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Do you, personally, use "may" to give your own permission and "can" to tell a person that another authority permits smoking at that time and place?
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Personally? No. I pretty much use can for both. I'd only say 'may' if I was making a point/joking. I know that theoretically it is correct but lets just say that no-one in my circles uses it seriously these days. I'm sure it is still used by other people.
No. Never may. Always can.
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Nona The BritPersonally? No. I pretty much use can for both. I'd only say 'may' if I was making a point/joking. I know that theoretically it is correct but lets just say that no-one in my circles uses it seriously these days. I'm sure it is still used by other people.
Thanks, Nona. You say you'd use it for making a point or joking, but would you also find yourself using it with elderly people?
Thanks, Jim.
No I wouldn't use it with elderly people any more than anyone else.

I might also use it if I were trying to be ultra-polite.
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Thanks again, Nona.
Coming to this a bit late but, hopefully, not too late to be helpful. Not sure of the context of this query, but I'll use an example to illustrate my opinion;

Q: "Can I smoke (a cigarette)?" A: "Yes, it is possible... if you put one in your mouth and light it!"

Q: "May I smoke (a cigarette)?" A: "Thank you for asking, but I'd prefer that you didn't... cigarette smoke irritates my throat."

NomskComing to this a bit late but, hopefully, not too late to be helpful. Not sure of the context of this query, but I'll use an example to illustrate my opinion;

Q: "Can I smoke (a cigarette)?" A: "Yes, it is possible... if you put one in your mouth and light it!"

Q: "May I smoke (a cigarette)?" A: "Thank you for asking, but I'd prefer that you didn't... cigarette smoke irritates my throat."

The context is asking about personal use of "may" and "can" for permission. So, I assume from the above that you use "may" "to give your own permission and "can" to tell a person that another authority permits smoking at that time and place"?. Is that the way you use it?

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