All I could find was that teilnehmen refers to some "official" context whereas mitmachen refers to a more "casual" context. And by context I mean the event or situation that the subject is participating in. Im learning german as well so if a native speaker could confirm or correct me, it would be appreciated.
If you think the difference between may and can has fallen out of use, then you probably don't have children in (an English-speaking) elementary school. The difference is elementary and insisted on—possibly contributing to resistance to the distinction in later life? There are two reasons for this insistence in elementary school: 1. Very young children need to learn the difference between what is possible and what is allowed. 2. Beyond understanding this difference, schools also want their students to learn Standard English: may for permission and can for capacity. Of course, in casual conversation among friends the blurring of the line between may and can is often unimportant. Still, there are contexts, in which the use of the wrong word may have unintended or undesirable consequences, as discussed elsewhere in the comments.
Hi everyone! As I saw, some people still wonder about the difference between "Kann ich?" (Can I?) and "Darf ich?" (May I?). Yes, there is a difference in both languages just as it slightly sounds. The basic rule is that "Darf ich?" is more conditional, and also means more like "Am I allowed....(to do something)". Here is a joke from a native german, to help us get it :)
A school teacher believed he can teach his students what the difference between "Kann ich?" and "Darf ich?" really is. One day the following happens:
Student: "Kann ich auf der Toilette gehen?" Teacher: "Ich hoffe dass du kannst!"
p.s. I really, really now remember the difference... :)
Generations of grammarians and schoolteachers have insisted and continue to insist that can should be used only to express the ability or capacity to do something, and may must be used to express permission. May (not can) I take an extra week to submit the application? The use of can in such a request is grammatically substandard and generally considered impolite. However, can has a long history of use by educated speakers to express permission, particularly in British English. Moreover, the blurring of the line between may and can seems inevitable, largely because there are contexts in which can is more polite than may. For example, You can borrow my car, if you like is a more gracious offer than You may borrow my car. The first presumes the granting of permission, while the second makes a point of it. In short, the best advice is to use may for permission, unless you have a compelling reason to use can. Note also that when stating what is allowed, the use of may has the advantage of clarity. If lab resources are limited, the class catalog should state that Students may (not can) take only one laboratory class per semester. The use of can would erroneously suggest that an exceptionally brilliant student might be allowed to take more than one.
If I understand this correctly dürfen = may(permission) and können = can(to be able). I got my bottom paddled in 7th grade English class for using "may" and "can" improperly. I believe the proper translation should be May we participate? not are we able to participate? Comments?
What do you mean by further information? This sentence was not in Passive voice. http://german.about.com/library/weekly/aa012901a.htm