Tag: English

Can I? Could I? May I?



Should you say “Can I”, “Could I”, or “May I”? Learn exactly when to use each expression to ask questions politely in English. Be confident and correct when you ask permission or make a request in different situations: informal, semi-formal, or formal. Find out how to match your question and answer with the context. These modal questions are extremely common in English, which is why this is such an important lesson. Don’t miss it!

Take the quiz at https://www.engvid.com/can-i-could-i-may-i/

Next, watch this lesson about when to use “WHAT” and when to use “WHICH”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAKnC2kr1_I&list=PLxSz4mPLHWDZgp8e6i0oyXOOrTAAaj0O7&index=22

TRANSCRIPT

Hi. I’m Rebecca from engVid. In this lesson I’m going to show you three simple ways that you can ask a polite question in English. Okay? Now, usually when we’re asking a question, it’s we’re asking if we can do something or we’re asking permission, or we’re asking someone else to do something for us, in which case we are requesting that they do something. All right? And there are three key words that you can use for this purpose, but in different ways. So, let’s look at what they are. All right.

So, those three words are: “can”, “could”, and “may”. Now, of course, you’ve heard those words before and I’m sure you use them as well, but let’s be really sure when to use which one. So, it’s very easy. We use “can” in more informal situations. All right? What do I mean by “informal”? For example, with your family or friends. All right? We use “could” in more semi-formal situations. “Semi-formal” means a little bit formal. For example, with your colleagues, people you work with. Right? With your hairdresser perhaps, with a salesperson in a store. All right? There we could use “could” so we kind of know that person or we don’t know that person too well, but it’s not a very formal situation. And the last is in formal situations when we use “may”. So, what’s a “formal situation”? Well, for example, if you’re talking to a client, or a customer, or you’re at an interview, then you want to be on your best behaviour, use your best manners, be very polite, be very formal and proper, and that’s when we use “may”.

Now, there is a little difference in terms of the grammar of how we use these three words. So, with “can” and “could”, we can use those two with all of the pronouns. So, we can say: “can I”, “can you”, “can we”, “could they”, “could he”, “could she”, “could it”. All right? Can use those with all of the pronouns. But when we come to “may”, we can only use it with “I” or “we”. All right? “May I do this?” or “May we” – you can’t really ask permission for somebody else so much, so this is… These are the two ways we use “May”. All right? Sometimes you might hear it with one or two other pronouns, but really, these are the most common. All right? So that’s what you want to be able to use so you can always be 100% right.

Now, let’s look at the same question and how it’s different with the three words. All right? So, let’s say I’m at home and I ask someone from my family: “Can I have some orange juice?” All right? So, there I’m using “can” because it’s really informal. Now let’s say I’m at the mall, I’m at the food court and I’m ordering some juice, so I say: “Could I have some orange juice?” All right? Slightly more formal. And now let’s pretend that we’re in a fancy restaurant and I’m ordering orange juice, so then I say: “May I have some orange juice?” Okay? Now, you could add the word “please” also, but with some of these it’s already very polite, so you don’t have to go overboard, you don’t have to do too much, you don’t have to always say “please”, especially when you’re asking for yourself. Okay? If you’re requesting something that someone else do, then often we do add the “please” as well. Okay?

Now, what are some of the responses? We’re not really focusing on the responses in this lesson, but let me just tell you what would be the appropriate responses-positive responses and negative responses-to these questions. So, if someone said: “Can I have some orange juice?”-informal-the answer might be: “Sure, here you go.” Or: -“Could I have some orange juice?” -“Yes, of course.” -“May I have some orange juice?” -“Certainly.” Okay? So you see that the formality of the question matches the formality of the answer.

If it was negative: -“Can I…?” -“Sorry, we’re all out.” -“Could I…?” -“I’m sorry, we’re all out.” -“May I…?” -“I’m afraid we’re all out.” Okay? Same basic information, but represented quite differently. So now let’s look at some more examples.

All right. So, informally, we could say: “Can I help you wash the dishes?” That would be a really nice thing to say to someone. Okay. All right. Or: “Can you clear the table, please?” Now, you see here because I’m requesting something of someone else, it’s perfectly nice and fine to say “please” at the end. Okay? “Can you clear the table, please?” What does that mean: “Clear the table”? […]

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TEDxChandler – Michelle May – Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat



Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yoyo dieter and the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle. She goes far beyond the obvious advice of “eat less and exercise more” to help individuals resolve mindless and emotional eating and senseless yo-yo dieting.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxChandler, where x = independently organized TED event. At our TEDxChandler event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.

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English Speaking – How to Ask Permission – CAN, COULD, MAY, DO YOU MIND



http://www.engvid.com/ Learn how to be a polite English speaker in this lesson. I explain how politeness, formality, and necessity are all important parts of asking permission, when using the following common words and expressions: CAN, COULD, MAY, and DO YOU MIND.

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Are You Learning English? These Songs May Help



I’m Alex Villarreal with the VOA Special English Education Report, from http://voaspecialenglish.com | http://facebook.com/voalearningenglish
Songs teach language. Consider a song like “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega. An American teaching English overseas once told us that students love that song.Recently we asked people on the Special English Facebook page to suggest other songs that English learners might like. Noemi Nito wrote: I’m one of those English students who love “Tom’s Diner.” I started learning English with “Lemon Tree” by Fool’s Garden. Another favorite is “Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden. Another person, Asi Tambunan, suggested the song “God Only Knows” by Orianthi. Gyongyi Jako wrote that ABBA’s songs from Sweden are perfect for class work. Other good songs for learning English are songs by the Beatles and John Lennon, as well as Louis Armstrong’s “Wonderful World.” Paul Cifuentes says Bob Marley’s songs are amazing for teaching. Another teacher, Joseph Deka, says songs by Johnny Cash have always worked in his classroom. He says his students can hear the words, plus the songs often have stories. He also likes “We Will Rock You” by Queen and “Beautiful Girls” by Sean Kingston. He says young children love “C Is for Cookie” by Cookie Monster from the TV show “Sesame Street.” Nina John Smith suggested these songs: “It’s My Life” and “We Weren’t Born to Follow” by Bon Jovi. Also “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica.Aurelio Lourenco Costa Gusmao says he began to like English after his teacher played the Westlife song “I Have a Dream.” He wrote: That was eight years ago. I was in the seventh grade. And from that day on, my dream of improving my English skills became attached in my mind. Teachers can use this song to convey the message to their students that they should have their own dream for the future. Aurelio’s story was no surprise to another commenter, Katie Kivenko. She especially likes songs by Michael Jackson and Queen. She wrote: When you listen to your favorite songs, you feel emotionally high and it moves you to action.For VOA Special English, I’m Alex Villarreal. Do you have any favorite songs for learning English? You can share other music suggestions for English learners at our website, voaspecialenglish.com or on Facebook at VOA Learning English. We are also on Twitter and iTunes.

(Adapted from a radio program broadcast 06Jan2011)

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