Asking for permission in Spanish

The verb PODER in Spanish is an irregular modal verb. It is one of the most used, you can use it for everyday situations and you can start practicing now! Mostly when you travel… keep reading! 

verbo PODER + infinitivo

Poder is a modal verb in Spanish. Its English version is “can” or “could”. Poder works as an auxiliary verb and in Spanish it is always followed by an infinitive.

We use this construction poder+ infinitivo to ask for permission in Spanish. Keep it in mind because it is a very common expression when you travel. You ask for permission almost for everything! Lets see some of these situations in real contexts:

• Particular situations in which you ask for permission to do something specific (PERSONAL):

¿Puedo pasar?
Can I go in?

¿Puedo fumar?
Can I smoke?

¿Puedo pagar con tarjeta de crédito?
Can I pay with credit card?

¿Puede traer la cuenta por favor?
Can I have the bill?

¿Puedo entrar con el perro?
Can I enter with the dog?

¿Me puede dejar un bolígrafo y un papel?
Can I have a pen and a paper?

• When you ask if something is allowed or not (IMPERSONAL): In general situations we use the pronoun “se” when we don’t want the questions sound personal. It still has the same meaning though, it is just another way to ask for permission:

¿Se puede fumar? (IMPERSONAL)

¿Se puede pagar con tarjeta? (IMPERSONAL)

Other forms of courtesy when asking for permission in Spanish:

• Don’t you mind if…

¿Te/Le importa/molesta si + presente de indicativo?
¿Le importa si fumo?
Don’t you mind if I smoke?

• May I…

¿Me permite/permites + infinitivo?
¿Me permites fumar?
May I smoke?


Other uses of the verb PODER are:

• Abilities:

¿Puedes tocar la guitarra?
Can you play the guitar?

• Petitions:

¿Podrías tocar la guitarra, por favor?
Could you please play the guitar?

• To be able to:

No puedo ir al cine, estoy ocupado.
I cannot go to the cinema, I’m very busy.

• To suggest something:

¡Podemos ir a la fiesta juntos!
We can go to the party together!

Keep learning Spanish any time any where!

¡En esta web se puede aprender español!

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