When to use pouvez-vous....

Pam-V September 13, 2013, 1:10 am
I'm just on lesson 1.3.

When do I use pouvez-vous? Is it pouvez-vous parler français? Or parlez-vous francais? In the lesson, I notice that sometimes pouvez-vous is used and sometimes not.

Thanks.
When to use pouvez-vous....
torusan September 13, 2013, 1:43 am
Hi - The verb *pouvoir* means "to be able to", so "Pouvez-vous parler (en) français" is "Can/Could you speak (in) French?" while "Parlez-vous français" is "Do you speak French?".

The difference is subtle, but "pouvez-vous" would basically be used if you want someone to do you a "favor", like "Pouvez-vous parlez lentement" (Can/Could you speak slowly?) or Pouvez-vous m'aider (Can/Could you help me?).

So, if you just want to know if someone speaks French, it's "Parlez-vous français?". But, say, a Francophone talks to you in English, and you want him/her to speak in French so you can practice, then you would say "Pouvez-vous parler *en* français" (Could you speak in French?)
When to use pouvez-vous....

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