"Posso usare il telefono?"

Translation:Can I use the phone?

June 21, 2013



Is there a way to say "May I" in Italian? That is a more correct way to ask to use something in English than "Can I".

November 6, 2013


"Potrei" can be used, but it is very formal and I can't say I have ever heard it used.

May 11, 2014


For you non native english speakers, what snowgirl is saying is that using 'can I' technically infers 'am I able to' / 'do I know how to' instead of the intended 'will you ALLOW me to'. It is a very common usage, but not considered proper.

Edit: robert0n is absolutely right. "Can I" for "May I" is totally 'safe'. I think what I was trying to say is that if you were trying to be absolutely proper / formal / polite, you would choose "May I" over "Can I".

In Italian the use of posso definitely has a context of 'allow'.

May 11, 2014


Technically more correct, definitely more polite (like Vorrei... instead of Voglio...), but rarely used these days (in English) it seems to me. Hopefully someone will provide the Italian perspective for it here soon ...

December 26, 2013


Just to agree with the others here. "Can I?" in an English sentence such as this really does mean "am I allowed to?" even though it literally means "am I able to?". What I've seen in Italian agrees with gmcolletti in that "Posso" is just like the English: literally it means "am I able to" but in practice means "am I allowed to?".

@gmcolletti: I don't know about the qualifier you added about being "not considered proper". I will happily admit to having pedantic tendencies but I think "can I use (the telephone)?" has been pretty safe for a long time :-)

May 11, 2014


True, but aside from the teacher joke I have never heard, even second or third hand, anyone confusing "can I use your phone" as a question of ability from the asker.

I suspect it will be too colloquial to correct in the coming decades.

February 10, 2016


I believe «conseguire» is equivalent to "can"/"to be able to," and «potere» is like English "may" but also colloquial "can."

April 22, 2015


"Potrei" = May I.

For example, "Potrei usare il bagno"

(English translation: "May I use the bathroom")

Just really depends how you use this word. Sometimes in Italian, it depends on what verb you are using in the sentence.

May 11, 2015


I said "can i use the telephone" and it was wrong... do people not say telephone anymore?

June 21, 2013


I also said "can I use the telephone" and that was accepted...so telephone must be allowed now.

July 31, 2013


Same here so yes, they must have added that translation now.

August 11, 2013


I typed the exact sentence with exact spelling and they counted it wrong.

April 30, 2016


Posso usare il telefono? Prometto che NON sono un cattivo con l'intenzione di rubarlo!

February 2, 2018


Some of us English speakers always use "may" in this construction. Next time it comes up, I'll see if Duo accepts it.

May 10, 2018


For what it's worth, Google translates "may I use the phone" as "posso usare...", but Reverso turns up both that and "potrei usare" as well as "permetti che faccia una telefonata?" I'm guessing "posso usare" is generally fine, but it would be nice to hear from a native speaker.

January 11, 2019
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