Part C. Requests for Permission

Part C. Requests for Permission

  • People are sometimes confused by the difference between requests for action and requests for permission. It is important to remember that most requests for action use the pronoun you. In requests for permission, on the other hand, we ask permission to perform an action ourselves or for another person to perform an action.

May I sit here?             Very formal
Could I sit here?              Polite / Formal
Can I sit here?                 Familiar

Exercise 1: Form an appropriate question depending on the relationship between the speakers.
Example: Employee to his manager: “I want to go home early.”
      Could/Can/May I go home early?

  1. Child to mother: “I want to go to the library.”

____ I go to the library?

  1. Two strangers in a café: “I want to sit there.”

____ I sit here?

  1. Secretary to boss: “I want to go to lunch.”

____ I /____ I/____ I go to lunch?

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