Grammar Lesson: Can vs. may


Nitpickers' Nook

Many people use them interchangeably; others favor “can” over “may” in
an effort to sound less stilted or formal. But do “can” and “may” really
mean the same thing? No.

“Can” means “physically able to.” Example: ““Can you lift 20 pounds?”” In
contrast, “may” means permitted to. Example: “”May I stop by your office?””

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