There are three important "modes" of speech that we use so frequently that they have their own forms:
In Spanish we use the verbs poder (ability: can, to be able to), querer (desire: to want to) and deber (need: must, to have to) are what we call modal verbs.
These verbs add a nuance to the action of the verb they precede, whether it be an ability, obligation, or a wish to complete this action.
Other modal verbs in Spanish are for example:
- necesitar (to need)
- tener que (to have to)
- soler (to usually do [something])
- saber (to be able to)
- haber que (must)
Necesitas comprar más café. (You need to buy more coffee.)
Tienes que ser más cuidadoso al conducir. (You have to be more careful with your driving.)
Yo suelo comprar el pan en esa panadería francesa. (I usually buy bread in that French bakery.)
¿Sabes nadar? (Can you swim?)
Hay que reciclar más. (We must recycle more.)
Modal verbs are followed by an "infinitive".
Poder and querer are irregular in most tenses whilst deber isn't.
yo puedo / yo quiero / yo debo
yo podré / yo querré / yo deberé