May I / Can I

For general discussion between ESL teachers.

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May I / Can I

Unread post by cyphever1 » Sun Oct 01, 2006 3:19 pm


Can someone please advise the difference between "May I" and "Can I"?

I assume it is more polite to use "May I", e.g., May I use your pencil? May I play with you?

Thanks very much!

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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 8:49 am
Location: Cambodia

Unread post by Rat07 » Tue Oct 03, 2006 3:48 am

Hi Cyphere,

You are correct. I totally agree with you that "May I" is used to show politness.

But not all the requesting sentences can be used with "May". For instance, we say "Can you do me a favor?", not "May you do me a favor?". What do you think, Cyphere?


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