Using ‘Can’ in Spanish: A Problem Solver

Learning how to ask if you can pay with a credit card in Spanish is sometimes even more relevant than asking how much something is. ‘Can’ in Spanish works a little different than ‘can’ in English. First, you need to learn how to conjugate the verb ‘can’ in Spanish, which translates as ‘poder.’ Knowing the practical Spanish verb ‘can’ will allow you to ask for prices and other information, negotiate, and even add a polite tone to your speech.

So, you are at a store and you need to know the price of an item. For that purpose, there are a couple of crucial expressions that mean pretty much the same:

How much is it? ¿Cuánto es? koo-ANN-toh ESS
How much does it cost? ¿Cuánto cuesta? koo-ANN-toh koo-ESS-tah

And the answer goes like this:

Son veinte euros It’s twenty euros
Son trescientos pesos It’s three hundred pesos

It does come handy to know how to ask if you can pay with a credit card in Spanish and avoid any misunderstanding. Before going there, let’s take a look at the conjugation in the present tense of ‘poder’, ‘can’ in Spanish, also translated sometimes as ‘to be able to’:

(I) can Puedo POO-EH-doh
(You) can Puedes POO-EH-dess
(You (r) / he / she) can Puede POO-EH-deh
(We) can Podemos poh-DEH-moss
(You (p) / they) can Pueden POO-EH-denn

Remember that subjects in parentheses can be omitted. In Spanish you can always omit the subject, since all the information you require to identify the person, grammar-wise, is already contained in the conjugation. Also, the ‘r’ in parentheses means ‘respectful’. Remember that in Spanish there is a respectful ‘you’ = ‘usted,’ and an informal ‘you’ = tú. The ‘p’ is for ‘plural’ you.

Let’s add ‘pagar’ = ‘to pay’ to the formula:

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

‘pagar’= pah-GHAR

‘tarjeta de crédito’ = tar-HEH-tah DEH CREH-dee-toh

The verb ‘can’ in Spanish is flexible. Like in English, it is an auxiliary verb, but it is also used in many questions that imply possibilities, suggestions, and others. Look how it works in different contexts:

‘Puedo ir al aeropuerto con Sandra’ = I can go to the airport with Sandra.

‘¿Puedes ir al cine?’ = Can you go to the movies?

‘¿Puedo pagar el ticket con tarjeta de crédito?’ = Can I pay for the ticket with credit card?

Note that ‘pagar’ means ‘to pay’ and ‘to pay for,’ but it doesn’t need any preposition in Spanish.

Adding on, here’s some vocab you might find useful. These are a couple of items I always end up buying:

A book Un libro lee-BROH
A hat Un sombrero some-BREH-roh
A charger Un cargador kar-gah-DOOR
Sunglasses Lentes de sol LEHN-tes DEH SOHL

And finally, if you’re going to Europe, you might also need:

The adapter El adaptador ah-dap-tah-DOOR

Ta-dah! You’re now ready to go get your family some presents, or why not, for yourself?

See you next time! If you want to learn how to say that something is yours (hey! that’s my ice cream!), go to the next video and article.

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