Modals for Asking Permissions

Modals for Asking Permissions! Learn useful Modals for Asking Permissions in English with grammar rules and example sentences.

Modals for Asking Permissions

Can and May

  • We use CAN to ask for permission from someone we know well.


Can I speak to John Wilson, please?

Can I borrow your pen for a minute?

  • We use May as a slightly more formal way to ask for permission.


May I ask a question please?

May we go home now?

Could and May

  • Could is used as a more polite way of asking for permission.


Could I please have a glass of beer?

(Could is the past tense of can. However, when asking for permission, could does not have a past tense meaning.)

  • Could has the same meaning as may when making requests. It is equally polite to say, “Could I open the window?” or “May I open the window?
  • Could is used with any subject to ask for permission.


Could you open the window?

Modals for Asking Permissions | Picture

Modals for Asking Permissions