Using poder to say could have [done something] (modal verbs)

In Spanish "Could have [done something]" is expressed in 3 different ways but they all refer to when someone had a chance to do something in the past but the opportunity was missed:

Have a look at the following example with the 3 different tenses but all referring to the same thing:

Gabriela pudo haber ido a la universidad de Exeter pero no fue.
Gabriela could have gone to Exeter university but she didn't go.

Gabriela podía haber ido a la universidad de Exeter pero no fue.
Gabriela could have gone to Exeter university but she didn't go.

Gabriela podría haber ido a la universidad de Exeter pero no fue.
Gabriela could have gone to Exeter university but she didn't go.

The three different tenses are interchangeable, the meaning does not change no matter which one you use. They all refer to what could have happened in the past (but didn't happen).
 
Here are more examples:
 

Me podrías haber avisado para ir a recogerte a la estación.
You could have told me so I would have picked you up at the station.

Pudimos haber ido a la playa en vez de a la montaña.
We could have gone to the beach instead of the mountains.

Podíais haber recogido la casa antes de la llegada de los invitados.
You could have tidied up the house before the guests arrived.

Ellos podrían haber organizado mejor el viaje porque fue un desastre.
They could have organised the trip better because it was a disaster.

 

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Gabriela podía haber ido a la universidad de Exeter pero no fue.
Gabriela could have gone to Exeter university but she didn't go.


Gabriela podía haber ido a la universidad de Exeter pero no fue.
Gabriela could have gone to Exeter university but she did't go.


Podíais haber recogido la casa antes de la llegada de los invitados.
You could have tidied up the house before the guests arrived.


Ellos podrían haber organizado mejor el viaje porque fue un desastre.
They could have organised the trip better because it was a disaster.


Pudimos haber ido a la playa en vez de a la montaña.
We could have gone to the beach instead of the mountains.


Gabriela pudo haber ido a la universidad de Exeter pero no fue.
Gabriela could have gone to Exeter university but she didn't go.


Me podrías haber avisado para ir a recogerte a la estación.
You could have told me so I would have picked you up at the station.


Gabriela podría haber ido a la universidad de Exeter pero no fue.
Gabriela could have gone to Exeter university but she didn't go.


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