I'm familiar with the idea of choosing one question as an (informal) "canonical" target for duplicates, but I was surprised to find that for questions about the difference between "can" vs. "may", the "canonical" question is apparently "Can/may/will you help me with this?"

As waiwai933♦'s answer points out, "May you help me with this?" is a strange sentence that wouldn't often be heard.

I would expect the main dupe target for can/may questions to deal with a normal example like "Can/may I do this?", not an odd example like this. I don't think the answers to this question are useful enough to warrant closing a bunch of a other questions as a duplicate of this one. Can it be changed? I have voted to reopen Difference between "can" and "may", which has an answer by J.R. that cites the NOAD. I think for most site visitors who are looking for information about the use of "can" vs. "may", J.R.'s answer there is more likely to be helpful than the answers to the question about "Can/may/will you help me with this?"

  • FYI...that question has been re-opened. – Cascabel Jul 10 at 16:58
  • @Cascabel: Thanks! I hope it will be useful in the future as an alternative dupe target. – sumelic Jul 10 at 17:30
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    I didn't vote to reopen the question... because it lacks research, thought and any sign of effort. It's also opinion-based, both forms of requests are perfectly OK. The title asks about the difference but the main Q asks whether "Can I...?" or "May I...?" is correct. Not interesting. Good for ELL but much less so for EL&U. – Mari-Lou A Jul 10 at 18:22

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