Posted on 09/26/2018 at 01:30 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Outside of the Fussy world, I volunteer at Girls on the Run, a healthy-choices program for girls ages eight to thirteen.

Yesterday, when I told the participants that they could write down the number of laps that they ran, one sassed back: “Can we? So we don’t have to?”

Ah, a young language stickler!

Like many particulars of grammar, the can-versus-may distinction is much easier for me to recall while writing rather than while being stared down by fourteen excited kids.

But as it turns out, the rule I always follow — can is ability, may is permission — has loosened up a bit.

(Though unless I want to be formal with children young enough to be, well, my own kids, I have to still tip my cap to Kiley.)

At any rate, check out Grammar Girl’s post on the modern guide of can-versus-may here.

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