Spanish Verb Poder Conjugation

Poder Conjugation, Usage, and Examples

Sí se puede for article on conjugating poder
"Sí se puede" can be loosely translated as "Yes, we can" or somewhat literally as "It certainly can be".

Jose Mesa/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Poder is a common auxiliary verb that is frequently used as the equivalent of "can" or "to be able to." The verb poder is prominently featured in the famous phrase "Sí se puede" can be loosely translated as "Yes, we can," or somewhat literally as "It certainly can be."

The conjugation of poder is highly irregular; it is a stem-changing verb, since the -o- in the stem often changes to -u- or -ue-, and the ending may also change. There are no other verbs that follow the same pattern. Poder conjugations include the indicative mood (present, past, conditional, future), the subjunctive mood (present and past), the imperative mood, and other verb forms.

Poder Present Indicative

In the present indicative tense, the stem change o to ue occurs in all the conjugations except nosotros and vosotros.

Yo puedo Yo puedo hablar dos idiomas. I can speak two languages.
puedes Tú puedes bailar bien. You can dance well.
Usted/él/ella puede Ella puede hacer un excelente trabajo. She can do an excellent job.
Nosotros podemos Nosotros podemos correr una maratón. We can run a marathon.
Vosotros podéis Vosotros podéis ir a la fiesta. You can go to the party.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas pueden Ellos pueden tocar un instrumento. They can play an instrument.

Preterite Indicative

There are two forms of the past tense in Spanish: the preterite and the imperfect. The preterite describes completed actions in the past. Some verbs have slightly different meanings when they are conjugated in the preterite versus the imperfect. When using poder in the preterite, it implies that the action was successfully accomplished, while in the imperfect tense it only gives the sense that the subject had the ability to do the action, but it is not clear whether it was accomplished or not. For this reason, poder in the preterite is translated as "was able to." Also, notice that the stem changes from o to u for this irregular conjugation of the preterite.

Yo pude Yo pude hablar dos idiomas. I was able to speak two languages.
pudiste Tú pudiste bailar bien. You were able to dance well.
Usted/él/ella pudo Ella pudo hacer un excelente trabajo. She was able to do an excellent job.
Nosotros pudimos Nosotros pudimos correr una maratón. We were able to run a marathon.
Vosotros pudisteis Vosotros pudisteis ir a la fiesta. You were able to go to the party.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas pudieron Ellos pudieron tocar un instrumento. They were able to play an instrument.

Imperfect Indicative

The imperfect tense describes ongoing or repeated actions in the past. Poder in the imperfect tense implies that someone had the ability to do something, but it doesn't say whether they did it or not. Therefore, poder in the imperfect can be translated as "could" or "used to be able to."

Yo podía Yo podía hablar dos idiomas. I could speak two languages.
podías Tú podías bailar bien. You could dance well.
Usted/él/ella podía Ella podía hacer un excelente trabajo. She could do an excellent job.
Nosotros podíamos Nosotros podíamos correr una maratón. We could run a marathon.
Vosotros podíais Vosotros podíais ir a la fiesta. You could go to the party.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas podían Ellos podían tocar un instrumento. They could play an instrument.

Future Indicative

The future tense is usually conjugated by starting with the infinitive form, but notice that poder is irregular, since it uses the stem podr- instead.

Yo podré Yo podré hablar dos idiomas. I will be able to speak two languages.
podrás Tú podrás bailar bien. You will be able to dance well.
Usted/él/ella podrá Ella podrá hacer un excelente trabajo. She will be able to do an excellent job.
Nosotros podremos Nosotros podremos correr una maratón. We will be able to run a marathon.
Vosotros podréis Vosotros podréis ir a la fiesta. You will be able to go to the party.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas podrán Ellos podrán tocar un instrumento. They will be able to play an instrument.

Periphrastic Future Indicative 

Yo voy a poder Yo voy a poder hablar dos idiomas. I am going to be able to speak two languages.
vas a poder Tú vas a poder bailar bien. You are going to be able to dance well.
Usted/él/ella va a poder Ella va a poder hacer un excelente trabajo. She is going to be able to do an excellent job.
Nosotros vamos a poder Nosotros vamos a poder correr una maratón. We are going to be able to run a marathon.
Vosotros vais a poder Vosotros vais a poder ir a la fiesta. You are going to be able to go to the party.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas van a poder Ellos van a poder tocar un instrumento. They are going to be able to play an instrument.

Present Progressive/Gerund Form

The progressive tenses use estar with the gerund, pudiendo. Notice that the stem changes from o to u in the gerund. Although the auxiliary verb poder can be used in the progressive form, it is not really used in that way in English, thus the translation might sound a bit awkward.

Present Progressive of Poder está pudiendo Ella está pudiendo hacer un excelente trabajo. She is being able to do an excellent job. 

Past Participle

The perfect tenses are made by using the appropriate form of haber and the past participle, podido.

Present Perfect of Poder ha podido Ella ha podido hacer un excelente trabajo. She has been able to do an excellent job.

Conditional Indicative

Just like the future tense, the conditional tense is usually conjugated by starting with the infinitive form, but in the case of poder the stem is actually podr-.

Yo podría Yo podría hablar dos idiomas si viviera en otro país. I would be able to speak two languages if I lived in another country.
podrías Tú podrías bailar bien si practicaras más. You would be able to dance well if you practiced more.
Usted/él/ella podría Ella podría hacer un excelente trabajo, pero es muy perezosa. She would be able to do an excellent job, but she is very lazy.
Nosotros podríamos Nosotros podríamos correr una maratón si entrenáramos suficiente. We would be able to run a marathon if we trained enough.
Vosotros podríais Vosotros podríais ir a la fiesta si te dieran permiso. You would be able to go to the party if you got permission.
Ustedes/ellos/ellas podrían Ellos podrían tocar un instrumento si tomaran clases. They would be able to play an instrument if they took lessons.

Present Subjunctive

The present subjunctive has the stem change o to ue in all of the conjugations except nosotros and vosotros, just like in the present indicative tense.

Que yo pueda Mamá espera que yo pueda hablar dos idiomas. Mom hopes that I can speak two languages.
Que tú puedas El instructor espera que tú puedas bailar bien. The instructor hopes that you can dance well.
Que usted/él/ella pueda El jefe espera que ella pueda hacer un excelente trabajo. The boss hopes that she can do an excellent job.
Que nosotros podamos El entrenador espera que nosotros podamos correr una maratón. The trainer hopes that we can run a marathon.
Que vosotros podáis Patricia espera que vosotros podáis ir a la fiesta. Patricia hopes that you can go to the party. 
Que ustedes/ellos/ellas puedan Su padre espera que ustedes puedan tocar un instrumento. Your father hopes that you can play an instrument.

Poder Imperfect Subjunctive

There are two options for conjugating the imperfect subjunctive, and both options have the stem change o to u.

Option 1

Que yo pudiera Mamá esperaba que yo pudiera hablar dos idiomas. Mom hoped that I could speak two languages.
Que tú pudieras El instructor esperaba que tú pudieras bailar bien. The instructor hoped that you could dance well.
Que usted/él/ella pudiera El jefe esperaba que ella pudiera hacer un excelente trabajo. The boss hoped that she could do an excellent job.
Que nosotros pudiéramos El entrenador esperaba que nosotros pudiéramos correr una maratón. The trainer hoped that we could run a marathon.
Que vosotros pudierais Patricia esperaba que vosotros pudierais ir a la fiesta. Patricia hoped that you could go to the party. 
Que ustedes/ellos/ellas pudieran Su padre esperaba que ustedes pudieran tocar un instrumento. Your father hoped that you could play an instrument.

Option 2

Que yo pudiese Mamá esperaba que yo pudiese hablar dos idiomas. Mom hoped that I could speak two languages.
Que tú pudieses El instructor esperaba que tú pudieses bailar bien. The instructor hoped that you could dance well.
Que usted/él/ella pudiese El jefe esperaba que ella pudiese hacer un excelente trabajo. The boss hoped that she could do an excellent job.
Que nosotros pudiésemos El entrenador esperaba que nosotros pudiésemos correr una maratón. The trainer hoped that we could run a marathon.
Que vosotros pudieseis Patricia esperaba que vosotros pudieseis ir a la fiesta. Patricia hoped that you could go to the party. 
Que ustedes/ellos/ellas pudiesen Su padre esperaba que ustedes pudiesen tocar un instrumento. Your father hoped that you could play an instrument.

Poder Imperative

The imperative mood is used to give orders or commands. It is not common to give someone the command "to be able to do something." Therefore, the imperative forms of poder sound awkward, especially in the negative forms.

Positive Commands

puede ¡Puede bailar bien! Be able to dance well!
Usted pueda ¡Pueda hacer un excelente trabajo! Be able to do an excellent job!
Nosotros podamos ¡Podamos correr una maratón! Let's be able to run a marathon!
Vosotros poded ¡Poded ir a la fiesta! Be able to go to the party!
Ustedes puedan ¡Puedan tocar un instrumento! Be able to play an instrument!

Negative Commands

no puedas ¡No puedas bailar bien! Don't be able to dance well!
Usted no pueda ¡No pueda hacer un excelente trabajo! Don't be able to do an excellent job!
Nosotros no podamos ¡No podamos correr una maratón! Let's not be able to run a marathon!
Vosotros no podáis ¡No podáis ir a la fiesta! Don't be able to go to the party!
Ustedes no puedan ¡No puedan tocar un instrumento! Don't be able to play an instrument!