French Verb POUVOIR: to be able to, can

7 Things to Know about POUVOIR

            French Verb POUVOIR means to be able to.

To remember this imagine that you are ABLE to send signals with PUFFS from a FIRE

POUVOIR is a MODAL verb. These are powerful verbs, after which you can put almost any infinitive of any verb giving you a powerful phrase. For example I can is je peux. After this phrase you can add any infinitive to make a powerful phrase. So, if we add the verb courir (to run) we get
     je peux + courir = je peux courir - I can run.
     je peux + manger = je peux manger - I can eat.
     tu peut + dormir = tu peut dormir - you can sleep.
     nous pourrons + aller = nous pourrons aller - we will be able to go.... etc.
So every verb you learn can be added to a phrase using one of the pouvoir conjugations.

Take a couple of minutes to read aloud ALL the verb conjugations of pouvoir below - by (1) ROW and by (2) by COLUMN ... then check out more on this word below the verb table.
to be able to: pouvoir
Imagine you are ABLE to send signals with PUFFS from a FIRE. VERB CONJUGATION TABLE POUVOIR
Simple Tenses pouvoir

am / is / are able to
peux peux peut pouvons pouvez peuvent
Past Imperfect

was / were able to
pouvais pouvais pouvait pouvions pouviez pouvaient
Simple Past
Passé Simple

was / were able to
pus pus put pûmes pûtes purent

will be able to
pourrai pourras pourra pourrons pourrez pourront

would be able to
pourrais pourrais pourrait pourrions pourriez pourraient

may be able to
puisse puisses puisse puissions puissiez puissent
Compound Tenses pouvoir - past participle: pu
Present Perfect
Passé Composé

have been able to
ai pu as pu a pu avons pu avez pu ont pu
Past Perfect

had been able to
avais pu avais pu avait pu avions pu aviez pu avaient pu
Future Perfect
Futur Antérieur

will have been able to
aurai pu auras pu aura pu aurons pu aurez pu auront pu
Conditional Perfect
Conditionnel Passé

would have been able to
aurais pu aurais pu aurait pu aurions pu auriez pu auraient pu

be able to!


French for to be able to is pouvoir The French verb pouvoir means to be able to:
Je peux me le permettre.
I can afford it.
Je peux courir 5 km sans m’arrêter.
I can run 3 miles without a break.
Je n’en peux plus ! Il faut que j’aille me coucher.
I’ve had it! I have to go to bed.
Je ne peux pas le croire !
I can’t believe it!

French for to be able to is pouvoir The French verb pouvoir can also mean to be allowed to:
Tu ne peux pas faire ça, c’est interdit !
You can’t do that, it’s forbidden!
Depuis 2006, on ne peut plus fumer dans les restaurants en France.
Since 2006 in France, one can no longer smoke in restaurants.

French for to be able to is pouvoir Pouvoir can also be used as an impersonal verb:
Il se peut que tu aies raison.
You may be right.
Relis-toi encore une fois, il peut y avoir des fautes.
Read it again, there might be mistakes left.

French for to be able to is pouvoir Pouvoir can also be used as a noun:
Batman est le seul super-héros qui n’ait pas de pouvoirs.
Batman is the only superhero without any powers.
Les français se battent pour leur pouvoir d’achat.
French people are fighting for their purchasing power.


  • The French verb for see pouvoir is an irregular verb from the 3rd group.
  • POUVOIR is a MODAL verb. After any conjugation of POUVOIR you can put any infinitive to make a useful phrase. This tool opens up thousands of new phrases.
  • Learn to conjugate the important verb pouvoir by reciting verb table above along the rows, then down the columns.
  • Watch and listen to the pouvoir video and listen to the conjugations of POUVOIR read aloud by Allison, a native French speaker.
  • Repeating these verb tables of POUVOIR aloud 10 times throughout the day from memory, or while reading the verb tables and with the video or sound recording, will better embed the patterns into your subconscious, and your long term memory.
  • Reciting aloud is a great way for you to practice your pronunciation, and helps you to memorize the conjugations. Ensure that you do some from memory.
  • You can do these verb tables any time you have a spare few minutes. In the train, car, bus, or while having a bath or a scrub in the shower, while waiting for that doctor's appointment.
  • To really consolidate the verb learning of pouvoir, and any other French verbs, download and fill in the blanks of the worksheet fill-in-the-blank verb tables. This is one of the most POWERFUL weapons to have in your verb arsenal, and great for helping you learn the French verb POUVOIR.
  • There are hundreds more fully conjugated verbs in the French Verbs List.

More Verbs like the French for be able to - pouvoir

 ✔   Check out the other top ten French verbs - the most important ones - like the French verb POUVOIR.

     ✔      etre

     ✔      aller

     ✔      avoir

     ✔      tenir

     ✔      venir

     ✔      devoir

     ✔      faire

     ✔      vouloir

     ✔      dire

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French Verb Learning Made Fun and Fast: the French verb POUVOIR which is to be able to in French, or can in French.

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