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 really used. **PODER as a noun means: power. We're talking just about the verb in this post.
PODER in the Present tense
Standard use in the simple present tense looks like this.
But in everyday conversation, people often throw in an extra IR (eu vou) like this...
Everyone speaks poder ir like it's 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.
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PODER in the (simple) past
*simple past = preterit indicative
The past tense, the conjugation is (surprise!) irregular.
» 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.
PODER in the conditional tense
In the Conditional tense PODER means: could.
» I could.
Você poderia. » You could.
Ele, ela poderia. » He, she could.
Nós poderíamos. » We could.
Eles, elas poderiam » They, you all could.
*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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