Grammar question: When do you use "can" and "may"?

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  1. BlissfulWriter profile image72
    BlissfulWriterposted 7 years ago

    Grammar question: When do you use "can" and "may"?

    Do I say "X can be misdiagnosed as Y" or do I say "X may be misdiagnosed as Y"?

    And why?

  2. France Travel Inf profile image36
    France Travel Infposted 7 years ago

    Use "can" because what you are saying is "X is able to be misdiagnosed" whereas if you use "may" you mean you are giving permission to be misdiagnosed.

  3. profile image0
    ellie.wposted 7 years ago

    "Can" refers to whether or not it's possible; may usually refers to permission.

    However, some people confuse "may" with "might."  If something "might" be misdiagnosed, then that means that there is a chance that it could be misdiagnosed.

  4. Kaley Ann profile image55
    Kaley Annposted 7 years ago

    you may use "can when telling an opinion or awnsering a question, you also can use "may" when asking the question or permission.

  5. onegoodwoman profile image74
    onegoodwomanposted 7 years ago

    Revisit elementary school...........

    "Can" I able?

    "May" means.........will you allow me to?

    Can seems to apply in your example. 
    X can be misdiagnosed as Y.

    To say that a misdiagnosis may( or is allowed to) apply, implies that this is an accepted practice.  It is not.

    Yet, it can is possible.

  6. BlissfulWriter profile image72
    BlissfulWriterposted 7 years ago

    I understand now.  Thanks all for the grammar lesson.  I never did pay much attention in elementary school (plus it was quite a long time ago)  I usually just pick words based on whether it "sounded" right or not.

  7. maria.rose profile image35
    maria.roseposted 7 years ago

    Use  " can " here i agree with  onegoodwoman  that

    "Can" I able?

    "May" means.........will you allow me to?

  8. f_hruz profile image72
    f_hruzposted 7 years ago

    A good example is the following: You shouln't ask some one ... "Can I help you?" because they don't know if you can or not. It only makes sense to ask ... "May I help you?" because you like to know if it will suite them or not ... smile

    What you or anyone else can do is not for others to say! You may be able to ask them for input though ... LOL

    In your example, it may depend on what follows that statement, i.e. a list of reasons which would make such a misdiagnosis likely, or to what ever degree possible or just a general statement indicating it may or may not be so easy to diagnose for what ever reason!


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