Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. Unregistered1234
    Guest
    #1

    may vs. can

    Is it gramatically corect to say "May you help me?". I know you can say "Will you help me?" and it is not gramatically correct "Can you help me?". Thank you for all your help.
    -Ivan


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #2

    Re: may vs. can

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered1234 View Post
    Is it grammatically correct to say "May you help me?".

    It's perfectly grammatical, Unr1234, but for the meaning you want, it's semantically nonsensical. "may you help me" with no question mark has a subjunctive connotation, similar in nature to "May you always be happy".

    I know you can say "Will you help me?" and it is not gramatically correct "Can you help me?". Thank you for all your help.

    Both "Will you help me?" and "Can you help me?" are grammatical and in common use. The effect of both is the same, but each has a slightly different meaning; 'will' means "are you willing to help me?" and 'can' means "is it possible for you to help me?".

    -Ivan
    ZZ


    • Join Date: May 2006
    • Posts: 150
    #3

    Re: may vs. can

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered1234 View Post
    Is it gramatically corect to say "May you help me?". I know you can say "Will you help me?" and it is not gramatically correct "Can you help me?". Thank you for all your help.
    -Ivan
    Can I help you is frequently heard. May or could I help you is used in more formal settings.

    Can you help me, please? or in more formal settings Could or would you help me?


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 42
    #4

    Re: may vs. can

    I'd say that may is often used with the first person sg.


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #5

    Re: may vs. can

    In studies of spoken English, The Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English found that "[D]espite a well-known prescription favoring may rather than can for expressing permission, may is especially rare in the sense of permission. ... many of the instances of may marking permission ... are produced by caregivers in conversations with children."

    [LGSWE page 493]

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •