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English Mentors Tips

Jen’s English Tip – Can and May





Can and May

Do you know how to use can and may in conversation?

We use both ‘can’ and ‘may’ to ask for permission.

‘Can I use your phone, please?’

‘Can I take your bags, please?’

‘May I use your phone, please?’

‘May I take your bags, please?’

In this context, the only difference is that ‘may’ is more formal.

These days, ‘may’ is considered to be quite old fashioned and most people will use ‘can’.

It is still OK to use ‘may’ in a very formal situation or when you want to be extra polite.

Note that there is no contraction for ‘may not (i.e. mayn’t is not a word):

‘No, you can’t use my phone.’

‘No you may not use my phone.’

‘No, you can’t take my bag.’

‘No you may not take my bag.’


Learning Thai With Jen

All of Jen’s students say she is the best Thai teacher they have had because she is patient with them and teaches at their pace with no pressure to learn quickly.

Jen teaches at her home in Chiang Rai and can be reached on 0814 726 644


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