A bit over two years ago, when I started this blog, I wasn’t sure if I would ever get to tip #100. Was this a worthy endeavor? Would people even care? Was there anyone out there who was as particular about this stuff as me? One hundred tips later, thanks for following, folks. It’s been a great journey, and I look forward to it continuing.
And speaking of which (yes, you can start sentences with “and” on occasion), last week, I said I’d have an announcement. Here it is:
The EFL (English as a First Language) Guide to Grammar (tentative title) will be published in early 2015. Since this is a self-publishing endeavor, I’m aiming for March, but that’s a fluid release date.
More on that soon, but without further ado, let’s get to today’s writing tip.
Did their mothers agree to this?
“Mother, May I?” is so much more than a game. It’s a lesson in respect and grammar, isn’t it? The game isn’t called “Mother, Can I?” (You know where I’m going with this…)
I feel like most people know the difference between when we should use “may” and when we should use “can,” but no one takes the time to get it right. “May” is all about permission. “Can” is about physical ability.
“Can I go to the bathroom?” (I sure hope you can.)
“Can I walk down the street?” (It’s possible, but it might not be happening.)
“May I take three giant steps forward?” (Yes, you may.)
We’re all sloppy on this one, so I present a challenge to all of us. Channel the second grade teacher who first introduced you to this rule. Imagine the look on her face every time a student said this incorrectly. Take that look to heart. Embrace it. Internalize it. Then do the grammarians in the world (and yourself) a favor, and say it right.