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  1. alex_genius_20's Avatar
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    #1

    can / may

    Can I sit here?
    May I sit here?

    Hello,
    Is there any difference between them in meaning?

    Thank you

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: can / may

    In most contexts, no.

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    #3

    Re: can / may

    Quote Originally Posted by alex_genius_20 View Post
    Can I sit here?
    May I sit here?

    Hello,
    Is there any difference between them in meaning?

    Thank you
    They are mostly interchangeable in modern speech. Strictly speaking there is difference. "may" is asking permission while "can" is asking if it is possible. "May I climb that hill? Yes, I will open the gate for you." "Can I climb that hill? I guess so, if you brought the right equipment." I use "may" in formal speech "May I enter now?"

  3. alex_genius_20's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: can / may

    Thanks for answering.
    Can we use "can" for permission like "may"?

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    #5

    Re: can / may

    Yes.

  4. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: can / may

    Quote Originally Posted by alex_genius_20 View Post
    Thanks for answering.
    Can we use "can" for permission like "may"?
    Many people do.

    When I was at school, if a child said to one of our teachers "Can I go to the toilet?", the teacher would reply "I don't know. Can you? Are you able to? Have you been taught how to go to the toilet?" (He was a rather sarcastic teacher!) He would then wait until the child said "Sorry, I meant to say 'May I go to the toilet?' " and then the teacher would say "Yes, of course you may".

    I very much doubt if the same distinction is made by many people these days. "Can I go to the toilet?" is met with "Yes, you can" and it is taken as a request for and a grant of permission.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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