...then there isnt an answer that is going to satisfy you, as far as i can tell. Italians use "fare" for many actions which in english we would use distinct verbs for. There's not a reason hiding in some obscure rulebook somewhere; it's just the nature of the language. People who get hung up on the use of fare, among other things, are trying to transliterate, which is not the same as translating.
English differentiates between being able to do something - "CAN I do ........" - and having permission to do something - "MAY I do...... Thus far, I haven't noticed that Italian has the same distinction between "can" and "may": "potere" seems to be both "can" and "may". Could a native speaker please weigh in here?
Yes, but isn't 'CAN I do...' and 'AM I able to do...' the same thing? I understand that 'Can I' and 'May I' are different... You're right that Italian doesn't seem to distinguish between 'can, may, and able to' as possible meanings of potere, and I suppose that's why I'm confused as to why 'Can I ask a question?' is right and 'Am I able to ask a question?' is wrong. Thanks for your help!
You're absolutely right, ZoeCW; strictly speaking, "can" and "able to" are indeed the same and if DL accepts "can" it should also accept "able to". The problem really is that we - i.e., native English speakers - misuse "can" all the time. There is no context in this particular example, but it is highly likely that the speaker is not asking if she/he has the ability to ask a question, but rather if she/he has permission to do so, in which case the English translation should be "May I ask a question". I think I've even confused myself now! ;-)