Podía is imperfect which is past tense. In English both the past tense and the conditional of can is could. But the conditional is often sort of a future tense which generally is paired with a condition although it can be implied. Tuvimos buenas silla ayer. Podía ver todo el espectáculo. We had good seats yesterday. I could see the whole show. This is the past tense. Hoy no puedo ver nada, pero podría ver desde allá. Today I can't see anything. But I could see from there. This is the conditional could. It states a future possibility. The implied condition is that I move to the indicated place. Of course the conditional is also paired with the past subjunctive to create contrary-to-fact statements. But one important note. Most conditional tenses are translated as would. Could is only created with the conditional of poder in Spanish. If we change the unusual verb can in English to the verb phrase to be able to, it will be clearer. Yo puedo ver. I am able to see (can) Yo podía ver. I was able to see (could past tense) Yo podría ver. I would be able to see (could conditional)
The imperfect is one kind of past tense. It is not the same as the "simple past" or "preterite."
English & Spanish) also have other forms of past tenses.
Absolutely. I probably should have specified that the imperfect was a past tense. But could, would, and should generally only cause issues with people between the imperfect, the conditional and sometimes the subjunctive so I was overly focused on the point. English only has two non compound tenses, présent and simple past. It is often somewhat difficult for people to understand how the small differences in conjugation of Spanish verbs makes such a difference.
This is NOT the conditional tense. This is the imperfect. The imperfect of poder is podía, the conditional is podría. It is actually the English that may be messing you up. Remember that could is not only the conditional of can, it is also the simple past tense.
But it is also important to remember that it is the word would, not could, that indicates the conditional of any verb but poder.
Yo trabajaria. I WOULD work. Yo podría trabajar. I could work.
Whenever you see the conditional could in any sentence, you will have an auxiliary verb podría or the appropriate conjugation of the conditional of poder. It took me a while to learn that completely.
It's not the best because "used not" is archaic, it should be "did not use to", "didn't use to" or maybe "usedn't to". Also you've used the English habitual which is valid but not the best because it's more restrictive than the imperfect. And as for removing ambiguity, English is based on ambiguity, avoidance requires periphrasis which makes the sentence less effective. At some point removing ambiguity is just dumbing it down for the audience, of which I do not approve.
So I have two criticism: 1) Was the imperfect covered/explained somewhere and I didn't notice? If not, why is it used all over the place. 2) Why is the imperfect not listed in the conjugation table? I know it should usually be easy, but in this case it's irregular isn't it?
The preterit and the imperfect were both covered in the section on the past, but I don't know why you do not have it in the conjugation table so here is a better complete conjugation table: http://conjugator.reverso.net/conjugation-spanish-verb-poder.html
I believe the sentence can translate to "I used to not be able to eat" or "I could not eat". Imperfect past can be used if you are referring to a habitual condition that existed in the past (I could not eat as my jaw was wired shut for over a year) or if you describing a scene or person in the past (When I was very young, I could not eat [vegetables]).
I could not eat her cooking, it was so bad. It is indicative imperfect in Spanish. It can describe a situation that repeatedly occurred or existed for a length of time. It may or may not be occurring to this day, which will generally be made clear by context. I could not eat her cooking...could go either way, depending on what you said before or after.
I could not eat her cooking until she went to culinary school. I could not eat her cooking when we were married, and I still suggest that we go out to dinner whenever we meet to discuss Johnny so I can avoid having to eat anything she makes.
I was unable to eat was counted incorrect. I'm reporting it. Wrong to do so? It's not surprising Duolingo hasn't accounted for the "un" prefix, but it often replaces negation in English. "I was not able to eat" is correct, and "I was unable to eat" is equivalent in English.
I think you are correct. I've seen no poder translated to cannot, can't, is not able to, and is unable to. Although not always equivalent, they generally are (can being more informal, able being more formal).
Si el niño no puede escribir su nombre, haga que los padres lo escriban por él
If the child cannot/can't/is not able to/is unable to write his name have the parent write it for them
Duo gave the answer could not eat as being the imperfect, which does not require the use of 'have'. The use the helping verb 'have' it would be translated into a perfect tense and a past participle. The problem is that sometimes Duo presents sentences, which when translated, don't seem as natural to us personally as individuals. I have to tell myself that there are millions of English speakers world wide, and what they say might not agree with me. I just concentrate on the Spanish and learn what Duo is throwing out there to learn Spanish.
Poder is one of the verbs that is sometimes called a meaning changing verb. They are called that because they generally have a somewhat different translation in English, but they don't really change meaning, at least a Spanish speaker wouldn't look at it that way. The preterite takes a snapshot in time. If you were not able to eat at one time/meal, that would use the preterite. This is saying that there was a more extended period of time when you couldn't eat. For example, people who have recovered from COVID 19, or actually any virus, often say they couldn't really eat for a couple of days. They would say No podía comer.