I am trying to see if I understand the tenses here. The truth is in english we could translate so many of these as simply "could". But I am thinking it might work like this:
(imperfect) podían = They could eat together if we all go to Applebees (conditional) podrían = They could eat together if they didn't hate each other (future) podrán = When we get to Applebees, they could eat together
Correct me if I am wrong.
podían = were able to / used to be able to / could (in the past but not conditional) podrían = could (as conditional) podrán = will be able to (future, which may be translated as can if it's clear it's in the future)
If you use podían, it's just what was happening. Use podrán and it's what's going to happen. Use podrían and it's what might happen depending on some condition
So podían = They were able to eat together when we went to Applebees. / They could eat together when we went...
The conditional tense in its very nature has a future meaning. Whenever you are talking about a possibility you are talking about the future. But that does not make the conditional the same as the future. Saying the Sun will come up tomorrow is not the same as saying the sun could come up tomorrow. If course when you are dealing with poder you are simply talking about the ability to do something, not actually the doing of it, so poder, except in the past, will always have something of a future leaning meaning. But will be able to is definitely more of a universal translation of podrán, because English modal verbs have incomplete conjugations. Can has no infinitive, perfect tenses or future tense except as the phrasal verb to be able to. The only forms that exist for any tense or person are can and could. So the future is Will be able to, the present perfect is has/have been able to, etc.
The main problem I see with putting "could", is that it is a bit of a catch-all in English, whereas there are several different words in Spanish depending on tense and form. As confusing as it is (I'm still majorly lost with it), remember that you're trying to learn the Spanish tenses/forms, so taking a shortcut and writing "could" instead of "will be able to" "were able to" etc. is not really helping you.
(and yes, I wrote "could" too!)
Could does not translate the idea. Can has no future tense. Can is present tense for all forms as there is no he cans form. The past tense of can is could. This corresponds to either pude or podía (ie either the appropriate preterite or imperfect form) in Spanish and was able to in English. To translate the future of poder into English the only option is will be able to. It is true that can or will be able to can be used for the immediate future, as with all English verbs, but the same is true in Spanish. And of course the conditional often implies a future possibility, but that is just its nature in both languages. So you are still translating present to present. In both Spanish and English if you want to express some that was conditional in the past, you have to use the Conditional Perfect. He podría comer. I could have eaten.
if you are translating into english, no. Yes english uses a catch-all. So that doesn't make it wrong. There are many instances going from language to language where only the context gives the meaning. In this case Spanish is much more precise. That doesn't mean the English speaker is speaking/writing incorrectly.
Dec 30, 2014 - I personally agree that it should be interchangeable. The English modals (could, should, etc) are difficult to plug into Spanish - though with this sentence it doesn't seem very difficult. In this instance, and in many others that I have encountered, it seems random which one Duo accepts. I just accept that I will be dinged if I pick the 'wrong' interchangeable word/phrase and report it.
'Could' means 'can - but may not choose to' 'Might' means it is possibility but not a certainty - that is, not entirely a matter of choice
Google translates 'podría' as both 'could' and 'might' - which is rather vague and 'podrán' as 'will be able to', although, in English, that still carries an element of uncertainty. Only, 'They will eat together' avoids the uncertainty element. 'Ellos comerán juntos'.
Just trying to think it out ... !
- they will eat together - Ellos comerán juntos / they might eat together - Podrían comer juntos / they should eat together - Deberían comer juntos / they could eat together - Ellos podían comer juntos / / they will be able to eat together - Ellos podrán comer juntos /
For English: http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/rules/modal.htm "Modal verbs are unlike other verbs. They do not change their form (spelling) and they have no infinitive or participle (past/present). The modals must and can need substitute verbs to express obligation or ability in the different tenses."
I've never studied modals as a grammar subject in English - they were always at the end of the book or school year and were dropped. I find the subject confusing, but I enjoy examining the semantics.
Could actually does provide a natural but context-limited past option. For past ability, the acceptable contexts include not making a reference to a specific event, a negative statement, and a question. I could speak three languages when I was young. I could not pass the test yesterday. Could the cat jump up there?
"They should eat together" means that the speaker thinks it would be better for someone if they ate together. "They will be able to eat together" expresses that they have the option to do so. They mean different things. Also, if you ever tell "you should" to an american about anything, he is quite likely to get upset at you.
Depends on the American, but as an American myself I can confirm that this is often true. Hearing "you should" sounds to many Americans as though their intelligence or capability is being insulted. It's partly a culture thing, by which I mean that we Americans aren't just stuck-up weirdos....at least, we aren't ALL just stuck-up weirdos. ;)
could = the conditional tense VS. will be able = the future tense. The base for both is P-O-D-R-, but the endings are completely different (é,ás,á,emos, éis,án VS. ía,áis,ía, íamos, íais, ían) The latter is the conditional. I could ski next week. I will ski next week. Two different meanings. Conditional is for possibilities; future is for plans. Think of it that way...
Almost everyone has experienced it once or twice at least. Mostly it is sort of a fluke, although it does occasionally last until you exit the lesson. But always report it using the flag icon even if my answer should have been accepted is not an option. The technical staff are the only people who can find consistent technical issues, although most of this seems to be caused by general internet traffic and noise at the moment
Can has no future tense. You have to use will be able to. Could is mostly conditional. Strictly speaking it is also past tense, but since we generally know whether the possibility happened, most people either say I was able to or I could have. So could can be puden, podían or podrían, but never podrán
No, actually you are wrong. Could is either past tense or conditional. The conditional has a future implication that you are taking as a future tense. The only future of can is will be able to. English modal verbs are much different than standard verbs, but the same is not true of Spanish modal verbs.
We are talking at cross purposes here. Yes, both of your sentences are talking about the future and they both mean the same thing. But the issue here is the difference between tense and time period. Tense is a linguistic term. It refers to the changes in form, conjugation and grammatical inflection (as opposed to vocal inflection) of a verb that indicate time period. From Dictionary.com you have:
tense2 [tens] noun a category of verbal inflection that serves chiefly to specify the time of the action or state expressed by the verb. a set of such categories or constructions in a particular language. the time, as past, present, or future, expressed by such a category. such categories or constructions, or their meanings collectively.
By the strictest interpretation of that definition, English is considered to have only two tenses, present and past.
But obviously that is using a definition in such a way as to make it virtually useless. Instead, most linguistics and grammarians talk about simple and compound tenses. Even that poses problems for the strict definitions as people generally consider all perfect tenses compound, but strictly speaking perfect is not a tense, but an aspect, but that is neither here nor there.
The bottom line is still that tense refers to the way the simple or compound verb is formed to indicate time, not simply the indication of time. So many languages are said to have two "future tenses", the simple and the phrasal futures. Of course the English "simple" future is still a compound verb with the auxiliary will and the infinitive root (the infinitive minus to). The auxiliary verb is used in English instead of the changes in inflection indicated in the Spanish inflected form podrán. But even by that definition, can has no future. To express a future of the idea of can with will, you have to use the phrasal equivalent to be able to. English modal verbs in general are sort of mutant verbs, especially if you compare them to their Spanish equivalents which, while being irregular, still have all inflections and aspects available.
And using the present tense to refer to the future is not isolated to English. Spanish and some other languages do the same thing. It is quite normal to hear "Trabajo mañana en la mañana instead of either Trabajaré or voy a trabajar, just as we might say any English version of that. If you scroll down in the following article till it says Method 2, you will find that it is actually even more common in Spanish to use the present TENSE to talk about the future.
I know there are subtle differences in Spanish as posted by Luis on a different thread "They are actually different tenses in spanish. "Podrán" means "in the future they will be able to", whereas "podrían" means "could" or "would be able to". Subtle difference, especially when this doesn't really exist in English." The part I don't get is what is the difference between "they will be able to" and "they could" in English. And what exactly is the difference in meaning between "They will be able to eat together." and "They could eat together." and "They can eat together." My English has improved as I study Spanish.