‘can’ or ‘may’
can and may
In a statement, we use can or may in this way:
Subject + can/may + base form of main verb/the verb ‘to be’
You can/may go out.
Susie can/may be successful.
In a question, we use can or may at the beginning in this way
can/may + Subject + base form of main verb/the verb ‘to be’
Can Joe stay?
Can/May I be your friend?
Modal or auxiliary verb:
Can, may, must, shall, will, ought
Can and may are to ask permission or give permission.
May is usually more polite than can
Can/May I use your calculator, please?
You can/may watch the television after dinner.
Can and may are also used to express the possibility of an action or event.
May is usually used to refer to a less likely possibility than can.
We can have the meeting at 3 p. m.
We may have the meeting at 3 p. m.
May is also used to suggest that the speaker or writer is not very certain about something.
Example: Your answer may be right.
Can is used to refer to the ability to do something.
Example: She can swim well.
Can you do cartwheels?
May be and maybe.
May be is a verb.
Maybe is an adverb meaning “perhaps”.
It can also be the answer we give when we don’t want to say either yes or no.
She maybe late. (wrong)
She may be late. (right)
Maybe she will be late. (right)
Will you be going to the prom? Maybe. (right)
P135 F 1