"¿Podemos tocar esa moto?"
Translation:Can we touch that motorcycle?
and there are a bunch of other masculines that end in a, pretty much all of which are of Greek origin. I found this link with a lot of the gender inconsistencies: http://spanish.about.com/cs/grammar/a/genderreversal.htm
Sorry evadpvr, but I do not agree with you.
"Can I?" does not not just mean "Am I able to...?", but also "Do I have permission to...?". Those who argue that we should not say "Can I go home now?" when asking permission are plain wrong, because more than a billion English speakers use "can" in that way.
This opens a world of debate. This is how dialects, and even separate languages, develop. I learned, in the 50s and 60s, that evadpvr is correct....'may' is for permission, 'can' is for ability to accomplish. As far as formal English, it is quite easy to imagine that a billion English speakers simply use it 'wrong'. That said, over time, it may no longer be considered wrong.
I am not saying that "can" is "wrong" in contemporary English. I am saying that Duolingo should also accept "may", and emphasizing my point by noting that "may" is the more correct answer in accordance with the "older", more formal norms (which I still follow, even if more than a billion people do not).
I don't think it is possible to assume from the Spanish snippet if permission is being asked or if someone just was asking if they got to the point where they can finally touch it, as when it was buried and was being dug out. It seems that can is officially part of English just like ok is, both were wrong at one time. Language is alive and evolves.
"can" in the English-teacher-accepted form would mean something like, "is it possible for me to reach it, or is it safe for me to touch it?" I agree that while most people (unfortunately) say can, thus weakening the language, certainly 'may" has to be accepted here, since it is the more correct. (I used to be an English teacher in another country, and a technical writer, where it is very important to write exactly what is meant!)
A lot of people doing it doesn't make it correct. Chris's answer regarding dialects is also correct, however much it makes me shudder, especially considering how I can no longer use "literally" to mean "literally" because millions of people prefer to use it as if it means "figuratively."
Usage is probably a 'Majority Rules' thing, despite the hard work of English teachers (although even some of them don't know the difference beteen these or lie or lay either.) But I can cite similar problems in other languages (Danes can't distinguish 'af' (from) and 'ad' (by way of). Norwegian lumps the two together as 'å', which is how they were both being pronounced.)
Pregunta - ¿Es hay una palabra especial por "may" o "may I" en español? (Thought I'd try asking this in Spanish so forgive my infantile translation if it's wrong!) But, is there a specific word for "may" as in the manner word for "may I" not Mayo as in the month? Thank you :)