Asking for and Giving Permission in English

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  • Post last modified:02/05/2023
  • Post category:Everyday English
  • Reading time:9 mins read

Asking for and giving permission in English, these useful phrases will help you improve your speaking skills.

Polite formal requests and responses. Informal ways of asking for and giving permission in English.

Asking, Giving and Refusing Permission

Asking for and Giving Permission in English

How do we ask permission to do something? What are the ways in which these requests can be given (granted) or refused (denied)?

There are many ways to achieve this and here are some of the words, expressions and idioms for asking for and giving permission in English.The request can be formal and the response formal too. Equally the request can be more informal with a corresponding informal response.

We are always reminded that a polite request is more likely to be met with a positive outcome (result) but not always.

Asking for and Giving Permission in English

Polite Formal Requests

  • Do you mind if….
  • Would you mind if….
  • May I…
  • Could I possibly…
  • Is it possible ….
  • Is it possible for me to….

Polite Formal Responses

  • No, not at all
  • Yes you may
  • Yes, of course
  • Of course, be my guest…
  • Yes, it’s my pleasure
  • Certainly, be my guest….

Asking for and Giving Permission in English

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Examples of Asking and Giving Permission in English (formal)

– Do you mind if I take off my coat? It is very warm here.
– No, not at all,  be my guest.

Be careful here. In the reply, the first word is NO but this is not a refusal. NO is used here because we asked “do you mind” so we are actually saying “No, I do not mind” so it is a positive response.

– Could I possibly close the window it is a little cold here?
– Yes of course. or Please help yourself.

– May I put my own furniture into the apartment?
– Yes, you may indeed. Just let me know what you would like to remove.

Polite Formal Refusals in English

  • I am sorry that will not be possible
  • I am afraid that is out of the question
  • I would rather that you didn’t
  • I am afraid not

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Examples of Polite Refusals in English (formal)

– May I go to my friend’s party on Saturday and stay overnight?
– I am afraid that is out of the question. We are going to see your Grandmother on Saturday and you haven’t seen her for months.

– Would you mind if I took next Friday off work as I am moving apartment over the weekend and I need to get ready?
– I am afraid that will not be possible. It is the end of the month and we simply have to get those accounts closed.

– May I open the window a little?
– I would rather that you didn’t. I have just recovered from the flu and I do not wish to get ill again.

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Informal Requests and whether they are granted or refused

  • Can I have the last piece of cake?
  • Have you €10 you could lend me?
  • Yeah sure.. – (granted)
  • Go ahead.. – (granted)
  • Not a problem -(granted)
  • Not a chance – (refused)
  • Go away, no.. (refused, very rude)

Examples of Asking and Giving Permission in English (Informal)

– Can I skip class later I need to go to the dentist?
– Yeah sure, just make sure you tell the class teacher.

– Can I have the last piece of cake?
– Go ahead, nobody else seems to want it.

– Have you €10 you can lend me until I get to the bank?
– Yes, not a problem. Take your time pay me back next week.

– Can I have an advance (early payment) of my pocket money?
– Go away, no, you are always asking…

Idioms connected with permissions in english

The idea got the thumbs up/thumbs down. 

Meaning: The idea was accepted/rejected

It was shot down in flames.

Meaning: It was rejected.

They pooh-poohed it.

Meaning: Something was turned down, rejected (very informal)

I got the green light.

Meaning: Green for go, something was approved or accepted.


I presented my idea to the board suggesting changes to our business practices. They gave it the thumbs up or they gave it the thumbs down.

I thought my marketing plan was a stroke of genius (really goo) but the management board did not like it and the shot it down in flame.

The idea was pooh-poohed immediately without much consideration. (This is more slang than informal.)

My project was approved by everyone. I got the green light and it starts next week. I
am really excited.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this. Learn phrases for asking for and giving permission in English. Practise them. Try to use them in your English conversations. 

More Information

For more information on English Expressions, English Grammar Rules and Idioms, check out my other links below:

Crime and Punishment Vocabulary Words and Phrases

English Expressions connected with an English Christmas

Learn English with the BBC

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