Mama, may I, pretty please?!?!?!

Can I versus May I?

As a family we have revisited this lesson many times, and today I just thought that I would share it here as well.  In business, and in life, it is always better to be clear about what you need.  can-may

CAN I / CAN YOU – Yes it is a valid question, but what are you questioning.  Can is always a question about ability

Boy: Can I borrow a pencil? Girl: Yes, you do have the ability to borrow a pencil.

Mom: Can you do a handstand? Tumbling Child: Yes!

MAY I / WILL YOU – Notice that there is not a “may you”.  We typically exchange the may for will or would when we are asking another person for something.

Boy: May I, please, borrow a pencil? Girl: Why, sure, would you like this one, or the blue one?

Mom: Will you do a handstand?  Tumbling Child: Yes, watch me!

CAN – Use can when you are asking about ability.

MAY (WILL/WOULD) – Use may for self, and will or would when asking someone else, for permission.

There are a few more twists and turn to the can versus the may debate, but for now that should get you happily on your way to the OVER CANNING and UNDER MAYING.


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