"Posso usare il telefono?"

Translation:Can I use the phone?

June 21, 2013

This discussion is locked.


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".


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'.


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


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 ...


"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.


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 :-)


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


why isn't telephone accepted


Years ago when someone would ask my 9th grade English teach, "Can I go the the restroom?" she would reply, "Yes, you can. But you may not. Have a seat."


We must have had the same teacher.


Why was "Can I use the telephone" incorrect


Is there any way to tell if this is a question, couldn't posso mean I can, I know im wrong but any explanation is appreciated

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