<May I?> come in to work a bit later tomorrow? [Is there an informal way to ask for permission?]

Tenacious Learner

Senior Member
Hello teachers,
Both "May I?/Could I?" are used to ask for permission in a polite way. Is there a way to ask for permission in an informal way? Because I believe that "Can I?" is really about ability, not permission. Right? Some web pages say that "Can I" is also used to ask for permission and some say it is not. I'm puzzled.
Mary: May I / Could I come in to work a bit later tomorrow, at ten?
Mary is asking for permission to her boss, as is indicated by "May I?/Could I?".

Thanks in advance.
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  • rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    Colloquially at least, you can say can to denote permission if you don't mind upsetting pedants. May is more formal. I'd expect people to say can or the less blunt could. There are plenty of threads if you search on 'may can' in the WR dictionary.
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