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In the words of Randolph Quirk: "As a permission auxiliary, may is more formal and less common than can, which (except in phrases such as if I may) can be substituted for it."

What is the antecedent of 'it'? It is 'may', is it not?
So, 'can' can be substituted for 'may'.
It is clear so far.

If I say 'can' can substitute for 'may' it means 'can' may take the place of 'may'.
Clear.

If I use passive: "'can' can be substituted for 'may'." then the object takes the place of the agent: 'may' may take the place of can = 'can' can be substituted for 'may'.
Clear.

But then, this proposition is not reconciliable with what is written within the brackets: "except in phrases such as if I may"

"except in phrases such as if I may" It suggests to me 'can' can not always take the place of 'may'.

The original sentence is opaque to me.

question: if I am wrong, from where is my reasoning bleeding?

'can' can not always take the place of 'may' and 'may' may take the place of 'can'
These facts are reconciliable, but I can not catch the thread of thought of the sentence.

'may' may take the place of 'can' (except in phrases such as if I may) ????
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Comments  
Read again, I have made alterations in the text.
For permission:

Can/May I go to the ball?

If I may speak...

*If I can speak...

Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
InchoateknowledgeIn the words of Randolph Quirk: "As a permission auxiliary, may is more formal and less common than can, which (except in phrases such as if I may) can be substituted for it."

What is the antecedent of 'it'? It is 'may', is it not?
So, 'can' can be substituted for 'may'.
It is clear so far.

right

If I say 'can' can substitute for 'may' it means 'can' may take the place of 'may'.
Clear.

right

If I use passive: "'can' can be substituted for 'may'." then the object takes the place of the agent: 'may' may take the place of can = 'can' can be substituted for 'may'.
Clear.

It's wrong!

The critical factor to determine who takes whose place is the prep. not active/passive voice.

See these examples:
Nothing can substitute for the advice your doctor is able to give you. (active voice, for)

Margarine can be substituted for butter in this recipe. == Butter can be substituted with margarine in this recipe. (passive voice, for/with)

Beckham was substituted in the second half after a knee injury (= somebody else played instead of Beckham in the second half). (When for, with or by are not used, We can not judge whether the person or thing mentioned is being used, or has been replaced by somebody or something else. The context will usually make this clear.

And with/by is considered substandard (or uncommon at least) by some native speakers. It's a fact we should pay respect to.

You can easily draw these conclusions from my former thread

But then, this proposition is not reconciliable with what is written within the brackets: "except in phrases such as if I may"

"except in phrases such as if I may" It suggests to me 'can' can not always take the place of 'may'.

The original sentence is opaque to me.

question: if I am wrong, from where is my reasoning bleeding?

'can' can not always take the place of 'may' and 'may' may take the place of 'can'
These facts are reconciliable, but I can not catch the thread of thought of the sentence.

'may' may take the place of 'can' (except in phrases such as if I may) ????

Hello IK, your question confused me so much!
InchoateknowledgeIn the words of Randolph Quirk: "As a permission auxiliary, may is more formal and less common than can, which (except in phrases such as if I may) can be substituted for it."

What is the antecedent of 'it'? It is 'may', is it not?
When this it refers to 'can,' everything seems fine to me...

Besides, it seems somewhat strange if we say something more formal 'substitutes' for something common... non?

??
FeathersHello IK, your question confused me so much!
InchoateknowledgeIn the words of Randolph Quirk: "As a permission auxiliary, may is more formal and less common than can, which (except in phrases such as if I may) can be substituted for it."

What is the antecedent of 'it'? It is 'may', is it not?
When this it refers to 'can,' everything seems fine to me...

Besides, it seems somewhat strange if we say something more formal 'substitutes' for something common... non?

??

As a permission auxiliary, may is more formal and less common than can, which (except in phrases such as if I may) can be substituted for it.

which can be substituted
which refers to 'can'
it = can??

'which' relative pronoun and 'it' personal pronoun refer to the same thing?
It can not be like that.
Utterly incoherent the sentence would be then.
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/define.asp?key=79491&dict=CALD

to use something or someone instead of another thing or person:

Dayton was substituted for Williams in the second half of the match.
Who stopped playing here? Dayton.
-------------------
Dayton substituted for Williams in the second half of the match.

Who stopped playing? Williams.
----------------
You can substitute oil for butter in this recipe.
Does it say if you do not have butter you can use oil?
MilkyFor permission:

Can/May I go to the ball?

If I may speak...

*If I can speak...


This was not my question.
anyway, thank you.

As a permission auxiliary, may is more formal and less common than can, which (except in phrases such as if I may) can be substituted for it.

As a permission auxiliary, may is more formal and less common than can. Can can be substituted for it/may, except in phrases such as "if I may".
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