"To be able to drink coffee"

Translation:A putea bea cafea

December 7, 2016

This discussion is locked.


So if there are two infinitives in a row, the second one doesn't need the "a" ?


I can't think of any case in Romanian where people would use two infinitives right next to each other, except this idiom involving "a putea" + another infinitive. And indeed, you must NOT put the "a" in front of the second verb.


What about ”a vrea” instead of ”a putea?” Like ”A vrea bea ceva este normal în timp de vară?”


And I would phrase that as "Să vrei să bei ceva este normal în timpul verii."


a putea sa bea would be more natural in Romanian


This is what I thought but it said it's wrong. I don't know why. I still think using sa would be more correct.


Generally a good idea; I can see how this would work in present indicative mood:

  • eu pot să beau…
  • tu poți să bei
  • el/ea poate să bea
  • noi putem să bem
  • voi puteți să beți
  • ei/ele pot să bea

So the subjunctive/conjunctive form (of a bea) agrees in the person with the form of “a putea.” But how could this work when “a putea” is in the infinitive form? There is no such thing as a subjunctive infinitive form.

So maybe after all “a putea bea cafea” is the better solution for this special case (infinitive). For present indicative mood I would prefer using “să.”


Ok, let's try to clear up some of the confusion.

We have two verbs here: one is "to be able (to)", the other is "to drink". (Yes, I know that "to be able (to)" is not a verb per se, because the verb "can" is defective, i.e. does not have any infinitive form in English, but that is beside the point. For the rest of this post, I will refer to that expression as if it were a verb.)

If we put these two verbs together, we form the expression "to be able to drink". Notice that both verbs are in infinitive form. Now let's try to conjugate the expression:

  • I can drink
  • You can drink
  • He/She can drink
  • We can drink
  • You can drink (plural)
  • They can drink.

Notice how we conjugated only the first verb, while the second remained in infinitive form? This is how it works in English.

Now, in Romanian, we can either do the same thing, i.e. conjugate only the first verb while the second remains in infinitive form:

  • Eu pot bea
  • Tu poți bea
  • El/Ea poate bea
  • Noi putem bea
  • Voi puteți bea
  • Ei/Ele pot bea.

Or we can conjugate both verbs, in which case the subjunctive mood is used for the second verb:

  • Eu pot să beau
  • Tu poți să bei
  • El/Ea poate să bea
  • Noi putem să bem
  • Voi puteți să beți
  • Ei/Ele pot să bea.

You can choose either of these two approaches, based purely on your personal preference.

Finally, we get to the Duolingo "sentence" in question. Here, both verbs are in infinitive form:

  • to be able to drink = a putea bea

Which is the correct solution. Some people have asked: why not "a putea a bea", since the infinitive forms of the verbs are "a putea" and "a bea", respectively? My answer is: that's just how it is. To those who are not satisfied with that answer, I would say: it's for the same reason you have "I can drink", instead of the incorrect "I can to drink". :-)

As for the solution suggested by beny2369, "a putea să bea" doesn't really work, because that's simply incorrect Romanian, sorry. Maybe, just maybe, if you changed the second verb from 3rd person singular to 2nd person singular, then that might be passable in terms of correctness, because infinitive forms can often be expressed in terms of 2nd person singular subjunctive, so you would have "a putea să bei", but to me it still sounds off. Better is to use the 2nd person singular subjunctive for both verbs, so you get "să poți să bei", which is correct.


Thanks Lurch_M for the clarification. But concerning other verbs... is it possible to say, i.e., 'eu vreau bea', 'eu trebuie bea' or it's compulsory 'eu vreau să beau', etc.?


For other verbs, it's compulsory to use the subjunctive, e.g. "eu vreau să beau", "eu trebuie să beau" etc.

Learn Romanian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.