Verbs “poder” (can) and “saber” (to know)

Hello there! Today is a very exciting day since our Spanish Lessons have begun. Our lesson 6, a new chapter after our Review lesson. Today we will learn two important Spanish verbs: “poder” and “saber” plus some interactive exercises in which we’ll review everything we know so far and practice the content of the new lesson!

Verb poder (can)

One good news for Spanish learners, the Spanish verb to talk about ability is much easier than in English! While in English there are several verbs to express ability: can (present), could (past, polite) and be able to (versatile) in Spanish we mainly use: “poder”. Have a look at the following table:

Yo puedo Nosotros podemos
Tú puedes Vosotros podéis
Él/ella puede Ellos pueden

The verb “poder” is irregular and has different uses. Check this out:

We use poder + infinitive to express the ability to do something and to give permission. Examples:

  • Puedo cocinar (I can cook) → ability
  • No puedes venir (You can’t come) → permission

But also to express the possibility of doing something:

  • Puede que venga mañana (I may come tomorrow) → possibility

We use the pronoun se+poder to express permission and prohibitions.

  • No se puede fumar en la escuela (Smoking is forbidden at school) → Prohibition

The verb poder is used in affirmative, negative and interrogative sentences. Look how we form them:

  • Puedo pintar un cuadro (I can draw a painting) → affirmative
  • Mi hermana no puede nadar (My sister can’t swim) → negative
  • ¿Podéis recoger la mesa? (Could you clean up the table?) → interrogative

Verb saber (to know)

This is how we form the irregular verb “saber”:

Yo sé Nosotros sabemos
Tú sabes Vosotros sabéis
Él/ella sabe Ellos saben

We use the verb “saber” to refer to the abilities and the knowledge we have about something:

  • Mi padre sabe español (My father knows Spanish) → ability
  • Laura sabe que he aprobado el examen (Laura knows I’ve passed the exam) → knowledge

And is also used in affirmative, negative and interrogative sentences:

  • Sabemos leer en japonés (We know how to read in Japanese) → affirmative
  • No sabe si ver una película o leer un libro (He/she doesn’t know whether to watch a movie or read a book) → negative
  • ¿Sabes coser? (Do you know how to sew?) → interrogative

Finally, take a look at this video about the verbs “saber” and “poder”:

Now let’s do these exercises to review what we know so far!

Welcome to Review Test

1. Identify what do the following sentences express (ability, permission, possibility, prohibition, knowledge:

- Puede que el concierto sea mañana

- Sé cantar muy bien

- Mi hermano sabe lo que ha pasado

- Marta no puede venir

- Mi amiga puede ser muy exigente

- No podemos estar aquí

- Si quieres, puedes venir al cine

- ¿No sabes la historia?

2. Choose the most correct verb form for these sentences:

- Nosotros _____ nadar en la piscina

- Mi madre _____ escalar

- Mi profesor _____ dibujar muy bien

- Yo _____ tocar el piano

- No _____ fumar aquí

- Mañana _____ llover

3. Fill in the blanks with the appropriate form of the verbs saber/poder:

¿Tú cocinar?

¿Tu loro hablar?

No se correr por la escuela

Los pájaros volar

No esa anécdota

Hope you’ve enjoyed this lesson about the verbs “saber” and “poder”. See you in the next!

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