can may permission prohibition

Can and May, 2

Permission and Prohibition


The theme of this unit is permission, being allowed to or having the right to do something; and its antonym, prohibition.

In English we use the modal auxiliary verbs can (which is less formal) and may (more formal), along with the more official be allowed to, and more rarely used, permit.

This is one of several meanings of the modal auxiliary verb can and may. For other meanings, see MODAL AUXILIARY VERBS.

Law and Justice

13. What are prison inmates allowed to do? Can they read books, watch TV, smoke, and drink alcohol, play sports?, What are prison inmates not allowed to do?

14. Are prisons where you live “decent” places?

15. Can everyone receive a fair trail? Is everyone treated equally under the law?

16. In legal terms, can poor and other non-rich people do all the things that rich people can? Does everyone have the same rights and privileges?


17. What can journalists in do in places with Freedom of the Press? What can’t they do?

18. What can and can’t journalists do in places without Freedom of the Press?

19. Can Phyllis publicly criticize the government? Is she allowed to criticize politicians and bureaucrats and their actions and decisions?

20. Can Fred criticize his nation, his country? Can he denounce his country?

21. Can you question or criticize anything in your society?


22. What can holders of EU passports do that non-EU passport holders can’t?

23. What are (legal) US residents allowed to do that non-(legal)-residents cannot? What can citizens do that non-citizens can’t?

24. What can legal immigrants in the EU or US do? What are they not allowed to do?

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