8. Asking permissions (Favors)

Here are the most common ways of asking permission to do something:

May I…? - formal

Can I..? - semi-formal, informal

Could I…? – more polite

Could I possibly…? - Emphasizes that one is asking a favour

Do you think I could…? - tantative

I wonder if I could.. – tantative

Do you mind if I…? (+ Present Indefinite) – implies that the speaker intends to do what he asks.

Do you mind if…? (+ Past Subjunctive) – does not imply this

Is it all right if I..?

Is it all right (for me) to…?

To grant permission the following forms are used:

(yes,) certainly. – formal

(yes,) of course – semi-formal, informal

Go ahead - informal

If you like. – often implies an element of reluctance

Not at all. - in reply to Do you mind…?

No, that’s all right - in reply to Do you mind…?

Permissions may be granted on a certain condition, using: providing…

As long as…

But only if…

To refuse permission we use :

(No,) I’m afraid not.

(No,) I’m sorry. You can’t

No, of course not.

I’d rather you didn’t. – tactful

Yes, I would mind. - abrupt, possibly rude

No, it isn’t all right. - abrupt, possibly rude

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