes de jubilarse. (He could teach before retiring.)
  4. Nosotros podíamos explorar juntos cuando éramos niños. (We could explore together when we were children.)
  5. Vosotros podíais estudiar juntos en la universidad. (You all could study together in college.)
  6. Ellos/ellas/ustedes podían reírse mucho juntos. (They could laugh a lot together.)

Future Tense

PronounsPronombres
Iyopodré
youpodrás
he,she,it, you(formal)él,ella,ustedpodrá
wenosotros,nosotraspodremos
you pl.vosotros, vosotraspodréis
they, you pl. (formal)ellos,ellas,ustedespodrán

When We Use The Future Tense

The “poder” future tense in Spanish is used to express the potential or ability to do something in the future.

It indicates actions or events that have not yet occurred but are expected to happen. For example, the was to conjugate ”poder” in the future can be: “podré ayudarte mañana” (I will be able to help you tomorrow), emphasizing the future capability to assist.

 Examples of the Future Tense “Poder” Conjugation

  1. Yo podré ayudarte en unos años. (I will be able to help you in a few years.)
  2. Tú podrás alcanzar tus metas, estoy seguro. (You will be able to reach your goals, I’m sure.)
  3. Él/ella podrá resolver el problema más adelante. (He will be able to solve the problem later.)
  4. Nosotros no podremos garantizar su plaza, si usted no se registra hoy.” (We will not be able to guarantee your spot, if you don’t register today.)
  5. Vosotros podréis colaborar en el proyecto si queréis. (You all will be able to collaborate on the project if you want.)
  6. Ellos/ellas/ustedes podrán viajar por el mundo cuando jubilen. (They will be able to travel the world when they retire.)

Conditional Tense

PronounsPronombres
Iyopodría
youpodrías
he,she,it, you(formal)él,ella,ustedpodría
wenosotros,nosotraspodríamos
you pl.vosotros, vosotraspodríais
they, you pl. (formal)ellos,ellas,ustedespodrían

When We Use The Conditional Tense

The conditional tense in Spanish is used to express hypothetical situations, desires, or polite requests.

It indicates what someone would be able to do under certain conditions or circumstances. For example, “podría ayudarte si tuviera más tiempo” (I could help you if I had more time).

It’s also used to make polite requests or suggestions, such as “¿Podrías pasarme la sal, por favor?” (Could you pass me the salt, please?).

Examples of the Conditional Tense “Poder” Conjugation

  1. Yo podría ser feliz si ganara la lotería. (I could be happy if I won the lottery.)
  2. ¿Podrías venir conmigo, por favor? (Could you come with me, please?)
  3. Él/ella podría viajar por el mundo si ahorrara más dinero. (He could travel the world if he saved more money.)
  4. Nosotros podríamos trabajar juntos. (We could work together.)
  5. Vosotros podríais abrir un negocio exitoso si investigarais el mercado. (You all could open a successful business if you researched the market.)
  6. Ellos/ellas/ustedes podrían llegar a ser atletas profesionales si entrenaran más duro. (They could become professional athletes if they trained harder.)

Preterite Perfect Tense

PronounsPronombresAuxiliary verb ‘haber’
Iyohepodido
youhaspodido
he,she,it, you(formal)él,ella,ustedhapodido
wenosotros,nosotrashemospodido
you pl.vosotros, vosotrashabéispodido
they, you pl. (formal)ellos,ellas,ustedeshanpodido

When We Use The Preterite Perfect Tense

The preterite perfect tense (pretérito perfecto compuesto) in Spanish is used to describe actions that have been completed recently or in the immediate past.

To form this tense, you need the past participle by adding -ido to the stem: podido.

It emphasizes the result or consequence of an action rather than the action itself. For instance, “He podido terminar el trabajo” (I have managed to finish the work).

Examples of the Preterite Perfect “Poder” Conjugation

  1. Yo he podido llegar primero a la cima. (I have been able to reach the summit first.)
  2. Tú has podido ayudarme en momentos difíciles. (You have been able to help me in difficult times.)
  3. Él/Ella ha podido liderar el equipo con éxito. (He/She has been able to lead the team successfully.)
  4. Nosotros hemos podido superar los obstáculos juntos. (We have been able to overcome obstacles together.)
  5. Vosotros habéis podido aprender un nuevo idioma en poco tiempo. (You all have been able to learn a new language in a short time.)
  6. Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes han podido alcanzar sus metas profesionales. (They have been able to achieve their professional goals.)

Pluperfect Tense

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When We Use The Pluperfect Tense

The pluperfect tense (pretérito pluscuamperfecto) in Spanish is used to describe actions that had been completed before another past action or event.

It indicates an action that occurred before another past action, providing background information or context. For example, “había podido terminar el trabajo antes de que llegara la hora de la reunión” (I had managed to finish the work before the meeting time).

Examples of the Pluperfect “Poder” Conjugation

  1. Yo había podido ser el capitán del equipo antes de ese torneo. (I had been able to be the captain of the team before that tournament.)
  2. Tú habías podido ser muy buen estudiante en la secundaria. (You had been able to be a very good student in high school.)
  3. Él/Ella había podido actuar en numerosas películas antes de dedicarse a la dirección. (He had been able to act in numerous movies before dedicating himself to directing.)
  4. Nosotros habíamos podido vivir como vecinos durante años antes de mudarnos. (We had been able to live as neighbors for years before moving.)
  5. Vosotros habíais podido organizar la fiesta anual con gran éxito. (You all had been able to organize the annual party with great success.)
  6. Ellos/ellas/ustedes habían podido disfrutar de momentos felices hasta que ocurrió el accidente. (They had been able to enjoy happy moments until the accident happened.)

Future Perfect Tense

PronounsPronombresAuxiliary verb ‘haber’
Iyohabrépodido
youhabráspodido
he,she,it, you(formal)él,ella,ustedhabrápodido
wenosotros,nosotrashabremospodido
you pl.vosotros, vosotrashabréispodido
they, you pl. (formal)ellos,ellas,ustedeshabránpodido

When We Use The Future Perfect Tense

The future perfect tense (futuro perfecto) in Spanish is used to express actions that will have been completed by a certain point in the future. It indicates an action that will be finished before another future action or time reference.

For example, “habré podido terminar el trabajo para la hora de la reunión” (I will have managed to finish the work by the meeting time).

Examples of the Future Perfect “Poder” Conjugation

  1. Yo habré podido enseñar como profesor por veinte años al finalizar este curso. (I will have been able to teach as a teacher for twenty years by the end of this course.)
  2. Tú habrás podido contribuir a esta empresa por una década cuando te jubiles. (You will have been able to contribute to this company for a decade when you retire.)
  3. Él habrá podido liderar como presidente por dos términos al dejar el cargo. (He will have been able to lead as president for two terms when he leaves office.)
  4. Ella habrá podido mantener nuestra amistad por treinta años el próximo mes. (She will have been able to maintain our friendship for thirty years next month.)
  5. Nosotros habremos podido compartir nuestra vida casados por cincuenta años el año que viene. (We will have been able to share our married life for fifty years next year.)
  6. Vosotros habréis podido vivir como nuestros vecinos por quince años en septiembre. (You all will have been able to live as our neighbors for fifteen years in September.)
  7. Ellos/ellas/ustedes habrán podido conservar el título de campeones reinantes por tres años consecutivos si ganan hoy. (They will have been able to retain the title of reigning champions for three consecutive years if they win today.)

Conditional Perfect Tense

PronounsPronombresAuxiliary verb ‘haber’
Iyohabríapodido
youhabríaspodido
he,she,it, you(formal)él,ella,ustedhabríapodido
wenosotros,nosotrashabríamospodido
you pl.vosotros, vosotrashabríaispodido
they, you pl. (formal)ellos,ellas,ustedeshabríanpodido

When We Use The Conditional Perfect Tense

The conditional perfect tense (condicional perfecto) in Spanish is used to express hypothetical actions that would have been completed under certain conditions in the past.

It indicates an action that would have occurred before another past action or event. For example, “habría podido ayudarte si hubieras pedido ayuda antes” (I would have been able to help you if you had asked for help earlier).

Examples of the Conditional Perfect “Poder” Conjugation

  1. Yo habría podido explorar más si hubiera viajado más. (I would have been able to explore more if I had traveled more.)
  2. Tú habrías podido destacarte como un gran actor si te hubieras dedicado a ello. (You would have been able to excel as a great actor if you had dedicated yourself to it.)
  3. Él/ella habría podido convertirse en un buen médico, pero eligió otra carrera. (He would have been able to become a good doctor, but he chose another career.)
  4. Nosotros habríamos podido alcanzar la riqueza si hubiéramos invertido en aquel entonces. (We would have been able to achieve wealth if we had invested back then.)
  5. Vosotros habríais podido obtener reconocimiento mundial si hubierais lanzado ese producto. (You all would have been able to obtain worldwide recognition if you had launched that product.)
  6. Ellos/ellas/ustedes habrían podido ser felices juntos si las circunstancias hubieran sido diferentes. (They would have been able to be happy together if the circumstances had been different.)

Present Subjunctive

PronounsPronombres
Iyopueda
youpuedas
he,she,it, you(formal)él,ella,ustedpueda
wenosotros,nosotraspodamos
you pl.vosotros, vosotraspodáis
they, you pl. (formal)ellos,ellas,ustedespuedan

When We Use The Present Subjunctive

The present ”poder” subjunctive conjugations in Spanish express desires, wishes, doubts, or possibilities in the present or future.

It’s typically triggered by expressions of influence, emotion, doubt, necessity, or uncertainty. For example, “Espero que puedas venir mañana” (I hope you can come tomorrow), expressing a desire or hope for someone’s ability to come.

Examples of the Present Subjunctive “Poder” Conjugation

  1. Es importante que yo pueda resolver problemas. (It’s important that I can solve problems.)
  2. Quiero que tú puedas alcanzar tus metas. (I want you to be able to achieve your goals.)
  3. Es necesario que él pueda adaptarse a diferentes situaciones. (It’s necessary that he can adapt to different situations.)
  4. Espero que ella pueda encontrar la felicidad. (I hope that she can find happiness.)
  5. Deseamos que nosotros podamos contribuir al progreso de la sociedad. (We wish that we can contribute to the progress of society.)
  6. Prefiero que vosotros podáis expresar vuestras opiniones libremente. (I prefer that you all can express your opinions freely.)
  7. Es bueno que ellos puedan trabajar en equipo. (It’s good that they can work as a team.)
  8. Quiero que ustedes puedan colaborar en este proyecto. (I want you to be able to collaborate on this project.)

Imperfect Subjunctive

PronounsPronombres
Iyopudiera, pudiese
youpudieras, pudieses
he,she,it, you(formal)él,ella,ustedpudiera, pudiese
wenosotros,nosotraspudiéramos, pudiésemos
you pl.vosotros, vosotraspudierais, pudieseis
they, you pl. (formal)ellos,ellas,ustedespudieran, pudiesen

When We Use The Imperfect Subjunctive

The ”poder” imperfect subjunctive mood forms are used in subordinate clauses to express hypothetical situations, desires, or doubts in the past. 

It’s commonly used after certain triggers like impersonal expressions, wishes, or conditional clauses.

For instance, “Ojalá pudieras ayudarme” (I wish you could help me), expresses a desire or wish in the past for someone’s ability to help. It’s also employed in conditional sentences, such as “Si pudiera, iría contigo” (If I could, I would go with you).

Examples of the Imperfect Subjunctive Conjugations

  1. Quería que yo pudiera ser más paciente. (I wish I could be more patient.)
  2. Te sugerí que tú pudieras ser el líder del grupo. (I suggested you could be the group leader.)
  3. Era importante que él/ella pudiera ser puntual. (It was important that he could be punctual.)
  4. Pedíamos que nosotros pudiéramos ser tratados con justicia. (We asked that we could be treated fairly.)
  5. Preferías que vosotros pudierais ser incluidos en la lista. (You preferred that you all could be included on the list.)
  6. Querían que ellos pudieran ser felices. (They wanted them to be able to be happy.)
  7. Era necesario que ustedes pudieran ser más comprensivos. (It was necessary that you could be more understanding.)

Pluperfect Subjunctive

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When We Use The Pluperfect Subjunctive

The pluperfect subjunctive tense of the verb “poder” in Spanish is used to express actions that hypothetically would have been completed before another past action, often in complex sentences with past subjunctive triggers.

It denotes unrealized possibilities or desires in the past. For example, “Si hubiera podido llegar a tiempo, habría asistido a la reunión” (If I had been able to arrive on time, I would have attended the meeting).

Examples of the Pluperfect Subjunctive “Poder” Conjugation

  1. Si hubiera podido organizarme mejor, habría logrado el éxito. (If I had been able to organize myself better, I would have achieved success.)
  2. Ojalá hubieras podido llegar más temprano a esa ocasión. (I wish you had been able to arrive earlier on that occasion.)
  3. Si él/ella hubiera podido mostrar más valentía, habría superado sus miedos. (If he had been able to show more bravery, he would have overcome his fears.)
  4. Nosotros habríamos podido ser más felices si hubiéramos tomado otra decisión. (We would have been able to be happier if we had made a different decision.)
  5. Si vosotros hubierais podido ser más cuidadosos, el accidente no habría ocurrido. (If you all had been able to be more careful, the accident wouldn’t have happened.)
  6. Si ellos hubieran podido mostrar más amabilidad, nos habríamos llevado mejor. (If they had been able to show more kindness, we would have gotten along better.)
  7. Si ustedes hubieran podido comunicarse más, habríamos resuelto el problema antes. (If you had been able to communicate more, we would have resolved the issue earlier.)

Affirmative Imperative

PronounsPronombres
you¡puede!
he,she,it, you(formal)él,ella,usted¡pueda!
wenosotros,nosotras¡podamos!
you pl.vosotros, vosotras¡poded!
they, you pl. (formal)ellos,ellas,ustedes¡puedan!

When We Use The Affirmative Imperative

The affirmative imperative mood of the verb “poder” in Spanish is used to give commands or orders in a direct and assertive manner. It’s employed to instruct or advise someone to perform an action or to express permission or ability.

For example, “Puedes venir conmigo” (You can come with me), signifies permission or invitation.

Negative Imperative

PronounsPronombres
you¡no puedas!
he,she,it, you(formal)él,ella,usted¡no pueda!
wenosotros,nosotras¡no podamos!
you pl.vosotros, vosotras¡no podáis!
they, you pl. (formal)ellos,ellas,ustedes¡no puedan!

When We Use The Negative Imperative

The negative imperative mood of the verb “poder” in Spanish is used to give commands or orders in a negative, prohibitive manner.

It’s used to instruct or advise someone not to perform an action or to express a lack of permission or ability. For example, “No puedes entrar aquí” (You cannot enter here), signifies prohibition.

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About James – Or Should that be Santiago?

My name is James. I am a Brit with a love for the Spanish language. I have lived in Spain, Argentina, and Costa Rica, and I have been teaching Spanish for over a decade. This site will show you how to master the elements of Spanish grammar that often dishearten learners. I hope you enjoy the site and find it useful.

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