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  5. "Yo no podía comer."

"Yo no podía comer."

Translation:I could not eat.

January 17, 2014



podía = imperfect tense. Poder is a really funky irregular verb, so put on your seatbelts. Bumpy ride ahead.


Then which tense is "Podria"


I thought podría, podrias, podría, podríamos, podrían + infinitive is Could do something?


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)


thank you much, lingots for you


In addition:

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.


¡Muchas gracias!


Fab, thank you lynette


"podria" = "could"; "Could" = "would be able" = cond. of "to be able"; "to be able" = "can" = "poder"; therefore "podria" = cond. of "poder"

so both of you are right.


fk yeah. i should wear about ten seatbelts


That cuts off blood to my brain I think.


Those bunnys in the ciercel is cute


Funny how this example comes before we even unlock the lesson on the imperfect tense


And also the conditional tense. This is an impossible chapter for someone truly learning Spanish.


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.


Quite a funny way of motivation giving


"I used not to be able to eat" is by far the best answer as it is correct and unambiguous. Come on duolingo!


"I used to not be able to eat," is slightly better in English.


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.


I like the hat. And the ideas under it. It's a little over my head at times but something to reach for. No alcanzo todavia.


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?


I agree. Why is 'the imperfect' not listed in the conjugation table?


24/Aug/2015 Still not listed in the conjugation table. However Duo very often leaves things out. I like world reference and Spanish Dict. They are my go to references.


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


Would "I was not able to eat" have been accepted?


That would be "yo no pude comer."


Is it preterite?


Yes. It was listed as the correct answer.






I am assuming that even though this is translated "I couldn't eat", it is NOT a past tense in Spanish. Perhaps it would be used in a situation where you are trying to say something along the lines of "I couldn't eat even if I tried"?


It is telling you that in a past moment I was not able to eat, but I am now. The sentence you mention at the end is "No podría comer aunque lo intentara"


Poder in the preterite as in " no pude comer " has the connotation of having tried, but was not able.


They're pretty much the same.

  • Yo no podía comer - (pardon the awkwardness, but it serves the purpose) At that moment I was not being able to eat or I wasn't allowed to eat or I couldn't eat.

  • Yo no pude comer - At that time I was not able to eat. End of the story.


Check out: http://www.spanishdict.com/answers/100048/imperfect-past#.U8QdFI1dXd4

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 agree. DL does not. It does not accept "I used to not be able to eat"


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.


Simply states an emotional, mental or physical condition in the past.


Are verb modals past tense?


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


In tenses other than present and past, future for example. "able" is not more formal but required.


I think "I used to not be able to eat" should work here...


No podia is a negative verb that means not to and a positive one will be the opositive like" yo podia comer"


The accentuation in the word "podia" is because it is in the past tense verb.


Why is "I could not have eaten wrong" and how would you say that?


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.


"I could not have eaten" tends to imply "I could not have eaten at that specific time", so I think you would translate it using the preterite: «no pude comer». The imperfect «no podía comer» implies something longer-lasting, but still over - closer to "I could never eat".


"Yo no podía comer" would usually imply a period of time. Ex: Yo no podía comer para dos semanas. Where as if you were saying I could not eat (one time thing)- you would use "Yo no pude comer."


Podria = could as in conditional podia = could as in the past tense. That's the thing with english, is uses a lot of the same conjugations for a lot of different sunject and pronouns.


They graded - 'I cannot eat' - as wrong.


That would be, "Yo no puedo comer."


'I was unable to eat' is the same as 'I wasn't able to eat', yet it was marked as incorrect.


I was unable to eat (wrong?)


I typed "I couldn't eat", which was wrong. Isn't it the same as I could not eat"?


Me la pone como mal cuando la he puesto exactamente como habia que poner la respuesta


Can anybody explain it to me why they use imperfecto here instead of pretérito?


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.


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