120 - often expressed idiomatically in English as “can(is able to do something” in the present tense or “could(was able to do something” in

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Saber  means “to know a fact.” In the imperfect, it simply means “used to know” or “knew a fact”  because knowledge of a fact was ongoing. When the moment the fact was first known is the focus of  the sentence, it is stated in English as the instance when something was “found out.” The preterite  forms of  saber  are the Spanish way of expressing the English idiomatic expression “found out.” Here  are examples of  saber  in the imperfect and preterite tenses:  Imperfect:   saber  = knew (some fact)  Él sabía la dirección de memoria.   He knew the address by heart. Preterite:   saber  = found out (some fact)  Él supo la dirección y fue a su casa.   He found out the address and went to her house. Poder  is translated “to be able.” It is always followed by a verb in its infinitive form. This concept is 
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Unformatted text preview: often expressed idiomatically in English as “can (is able to) do something” in the present tense or “could (was able to) do something” in the past. The imperfect forms of poder express an ongoing ability to do something in the past. In a negative sentence, the imperfect tense of poder indicates an ongoing lack of ability to do something that was assumed or obvious. Used negatively in the imperfect, the indication is that one never specifically tried to do something but, rather, assumed the inability was ongoing. Poder is used in the preterite tense to indicate a specific time when an ability to do something was not normally the case. In English a speaker says “I managed to do it” when something isn't typically do-able....
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This note was uploaded on 11/06/2011 for the course SPAN 101 taught by Professor Oliveros during the Fall '09 term at Texas State.

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