PODER in Portuguese


Surely one of the most powerful verbs. Nothing happens without it. Why then you ask, does it have to be so tricky? It doesn't have to be. Let's de-construct the ways that PODER in Portuguese is actually used. **PODER as a noun means: power. We're talking just about the verb in this post. I've written about poder before, in a post about the different ways of expressing the ability to do something.

PODER in the Present tense

Standard use in the simple present tense looks like this.

Can you go? » Você pode ir?
Yes, I can go. » Sim, posso ir.

But in everyday conversation, people often throw in an extra IR (eu vou) like this...

Yes, I can go. » Sim, eu vou poder ir.

Brazilians like to pronounce poder ir as a single word: Sim, eu vou poderir. Pronounced: po-dare-eee.

This is confusing.
It's like saying "I'm not going to be able to go." The meaning is the same, but it's a different approach. A Brazilian learning English would say -why don't you just say "I can't go" -?! 😉 I'm pointing this out because this is an intermediate level post and you are going to start noticing lots of variations in standard sentence structure, and it's going to cause you confusion.

Now let's try saying, "Eu não vou poder" -- This time without the final verb so it just means, "I'm not going to be able to." This is really useful to use in lots of situations and is very easy to remember.
Você vai jogar tênis amanhã?" » Não vou poder, não.

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PODER in the (simple) past

*simple past = preterit indicative
The past tense, the conjugation is (surprise!) irregular.

Eu pude. » I was able.
Você pôde. » You were able.
Ele, ela pôde. » He, she was able.
Nós pudemos. » We were able.
Eles, elas puderam. » They, you all were able.

Eu ia para a festa mas não pude. » I was going to go to the party but I couldn't.
Ontem ela não pôde sair. » Yesterday she couldn't go out.

PODER in the conditional tense

In the Conditional tense PODER means: could.

Eu poderia. » I could.
Você poderia. » You could.
Ele, ela poderia. » He, she could.
Nós poderíamos. » We could.
Eles, elas poderiam » They, you all could.

O hotel é bom mas, poderia ficar melhor. » The hotel is good but it could be better.
Tudo poderia ser diferente. » Everything could be different.
Mas tarde, poderíamos passar no bar para um drink. » Later we could drop by a bar for a drink.

*Don't forget the accent!

PODER in other tenses

It's worth checking these out. PODER is a super-used verb and you need to bookmark the conjugation reference and start using it.

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