Potere is one of the most used modal verbs in Italian.
It has an irregular conjugation, and therefore presents many different forms for each tense.
The meaning of potere is comparable to the English verbs can and to be able to. Indeed, it is used to convey:
Therefore, sometimes it could be similar to dovere and it can express the necessity of doing (or not doing) something for ethical reasons.
|Voi potete fare ciò che volete.||You can do what you want.|
|Egli può sopportare grandi fatiche.||He can hadle huge efforts.|
|Può essere che accada.||It could happen.|
|Non possiamo permettere che accada!||We cannot let this happen!|
Remember! In the interrogative form, it is used to ask for permission or to ask favours.
e.g. Posso farlo anche io? (Could I do it, too?)
Posso usare il bagno? (Could I use the toilet, please?)
Below you can find the conjugation of potere. As you will notice (and as it worth for dovere), it has not the imperative mood.
|Present||Present Perfect||Imperfect||Past Perfect||Absolute Past||Preterite Perfect||Future Simple||Future Perfect|
|Io||posso||ho potuto||potevo||avevo potuto||potei||ebbi potuto||potrò||avrò potuto|
|Tu||puoi||hai potuto||potevi||avevi potuto||potesti||avesti potuto||potrai||avrai potuto|
|Egli / ella||può||ha potuto||poteva||aveva potuto||poté||ebbe potuto||potrà||avrà potuto|
|Noi||possiamo||abbiamo potuto||potevamo||avevamo potuto||potemmo||avemmo potuto||potremo||avremo potuto|
|Voi||potete||avete potuto||potevate||avevate potuto||poteste||aveste potuto||potrete||avrete potuto|
|Essi / esse||possono||hanno potuto||potevano||avevano potuto||poterono||ebbero potuto||potranno||avranno potuto|
|(Che) io||possa||abbia potuto||potessi||avessi potuto|
|(Che) tu||possa||abbia potuto||potessi||avessi potuto|
|(Che) egli / ella||possa||abbia potuto||potesse||avesse potuto|
|(Che) noi||possiamo||abbiamo potuto||potessimo||avessimo potuto|
|(Che) voi||possiate||abbiate potuto||poteste||aveste potuto|
|(Che) essi / esse||possano||abbiano potuto||potessero||avessero potuto|
|Egli / ella||potrebbe||avrebbe potuto|
|Essi / esse||potrebbero||avrebbero potuto|
The conditional conjugation of potere is used to express suggestions or eventualities. It could be compared to the English uses of may and might.
e.g. Potrebbe piovere domani. (It may rain tomorrow);
Potrebbe essere sulla metro adesso. (He might be on the metro just now).
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