Os verbos conseguir e poder

Os verbos conseguir e poder freqüentemente parecem ser igual. Por exemplo:-
Eu não consigo/posso responder a esta pergunta.
Posso arbrir a lata? Eu tentei mas não consegui/pude.
Qual e quando é o melhor verbo para usar?

Conseguir is frequently used when talking about capacity “ I did not have ability to do”, “ I could not manage (have ability to) to do” and poder for permission like “can I do it” “you can do it now”


Thanks for replying. I do get the meanings of both verbs, but on a lot of occasions they seem to be interchangeable. I am wondering whether there is a grammatical rule as to which verb to use on which occasion? I tend to stick with poder because I find it easier to remember the conjugations.:wink: Your explanation is very helpful. Thank you.

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@amkjers got it right :slight_smile: As I once said, while there is some overlap between the two verbs, conseguir clearly refers to an ability/inability to do something, while poder makes us think of a right/permission to do so. Here are some clearer examples:

  • Ele não pode ouvir esta conversa. É privada. = He can’t hear this conversation. It’s private. (can’t as in not allowed or not wanted)
  • Ele não consegue ouvir nada. Há demasiado ruído. = He can’t hear anything. There’s too much noise. (can’t as in incapable of doing so)

They are not as interchangeable as they might seem, but it’s true that there is a bit of leeway. Here’s one case where both verbs would fit well, just by common usage:

  • Já não posso ouvir esta música! || Já não consigo ouvir esta música! (I can’t stand listening to this song anymore!)

I’m afraid that the boundaries don’t get any more specific than that. If in doubt, it’s safer to use poder - it can take on the meaning of conseguir, but conseguir can’t take on the meaning of poder. You’re doing the right thing there :slight_smile: