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Learn Portuguese - Lesson 54

Learn PortuguesePoder / Conseguir - Part 1.

There are two very similar verbs in Portuguese to translate “to can” or “to be able to”: “poder” and “conseguir”. But when should we use “poder” and when should we use “conseguir”?

Let’s have a close look at these two verbs:

We use “poder” to talk about the possibility or the opportunity of doing something:

•    Eu hoje não posso ir ao cinema. (I can’t go to the cinema today)
•    Esta noite posso telefonar para casa. (I can call home tonight)

We also use “poder” to express prohibition:

•    Não se pode fumar no restaurante. (You can’t smoke in the restaurant)
•    Desculpe, não pode estacionar aqui. (Sorry, you can’t park in here)

Finally, you must use “poder” to ask if you may do something or give permission to do something:

•    Posso entrar? (May I come in?)
•    Sim, pode. (Yes, please, come in.)
•    Posso ir à casa de banho? (May I go to the bathroom?)

We use “conseguir” to express the physical/ mental ability to do something.

•    Não consigo estudar com este barulho. (I can’t study with all this noise).
•    Eu consigo desenhar uma casa. (I can draw a house)
•    Eu consigo nadar debaixo de água. (I can swim underwater)


Helena Rocha (Portuguese Teacher)
W: www.tradutex.pt



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