POUVOIR - TO BE ABLE TO, CAN

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POUVOIR - FRENCH VERB CONJUGATIONS - PRESENT
POUVOIR is an irregular verb 
présent de l'indicatif
negative?
jepeux[je peux]
tupeux[tu peux]
ilpeut[il peut]
nouspouvons[nous pouvons]
vouspouvez[vous pouvez]
ilspeuvent[ils peuvent]
présent de l'indicatif
positive?
jenepeuxpas [je ne peux pas]
tunepeuxpas [tu ne peux pas]
ilnepeutpas [il ne peut pas]
nousnepouvonspas [nous ne pouvons pas]
vousnepouvezpas [vous ne pouvez pas]
ilsnepeuventpas [ils ne peuvent pas]
[POUVOIR]
POUVOIR
TO BE ABLE TO,  CAN
It means that it does not follow any regular pattern; it’s in a league of its own. Hence; we call it irregular. POUVOIR belongs to the 3rd group. In the 3rd group, all the verbs are irregular. Good news: only 25% of all French verbs are irregular. So relax!
PRÉSENT DE L'INDICATIF

This tense is used most of the time. It indicates an action which is happening at the present time or a habitual action.

HOW TO USE POUVOIR: (POUVOIR EXAMPLES)
- GENERAL USE -
definitionsexample use 
to be able to,  to be capable ofJe peux venir demain à 18h.  
canJe peux continuer mes études en septembre.  
would you be so kind as toPouvez-vous me donner l'heure, s'il vous plaît?  
mayPuis-je venir ce soir?  
- INFORMAL USE -
definitionsexample useexpression
to be able to,  canNe pas pouvoir voir quelqu'un en peinture Nous ne pouvons pas voir ce présentateur en peinture! 
to be able to,  canNe pas pouvoir blairer quelqu'un Je ne peux pas blairer mon chef. 
to be able to,  canNe pas pouvoir sacquer quelqu'un Il ne peut pas sacquer son chef. 
- FORMAL USE -
definitionsexample useexpression
to be able to,  canS'emparer du pouvoir Le dictateur s'est emparé du pouvoir. 
to be able to,  canFaire tout ce qui est en son pouvoir Je ferai tout ce qui est en mon pouvoir pour vous aider. 
to be able to,  canNe pas pouvoir aligner deux mots Il a trop bu; il ne peut aligner deux mots. 
WHAT'S A TENSE ? 
CONJUGATE FRENCH VERB POUVOIR
What can you do with the present tense ? 
passé récent
negative?
jeviensdepouvoir
tuviensdepouvoir
ilvientdepouvoir
nousvenonsdepouvoir
vousvenezdepouvoir
ilsviennentdepouvoir
passé récent
positive?
jenevienspasdepouvoir 
tunevienspasdepouvoir 
ilnevientpasdepouvoir 
nousnevenonspasdepouvoir 
vousnevenezpasdepouvoir 
ilsneviennentpasdepouvoir 
futur proche
negative?
jevaispouvoir
tuvaspouvoir
ilvapouvoir
nousallonspouvoir
vousallezpouvoir
ilsvontpouvoir
futur proche
positive?
jenevaispaspouvoir 
tunevaspaspouvoir 
ilnevapaspouvoir 
nousn'allonspaspouvoir 
vousn'allezpaspouvoir 
ilsnevontpaspouvoir 
impératif
negative?
impératif
positive?
 
 
 
 
 
 
Well, with the present tense you can describe actions which are occurring now, in the present. But you can do many other things with it too. Look below and you will see that, in French, you can use the present tense combined with other features in such a way that it means something totally different.
IMPÉRATIF

The French imperative (the command tense) of 1st group verbs is very easy to learn. It is used to express command or a request. It's actually the normal present tense but a shorter version.

It is formed
by dropping the "I, you, he, she, we, you, they", of the present tense. Then you erase nearly all the persons but 3; the "you" singular, the "you" plural and the "we" plural.

FUTUR PROCHE

The "futur proche" (near future) is made of the present tense plus another verb. If you look at the conjugation you'll see another verb: ALLER.

The NEAR FUTURE
is therefore expressed by ALLER in the present tense plus the infinitive (the raw verb) of the verb action you are talking about. If you want to speak in future, you just have to learn ALLER (3rd group, irregular).

PASSÉ RÉCENT

The passé recent (recent past) is made of the present tense plus another verb. If you look at the conjugation you'll see another verb: VENIR DE.

The past tense
is therefore expressed by VENIR DE in the present tense plus the infinitive (the raw verb) of the verb action you are talking about. If you want to speak in past, you just have to learn VENIR (3rd group, irregular).

THE 3 FRENCH VERB GROUPS 
POUVOIR - FRENCH VERB CONJUGATIONS
What ? Another present tense ? 
le conditionnel présent
negative?
jepourrais
tupourrais
ilpourrait
nouspourrions
vouspourriez
ilspourraient
le conditionnel présent
positive?
jenepourraispas 
tunepourraispas 
ilnepourraitpas 
nousnepourrionspas 
vousnepourriezpas 
ilsnepourraientpas 
What? A second present tense? I don't understand; I thought there was only one present tense! Help!
LE CONDITIONNEL PRÉSENT

The conditional is used in French to express: Courtesy. If you want to be polite in French, use this mood: Je voudrais du café, s'il vous plaît. I would like some coffee, please. An obligation or duty: Nous devrions partir pour prendre le dernier métro. We should leave if we want to get the last train.

Remember
: The French verb DEVOIR + Infinitive is the exact translation for SHOULD: We should leave if we want to catch the last train. The French verb POUVOIR is the exact translation for COULD or WOULD BE ABLE TO: Nous pourrions venir après le déjeuner. We would be able to come after lunch.

WHAT'S A VERB ? 
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... What's a verb? A verb is doing word; it's an action like to TO EAT, TO SPEAK, TO LEARN, TO CONTROL, TO BE etc. You could argue that TO BE, is not an action. And I'll answer that TO DO NOTHING is also an action. Did you get that? ...

Contrary French Verbs
s'annuler
WHAT'S A MOOD ? 
WHAT'S AN INFINITIVE ? 
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... An infinitive is the raw verb. It means "not expressing tense". For instance, in the sentence: "I go to bed early", the infinitive for the verb "I go" is: TO GO. So easy! In English, you get the infinitive adding TO before the verb in the sentence. Infinitives are everywhere. Look at this example: I want to leave early tonight. Yes, after a verb use with a person (I, you, he, she, etc.); in our example "I want", you'll always have an infinitive, in our example: to leave. ...

FRENCH VERB POUVOIR - THE INDICATIVE MOOD
The indicative mood – Recap. 
présent de l'indicatif
negative?
jepeux[je peux]
tupeux[tu peux]
ilpeut[il peut]
nouspouvons[nous pouvons]
vouspouvez[vous pouvez]
ilspeuvent[ils peuvent]
présent de l'indicatif
positive?
jenepeuxpas [je ne peux pas]
tunepeuxpas [tu ne peux pas]
ilnepeutpas [il ne peut pas]
nousnepouvonspas [nous ne pouvons pas]
vousnepouvezpas [vous ne pouvez pas]
ilsnepeuventpas [ils ne peuvent pas]
The easiest mood! If you want to merely make a statement or ask a question about anything really, you'll use the most common mood, the Indicative Mood. In short, this is the mood we use most of the time; the present, the future, the imperfect you normally use are indicative.
PRÉSENT DE L'INDICATIF

This tense is used most of the time. It indicates an action which is happening at the present time or a habitual action.

POUVOIR - FRENCH VERB CONJUGATIONS - VERB POUVOIR
futur
negative?
jepourrai
tupourras
ilpourra
nouspourrons
vouspourrez
ilspourront
futur
positive?
jenepourraipas 
tunepourraspas 
ilnepourrapas 
nousnepourronspas 
vousnepourrezpas 
ilsnepourrontpas 
imparfait de l'indicatif
negative?
jepouvais
tupouvais
ilpouvait
nouspouvions
vouspouviez
ilspouvaient
imparfait de l'indicatif
positive?
jenepouvaispas 
tunepouvaispas 
ilnepouvaitpas 
nousnepouvionspas 
vousnepouviezpas 
ilsnepouvaientpas 
passé simple
negative?
jepus
tupus
ilput
nouspûmes
vouspûtes
ilspurent
passé simple
positive?
jenepuspas 
tunepuspas 
ilneputpas 
nousnepûmespas 
vousnepûtespas 
ilsnepurentpas 
PASSÉ SIMPLE

Good news! This past tense is not used in conversional French. Only literary people use it in formal writing, for example, in a novel or a history book. The truth is that this tense is nearly dead. So… You can forget it for the moment (unless your proficiency level is very very high)

IMPARFAIT DE L'INDICATIF

This is a past tense. It is use to indicate repetition in the past or a habit in the past: Nous allions au restaurant tous les jours. We used to go to the restaurant every day.

It is also
the tense you must use when describing an action in the past: Il était heureux quand je l'ai vu. He was happy when I saw him.

FUTUR

This tense expresses an action which will take place at some time in the future. Nous irons en Chine l'hiver prochain. We will go to China next summer

WHAT'S A COMPOUND TENSE ? 
PASSÉ COMPOSÉ
More about The indicative mood! 
passé composé
negative?
j'aipu[j'ai pu]
tuaspu[tu as pu]
ilapu[il a pu]
nousavonspu[nous avons pu]
vousavezpu[vous avez pu]
ilsontpu[ils ont pu]
passé composé
positive?
jen'aipaspu [je n'ai pas pu]
tun'aspaspu [tu n'as pas pu]
iln'apaspu [il n'a pas pu]
nousn'avonspaspu [nous n'avons pas pu]
vousn'avezpaspu [vous n'avez pas pu]
ilsn'ontpaspu [ils n'ont pas pu]
In French there are 7 compound tenses. But only 4 of them belong to the INDICATIVE.
PASSÉ COMPOSÉ

The Past Indefinite or Compound Past is used in everyday French. It's the informal past tense. It's used when people want to talk about facts, about actions which are finished in the past.

If you want
to describe your day at school or at the office, for example, you must use the Compound Past. There is no other way to do it.

If you want
to know what a compound tense is, go to the tab on the left hand side which says: "What's a compound tense?". Clever!?

TIP 
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... TIP: verb conjugation only occurs in two general areas: using person (I, you, he, she, etc.) and for tenses (Present, past, future, etc.). Conjugation for person happens when the subject changes; it depends on who is acting: I, you, he, she, etc. For example, we have I learn, you learn, s/he learns, etc. Using tense (past, present, future, etc.), remember that all verb conjugation starts with an infinitive verb (Put simple: an infinitive is the to form of a verb: to have, to be, to learn, etc.) ...

WHAT'S A PAST PARTICIPLE ? 
CONJUGATE FRENCH VERB POUVOIR - VERB POUVOIR
Tip 
plus-que-parfait de l'indicatif
negative?
j'avaispu
tuavaispu
ilavaitpu
nousavionspu
vousaviezpu
ilsavaientpu
plus-que-parfait de l'indicatif
positive?
jen'avaispaspu 
tun'avaispaspu 
iln'avaitpaspu 
nousn'avionspaspu 
vousn'aviezpaspu 
ilsn'avaientpaspu 
passé antérieur de l'indicatif
negative?
j'euspu
tueuspu
ileutpu
nouseûmespu
vouseûtespu
ilseurentpu
passé antérieur de l'indicatif
positive?
jen'euspaspu 
tun'euspaspu 
iln'eutpaspu 
nousn'eûmespaspu 
vousn'eûtespaspu 
ilsn'eurentpaspu 
futur antérieur
negative?
j'auraipu
tuauraspu
ilaurapu
nousauronspu
vousaurezpu
ilsaurontpu
futur antérieur
positive?
jen'auraipaspu 
tun'auraspaspu 
iln'aurapaspu 
nousn'auronspaspu 
vousn'aurezpaspu 
ilsn'aurontpaspu 
It's really easy to understand compound tenses when you realise that:
*
The second part is always the same (It's like the –ed form in English; it's always the same in compound tenses).
*
But, the first part is not always in present tense. Remember the Compound past? J'ai préparé des spaghetti. (Literally: I have prepared spaghetti). This 1st part is in the present tense!

Now
, Look at the following tense: the pluperfect (le Plus-que-parfait):
J'avais préparé des spaghetti.
(I had prepared spaghetti). "I had" is not a present tense: it's the imperfect of TO HAVE. Thus, The pluperfect in English is identical to French; the first part of the tense is in the past.

Now
, look at this tense in English (tricky one): "I will have prepared spaghetti". The 1st part is "will have" (It's a future – The tense is called Future perfect and yes, it's English). In French, we will say: J'aurai préparé des spaghetti ("j'aurai" is TO HAVE in the future).
FUTUR ANTÉRIEUR

The Future Perfect or Future Anterior, is an interesting tense. In French and English, it is used to express an action which will happen in the future before another future action.

In English
we commonly use Shall have or will have + the Past participle.

See
the following example: When she calls me tomorrow, I shall have finished my report (Quand elle appellera demain, j'aurai fini mon rapport).

PASSÉ ANTÉRIEUR DE L'INDICATIF

Past Anterior. This tense is not very used in French; it's a literary tense (writing only). So, unless you are a writer and/or you want to read Balzac, you can put it aside for the moment.

PLUS-QUE-PARFAIT DE L'INDICATIF

The pluperfect or Past Perfect Indicative is used to express an action which happened in the past before another past action.

Tricky?
No. Look at the following example: "I had seen the movie he told us about." "I had seen" is the Pluperfect. You might never have seen this structure because in English, it's not really used. But it's perfectly correct. First someone told us about a movie (Past tense), second, I had seen it before (Action of "seeing" before the action of "telling"). Both tense are in the Past.

WHAT'S A PRESENT PARTICIPLE? 
FRENCH VERB POUVOIR - THE CONDITIONAL MOOD
The Conditional Mood 
le conditionnel présent
negative?
jepourrais
tupourrais
ilpourrait
nouspourrions
vouspourriez
ilspourraient
le conditionnel présent
positive?
jenepourraispas 
tunepourraispas 
ilnepourraitpas 
nousnepourrionspas 
vousnepourriezpas 
ilsnepourraientpas 
It refers to actions / events which would, should or could happen in the future if certain conditions were met. In short, when an English speaker wants to use WOULD, SHOULD or COULD; she / he uses the conditional mood. Look at the following simple tense in conditional:
THE CONDITIONAL AND JOURNALISM

The conditional is often used in journalistic language. When journalists want to state something as an "alleged" fact, or doesn't wish to state something definitely true they use the conditional.

It is
also used in French as "could" and "would" are in English to make a request more polite: Je voudrais réserver une table pour deux, s'il vous plaît. (I would like to book a table for two, please.)

WHAT'S A TRANSITIVE VERB? 
CONJUGATE FRENCH VERB POUVOIR
The conditional's compound tense! 
le conditionnel passé
negative?
j'auraispu
tuauraispu
ilauraitpu
nousaurionspu
vousauriezpu
ilsauraientpu
le conditionnel passé
positive?
jen'auraispaspu 
tun'auraispaspu 
iln'auraitpaspu 
nousn'aurionspaspu 
vousn'auriezpaspu 
ilsn'auraientpaspu 
The conditional has only one compound tense; the Conditional Perfect (le Conditionnel Passé).
LE CONDITIONNEL PASSÉ

The Conditional Perfect. Is used to express an action or an event that you would have done if something else had been possible. "Would have" could be translated by the French conditional "j'aurais".

"Done"
is the past participle of to do (fait).

WHAT IS A SUBORDINATE CLAUSE? 
CONJUGATE FRENCH VERB POUVOIR - VERB POUVOIR
The Subjunctive mood 
présent du subjonctif
negative?
quejepuisse
quetupuisses
qu'ilpuisse
quenouspuissions
quevouspuissiez
qu'ilspuissent
présent du subjonctif
positive?
quejenepuissepas
quetunepuissespas
qu'ilnepuissepas
quenousnepuissionspas
quevousnepuissiezpas
qu'ilsnepuissentpas
imparfait du subjonctif
negative?
quejepusse
quetupusses
qu'ilpût
quenouspussions
quevouspussiez
qu'ilspussent
imparfait du subjonctif
positive?
quejenepussepas
quetunepussespas
qu'ilnepûtpas
quenousnepussionspas
quevousnepussiezpas
qu'ilsnepussentpas
The Subjunctive mood is used in French much more than in English (Actually, most English speakers don't know that it even exists!). But the Subjunctive is quite commonly used in English to express an idea contrary to a fact: "If I were you, I would learn a second language". In French, it is a very common tense. You'll use it if you want to express a wish, a fear, a doubt or a supposition.
IMPARFAIT DU SUBJONCTIF

The Imperfect subjunctive is not in use anymore. You'll find it in literature and old poetry. This tense is also rarely used in English.

PRÉSENT DU SUBJONCTIF

The subjunctive is used mainly in subordinate clause. It means that in the majority of cases where the subjunctive is used, there is no other choice; it is required after some specific expression. These expression express fear, doubt, supposition and wish.

Hang
on a minute! What does subordinate mean? See the tab on the left hand side of this page.

WHAT'S AN INTRANSITIVE VERB? 
FRENCH VERB POUVOIR - THE SUBJUNCTIVE MOOD
The subjunctive mood and compound tenses 
passé du subjonctif
negative?
quej'aiepu
quetuaiespu
qu'ilaitpu
quenousayonspu
quevousayezpu
qu'ilsaientpu
passé du subjonctif
positive?
quejen'aiepaspu
quetun'aiespaspu
qu'iln'aitpaspu
quenousn'ayonspaspu
quevousn'ayezpaspu
qu'ilsn'aientpaspu
plus-que-parfait du subjonctif
negative?
quej'eussepu
quetueussespu
qu'ileûtpu
quenouseussionspu
quevouseussiezpu
qu'ilseussentpu
plus-que-parfait du subjonctif
positive?
quejen'eussepaspu
quetun'eussespaspu
qu'iln'eûtpaspu
quenousn'eussionspaspu
quevousn'eussiezpaspu
qu'ilsn'eussentpaspu
spe The subjunctive mood has also compound tenses. The following ones are not very common in every day French conversation. They are actually quite rare.
PLUS-QUE-PARFAIT DU SUBJONCTIF

The Pluperfect or Past Perfect Subjunctive is rarely used in French and in English.

This tense
is avoided in conversational informal writing and speaking. It is useful if you read a lot of French literature from the 19th century.

PASSÉ DU SUBJONCTIF

The past or perfect subjunctive expresses a past action which is in relation to the present time.

This tense
is very rarely used in English but quite common in French. Il est probable qu'elle ait téléphoné (It's probable she may have called)

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