Should you say, ‘May I have a drink?’ or ‘Can I have a drink?’ And what’s the difference between the two words? We can help you make the right choice and define the word so you know how to use it in a sentence.
In short, ‘may’ and ‘can’ have similar meanings, but here’s the difference:
Both words are used to ask about the possibility of something.
You might have seen people ask a question using either ‘may’ or ‘can.’ So, what’s the difference?
If you’ve ever been in any type of formal setting, people may have corrected you, insisting that you use ‘may’ instead of ‘can.’
But that’s really the only difference between the words.
Let’s quickly define them, so we know how to use them in a sentence.
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of ‘may’ is used to refer to possibility and is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘can.’
It could also mean having permission to or having the ability to, as well as a must.
The definition of ‘can’ is be physically or mentally able to, know how to, or used to indicate possibility.
It could also mean being enabled by law, agreement, or custom to, as well as know and understand.
These two words are used interchangeably very often in the English language.
Wondering how to pronounce these words? Here’s a short guide.
Now that you know the meaning and how to pronounce both words, let’s look at examples of how to use them in a sentence.
To recap, you learned that ‘may’ and ‘can’ have the same meaning, but they’re two different words. That means they’re okay to use interchangeably. Just remember that ‘may’ is more formal than ‘can.’
If you ever forget, you can always come back to refresh your memory. We’ve also got a whole library of content on other confusing words and phrases you might come across while learning the English language. Go check it out anytime you need to.