Can or May?
Can or May?What is the difference between "can" and "may"?
In a polite or formal setting, use "may" for permission. For example:
- May she swim in your pool? (This means "Is she permitted to swim in your pool?" It sounds polite.)
- Can she swim in your pool? (This means the same as the one above. It sounds neutral as opposed to polite.)
- Can she swim? (Is she able to swim?)
- Can she do quadratic equations? (Is she able to do quadratic equations? You cannot use "may" to express ability.)
More about "Can"The word "can" is an auxiliary verb used to express ability. For example:
- I can whistle. (I have the ability to whistle.)
- Can he lift 150 kgs? (Does he have the ability to lift 150 kgs?)
- You can stroke the ponies but not goats. (Here, "can" expresses permission. "Can" tends to be used for permission among friends or in an informal setting.)
More about "May"The word "may" is an auxiliary verb used to denote permission. For example:
- You can swim in this river. (You are allowed to swim in this river.)
- May I have a biscuit? (Am I permitted to have a biscuit?)