Can, could and would for invitations, offers, requests and permission

Sophie's in Hong Kong for Chinese New Year. At home it’s cold and Oliver is making soup.

Instructions

As you watch the video, look at the examples of can, could and would for offers, invitations, requests and permission. They are in red in the subtitles. Then read the conversation below to learn more. Finally, do the grammar exercises to check you understand, and can use, these structures correctly.

Transcript

Daisy: Wow, it's cold out there! You're home early. Are you alright?
Oliver: Never better … Hey, you couldn't pass me that plate, could you? Please? Thanks. But the heating at college broke down this morning, so when our accountancy lecturer said “Ladies and gentlemen, would you like a free afternoon to study at home?” Well, it was an offer we couldn't refuse really. It was freezing!
Daisy: Well, I see you've been busy. What is it? Can I have a taste?
Oliver: Yes, of course you can! Here. What do you think?
Daisy: Mmmm. Wow, that's really good soup, there, big brother. What is it?
Oliver: It's a country recipe. I found it in one of Gran's old cookery books. But I've made a lot. Why don't you call Amy? You can ask her round for dinner, if you like. There's more than enough. I've made bread too, look.
Daisy: You are one amazing brother!
Oliver: I know. Now go and phone.
Daisy: Amy? Oh, hi, Mrs Hao. Could I speak to Amy, please? … Thank you ... Amy? It's Daisy.
Amy: Hi! What's up?
Daisy: Would you like to come to our house for dinner?
Amy: Ah, yes, that would be really cool. Thank you. And could you say thanks to your mum for me?
Daisy: Well, actually, she isn't here. It's Oliver's idea. He's made some wonderful soup. And bread.
Amy: Nice! I could bring something for dessert, if you like. I can make an apple cake ... Pardon, Mum? Ah, thanks! It's Chinese New Year, so we've got some special sweets here. My mother says I can take some to your house, so you can try them.
Daisy: Oh yes! Chinese New Year! Mum's in Hong Kong this week, writing about the celebrations. She emailed us some photos. But I thought your family's from Cambridge ... ? Do you celebrate Chinese New Year? 
Amy: Yes, of course! Three of my grandparents are from Hong Kong, in fact – though my mother's father is Scottish. My parents and I are British, but we celebrate as a family. Listen, I'd better go and make that cake, or it'll be too late.
Daisy: OK! Oh, Mum's calling. See you in an hour.
Amy: Great. See you.
Daisy: Hi, Mum!
Sophie: Hi! Listen, it's just after midnight here and it's really noisy ...
Oliver: Wow, it sounds amazing!
Sophie: It is. Plus I've recorded some great interviews and got some fantastic photos for the blog. WOW!
Daisy: You couldn't send some photos to Amy too, could you, Mum? Is that OK? Her family's from Hong Kong – I'm sure she'd love to see it.
Sophie: Yes, no problem, but don't give me her email address now, I can't hear anything very well! It's too loud!
Daisy: OK.
Sophie: I'll phone you again tomorrow morning, OK?
Oliver / Daisy: OK. Love you.
Sophie: Love you too.
Oliver: She's having fun.
Daisy: Yes. I miss her.
Oliver: Me too.
Daisy: Amy? Is everything OK?
Amy: Yes, fine. My mother says would you two like to have dinner with us tomorrow? She says we can celebrate Chinese New Year together. And Dad says we can have special food – he'll make it – and we've got fireworks and ... you know ... if you like ...
Daisy: We'd love to!

We use the modal verbs can, could and would to offer to do things for people or to invite them to do something. We also use them to make requests or ask permission to do something.

What are modal verbs?

They are a type of auxiliary verb we use with other verbs to add more meaning to the verb. After modal verbs we use the infinitive form without to.

Modals are not used with the auxiliary verb do; to form the negative, we add not after the modal. To ask questions, we put the modal in front of the subject.

Hey, you couldn't pass me that plate, could you?        
Can I have a taste?    
                 

Modals do not change in the third person singular form (he/she/it) in the present simple.

Sophie can send photos.

Modals seem quite easy to use. What do we use them for?

We use them for lots of different things, and the same modal verbs can have several different uses. Today we are just going to look at offers, invitations, requests and permission.

Right, fire away! I mean, you can fire away if you like.

Oh, you’re giving me permission. Thank you. We use would + like  a lot for offers. It’s very useful for different situations.

Would you like to come to our house for dinner?
Would you like some cake?
Would you like to celebrate Chinese New Year with us?

For more informal invitations you can use can + get. Get means buy in this context.

 Can I get you a drink? 

We also use  would  and  can  for offering to help someone.

Would you like some help?
Can I help you?
Can I give you a hand with that?

That sounds very strange, Can I give you a hand?.

It just means Can I help you?.

We also use modals for asking for something (making a request or asking permission).

Can you do me a favour? (more informal)
Could you say thanks to your mum for me? (more polite)
I’ve finished my homework. Can I go now? (more informal)
Could I speak to Amy, please? (more polite)

 

What’s the answer? Yes, you can. / No, you can’t.?

 

Not normally. Usually the positive answer is:

Yes, sure. / Yes, of course. / Certainly.

We usually avoid a direct “No” in the negative answer. We’d say something like:

Well, I’m not sure. / Tomorrow night’s a bit difficult. / Um, actually, she’s not here at the moment.

Ah, so you need to listen carefully to see if the answer is yes or no.

Absolutely. We don’t like saying no in English.

We also like to use longer structures in more formal situations:

Do you think you could do me a favour?           
Would you mind closing the window, please?
Could you tell me how to get to the town centre, please?

Yes, but isn’t the pronunciation important too?

Ah, you mean the intonation? Yes, that’s very important, I’m glad you mentioned that. It can make all the difference between sounding polite and rude. It’s very important to get it right if you want a stranger to do something for you. You need to get 'up and down' movement in your voice.

Right. One more thing, do you think you could  help me with my homework now? It would only take about an hour.

Um, well, actually …

 

Discussion

Would you like to join in celebrations from a different culture to yours? Could you tell us about a typical celebration in your country?

Grammar
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Comments

Submitted by jummo_ on Sun, 06/02/2024 - 20:38

I wouldn't mind joining celebrations from another country. In fact, I love learning more about other cultures, and how they celebrate special occasions. In my country, we mostly celebrate Christmas and New Year's eve, those are the most important to us. We commonly celebrate with family and friends, enjoying various types of argentinian meals.

Submitted by ctakaindisa782 on Fri, 05/10/2024 - 11:57

IT REALLY HELPS

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Submitted by @Annie on Thu, 02/01/2024 - 12:57

Yes, I would love to join! I'm sure it would be fun to participate in celebrations from different countries and cultures. I'd like to learn more about them. A typical celebration from my country is called 'Thingyan Water Festival.' We usually celebrate them in our country's new year. We celebrate it by dousing water at each other, having festival snacks and drinks, having a good time with our family and friends and doing good things for the new year. In my opinion, Thingyan Festival is the most popular and fun festival from our country.

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Submitted by Capixt on Wed, 09/28/2022 - 18:29

Yes I would love join on a celebration from a different country, I actually interesting in learn more about different countries. A typical celebration in my country is "The day of the Death" all the families join together for eat "Fiambre" that is a typical food of my country that we only eat ones at year for this dates :) I love this celebration, I think that something very special that only happen in my country.

Submitted by rebbit2009 on Tue, 07/12/2022 - 09:58

Yes, I'd love to, because for me it is really interesting to learn culture of different countries. I live in Lithuania, here the most important celebration is Christmas, we also have kučias, it is night before Christmas. I really like this holiday, because this day I can see all our family and talk with them, also I love it because we always cook tasty dishes. Like Christmas cake, buns, Christmas chicken and lithuanian traditional dish - kučiukai, it is lake buns, but they are small and round, it is always with poppy. I also love Christmas because of gifts, I can get something that I really like or give presents to my family. Awww, I just love Christmas it is my favourite holiday ever! And what is your favourite holiday?

Submitted by Cr1st14n on Thu, 03/10/2022 - 10:06

Yes, the tipical celebration in Spain is The Three Wise Men, in this celebrstion you can recive or give gifts and is very happy

Submitted by Nouh on Thu, 03/10/2022 - 10:06

i like joining other celebration of other cultures beacuse you learn very much things of other peolple like the three wise men or the chinese new yearthings are very good

Submitted by HORAM on Mon, 03/07/2022 - 22:03

thank you. It was usefull

Submitted by strawberry123_ on Sat, 07/24/2021 - 12:35

I really would like to join in celebrations from a different culture to my. In my country, usually all family members or friends gather to celebrate something. People usually cook and eat a lot, play table games, launch fireworks in the evening and talk a lot)

Submitted by Mamou1 on Tue, 07/06/2021 - 09:30

yes I would love to. Actually i'm a very opened minded- girl. So for discovering other cultures I'm always ready because it's the moment that you can learn many things from different people but also sometimes learn how others people are special on their own. thinking about it in my contry 90% are muslim so the typical celebration in my country is aid-el fithr actually it's not typical for just my country because i pressume all the muslim country celebrate it in the end of ramdan but every country has is own way to celebrate it, so do we also. In my country in this celebration it's the moment for you to be extremely beautiful than ever even if you are poor or rich. In this moment every one wear his most beautifful dress, shoe, and do makeup. we eat a lot also, many different variety of food and what is most extraordinary it's you are not celebrate it alone or with only your family but with all the neiborhood. It's the moment for enjoying than ever you did before. And what you never going to forget is at the night you must knock to your neighboor house and sing. it's really funny. it'a a moment that you woul never forget.

Submitted by JeffLinares21 on Wed, 06/23/2021 - 02:37

I would like to celebrated El dia de los Muertos in México (Day of the dead), we celebrated that day in my country, but not as a México do, I would like to travel and meet that kind of tradition, can see the parades, and so more things which made that day amazing. In my country, we celebrated Los Farolitos, in Ahuchapan, I had the opportunity to go, and it was amazing, and it’s really beautiful could see the farolitos and another kind of decoration, and go to the church for mass.

Submitted by MargarethBerganza on Tue, 06/22/2021 - 05:12

Of course i would like to. I am Salvadorian and I would like to celebrate other cultures to learn from them. Here In our country one of the most typical celebrations are "las fiestas agostinas" so called by the month they are celebrated, august , and it is our capital celebration. It is concentrated in the Chatolicism but it has a lot of funny in differents fairs, mechanicla games and many artisan candies.

Submitted by Issac on Fri, 05/28/2021 - 18:39

Yes, I would love to. I'm from Myanmar which is known as Burma. The current situation in Myanmar is really terrible. So, We didn't celebrate the Water festival which we used to celebrate annually. It is the Myanmar New Year festival. It can be said the most favorite festival by the natives. But It isn't my favorite festival. My favorite one is the Thadingyut light festival. However, I am going to talk about the water festival because it is the most popular one. The water festival is used to celebrate in April. Thailand also celebrates the water festival as well at the same time. It longs four or five days to finish. During the festival, people throw water at each other. Some people love to pump the water out from the booth. Some people like to visit the whole city by car.

Submitted by lauretta06 on Mon, 04/05/2021 - 10:24

Yes, i would like to join in celebrations from a different cultures. Obviously there are a lot interesting celebrations in my country which is Italy. We celebrate Easter, each April. Furthermore every time, in the Easter's morning, our TV broadcasts The Way of the Cross, celebrated by the pope. In addiction, every television channel broadcasts it, so everytime i get mad because of it (Cmon, im pretty sure that y'all find this boring and you would like to see something else instead of the Easter mass). Another italian typical celebration is on June 2nd: The Republic Day. The beautiful thing is Frecce Tricolori! It's basically an aeronautical exhibition team, which fly above the sky, and they make a great show with colors so they form italian tricolor
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Submitted by Cfvdv on Tue, 03/30/2021 - 16:03

Yes, I would love to join celebrations from different cultures of my country. A typical celebration here in my country is the Carnival, celebrated with dances with many colors and many types of music, depending on the region. But in all states there´s Carnival.

Submitted by Arivelde on Fri, 03/26/2021 - 22:24

Yes I would really enjoy it, the Chinese New Year seems nice. Here in my country, there is a really big diversifity of culture. In one of our cities of the south, there is a big celebration called Oktoberfest, and it happends in october. This evend has german origin roots, and it is known many times as the "Beer feast", also some of the participants wear "typical old, german farmers clothes". There is lots of food, dance, games, and of course, lots of beer.

Submitted by Didik on Thu, 03/18/2021 - 15:25

In my country we have the Saint Johns festival. People celebrate it using colorfull flags, big ballons, typical regional musics, and a huge campfire, sometimes higher then 4 meters.

Submitted by Stasiia_Ukr on Tue, 10/20/2020 - 18:27

In my country (Ukraine) we are celebrating 'Maslenitsy'. We are eating 'blini' (type of pancakes) with jam or sour cream and 'varenici' (pocets that are made from flour and water, with potatoes and mushrooms). That is celebration time when you can dance national dances. And then, in the evening, we burn a man that made from the straw as a sing of bad times and last year.

Submitted by KyiPhyu on Sat, 08/29/2020 - 09:50

i'd love to celebrate a foreign cultural's celebration. a typical celebration in my country is lighting festival. people celebrate this festival with numerous candles and lanterns alongside the roads,houses and buildings. there's so much fun
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Submitted by icat on Thu, 08/06/2020 - 10:15

Yes, I’d like to take part in the festival of light in Thailand. I'm Italian, but I lived in Brazil my whole life. A typical celebration in Brazil is called “Festa Junina”. We use colourful dresses and dance around the fire, there is typical food with peanut and corn.

Submitted by Moneta on Sun, 06/28/2020 - 19:40

I have learned a lot. Thanks

Submitted by Taehyung on Sat, 06/27/2020 - 10:06

thank you. supporting my english

Submitted by bea_mara on Sun, 04/05/2020 - 21:09

Yes, I would like to join in other celebrations. A typical celebration in Italy is Easter. In this day we go to my grandma's house, where we exchange chocolate eggs, and celebrate together all the day.

Submitted by Ely on Fri, 04/03/2020 - 07:31

yes,i would like to join in celebration for different culture. in my country Christmas is very important . we celebrate christmas in the night of 24th december. we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Submitted by BttChiara on Thu, 04/02/2020 - 17:38

Yes, I would love this idea. A typicsl celebrations in my country is "Santa Lucia" ( this day is important in Sicily). On this day we eat some typical food like "arancine" and we stay in family.

Submitted by MatildePace on Thu, 04/02/2020 - 14:09

Yes, I would like to join in celebrations from different culture to mine. A typical celebration in my country is Venezia's carneval. It is a celebration where everyone dresses up. It is fun and colorful.

Submitted by Desy on Wed, 04/01/2020 - 12:14

Yes, I would like to join in celebrations from a different culture to mine. One of the most typical celebration in my country is Christmas. We join to celebrate Christmas the 25th December,a day very important because we remember the birth of Jesus. It's a fantastic day because all the families join and play, laught and remember together the birth of Jesus. It's really beautiful!

Submitted by gattifederica on Tue, 03/31/2020 - 18:08

Yes, I’d like. I would like to join in other celebrations different from my culture because I can learn new things and see new places. An important celebration in my country is Christmas and it’s celebrated on 25th December. Christmas is important for Christians because it reminds the birth of Jesus Christ. People exchange gifts and make Christmas Three.

Submitted by vittoriadigianno on Thu, 03/26/2020 - 12:45

Yes i'd like to join a celebration from other culture to learn new things. in my country the most important celebration is Christmas and is celebrated with a family.

Submitted by caromoreira04 on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 13:53

yes, I'd love to partecipate in other celebrations, for example the Carnival of Brazil. I'm from Italy and the typical celebration is Christmas but I prefer Halloween.

Submitted by irebracco25 on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 13:45

I would like to join in celebrations from a different culture to learn their customs. I am Italian and Christmas is a typical celebration to stay in family.

Submitted by mart__ on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 13:45

Yes I would love to partecipate in a celebration of a different culture from mine. In my country important celebrations are celebrated with fireworks and sometime there are also stands with people that selling hot chocolate or drinks

Submitted by Beavolga03 on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 13:38

Yes, I`d like to join in celebrations from a different culture to mine because i like living new adventure, for example Halloween an important feast day in America, but in Italy it’s unusual. In Italy we celebrate Christmas, an important feast day were we stay with family .

Submitted by gio_cra2004 on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 13:36

I would like to join the celebrations of a different culture from mine because you learn new traditions and new recipes different from the Italian one. The only important celebration that I celebrate is Christmas, December 25th, because on that day you are with your loved ones.

Submitted by ftrifi227 on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 13:35

Yes, i'd like to join in a celebration from a different culture to mine because i want to know what's different from the italian celebrations. A tipical italian celebration is the 'Liberation Day' who is celebrate in 25 April. In this celebration, Italy celebrate the liberation from Nazism occupation and from fascist regime.

Submitted by chiarusso on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 13:21

I would love to join a celebration of other countrie. In italy we have ' ferragosto' ,it isn't a celebration but everyone want to organize something to be together.

Submitted by alaricofranca02 on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 12:50

yes I would like to participate in the Rio Carnival because I like the fact that they are so festive and so colorful. we celebrate every year together with the whole mid-august family, it's very nice and we have fun.

Submitted by anna_v3r on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 12:02

I'd like to learn how celebrations are in different cultures because I'm really curious. In Italy we celebrate Christmas during lunch on the 25th with our family. Some italians celebrate also during the Christmas' Eve.

Submitted by maikha on Thu, 08/08/2019 - 09:11

My family celebrate Christmas every years and it really happy. That is the time my family gathering together.

Submitted by mmatildepontoni04 on Wed, 03/18/2020 - 20:50

I'd like to join in celebrations from a different culture because I like to learn a lot of new things . I'm from Italy and my family celebrate Christmas and I love this !!

In reply to by maikha

Submitted by Lucrecampa on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 13:27

I’ d like to partecipate in Thanksgiving. The most important holiday for my culture is Christmas because it celebrates the birth of Jesus.

In reply to by maikha

Submitted by Eng_learner on Fri, 08/02/2019 - 16:39

As for me, I`d like to join in celebrations from a different culture to mine because it`s really informative and broadens our horisons. Also, it would make people closer to each other. A typical celebration in mu country is the Shrove. I love it so much because I can eat pancakes for all week:)

Submitted by Monity on Sun, 04/07/2019 - 12:35

Yeah I would love to.i love variety.besides i m fond of knowing people deeply..I would certainly join.. I m from Bangladesh.. it's culture and tradition is very enriched.there are no racial issues.people from all religion celebrates every occasion together.among them Noboborsho and Nabanna utshab are very popular.
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Submitted by empty on Wed, 04/03/2019 - 11:10

realy bad grammar. the characters talked too slowly
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Submitted by theavengers_2001 on Wed, 03/20/2019 - 01:16

Well, i consider that the only celebration is Christmas, because in that special day all the people spend more time with their loved. And i know that children are the most excited.
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Submitted by Youjiro on Sat, 02/02/2019 - 09:49

I would like to join in Halloween.I have never attend Halloween party in my life.Last year I persuade some of my friends,but they not agree to go to Halloween .I was disappointed for them.I want to wear spider man uniform in the Halloween.I have nice one.In my country celebration is really simple.People do not present emotion.It was boring and annoying.I keep in touch regularly friend.I would like to to Halloween in this year.
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Submitted by midnightakemi on Thu, 01/24/2019 - 10:34

Here in HK it's almost Chinese New Year now
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Submitted by Luigi on Tue, 09/11/2018 - 10:56

We like to celebrate Day of Dead on November 2nd here in Mexico.

Submitted by Cesar98500 on Fri, 08/10/2018 - 08:38

Could you make more videos like this please? Is great, it help me to understand modal verbs and use in the correct moment, various examples show us how we can apply this topic in one normal day, is a great help for me and my classmates. Thank you so much.
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