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  5. "¿Podemos?"


Translation:Can we?

February 12, 2013



At the zoo, a sign says "buy the peanuts and feed the squirrels". Child to mother, "Oh, Mom, can we? Can we?" Doubt if kid would say "Are we not able?"


No, the kids should be saying, "May we?" This is something not enough parents correct their kids about.


Yes, this reminds me of a game that we played in school in grade one. The teacher had the kids all stand in a line and she'd say something like "Take three giant steps forward". We were supposed to say, "Mother, may I?" first. If we didn't say "Mother, may I?" and just took the 3 giant steps forward, she'd tell us to go back.


If we asked my fifth grade teacher, "can I go to the bathroom" he would reply " I don't know can you?" Then we would have to ask by saying" May I go to the bathroom."

Oddly enough I force this on my 3 year old son.


holy 452 day streak susan loves duolingo hardcore im guessing shes rich with lingots


Well it seems pretty unnecessary for you to ask her permission after she's already told you what she wants you to do.


Sounds like a very boring game, I'm sorry you had to play that.


Sounds like "poemos "


I had to listen and type what she said in Spanish. I listened several times and to me it clearly sounded like poLemos. I didn't hear a "d" sound at all, and I didn't know the conjugation to figure it out.


Yeah, we soften our 'd's in spanish X°° sorry for making ourselves difficult to understand! When we speak faster and casually, we go through the motions of making the 'd' sound, but the tongue never actually touches anything ^^


I think the last time "may I" was used in a movie was in the 1962 Music Man when the piano teacher was trying to get her pupil to say it. I fear that the "may I" generation lost out to the "can I" generation.


Yoi are going to have me watching movies just looking for may. I don"t think hearing may would stand out to the ears of the younger generation particularly. It's not like "It is I" or structuring a sentence so that it doesn't end in a preposition which are really quite dead. It is interesting though that May I go? is asking permission but I may go is often expressing the subjunctive mood. For example I may go if I can would be translated Yo vaya si puedo


I put "may we" and it marked it wrong. >:-{ It said it was "can we" but it means the same thing!


Because podemos is for the ability to do something rather than the permission to do something based on some other things I've heard.


No Spanish does not distinguish between permission and ability or it assumes that permission is an element in permission. But another function of the word may in English is to present a future possibility. Since mat I has no distinct meaning in Spanish that is different from can I, but might be understood as a type of conditional, it is not accepted.


Isn't this just the old saw "You can, but you may not"?


Not sure what you mean by "saw," but yes, that is exactly what this is. I guess it just doesn't have the importance in Spanish that it does in English.


Csn we sounds better, though.


dude they're kids not damn posh government officials they don't know EVERYTHING about english yet.


The truth, that not everybody knows, is that "can" can mean the same as "may". However "may" cannot mean the same as "can".


That's an English language perspective. For translation into Spanish may can be either a distinction without a difference, in terms of the may/can issue in English, or needs a conditional verb which is not poder. That needs to be our focus here.


Sounds like "polemos".


that is a lot of languages you are learning


I got this question again and she's definitely saying poLemos!


This is very confusing. Duolingo says poder means "can / are able to / may". Yet can and may have entirely different meanings. Surely there is a way to distinguish between them in in Spanish, no? Is "¿Podemos?" used to ask permission, or to question one's own group's ability? Or both?


Yep, both:

  • ¿Podemos ir al cine? - Can we go to the cinema?
  • ¿Crees que podemos hacerlo? - Do you think we can do it?

I think you can say poder in all situations. Speaking of challenges, you can also say the literal translation of 'be able' (ser capaz) as an alternative.

  • A ver si eres capaz de subir tú solo.
  • Let's see if you are able to climb up by yourself


Your first two examples both use "can," however (same meaning as "be able"). How do you say "May we go to the cinema?" This question is asked, for example, when someone has authority over you and needs to give you permission to perform something. It is very different than "Can I" which simply asks if one has the means, such as working legs to walk, money to buy a ticket, etc. It's hard for me to accept that Spanish does not distinguish between these two rather different concepts!


Really, no, of course that you can use additional expressions specifically for each meaning, but 'poder' can handle them all (that's the power of poder [poder == power], pun meant). By the way, you may also hear the conditional form as another alternative:

  • Profesora, ¿podría ir al baño?

  • ¿Podrías cumplir tu misión?

Normally, in English the particles would or could are used in literal translations. In these cases, the first asks permission to go to the bathroom and the second asks the listener if the mission could be accomplished.


I'm starting to feel the POWER! Thank you.


There are many words that don't translate exactly the same. Two examples, The verb 'esperar' means to wait and to hope. The verb 'hacer' means to do and to make.


"May" in English is the past tense of might. Might expresses permission or possibility. "Can" in English also expresses permission, sometimes possibility and many other things, like ability. They are similar, yet different and their use depends on context. In a more formal setting, it is polite to ask "May I?" instead of "Can I?" In Spanish, that isn't an issue because both words translate the same. Expressing ability versus permission in the use of the verb "poder" would depend on the context of its use and/or whether the translation makes sense. In English, you wouldn't ask if someone had the ability to do certain things, so the use of poder would be understood as permission to do something. And vice versa. Also, context helps. If we were looking at full conversations, the use of the verb would make more sense.


Oh, come on! First you WANT the "to" to (incorrectly) follow the conjugated "poder"; then, now, you say it is incorrect (which yes, it is, but I'm trying to do what you have requested previously!)...


It's too easy when the first letter of only one word is capitalised. Obviously the translation is "Can ..."


Everytime i answer, i think about this...)


Sí, podemos!


This sounds like "Ponemos" to me.


Why is "Shall we?" not correct? :(


Shall is future, not asking permission or possibility.


13 languages you are learning.... dang!!!! you are smart!!!


Okay perhaps i missed it. But mos often being the pluaral suffix in this cas = we. Does that mean that pode = can or does this word not stad alone??. Only one use podemos = can we ????


Podemos is the first person plural indicative of the verb poder. Poder is a stem changing o<ue modal verb which is quite irregular. The present indicative is conjugated as follows

Yo puedo Tú puedes Él/ella/usted puede Nosotros podemos [Vosotros podéis] Ellos/ellas/ustedes pueden

The lack of change in the Nosotros and vosotros forms (for those who use Vosotros) is one of the standard chacteristics of stem changing verbs, although there are many different vowel changes among them. If you conjugate the verbs in the typical two columns, the stem changes form an L or some say a boot and they have also been called boot verbs.

Poder means to be able to but it includes both the English can and may, despite the difference between the two English words that was stressed throughout childhood. The Spanish noun for power is El poder.

As a modal verb it is often used directly before an infinitive, but it can stand alone. The fact that the personal pronouns are often omitted gives Spanish many one word statements and questions.


Clearly articulated. Thank you for your feedback!

This significantly helped my understanding!!



podemos or podamos? which is correct?


i think both are correct due to the fact poder and podar both means "able to" but according a comment of thie site that follows http://www.spanishdict.com/answers/202567/identical-conjugations-in-poder-and-podar- one speeling is more use than the other


If we are talking about the verb poder, then:

Only podemos is right. Let me explain:

nosotros podemos is simple present tense in indicative case. Nosotros podamos is simple present in subjunctive case, and thus is used in most subordinated sentences to express desire, hope, etc. By itself, the sentence would be wrong because it would require more information, such a main sentence.

The word also collides with the verb podar which means "cut off the branch of a tree". Then podamos is simple present tense in indicative case. But definitely does not mean 'we can'.

These are the full conjugation of the simple present tense in indicative of the irregular verb poder:

  • Yo puedo
  • Tú puedes
  • Él/Ella/Ello/Usted puede
  • Nosotros podemos
  • Vosotros podéis
  • Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes pueden

Here is the same tense of the regular verb podar:

  • Yo podo
  • Tú podas
  • Él/Ella/Ello/Usted poda
  • Nosotros podamos
  • Vosotros podáis
  • Ellos/Ellas/Ustedes podan

Hope it is clear


would just can work


No, English requires the subject pronoun. 03-25-14


Why is ´do we can?´ not correct ?


Good question. These are both modal auxiliary verbs. As a general rule, you only use one modal verb in each sentence or phrase. As a short answer for the verb Can, we don't use do to form the question with this verb. We just invert the subject and the verb. We also don't use don't can as a negative form, just cannot (can not, both are correct) or can't 03-25-14


Just a warning: The infinitive form of Podemos is Poder. And Poder in the present tense has irregular conjugations in the singular and unfamiliar forms: Yo/Puedo, Tú/Puedes, Usted-Él-Ella/Puede, Ustedes-Ellos-Ellas/Pueden. Vosotros form is normal, not that they've been using the vosotros up to this point.


Could we? should also be acceptable


is poder used in the sense of ability can, or permission can?


Both. Podemos ir ahora? can be Can we go now, in the sense of being allowed to, or in the sense of being able to.


So what does poder mean?


Can, be able to, may, might, could depending on what form is used and the context. It's the infinitive form. Puedo nadar - I can swim. Podria conducir, si tuviera un carro. I could drive, if I had a car. Podria llover. It might rain. Pudo comer seis hotdogs. He was able to eat six hotdogs. Quiero poder dibujar. I want to be able to draw. Better/native speakers, please correct these examples as needed)


"Are we able?" and "Are we able to?" Mean the same thing. The latter translation is correct.


Is there a singular word for the word can?


We can... ? Podemos..? Aqui dice Can We..m? Plz Confuso


Diner is serve and your waiting to eat you ask "can we?"


Can it also be "we can?"


Of course. Actually short little questions like that are the only ones really written in English in the standard sentence structure. You won't see much of it in writing except for dialogue though. I have heard English speakers frame quite long questions using the standard declarative statement syntax, but that you really never see in writing.


Hi. How do I conjugate the verb "poder”? Thanks!


Poder is a stem changing o<up irregular verb. The present indicative is as follows:

Yo puedo Tú puedes Él/ella/usted puede Nosotros podemos [Vosotros podeis (can't insert the accent)] Ellos/ellas/ustedes pueden

Here is a link to the other conjugations of this very irregular verb


I don't know how much you know about stem changing verbs, but I included the Vosotros form so that if you put the conjugation in the traditional firm of two columns and three rows (first second and third person singular and plural) you will see the L or "boot" shape of the forms that have the stem change. Nosotros and Vosotros (for those in Spain who use it) do not change. Interestingly enough, the present subjunctive which takes its stem from the first person singular present indicative (present tense yo form) will reflect the stem change, but still maintains the boot or L shape.


In 'Podemos is the d sound pronounced as an L sound?


No. The d sound in Spanish when it comes between two vowels is a soft D, though. It is most like an unvoiced th. Here is a link to the explanation of the two traditionally taught D sounds. http://studyspanish.com/pronunciation/listen-and-repeat/letter_d

There is apparently some regional variations in the pronunciation of a final d.



I try to answer by listening only, 'hearing' Spanish is my weakness. I had to read it as it sounded like 'polemos'


where do you learn this word? ive only had it come up in the strength skills in the main page?


Podemos is from the verb poder. It translates as can or may (Spanish has no can vs may issue.) or generically as to be able to. It is a very common verb and an irregular stem changing verb. As for how you learn it, personally I have never found Duo very helpful for in depth learning. They rely on constant repetition of the correct forms to teach. These discussions can be extremely helpful as there are some really intelligent, analytical people with advanced or native skills here, but responses can be slow. But any question you can formulate concisely will provide you with answers from the many free language resources on the web if you just type it into a good search engine. But for meanings of words with examples and conjugation of verbs, I highly recommend Spanishdict.com. They also have grammar lessons and will be found among the links if you Google things like Ser vs estar or the Spanish imperfect. Here is there listing for Poder. Note that there is a tab with more examples and one with all the conjugations.



Podemos should be can we pay....no jut can we. Can we what?


Can we pay would be Podemos pagar. Any additional element would be represented by the infinitive of the appropriate verb. This question is actually probably asked exactly as is many times a day. Without context it is strange, but many possible contexts exist. Let's finish the job. Can we? I thought we had to leave by 5.


Just "can we". Really?


Yes, really. In real life situations this is extremely common and grammatically correct. Of course it looks a little strange without context. I want to leave early. Can we? We can buy that house. Can we? There are hundreds of possibilities.


I remember in second grade my classmates always asked the teacher "Can I get some water?" refering to the water fountain outside the classroom and she said yes and if they went outside to get water you got in trouble because shes saying that you have the abiliity to but not that you may get water, and it always annoyed me. She also called everybody Ms.(lastname) or Mr.(lastname).


What kind of sentence is"can we?"


A sentence in English requires just a subject and verb. In Spanish subject pronouns are not required which means only a conjugated verb is required. This is actually a common response to a suggested activity. I would like to go to the beach. Can we?


Needs another verb such as comer, ir, viajar.


I know that I have said simply Can we? in certain situations in English. I assume that it also would work in Spanish. The context would supply the necessary assumed verb. Would you like to go to the show? Can we? But for our purposes here, the situation is irrelevant. But there are many possibilities.


Not necessarily. Just as you might ask Do we have time? with the what for taken from the situational and conversational context, you can say simply Can we? I have said just that on more than one occasion and was always understood. You will meet him at the event if we go. Can we? They can't fit it in their car. Can we? There are 100s of possibilities and none would affect the translation.


Is "puedemos" a different word or did I just make up a word ?


You just made it up. Stem changing verbs like poder, querer, despertar, etc are sometimes called boot verbs. That is because if you use a traditional conjugation chart with first second and third person rows and singular and plural columns and you out line around the forms with the stem change, it looks like a boot. That is because the Nosotros and Vosotros forms NEVER contain that internal vowel change.


That is also true in the subjunctive even though I was taught to use the root of the first person singular yo form to form the subjunctive. But the nosotros and vosotros forms loose the vowel change. Of course à couple of common stem changing verbs are also go verbs where the yo form is irregular and ends in go. Tener and venir are the ones that come to mind, but there may be another.



Whether I listen to that fast or slow, it still does not sound like a "d"


Thie Spanish d coming between two vowel sounds is softer. Most people say it is more like a th sound, but many people just hear it as different.



I thought podemos was a politic figure in spain


It looks like, when speaking Spanish, there is no difference between "may I" and "Can I". They both translate to "puedo". What say you?


Yes. That seems to be from the Germanic roots of English. German has a separate word for may and can but, at least as far as I have taken the other Western European Romance languages, they don't distinguish between the two. I am assuming they consider permission as an element in your ability to do something. Duo therefore tries to stay away from translations with may. The other uses of may are more conditional where you are talking about a future possibikity. This uses the conditional of poder and can translate as either may or could.


Is this not a cultural difference. Spanish use Poder for both


It's both cultural and linguistic. They are always interrelated. We have two words like German. Because we have a special word for asking permission. It is something we drill into our kids and have had to for generations. But many if not most adults mostly ignore the rule in informal situations. Romance languages don't différenciate the concepts so there is no issue. Obviously at some point in history there was a cultural need in some regions to distinguish between the two, but if that necessity was culturally relavent today, we probably wouldn't have so much problem learning this as children. But most English modal verbs in general play mixed functions and don't behave like other verbs. And the major use of may is actually to talk about the possible future, which is why Duo avoids allowing it as a translation for poder except in the conditional. I would not be surprised to learn that at some point it was appropriate in Spanish to ask permission using the conditional or the subjunctive of poder. That is how one politely asks for things using querer after all. But many of our modal verbs, including can and may, don't really have many unique tenses or moods.


"Can we" and "May we" are about the same in contemporary casual English. Without context, but strictly speaking "Can we" or "Are we able to" would be most correct.


Podemos caminamos, carremos y nadamos. Es correcto?


No. You don't have two conjugated verbs together like that. Poder is a modal verb and is always followed by the infinitive. So assuming you are asking if we Can do all of those activities, that would put all of other verbs in the infinitive as well to disperse the modalality. So the correct way to ask that would be Podemos caminar, carrer y nadar.

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