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This question could apply to a number of verbs I guess, including:

podría ser OR sería

podría hablar OR hablaría

podría comer OR comería

Which could be generalised as 'conditional indicative OR cond. ind. of poder + infinitive'

Are there any differences between these? Are there common contexts or uses where one is more suitable than the other?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

They are different. Podría ser is could be, whereas sería is would be:

  • Si fuera rico, podría comer ostras a diario = If I were rich, I could eat oysters every day.
  • Si fuera rico, comería ostras a diario = If I were rich, I would eat oysters every day.
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This is correct. But in some cases both verbal forms can be used with the same sense: "me comería un sandwish ahora", "podría comerme un sandwich ahora", in both cases the subject is indicating in a figurative way that he is hungry. –  dsign Jan 12 '12 at 8:52
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If you say "comería..." if you had the chance you'd definitely eat; but if you say "podría comer..." if you had the chance you'd be able to eat but you'd decide at that moment whether eating or not. –  Javi Jan 12 '12 at 9:03
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