HomeQ&A"Can I" and "may I" both come up "puedo"

"Can I" and "may I" both come up "puedo"

2
votes

but in English mean two different things even though they are frequently misused. I looked for a thread that might have already discussed this but with no luck. Is there really no distinction in Spanish - (other than asking for permission) for "may" as in "may I have the salt?"

1927 views
updated JUN 4, 2010
posted by LateToDinner
I guess that means I get to memorize the entire conjugation of poder! - LateToDinner, JUN 4, 2010

6 Answers

4
votes

Podría = could I, may I (much more polite)

Puedo = can I

updated JUN 4, 2010
posted by --Mariana--
How come I didn't just ask you in the first place? - LateToDinner, JUN 4, 2010
2
votes

can/may = Podría = used around the market and at the Spanish restaurant by my house. (grrrr now I want La Gradija ~ spanish restaurant in Florida)

Marianne was right, it can be used like this.

updated JUN 4, 2010
posted by princessjane
Where in Florida? If it's good, I'd like to try it next trip. lol - Delores--Lindsey, JUN 4, 2010
2
votes

Spanish also uses pudiera which is supposed to be a polite way of saying May I.

updated JUN 4, 2010
posted by 0074b507
1
vote

When asking permission you could also use permitir (to allow).

May I enter? ¿Me permita que entre? smile

updated JUN 4, 2010
posted by Delores--Lindsey
Useful, thanks, but I am looking for the gentler side of "can" - LateToDinner, JUN 4, 2010
0
votes

I've not discussed this on SD before but I've certainly asked about it a few times and nobody was ever able to find a way round. So far as I know "can" and "may" are indivisible in Spanish.

A quick look at an online dictionary of etymology suggest that "can" comes via a more Northern origin, Norse or thereabouts while "may" is of simpler German origin. So it looks as if English, once again, has two virtually equivalent words of different origin which, over the course of time, have acquired rather different meanings.

updated JUN 4, 2010
posted by geofc
Only because you opened the "German" door: In German there is a big distinction in "Kann ich?" vs. "Darf ich?" - LateToDinner, JUN 4, 2010
oops, sorry! Kann (can) vs. darf (may) - LateToDinner, JUN 4, 2010
0
votes

May I have the salt? ¿Puedo tener la sal? May I and Can I have the same meaning in Spanish.

updated JUN 4, 2010
posted by lucas322
Thanks, that seems to be the consensus - LateToDinner, JUN 4, 2010
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