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Old April 28th, 2014, 10:32 PM   #24781
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Thank you guys :-)
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Old April 28th, 2014, 11:35 PM   #24782
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penn's Woods View Post
It's not a mistake or even "bad," necessarily, depending on what you're trying to say: with the right intonation, a native speaker can say "I can have chocolate pancakes?"...it implies that he's surprised, that he thought he couldn't. (But yes, if you're just asking for some pancakes, say "can I...?" or, better, "may I...?" I was taught as a child that "may I" is more polite. If I said "can I," I was corrected.)

EDIT: What Natomasken said (I hadn't read that post yet.)
Yeah.

@Voloda

Yeah, it is not a question. It is more an expression of bewilderment or amusement. Something surprising is happening.... The actual surprise might be staged though. It also sounds a bit childish to me actually.

Imagine a kid that didn't eat his dinner and parents are not so pleased with it forbidding any cookies. Then the grandpa coming with the cookies and the kid is like... I can have my cookies? Not believing his eyes.
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Old April 29th, 2014, 12:06 AM   #24783
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natomasken View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by volodaaaa View Post
Like my grandma is handing me a plate full of chocolate pancakes and I ask her: I can have chocolate pancakes? (it is obvious that the answer is yes).

Am I right? Or is that strange kind of slang?
Yes, it is a bit odd. It usually would occur when someone didn't think something was true, but just realized maybe it was. So it's used to express surprise, and maybe just to confirm his new understanding of the situation. In this case, the person didn't think he could have chocolate pancakes, but since he was just handed some, realized that maybe he could. Another way to say it would be: Is it true that I can have chocolate pancakes?
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Old April 29th, 2014, 01:15 AM   #24784
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Imagine a kid that didn't eat his dinner and parents are not so pleased with it forbidding any cookies. Then the grandpa coming with the cookies and the kid is like... I can have my cookies? Not believing his eyes.
That is the exact meaning I thought of. Like my dog if I allow her to eat a biscuit after hours of begging. Although the dog is often referred as a man's best dummy friend, she has the exact words (or rather strange question) in her eyes
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Old April 29th, 2014, 08:03 AM   #24785
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Old April 29th, 2014, 01:23 PM   #24786
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penn's Woods View Post
It's not a mistake or even "bad," necessarily, depending on what you're trying to say: with the right intonation, a native speaker can say "I can have chocolate pancakes?"...it implies that he's surprised, that he thought he couldn't. (But yes, if you're just asking for some pancakes, say "can I...?" or, better, "may I...?" I was taught as a child that "may I" is more polite. If I said "can I," I was corrected.)

EDIT: What Natomasken said (I hadn't read that post yet.)
I always use 'may I' when for example buying coffee. Interestingly, young, British service stuff look at me a bit weirdly and suspiciously and quite often ask me to repeat the request.
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Old April 29th, 2014, 02:22 PM   #24787
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I always use 'may I' when for example buying coffee. Interestingly, young, British service stuff look at me a bit weirdly and suspiciously and quite often ask me to repeat the request.
I've been learned, that may/might has something to do with probability whereas can is more about ability.

So if I state "May I help you" it means is there any chance I will help you?
and if "Can I help you" it means am I able to help you. I have been also learned that the second one is more impolite in small talks.

But I am not sure if my English teachers were right.
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Old April 29th, 2014, 03:12 PM   #24788
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@piotr71 At the moment all British scratters use the term "Can I get..." when asking for service. Don't know where this comes from (US perhaps) but I feel like giving them a clip. Its "Can I have...." FFS. "May I have..." & "Could I have..." are also perfectly acceptable too.

A barman (early 20's) in my local pub tells them that they can't "get" anything, waits for their response (which is usually a look of total bewilderment) and then serves someone else when they can't comprehend what's happening. He's had a few complaints made against him but the manger is 100% behind his stance.

@volodaaaa in the context of your post the word 'learned' should be replaced by 'taught'. "Can I help you?" is the most commonly used of the two although either are acceptable and both roughly mean the same thing eg the person asking is asking if they can help.
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Old April 29th, 2014, 04:15 PM   #24789
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Yes, but what's a scratter? (Which my spell-check just underlined...)
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Old April 29th, 2014, 04:17 PM   #24790
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Quote:
Originally Posted by volodaaaa View Post
I've been learned, that may/might has something to do with probability whereas can is more about ability.

So if I state "May I help you" it means is there any chance I will help you?
and if "Can I help you" it means am I able to help you. I have been also learned that the second one is more impolite in small talks.

But I am not sure if my English teachers were right.
"may" also has the idea of "permission." Hence the idea that it's more polite. Although frankly, I say "can I help you?" at work (an office job) all the time and it's never occurred to me to do otherwise.
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Old April 29th, 2014, 05:07 PM   #24791
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Quote:
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@volodaaaa in the context of your post the word 'learned' should be replaced by 'taught'. "Can I help you?" is the most commonly used of the two although either are acceptable and both roughly mean the same thing eg the person asking is asking if they can help.
Thank you very much for correction I did not realize I meant myself as an object :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Penn's Woods View Post
"may" also has the idea of "permission." Hence the idea that it's more polite. Although frankly, I say "can I help you?" at work (an office job) all the time and it's never occurred to me to do otherwise.
Yeah. I've read a small example:

A snake can bite you - stressing the ability of snake to hurt
The snake may bite you - there is a chance that snake will bite you.

Also I have been taught that may express less certainty than might.
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Old April 29th, 2014, 05:36 PM   #24792
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Originally Posted by volodaaaa View Post
The snake may bite you - there is a chance that snake will bite you.
Or that you gave it permission to bite you.
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Old April 29th, 2014, 05:46 PM   #24793
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Exactly. (Or someone gave it permission....)
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Old April 29th, 2014, 07:50 PM   #24794
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I agree that "may" relates to permission, not to possibility. A person in a store really ought to say "May I help you?" (Will you allow me to help you?) rather than "Can I help you?" (which really means, Do I have the ability to help you?). But "Can I help you?" is used most often and no one takes offense or notice of it. Hardly ever does anyone say "May I help you?" It tends to sound kind of stuffy and formal, and we (US) definitely prefer informal. In fact, it's very common for servers in restaurants these days to refer to the customers as "you guys!" ("How are you guys doing today?")
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Old April 29th, 2014, 08:59 PM   #24795
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Penn's Woods View Post
Yes, but what's a scratter? (Which my spell-check just underlined...)
Basically, low-lifes sponging off the state. They normally wear tracksuits or jogging gear and can be any age. They also have a penchant for wearing onsies and the females like to go shopping in their pyjamas/nighties. They're the bottom of the ladder here being one rung below chavs.
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Old April 29th, 2014, 09:47 PM   #24796
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Basically, low-lifes sponging off the state. They normally wear tracksuits or jogging gear and can be any age. They also have a penchant for wearing onsies and the females like to go shopping in their pyjamas/nighties. They're the bottom of the ladder here being one rung below chavs.
Maybe redneck or white trash are better understandable for Penn's Wood.
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Old April 29th, 2014, 10:09 PM   #24797
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I can't say that I've ever heard the word 'scratter' either. I would say that in a shop here, normally, 'can or may I help you?' would only be asked if a shopkeeper walked up to a potential customer, you know when they follow you about and jump on you. Is that situation what you are talking about? Rather than when you are queueing to pay, I would just say 'hello sir/madam/young sir' or something like that.

Anyway, when I was in primary school we would get told off for saying 'can I...?' and were taught to say 'may I'. I don't think I think about which one I use, and I say 'could I'. One thing though, when I say 'can I', I always make sure I end the sentence with please, which is slightly less necessary with 'may', because that is already slightly more polite. I think if I was asking for a coffee I might say 'Could I/can I/may I please have a coffee'. But I would probably say 'A blah blah please'.

Whilst we're talking about English, I notice sometimes on SSC non-English natives starting sentences with the word 'wrong', then putting a comma justifying why they believe someone to be incorrect, which to me sounds rather forward, but I suppose it isn't wrong, just not a social convention.
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Old April 29th, 2014, 10:10 PM   #24798
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M4 motorway, today. Is there any comment needed?

m4-traktor
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Old April 29th, 2014, 10:22 PM   #24799
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I was about to say "at least he could stay in the slowest lane on the right"
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Old April 29th, 2014, 10:38 PM   #24800
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Quote:
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Maybe redneck or white trash are better understandable for Penn's Wood.
Probably, but scratters & chavs can be any ethnicity or gender.
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