can, may

 Can applies to what is possible and may to what is permissible. You can drive your car the wrong way down a one-way street, but you may not. Despite the simplicity of the rule, errors are common, even among experts. Here is William Safire writing in the New York Times on the pronunciation of junta: "The worst mistake is to mix languages. You cannot say ‘joonta’ and you cannot say ‘hunta.’ " But you can, and quite easily. What Mr. Safire meant was that you may not or should not or ought not.

Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • can, may —    Can applies to what is possible and may to what is permissible. You can drive your car the wrong way down a oneway street, but you may not. Despite the simplicity of the rule, errors are common, even among experts. Here is William Safire… …   Dictionary of troublesome word

  • can, may, might — Can suggests mental or physical ability: Jane can sing beautifully when she tries. May implies permission or sanction: Babs may borrow my suitcase if she wishes. This distinction between can and may is illustrated thus: Jim can swim, but his… …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • can — vb Can, may are often confused in use. In its commonest sense can expresses ability, whether physical or mental {he can climb this pole} {he is only four, but he can read} {he will do it if he possibly can} {when Duty whispers low, thou must, the …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Can-can (disambiguation) — Can Can may refer to:*Can can dance *Can Can, a 2007 fragrance by Paris Hilton * Can Can , a musical by Cole Porter, 1953 * Can Can , the title song from the above musical * Can Can , a 1960 film *Can Can Sale is the name of a sale at ShopRite …   Wikipedia

  • Can — Can, n. [OE. & AS. canne; akin to D. Kan, G. Kanne, OHG. channa, Sw. Kanna, Dan. kande.] 1. A drinking cup; a vessel for holding liquids. [Shak. ] [1913 Webster] Fill the cup and fill can, Have a rouse before the morn. Tennyson. [1913 Webster] 2 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Can — may refer to:* Can (band) ** Can (album) * Tin can, an airtight metal container usually storing food * Beverage can * Joacim Cans, member of the band HammerFall * Buttocks, a body part * The act of canning, a process of preserving food * An… …   Wikipedia

  • CAN — may refer to:* CAN bus, the Controller Area Network bus, a broadcast shared serial bus for microcontrollers used mainly in the automotive applications;Organizations * The Andean Community of Nations * Campus Antiwar Network * Capital Alumni… …   Wikipedia

  • can — 1 strong verb (modal verb) 1 to be able to: He s so tall he can touch the ceiling. | This machine can perform two million calculations per second. | I can t remember where I put it. | They have everything that money can buy. | The police still… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • may — See can. See can, may, might …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • can — See can, may, might …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

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