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Permission: can, may, could and be allowed to

A Asking permission

We use can, could or may to ask for permission.

Can I use your pen?

Could we borrow your ladder, please? ~ Well, I'm using it at the moment.

May I see the letter? ~ Certainly. Could often sounds more polite than can. May is rather formal.



B Giving and refusing permission

To give permission we use can or may (but not could).

You can wait in my office if you like.

Could I borrow your calculator? ~ Of course you can.

You may telephone from here, (a written notice) May is formal and is not often used in speech.

To refuse permission we use can't or may not (but not couldn't).

Could we picnic here? ~ I'm sorry. I'm afraid you can't. Members may not bring more than two guests into the club. We can also use must not.

Luggage must not be left unattended.


C Talking about permission

We sometimes talk about rules made by someone else. To do this we use can, could and be allowed to.

We use can to talk about the present, and we use could for the past.

Present: Each passenger can take one bag onto the plane.

Past: In the 1920s you could drive without taking a test.

We can also use be allowed to.

Present: Passengers are allowed to take one bag onto the plane.

Future: Will I be allowed to record the interview on tape?

Past: We weren't allowed to look round the factory yesterday.

For a general permission in the past we use either could or was/were allowed to.

/ could always stay/1 was always allowed to stay up late as a child.

But to say that the permission resulted in a particular action, something that really happened, we use was/were allowed to (but not could).

I was allowed to leave work early yesterday.

We were allowed to go into the control room when we looked around the power station.

Compare these questions with may and be allowed to.

ASKING FOR PERMISSION ASKING ABOUT PERMISSION

May I take a photo of you? Are we allowed to take photos?

(= Will you allow it?) (= What is the rule?)


45 Exercises

1 Asking permission (A)

How would you ask for permission in these situations?

Use Can I...?, Could I...? or May I...? and these verbs: borrow, join, look at, use ► You are at a friend's flat. You want to make a phone call. Can I use your phone?

1 You need a calculator. The person sitting next to you has got one.

2 You have gone into a cafe. Three people who you know from work are sitting at a table. You go over to
the table.

3 You had to go to a lecture, but you were ill. Your friend went to the lecture and took notes. Next day
you are well again and you see your friend.

2 Giving and refusing permission (B)

A policeman is telling you what the signs mean. What does he say? Use can and can't and these verbs: drop, go, have, park, play, smoke, turn



Policeman:

? You can't go this way.

? You can park here.

1 .....................................

2 .

3 .....................................

4 ........................ .

5 .




3 Be allowed to (C)

Put in the correct forms.

Rita: I hear you've moved into a new flat with a couple of friends.

Emma: Yes, it's a nice flat, but the landlady is really strict. (►) We aren't allowed to do (we / not / allow / do) anything. It was my birthday last month, and

(1)................................................................. (I / not / allow / have) a party.

Rita: Oh, (2)......... (we / allow / have) parties at our place, luckily.

(3). (we / allow / do) anything, more or less.

We're hoping to have an all-night party soon, but I'm not absolutely sure if

(4) .. (we / allow/hold) it.

4 May I...? or Am I allowed to ...? (C)

Are you asking for permission, or are you asking what the rule is? Put in May I... ? or Am I allowed to ...?

? May 1 use your computer?

? Am I allowed to smoke in this cinema?

 

1 ............................ cross the road here?

2 ............................. ask you a personal question?

3 ........................... rollerblade in this park?

4 drive a car without insurance?

5 read your magazine?



Date: 2014-12-22; view: 643


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