Saying can in Portuguese?

saying can in Portuguese

It's a real problem. There are many different ways to express can in Portuguese. 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 accomplished with the verb PODER so let's make sure we're all good with all-powerful PODER first.

Using PODER

We all love poder. Especially it's great pronunciation, pawdgee. If you don't already know and love it, please get acquainted with poder here.

Using CONSEGUIR

Conseguir causes instant confusion. That's because sometimes it's used just like poder , but it's also used with a different meaning. 

When conseguir & poder agree

Examples make it clear.

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.
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:

Rodrigo

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

Roberta

Dá para fazer sim! » Yes, I can do that!

 

The power of DAR + para is everywhere.