How To Ask For Permission, Ask for Favors, Ask to Borrow Something and to Make Excuses

In this lesson we are going to learn how to ask for permission, ask for favors, ask to borrow something and to make excuses. After learning these different expressions you will be able to ask some important questions that you never know when you might have to ask.

Asking for permission

When Spanish speakers want to ask for permission, we normally use the verb “Poder” (to be able to).

¿Puedo ir al baño? Can I go to the bathroom?

Remember that in these cases we can use the impersonal “Se”. In that case you are asking in general.

¿Se puede tomar fotos? Can you take pictures?

If you want to be a little more polite, you could use the verb “poder” in the conditional tense.

¿Podría dejar mis cosas acá un momento? Could I leave my stuff here a moment?

Or we could use the verb “molestar”(to bother), in the following way:

¿Te/Le molesta si abro la ventana? Do you mind if I open the window?

“Te” is used in an informal conversation. It means “A tí”

“Le” is used in a formal conversation. It means “A Usted”

Asking for favors

Dar/Prestar/Pasar (To Give/To Lend/ To pass)

Informal, using “Tú”: ¿Me puedes prestar/dar? (Can you lend me…? Could you give me?)

Formal, using “Ud.”: ¿Me puede prestar/dar? (Can you lend me…? Could you give me?)

Informal/Polite: ¿Me podrías prestar/dar? (Could you lend me…? Could you give me?)

Formal/Polite: ¿Me podría prestar/dar? (Could you lend me…? Could you give me?)

To Ask for something that I’m not going to return:

Informal: ¿Tienes un lápiz? Do you have a pencil?

Formal: ¿Tiene un lápiz? Do you have a pencil?

To order something from a waiter

¿Me podría traer una copa? Could you bring me a glass?

¿Me puede traer una copa? Can you bring me a glass?

¿Me trae una copa? Can you bring me a glass? *Please note this is not the direction translation. The direct translation would be “You bring me a glass?” which obviously doesn’t make too much sense in English.

To Make Excuses:

We use “es que” to make excuses. After “es que” we express the reason about why not.

¿Me puedes prestar el auto? Can I borrow your car?

Lo siento, es que necesito llevarlo al taller. Sorry, I need to take it to the workshop.

Hopefully you will be able to incorporate some of these expressions into your Spanish vocabulary right away. There will always be a time when you need to ask permission, borrow something or make an excuse, so try to remember these expressions so when you need to use them, you know what to say!