35. Request Sentence : Can I / May I?

In this lesson, you will learn how to request a permission to do something.
Korean Request Sentence img

Request Vocabularies

As many other languages do, Korean also has many expressions for requesting. However, Korean has special conjugations to ask if ‘I’ can do something. so, ‘Can you -?’ and ‘Can I -?’ have a different phrase from each other.

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Conjugation + Conjugation

In this lesson, I’m not going to explain how the conjugation works (maybe I’ll add later though). To understand how it works better, You must be aware of conjugation + conjugation grammar. Korean conjugations can be combined into one.


다 + + 도 돼요
Open(stem) + Grammatical Glue + can


도 돼요
(You) can open


어 in this sentence glues 2 separate phrases. 열다 and 도 돼요. It can be 어, 아, 해, 이어, 여. Don’t they look familiar? Yes, they are conjugations for each verbs in 해요 speech styles. This is why I recommend all students must start with 해요 speech style then any other else.


다, 니다, ㅅ니다 and 요 are endings. When you combine more than 2 conjugations, every endings are dropped except the last ending. In the other view, you can think like the last ending takes all endings.

-도 돼요?

It’s very similar to ‘may I-? or ‘Can I-?’’ since ‘-도 돼요?’ is a request for permission to do something but it’s not so formal. You can say -도 돼요 mostly to close people.


Basic 해요 style + 도 돼요?
열어도 돼요?
Can I open?
Look / Watch / See
도 돼요?
Can I see it?
Shower (verb)
샤워해도 돼요?
Can I shower?
It’s a pencil
연필이어도 돼요?
Can it be a pencil?
Is it okay with a pencil?
여기 있어요
Stay here / Here you go
여기 있어도 돼요?
Can I stay here?

창문 열도 돼요?
Can I open the window?


이거 먹도 돼요?
Can I eat this?


게임도 돼요?
Can I play a video game?

돼 vs 되

되다 and 돼요 are actually a same word. For example, 됐다 is a short form 되었다. But it’s really hard for even native Koreans and 50% Koreans spell it wrong. They both are pronounced same so maybe you don’t need to know which one is correct for each sentence. Of course, I’ll teach you 되다 verb in details someday soon.

도 될까요?

‘-도 될까요?’ is a formal version of ‘-도 돼요?’. It sounds much polite and careful. It sounds very similar to ‘May I?’ or ‘Could I?’ but less formal.


Basic 해요 style + 도 될까요?
열어도 될까요?
May I open?
Look / Watch / See
도 될까요?
May I see it?
Shower (verb)
샤워해도 될까요?
Could I take a shower?
It’s a pencil
연필이어도 될까요?
Could it be a pencil?
여기 있어요
Stay here / Here you go
여기 있어도 될까요?
May I stay here?


창문 열도 될까요?
May I open the window?


이거 먹도 될까요?
May I eat this?


게임도 될까요?
Could I play a video game?

Answers for 도 돼요 And 도 될까요

해요 speech styles make everything so easy for beginners. If you don’t make it a question, then it would be ‘you can do something’ as giving a permission. When it’s a negative form, use ‘-면 안돼요’ instead of ‘돼요’


네, 창문 열어도 돼요
Yes, you can open the window


네, 이거 먹어도 돼요
Yes, you can eat this


아니요, 게임면 안돼요
No, You can’t play a video game