the Meaning of PODER + better ways to say the same thing.

the Meaning of PODER

The meaning of PODER in Portuguese is similar to other verbs CONSEGUIR, DAR, and TER. While PODER is most common, knowing how to use others will give you super-powers. This post will show you the best, most common ways all of these verbs are used to say that something is possible or, can be done.

The meaning of PODER overlaps with other Portuguese verbs like CONSEGUIR, DAR and TER ~ All of these can be used to express: to be able to / can.

This is actually a real problem. There are so many different ways to express can. You'll learn the most common ones right away, but it's important to become acquainted with the others as soon as possible because you're going to hear them and they will trip you up.

Saying CAN in Portuguese is most easily done using PODER. It's also the one that everyone learns first so let's make sure we're all good with it.


We all love to use poder. It_is fun to say: pawdjee. If you don't already know and love it, please get acquainted with PODER.


CONSEGUIR can get pretty confusing. That's because sometimes it's used just like PODER , but it's also used in other ways.b

When CONSEGUIR & PODER express the same thing.

Eu posso fazer mais coisas. » Eu consigo fazer mais coisas. » I can do more things.
Eu nao consigo imaginar. » Eu não posso imaginar. » I can't imagine.

I've written a separate post about CONSEGUIR here.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Here they both are side-by-side expressing, can.

When conseguir & poder don't agree

Conseguir can also take the meaning of to get, to manage to as well as, to succeed to.
The context shows this best:
to get to, to manage to »

Você conseguiu falar com ela? » Did you get to speak to her? » Did you manage to speak to her?
Você conseguiu o emprego? » Did you get the job?
This is a perfect example of CONSEGUIR meaning to get.

One of the common expressions you'll hear is simply, Conseguiu? People will ask you that when they're wondering how something went -- if you were successful in getting something done. It's just like saying, Did you get it?

Using TER + como

What about other ways to express can in Portuguese?

If you want to totally confuse a Brazilian that's trying to speak English with you, try saying something like, Do you have any way to go to the store today? You'll get a blank stare and then realize you should have just said, Can you go to the store today? The same thing happens in Portuguese. Brazilians use TER + como to say to have a way to. Literally: to have how. Like this:

Ele tem como pagar? » Can he pay?
Não tem como prever. » You can't predict. (*also: There's no way to predict.)
Eu tenho como, sim. » Yes I can.

Using TER + condições

This is similar to ter como. You're just saying that you have conditions to do something.

Eu não tenho condições pagar. » I can't pay/I can't afford it.
Se tivesse condições para morar lá eu mudaria agora! » If I could live there I would move now!

This is of course using the Imperfect Subjunctive (ultra fancy!)

Using DAR para

This is another popular way to express can.
The best way to get it is with a mini-dialog:


Você pode concertar sua bicicleta com essa peça? » Can you fix your bike with this part?


Dá para fazer sim! » Yes, I can do that!
The power of DAR + para is everywhere.