"Can / May I ask you a question?"

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Mon Dec 1 18:33:40 UTC 2008

Another formula occurs when a diner is ordering from the menu at a restaurant: "May I have . . . ?"  Or (as both my son and his wife will commence an order) "Can I get . . .?"

Also not to be taken literally, of course. (An ORDER is not a request!)


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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