Modal verbs can be used to give or ask for permission. This modal verbs for permission lesson shows you how to use may, can, and could. Links to the exercises are at the bottom of the page.
These modal verbs show permission:
May is a polite modal verb used to ask for permission. Here are some examples:
- May I use a calculator on the test?
- May I have another piece of cake?
The polite answers using may are as follows:
- Yes, you may.
- No, you may not.
Could is also used to ask for permission. It is less formal than using may. Here are some examples with could:
- Could I have some more juice?
- Could I bring a friend to the party?
Can is the least formal of the modal verbs used to ask permission. Here are some examples with can:
- Can I play music?
- Can I wear shorts?
The examples above are all with “I”. This is because it is most common to ask permission for yourself. However, it is possible to ask permission for another person:
- May she bring a friend?
- Could he try again?
- Can they sleep here?
The examples are also all questions. These are very common. But you can also give permission. Here are some examples:
- You may sleep on the sofa.
- You can wear my jacket.
Modal Verbs for Permission Exercises
You can practice modal verbs for permission with these tests: