|Modal verbs to express asking for, giving, and refusing permission|
|present or future||past tense|
|Giving permission: can
We use can when we give someone permissionto do something:
We also use may for permission. May is more formal and is used less often than can:
|Permission in the past: could, was allowed to
We use could to say that something was permitted in the past:
We can also use was/were allowed to:
|Saying “no” – refusing permission
We use can’t to say that something isn’t permitted:
Must not / mustn’t is also used, but is more formal and is often used on signs and in announcements:
|We use couldn’t / wasn’t allowed to to say that something was not permitted in the past:
We couldn’t cross the border without our passports.
|Asking for permission
can, could, may
We use can I? / could I / may I? to ask for permission:
Could is more formal and polite than can:
May is the most formal:
|Questions about permission in the past
was allowed to? / could?
Were you allowed to stay up late when you were a child?