modal verb past tense could
When can means to be capable of or to be allowed to, it is translated by poder: he can't eat no puede comer; can you come out tonight? ¿puedes salir esta noche?When can means to know how to, it is translated by saber: can you swim? ¿sabes nadar?; she can already read and write ya sabe leer y escribir.When can is used with a verb of perception such as see, hear, or feel, it is often not translated: can you see her from here? ¿la ves desde aquí?; she couldn't feel anything no sentía nada.
- 1(indicating ability) forms of
poder(referring to particular skills) forms ofcan you come to the dance this evening?
saber¿puedes venir al baile esta noche?she couldn't answer the questionno pudo contestar la preguntathe house can accommodate six peopleen la casa se pueden alojar seis personasI'll do what I canharé lo que pueda or lo que esté en mi manothey did all they couldhicieron todo lo que pudieronno can do [colloquial]no puedoI can't stay longno me puedo quedar mucho ratocan't you keep still?¿no puedes estarte quieto?I cannot believe she said thatno puedo creer que dijera esowe can but trycon intentarlo no se pierde nadawill things improve? — we can but hope so¿mejorarán las cosas? — esperemos que síI can't but agreeno puedo menos que estar de acuerdocan you swim/speak German?¿sabes nadar/(hablar) alemán?she could read music when she was foura los cuatro años ya sabía leer músicaExample sentences
- What they want is one or two books a week which sell in thousands, pretty much as fast as they can unpack them.
- It turns out men and women can set the alarm clock or preset some radio stations with equal ease.
- From the ridge he could see for miles in all directions as the horizon stretched away into the misty mountains.
- 2 2.1 (indicating, asking etc permission) forms of I can't stay out lateno puedo or no me dejan volver a casa tardecan I come with you? you can't go in there, madamno puede entrar ahí, señorayou can stay as long as you likete puedes quedar todo el tiempo or todo lo que quierasExample sentences2.2 (in requests) forms of can you turn that music down, please?
¿puedes bajar esa música, por favor?can I have two salads, please?¿me trae dos ensaladas, por favor?Example sentences2.3 (in offers) can I help you?
- You are told that you can open the door at any time you wish, but only once, and only briefly.
- Only law officers could legally bear arms.
- It takes a couple of seconds to phone a team doctor and check if you can take something.
¿me permite?(in shop) ¿lo/la atienden?can I carry that for you?
- He emerged from the shop empty handed, and said: I'm sorry, can you lend me £6?
- Can you open that window?
- Can't you be more reasonable?
¿qué desea?¿quieres que (te) lleve eso?Example sentences
- We could eat out somewhere and get to know each other if you want.
- Once again, can I reiterate my offer to Mrs Fell to go through any problems she has.
- We could have another go if you like?
- 3 3.1 (with verbs of perception) I can't see very wellno veo muy biencan you hear me?¿me oyes?I could hear every word they saidoía todo lo que decíanas you can see, there's a lot of work to be donecomo ves or puedes ver, hay mucho que hacer3.2 (with verbs of mental activity) I can't understand itno lo entiendocan you remember her name?
no logro or no puedo entenderlo¿te acuerdas de cómo se llama?I could guess what had happenedme imaginaba lo que había pasadocan't you tell he's lying?¿no te das cuenta de que está mintiendo?
- 4 4.1 (allow oneself to) (with neg or interrog) forms of you can't blame herno puedes echarle la culpaI couldn't very well tell him just thenno se lo podía decir justo en ese momentohow could you?pero ¿cómo se te ocurrió hacer ( or decir etc) una cosa así?
pero ¿cómo pudiste hacer ( or decir etc) una cosa así?Example sentences4.2 (in suggestions, advice) can't you give it another try?
¿por qué no lo vuelves a intentar?you can't let him have the last wordno puedes dejar que diga la última palabra4.3 (in orders) for a start, you can clean all this uppuedes empezar por limpiar todo estoif you don't behave you can go straight to bedsi no te portas bien, te vas inmediatamente a la cama
- Who but the most resentful can seriously doubt that he, too, belongs on that list?
- How many Japanese mobile phone owners can want to know about North London happenings?
- Now, if a telephone company can't even sort out their own phone lines, how can they sort out mine?
- 5 5.1 (indicating possibility) forms of anything can happen nowahora puede pasar cualquier cosawhat can she be doing in there?¿qué estará haciendo ahí?it can't be true!
¿qué puede estar haciendo ahí?¡no puede ser!you can't be serious! she can't have finished already
¡no es posible!no puede haber terminado yahe can't be her husbandno puede ser su marido5.2 (indicating characteristic) you can be really stubborna veces eres realmente tercoshe can be charming when she wants toes encantadora cuando quiere or cuando se lo proponelearning the piano can be funaprender a tocar el piano puede ser divertidoshe's as happy as can beestá contentísimasee also → could
está de lo más contentaExample sentences
- In just six weeks he has learned that the internet can be an extremely useful tool for research.
- Even November in Florida could be hot, and that day was no exception.
- Inscriptions in public places can also indicate the social status of the artist.
- 1 1.1 (container) a can of tomatoesuna lata or (in Spain also) un bote or (Chile) un tarro de tomatesa can of beeruna lata or (in Spain also) un bote de cervezaa 4 gallon gasoline canun bidón de gasolina de 4 galonesa can of worms [colloquial]un problema complicadothe investigation has opened up a real can of wormsla investigación ha destapado toda una serie de problemasto carry the can (British English) [colloquial]Example sentences
Example sentences1.2 (for garbage) (American English)
- The emphasis on cans and metal containers has allowed the company to focus on more than just its information and manufacturing systems.
- On the safety side of the issue, rust damage could occur to the bottoms of stored metal containers such as cans of thinner and other combustible fluids.
- The company, which has had to ship coffee in retro metal cans, is now telling retailers supplies will be back to normal by early December.
cubo (masculine) or (Southern Cone) tacho (masculine) or (Mexico) bote (masculine) or (Colombia) caneca (feminine) or (Venezuela) tobo (masculine) de la basura1.3 (for film) (Cinema) to be in the can [colloquial] (film/take/scene)estar listo [colloquial]the contract's in the canel contrato es un hecho
- Green, clear and brown glass, steel food cans and aluminium cans may be recycled at this venue.
- The waste matter for the blue bin includes papers, magazines, cardboard, food tins, aluminium drink cans, milk cartons and plastic bottles.
- Each eligible household is given a black box to put in newspapers, magazines, glass bottles, steel and aluminium cans, textiles and foil to be recycled.
tenemos el contrato en el bote (Spain) [colloquial]
- 2 (American English) [slang] 2.1 (prison)cárcel (feminine)to be in the can
trullo (masculine) (Spain) [slang]
cana (feminine) (South America) [slang]
gayola (feminine) (River Plate area) [slang]
bote (masculine) (Mexico) (Venezuela) [slang]
porotera (feminine) (Chile) [slang]estar a la sombra [colloquial]Example sentences2.2 (toilet) 2.3 (buttocks)
- Robert faces a year in the can for drug money laundering despite claiming that he never realized his cousin was a drug-dealer.
- While he may not have a violent crime on record, he's spent plenty of time in the can for other offenses.
- I do hope that she straightens out, but her actions merit real charges, and time in the can.
transitive verb -nn-
- 1 1.1 (put in cans)Example sentences1.2 (bottle)
(American English) (fruit)
- Some food companies now are canning vegetables with no salt added.
- By the 1880s canned foods had an important place in popular diet.
- Disregarding the value of your labor, canning homegrown food may save you half the cost of buying commercially canned food.
preparar conservas de
- 2 (American English) [colloquial] 2.1 (dismiss)Example sentences
Example sentences2.2 (stop) (usu in impera) can it!
- A county wastewater employee says he was canned for speaking out against a private company.
- I watched a district and regional manager fire an employee for a more than acceptable reason, and end up getting canned themselves when the employee sued for wrongful termination.
- Needless to say he was canned along with his boss and dismissed from government work
- Mr Boman said although the June quarter was traditionally slower than the March quarter, the sales slowdown could result in some projects being canned.
- A $3.5-million cleanup project was canned in May 2000 for feasibility problems.
- However, six months after commencement of my portion of the project, my industry sponsors canned their end of the deal.
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