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Thread: Can I help you?

  1. Needtoknow

    Can I help you?

    When answering a phone in busines what is the "correct" grammar?

    Hello this Kay, Can I help you?


    Hello this is Kay, May I help you?

    Or it just a matter of preference?

  2. Banned
    Interested in Language
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Hungarian
      • Home Country:
      • Hungary
      • Current Location:
      • Hungary

    • Join Date: Feb 2010
    • Posts: 1,110

    Re: Can I help you?

    I have a friend who lives in South Africa and who is a lawyer (he has education). He keeps correcting me when I use 'can' thus. And I keep re-correcting him. With 'may' you are more polite and formal.

  3. Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
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      • UK
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      • UK

    • Join Date: May 2010
    • Posts: 577

    Re: Can I help you?

    With 'how' before, may/can mean the same because the question is no longer about permission/capacity but about the 'how'. 'May' is more formal.

    "Reception, how can I help you!"

    "Reception, how may I help you!"

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