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    #1

    Can/May I go the washroom, Sir?

    Student: Can I go the washroom, Sir?
    Teacher: You can, but you may not.

    The teacher said "it is wrong to use 'can' because it means that somebody has the ability to do something."

    The teacher suggested to say 'Can I go the washroom, Sir?'.

    According to the teacher, I think it's wrong to say 'Can I speak to John, please?.


    Do you agree?

    Thank you for your comment.

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Can/May I go the washroom, Sir?

    Quote Originally Posted by Winwin2011 View Post
    Student: Can I go the washroom, Sir?
    Teacher: You can, but you may not.

    The teacher said "it is wrong to use 'can' because it means that somebody has the ability to do something."

    The teacher suggested to say 'Can (do you mean 'may'?) I go the washroom, Sir?'.

    According to the teacher, I think it's wrong to say 'Can I speak to John, please?.
    Very few of us still follow the old rule of 'may for permission, can for ability'. 'May I ...' is correct and understandable, but most native speakers use 'Can I ...'

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    #3

    Re: Can/May I go the washroom, Sir?

    [QUOTE=Winwin2011;829445]

    The teacher suggested to say 'Can I go the washroom, Sir?'.


    NOT A TEACHER


    (1) Is that a mistake? Did your teacher suggest " May I go to the restroom, sir?"


    (2) Here is a joke that some people like:

    Little boy: Can I go to the restroom?

    His teacher (who wants to teach him that "may" is the correct word):

    May I go to the restroom!

    Little boy: I asked first!

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    #4

    Re: Can/May I go the washroom, Sir?

    Thanks Moderator 5jj and TheParser.

    Sorry for my typing error!


    The teacher suggested to say 'May (not can) I go the washroom, Sir?'.

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    #5

    Re: Can/May I go the washroom, Sir?

    That's the teacher's suggestion, but it's unnecessary.

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    #6

    Re: Can/May I go the washroom, Sir?

    As you've heard, the distinction is rarely noted these days and most people happily use and accept "Can I ... ?" to mean "Will you allow me to ... ?"

    However, I feel that "May I ...?" is more polite and formal. I think children should be encouraged to use it, then when they get older they can choose which they want to use.

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