CAN vs MAY

CAN vs MAY: How to Use May vs Can Correctly?

CAN vs MAY!!! Many English speakers are confused about the usage of the words MAY vs CAN. For example, “Can I drink water?” is incorrect. “May I drink water?” is the correct phrase to use in this case.

CAN vs MAY

The key difference between MAY vs CAN is that “can” talks about ability and “may” talks about permission.

CAN Meaning and Examples

Can is an auxiliary verb.

It is used in two cases:

– To talk about ability.

  • I can finish my homework at 5 pm.
  • Can you finish your homework tonight?
  • Can you do the salsa?
  • Can you play basketball?

– To ask or give permission informally.

  • Can I use your pen?
  • You can use my pen.
  • Can I ask you a question?

MAY Meaning and Examples

May is also an auxiliary verb.

It is generally used to give or ask permission formally.

– The situation between a student and a teacher.

  • – “May I drink water?” – Teacher: “Yes, you may“.

– The situation between two strangers.

  • – “May I borrow your pen?” – “Yes, you may“.

Difference between MAY vs CAN | Infographic

Confused Words: When to Use CAN vs MAY

CAN vs MAY

CAN vs MAY: How to Use May vs Can Correctly? 1

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Stevenkyawthu
Stevenkyawthu
1 year ago

thank you . I didn’t know about it before. I always confused should I used Can or May .Now i know exactly .

Susan
Susan
11 months ago

Hello,
When I answer the phone at work I say, “How may I help you?” Another person at work says, “How can I help you?” Which is correct? Maybe both?
Thank you,
Susan

Mustapha Makuya
10 months ago
Reply to  Susan

How can I help you. It sounds rude but how may I help you. It sounds polite

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