"To be able to drink coffee"
Translation:A putea bea cafea
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.