Level: beginner

Asking for permission

We use can to ask for permission to do something:

Can I ask a question, please?
Can we go home now?

could is more formal and polite than can:

Could I ask a question, please?
Could we go home now?

may is another more formal and polite way of asking for permission:

May I ask a question, please?
May we go home now?

Asking for permission 1

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Asking for permission 2

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Giving permission

We use can to give permission:

You can go home now.
You can borrow my pen if you like.

may is a more formal and polite way of giving permission:

You may go home now.

We use can to say that someone has permission to do something:

We can go out whenever we want.
Students can travel for free.

may is a more formal and polite way of saying that someone has permission:

Students may travel for free.

Refusing permission

We use can't and may not to refuse permission or say that someone does not have permission:

You can't go home yet.
Students may not travel for free.

Giving and refusing permission 1

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Giving and refusing permission 2

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