"Poder" is one of the most common verbs in the Spanish language. It's perhaps the most important verb for you to know. It means "to be able to" or "to can" (I can..., she can..., they can...). If you turn on a Spanish TV channel like Telemundo or Univision, you'll hear various usages of "Poder" in nearly every sentence. A few examples:
Si se puede = yes you can
Se puede [insert verb here] = You can ...
Tú lo puedes hacer = You can do it
There's a common usage of "Poder" that will help you be a more refined Spanish speaker that I want to cover today. Lots of people will say things like:
Podemos trabar para tí = We can work for you
¿Puedes darme el libro? = Can you give me the book?
Usted puede venir conmigo = You can come along with me
These statements are a result of the speaker attempting to translate directly from English to Spanish. It can be tempting to do this and in many cases it's fine. And I want to be clear that the examples above are not incorrect, rather there are better ways to communicate the three statements above without using "Poder". Try this instead:
Trabajamos para tí = We'll work for you
¿Me das el libro? = Will you give the book to me?
Tu vienes conmigo = You come along with me (this is good because it's not quite a strong as the command, "Ven conmigo")
The point of this post is that while "Poder" is one of the most fequently used verbs in Spanish, sometimes English speakers have a tendency to overuse it. So if you ever find that you're saying things like
¿Puedes ayudarme? = Can you help me?
Puede ella tocar el piano? = Can she play the piano
Stop and think for a minute how you might say it without using "Poder"
¿Me ayudas? = Can you help me?
¿Toca ella el piano" = Does/can she play the piano?
Supplemental to the above, here is the spanish conjugation for Poder:
Poder = To be able to / To can
Yo puedo = I can
Tú puedes = you can
Él puede = he can
Ella puede = she can
Usted puede = you can (formal)
Nosotros podemos = we can
Vosotros podéis = you guys can
Ellos pueden = they can (group of males or mixed gender)
Ellas pueden = they can (group of females)
Ustedes pueden = you all can
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