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  1. Senior Member
    Student or Learner
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Arabic
      • Home Country:
      • Malaysia
      • Current Location:
      • Hong Kong

    • Join Date: Sep 2007
    • Posts: 823
    • Post Thanks / Like

    can and may

    Hi there,
    Both can and may are used to say that some is allowed to do something. I understand their differences are subtle. How about the following examples? Can they be replaced with ‘can’?

    1. Thank you. You may go now.
    2. There is a set of rules to show what members may and may not do.
    3. You may sit down or stand, just as you with.
    4. No one may own more than 10% of the shares.
    5. May I come in and wait?
    6. May we use your office for a few minutes.

    Can the ‘can’ be replaced with ‘may’ in the following examples?
    1. You can’t park here---it’s a no parking zone.
    2. ‘Can we go home now, please? ‘No you can’t.
    3. Any police officer can insist on seeing a driver’s licence.


    • Join Date: Feb 2008
    • Posts: 420
    • Post Thanks / Like

    Smile Re: can and may

    Peter, as you say, apart from the smallest nuance of meaning (that only pedants would pick up) the two are interchangeable.


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