“Pouvoir” – Conjugation of the French Verb

“pouvoir” is a versatile verb, which means “to be able to” or “can” in English. The ability to conjugate “pouvoir” correctly is vital for expressing various abilities, capabilities, and possibilities in everyday communication. In this article, we will explore the conjugation of the French verb “pouvoir” in different tenses and moods, enabling you to use it confidently in your conversations.


Basic Conjugation

The verb “pouvoir” is an irregular verb, which means its conjugation doesn’t follow the regular patterns found in most French verbs. However, understanding its irregularities is the key to using it effectively. Here’s the basic present tense conjugation of “pouvoir” in the indicative mood:

1. Je peux – I can
2. Tu peux – You can (informal)
3. Il/elle/on peut – He/she/one can
4. Nous pouvons – We can
5. Vous pouvez – You can (formal or plural)
6. Ils/elles peuvent – They can

As you can see, the conjugation of “pouvoir” in the present tense is relatively straightforward, with only slight variations in the endings for different subjects.


Conjugation in Other Tenses

1. Imparfait (Imperfect)

This tense is used to describe ongoing or repeated actions in the past. The imperfect conjugation of “pouvoir” is as follows:

– Je pouvais – I could/was able to
– Tu pouvais – You could/were able to (informal)
– Il/elle/on pouvait – He/she/one could/was able to
– Nous pouvions – We could/were able to
– Vous pouviez – You could/were able to (formal or plural)
– Ils/elles pouvaient – They could/were able to


2. Passé Composé (Past Compound)

This tense is used to describe actions that occurred in the past and are completed. It’s formed by using the auxiliary verb “avoir” (to have) and the past participle of “pouvoir,” which is “pu.” Here’s the conjugation:

– J’ai pu – I could/have been able to
– Tu as pu – You could/have been able to (informal)
– Il/elle/on a pu – He/she/one could/has been able to
– Nous avons pu – We could/have been able to
– Vous avez pu – You could/have been able to (formal or plural)
– Ils/elles ont pu – They could/have been able to


3. Futur Simple (Simple Future)

This tense is used to express actions that will happen in the future. The future tense conjugation of “pouvoir” is:

– Je pourrai – I will be able to
– Tu pourras – You will be able to (informal)
– Il/elle/on pourra – He/she/one will be able to
– Nous pourrons – We will be able to
– Vous pourrez – You will be able to (formal or plural)
– Ils/elles pourront – They will be able to


Subjunctive Mood

The subjunctive mood is used to express uncertainty, doubt, or subjective feelings. The conjugation of “pouvoir” in the subjunctive mood is as follows:

– Que je puisse – That I may/can
– Que tu puisses – That you may/can (informal)
– Qu’il/elle/on puisse – That he/she/one may/can
– Que nous puissions – That we may/can
– Que vous puissiez – That you may/can (formal or plural)
– Qu’ils/elles puissent – That they may/can

The subjunctive mood is often used in complex sentence structures and is essential for conveying doubt or hypothetical situations.


10 example sentences with the word “Pouvoir”

Here are 10 example sentences with the word “Pouvoir” in different grammatical tenses:

  1. Je peux parler français. (I can speak French.) – Present
  2. Il pourrait venir demain. (He could come tomorrow.) – Conditional
  3. Elle a pu terminer son travail. (She was able to finish her work.) – Past
  4. Nous pourrons aider plus tard. (We will be able to help later.) – Future
  5. Vous pourriez essayer cette nouvelle recette. (You could try this new recipe.) – Conditional
  6. Ils peuvent nager très bien. (They can swim very well.) – Present
  7. J’ai pu résoudre ce problème difficile. (I was able to solve this difficult problem.) – Past
  8. Elle pourrait partir si elle le souhaite. (She could leave if she wants to.) – Conditional
  9. Nous pouvions jouer dehors quand nous étions jeunes. (We could play outside when we were young.) – Imperfect
  10. Vous pourrez trouver ce livre à la bibliothèque. (You will be able to find this book at the library.) – Future