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 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.