Chapter V: quomodo Sextus versipellis factus est      Back to Chapter 5 contents

possum, posse

The Latin verb possum, posse means “to be able.” It is a compound of the verb sum, esse (“to be”), which you already know. The chart below shows both sum and possum so you can compare the two.

sum, esse

possum, posse


1st person

sum = I am

possum = I am able

2nd person

es = you are

potes = you are able

3rd person

est = he, she or it is

potest = he, she or it is able


1st person

sumus = we are

possumus = we are able

2nd person

estis = y'all are

potestis = y'all are able

3rd person

sunt = they are

possunt = they are able

Usually, possum will be followed by a complementary infinitive (see chapter IV). For example:

Possum currere . I am able to run.

Possunt dicere . They are able to speak.

The following story contains several examples of the use of this verb.