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  5. "Peut-il avoir le livre ?"


"Peut-il avoir le livre ?"

February 8, 2013



So one says 'can he to have the book'? Should it not be 'peut-il a le livre'? Or, is this just another one where one needs to realize things are said differently in another language? I'm finding pouvoir (this lesson) confusing.


The most basic way to learn this rule is when you have more than one verb in sentence, you only conjugate one of them. You never conjugate two in a row when there's only one subject in the sentence. You conjugate "pouvoir" for "il" and you use the unconjugated form or infinitive of "have", which is "avoir". Think of English, when we say "I want to have", the "to have" part is the infinitive. In French this would be "je veux avoir", not "je veux ai". Hope that helps!


To be precise, not even English "can" works like that (he can has cheeseburger?). Speakers of English use bare infinitive here, but that's so similar to the "conjugated" form, that it rarely makes any difference if you don't use third person singular.


I like to think of "pouvoir" in this sense as "is able". Then the infinitive verb that follows makes sense from an English translation point of view. So in my head I would think of this as "He is_able to_have the book. If you think of "pouvoir" simply as "can" it's more confusing as then you get "He can to_have the book.


Did anyone else hear "Peut-il avoir leur livre?"

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