- For Teachers
1. May I have it?
2. Can I have it?
3. Could I have it?
What are the differences in meaning among May I, Can I, Could I?
I am making a sentence with Could I have it. Do I have to put the verb on the following sentence to past tense due to having could in the first sentence?
eg. Could I have a pair of rubber shoes because I am going for hiking later in the afternoon.
***** NOT A TEACHER *****
As I understand it:
(1) Can I have a pair of gloves, please? I'm going hiking later this afternoon. = a polite request.
(2) Could I have a pair of gloves, please? I'm .... = much more
courteous. For some reason, in English the past form is often considered more courteous.
Hey! Can I sit here?
Excuse me. Could I sit here?
(3) May I have a .... = According to Mr. Michael Swan's
Practical English Usage, may is "more formal than can and could."
(a) Mr. Swan also points out a super polite and formal word:
Might [the past of "may"] I have a pair of gloves?
Mr. Swan says that such a request is NOT very "natural." If you
wish to use "might," then he suggests:
I wonder if I might have a pair of gloves. I'm going hiking later this afternoon. (Such an indirect question is extremely formal and polite. You might use it for the boss:
Excuse me, sir. I wonder if I might ask you a personal question.)