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Can vs May
Difference, Examples & Quiz

What's the difference? Which one is correct?


Definition: Can is a modal verb used to express ability, possibility, permission, or to request or offer something.

Usage: Can is commonly used to talk about general abilities or skills, to ask for permission, or to make requests.

Example sentences:
  • 1. I can swim.
  • 2. Can I borrow your pen?
  • 3. Can you help me with this?

Definition: May is a modal verb used to express possibility, permission, or to give or ask for permission.

Usage: May is often used to ask for permission in a more formal or polite way, or to talk about possibilities or likelihoods.

Example sentences:
  • 1. May I use your phone?
  • 2. You may find it difficult to understand.
  • 3. It may rain tomorrow.

Both "can" and "may" are modal verbs that express possibility, permission, or ability. However, "can" is used to indicate capability or ability, while "may" is used to express permission or possibility. For example, "I can swim" indicates ability, while "May I go to the bathroom?" indicates permission.

Quizzes about "Can" vs "May"

Can vs May: 5 Quizzes

1. What is the meaning of 'Can'?

2. Which word means 'to have permission'?

3. What is the opposite of 'Can'?

4. Which word is used to express possibility?

5. What is the meaning of 'May'?


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