Does this mean that we use peux-je when talking solely about ability eg "Peux-je le faire ? Oui, je peux.", but we use puis-je when asking for permission? As a child I remember being regularly reproached with "'May I?', not 'Can I?'!" Is the same true with French? Is puis-je "sloppy" French?
This means that the French never say "peux-je".
- puis-je le faire ? oui, tu peux = may I do it? yes you may.
If you want to stick to the first meaning of "can" (ability):
- suis-je capable de le faire? oui, tu en es capable = can I do it? yes you can / am I able to do it? yes you are.
why is "can i pay with my credit card" not correct? is "my card" not the same as "my credit card"?
Interesting discussion on this topic that I found very informative: http://forum.wordreference.com/threads/carte-de-cr%C3%A9dit-ou-carte-bancaire.279368/
I wouldn't regard them as being the same.
In Australia we have different cards which we can use to pay for things:
Credit card - a bank account, which uses the bank's money to pay for the goods.
Debit card - a card which acts like a credit card, but uses your money from your bank account (it works like a VISA card, and you can use Paywave)
Savings (EFTPOS) card - a card which uses your money, but does not act like a credit card (you can't use it like a VISA card)
Rewards card - you accumulate "points" on your card from purchases, and when you have enough points, you can redeem them at the card vendor's nominated outlets. Often associated with airlines, large department stores, etc.
Gift card - various supermarkets / shopping centres have these - you buy a card with a nominated amount (eg. $20, $50 etc.) or nominate the value you want to put on the card, and these can be used at nominated locations.
If you waved any of these at the person you're trying to pay, they'd immediately recognise it and tell you whether you could use it or not (so you don't have to say "credit card", "gift card" etc.)
If you didn't flash the card at them, you'd have to specify "Can I use my credit card?" / "Can I use my gift card?" etc.
My question is whether or not there is another French verb that differentiates "May I" from "Can I" ? My mother would have corrected me in my (American) English if I had asked her "Can I ride my bike?" rather than "May I ride my bike?" Her point was that in English "can" implies the ability, whereas "may" was the polite way to ask her permission. I translated the French sentence with "May I pay with my card?" Duo gave me the green check. I preferred "May I?" here because I imagined I was speaking to a shopkeeper in France. "Can I?" would then be determined by the issuer of the card with either an "accepted" or "declined". Well, in spite of myself, I have descended into creating "clutter". I did read the other posts and don't think my question was addressed previously by others. Latin was my favorite language in high school. It really loved it.
If you add "s'il te plaît", then "puis-je/est-ce que je peux" is obviously a "may I".
With "je/I", anyway, questioning your own abilities is not something that happens very often and you are the best one to give yourself an answer, in most cases.
The choice between "être capable de" and "être autorisé(e) à" is a good option anyway if you have any doubt about "pouvoir".
I think I understand. Pouvoir, though it is more often translated to English with the "can", has nothing to do with ability. It is for either asking permission, or questioning someone's availability to do whatever in a polite enough way. Am I on the right track?
Thanks for the options above regarding capability. BTW - - questioning my own abilities happens quite often in my head.
Yes, you have well understood, "pouvoir" is broad in meaning and usage. This is why we have plenty of alternative verbal phrases for when we want to be more accurate in meaning:
- être en mesure de faire (Larousse: avoir la possibilité de faire quelque chose : Je suis en mesure de vous fournir des preuves).
- être à même de (same as above)
- avoir la capacité de faire (to be capable of or able to)
- avoir l'aptitude à (ability/skills) / la faculté de (aptitude/capability)
- avoir le droit de / la permission de / la possibilité de (may)
It is not "cartah" it is "cartuh", when an otherwise mute -e is pronounced.
It is the French schwa: https://frenchcrazy.com/2013/04/the-french-schwa.html/