Using deber, poder, querer + infinitive to express must, can, to want to

These specific auxiliary verbs are used to express:

  • Obligation: Deber (must) + infinitive
  • Possibility: Poder (can) + infinitive
  • Intention: Querer (want to) + infinitive

Take a look at these examples: 

Debo estudiar para el examen.
I must study for the exam.

Podemos jugar al fútbol hoy.
We can play football today.

Quieren ir al cine el próximo sábado.
They want to go to the cinema next Saturday.

Note that to say must / can / want to in Spanish, you use:

Auxiliary verb (deber, poder, querer) + other verb in the infinitive



Examples and resources

Quiero aprender a cocinar.
I want to learn how to cook.


Debemos ir al supermercado.
We must go to the supermarket.


Quieren ir al cine el próximo sábado.
They want to go to the cinema next Saturday.


Podemos jugar al fútbol hoy.
We can play football today.


Mi madre debe pagar las facturas de la casa.
My mother must pay the household bills.


Debo estudiar para el examen.
I must study for the exam.


Q&A Forum 2 questions, 3 answers

LynA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

The question was How do you say: "You must tidy up your room. Is “Debes ordenar su habitación,” wrong?????? Please, if so, Why

Asked 9 months ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Lyn

You can say "Debes recoger tu cuarto" or "Debes ordenar tu habitación". Both are correct; recoger and ordenar are synonyms and the same goes for cuarto and habitación.

But note that your sentence is saying "Debes ordenar su cuarto"; you must match the conjugation with the possessive. The correct possessive here should be "tu", not "su", as you are using the you informal conjugation. If you want to make this sentence more formal you could also say "(Usted) debe ordenar su cuarto."

Gracias y saludos

Inma

LynA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Thank you Inma for your clear explanation. I get it now.

Regards

Lyn

The question was How do you say: "You must tidy up your room. Is “Debes ordenar su habitación,” wrong?????? Please, if so, Why

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

AlexanderA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

May/might

Hola!

Which modal verb is used to express "may/might"?

Regards, 

Alexander

Asked 1 year ago
InmaKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Alexander,

may/might can be expressed in different ways in Spanish. Most of the time we don't actually use modals. Here are some examples:

"He may come tonight":

1. A lo mejor viene esta noche. 2. Quizás venga esta noche. 3. Puede que venga esta noche.

"I might marry him."

1. A lo mejor me caso con él. 2. Quizás me case con él. 3. Puede que me case con él. 

We don't usually make a distinction between may and might.

Inma :))

May/might

Hola!

Which modal verb is used to express "may/might"?

Regards, 

Alexander

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

How has your day been?