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Page 7

-The next day, in the office there were a cat and a man. The cat slept on the sofa. The man was reading a book at the desk.-

Knock, knock. "May I come in?"
"Come in."
"Hello, do you have a minute?" a male student came in. I listened to their conversation with my eyes closed.
"Can I ask you a favor? Actually, I won't be able to finish the term assignment in time."
"What do you mean?" Rickey asked.
"Can you extend the deadline for a few days?"
"Well, let's see, I'm at a loss."

I was listening to it with my eyes open this time. I'm at a loss, is out of the question, Rickey.
"But it is not fair to the other students. I'm at a loss."

A fool. You are a fool. It's obviously unfair. Speak out, Rickey.

Today's points

-The point 1-

May I come in?

We usually use this before opening the door. It has the meaning "probably" and this permission.

Excuse me, may I come in?
Sure, come in.

In the case of the permission, "may" is more formal. We often use "can" instead of it without the usual expression like the above. This "can" is explained in the point 3 in this page.

-The point 2-

Hello, do you have a minute?

"Minute" is the part of time, 60 seconds or one sixteenth hour. "Do you have a minute?" means do you have a little time to talk with me? or can you give me your time?
And "Are you busy now?" is also used.

Do you have a minute?

Are you busy now?
No, I've been drinking coffee.

"Can I talk to you?" is also used.

Moreover, we can use more with "minute." "Wait a minute." and "Just a moment." means I want you to stay or stop a little time.
And "Just a second." or "Just a moment." has the same meaning. "Second" and "moment" have a little time.

Wait a minute. I will be with you
Thank you.

"It won't be long." means I finish it soon and come back. And "I'll be back in a jiffy." has the same meaning.

-The point 3-

Can I ask you a favor?

We usually use this when we want someone to do something. This "favor" has kind, and "ask you" means I want you to do.
"I can ask you a favor." means it is possible to make you do something. So we can change it into the interrogative sentence, when we broach some topics.
And "Can I" is often used when we ask the permission.

Can I ask you a favor?
Okay, what is it?
Can I borrow your bicycle?

Can I ask you a favor?
Sorry, I'm busy.

"Could" is more polite. Because the past tense can avoid the direct impression.

"May" can be used to get the permission, but it is used between a superior and a inferior. "Can" is usually used without it.

Can I use your phone?
Of course.

I'm thirsty. Can I have some water?
Yes, you can.

Hello, Roy.
Hello, Sherry. I lost my way yesterday. I was not able to get to the tennis court.
I'll lead you to the tennis court.
Really? Could I ask that of you.

-The point 4-

What do you mean?

This means what do you think? or what do you want to do?, what do you want to say? Thus, we can use it when we don't know the intension the hearer has.

I must cut back staff.
What do you mean?
Let me see …
You are going to fire me.
That's right.

"Mean" can ask a word we don't know like the following example.

I am exhausted.
What does "exhausted" mean?
It means "very tired".

-The point 5-

Can you extend the deadline for a few days?

Like the above, "Can you" is used to ask someone as we want the hearer to do something unlike "Can I" which asks the permission.
The above means I'd like you to extend the deadline.

Can you help me?

What were you talking about?
You can't say that.
Can you tell me?

I made a cake at home yesterday.
How was it?
It was delicious.
Oh, could you bake a cake for me next time?
Okay. But could you bring ingredients of the cake?

When we use "could" instead of "can", it becomes more polite.

-The point 6-

Well, let's see, I'm at a loss.

"Let's see" has shall we see. And it also means like "well." So we can use it when we need some time to think the answer.
"See" has like "watch" or "look" but in the above it means like "consider."

Do you remember his name?
Well, let's see, I don't remember.

Why did you lose your way, Roy?
Well, let me see … I don't know.
Did you turn right at the corner?
Let me see … I don't remember.

"Let me see." is also used.


Out of question

"Out of question" means it is not worth considering. We use it when we think it is not relevant to us or it is not possible to do.

Foxtail grass is out of the question. I don't play with it.
I think so too, Libre.

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