May I go to the bathroom?
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Using "I" as the Subject for Formal Requests

Definition:

May I or Could I means "please" in American English.

May I
and could I are used to ask permission. They are considered to be formal and polite.

It is recommended that you use both in conversation. Both are common in American English.

Example:

1. May I go to the bathroom?

2. Could I have a piece of paper?

Can I is used to informally ask for permission.

Can I is informal and not recommended for correct English grammar.

You will hear
can I frequently in the United States but it is not recommended.

Incorrect: Can I borrow a pencil?

Correct: May I borrow a pencil?



Using "you" as the Subject for Formal Requests

Definition:

Would you or will you is a formal way to ask a question.

You use
would you or will you to ask if a person can perform a certain action.

Would you and will you are considered to be better than can you when asking a question.

Example:

Would you go to the store and buy a pound of sugar?

Will you go to the store and buy a pound of sugar?

Could you is the formal way to ask a person is it possible if they perform a specific action.

Could you is used if you do not know if the person you are asking would want to perform the action you are requesting.

(Person 1) Question: Could you work tomorrow?

(Person 2) Answer: Sure.

*Notice how person 1 does not know if person 2 can work. Person 1 is asking if person 2 is available.

Can you is similar to would you, will you, or could you except for it's used informally.

Can you is not recommended because it's not as polite as the other examples but you will here can you frequently in everyday speech by Americans.

1. Can you go to the store?

2. Can you mail this letter?



Polite Request with "Would You Mind" and "Did You Mind"

Definition:

Would you mind or do you mind is followed by the simple past and it expresses permission to do a certain action.

Would you mind or do you mind is used to describe an action that you would like to do in the future, but need permission for.

Would you mind or do you mind is either followed by a verb ending in "-ing"(gerund) (example 1) or if (example 2).

Example:

1. (Would/do) you mind looking at my car? Its broken.

2. (Would/do) you mind if I borrowed your car?

Did you mind is used to ask permission for an action you have already done.

Did you mind is always used in the past tense.

Did you mind is often followed by that.

Did you mind that I borrowed your car?

Would you mind looking at my car? Its broken.
 
Exercise
Choose the correct modal for each sentence. The first sentence has been completed for you. English Logic will put a checkmark ) next to your correct answers.
1.
that I borrowed your pencil?
2.
go to the restroom?
3.
have some candy?
4.
go to the post office?
5.
buy my lunch? I have no money.
6.
change the tv channel?
7.
mind taking these books to the library?
8.
mind if I watch tv?
9.
go to the party on saturday?
10.
mind taking the trash out?


You have right answers out of .

Score: %


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