Can or May?
When to use CAN instead of MAY
Can is a modal auxiliary. It is used to express ability.
- She can swim.
- They can read.
Could is the past of can.
- I could run 10 km when I was 20.
Note: Can is sometimes used to express permission. (Informal)
- They can have desert.
- Can I please have more salad?
When to use MAY instead of CAN
May is a modal auxiliary. It is used to express or request permission.
- May I go swimming?
- May we read the report you wrote?
- You may have more pie.
- May I join you?