4 ways to ask for permission in Italian.

One of the most essential parts of language learning is asking for permission. This aspect is particularly important in Italian, because we tend to use this formulas for everything.

Why don’t you challenge yourself?

While learning a new language, you always have to set goals over your capabilities! Why don’t you try to read this same article in Italian? If it’s too difficult, you can always switch back to English!



Si può?

È permesso?

È consentito?


Posso can be used in every situation, both formal and informal. Please note that it is conjugated at the first person singular of the present tense (indicative). So you can say:

  • Posso andare in bagno? To ask to go to the bathroom.
  • Posso bere un sorso d’acqua? To ask if you can drink, maybe during a job interview or an exam.
  • Posso prendere un altro foglio? To ask to get another piece of paper during an exam when you run out of space.

And remember that posso is a verb that also expresses that you already got the permission for something. For example, you can say:

  • Il professore di matematica mi ha detto che posso uscire dalla classe per andare in bagno.
  • L’esaminatore mi ha detto che posso bere un po’ d’acqua.
  • Il professore mi ha detto che posso prendere un altro foglio.

Si può? / si possono?

Si può is an alternative form of Posso. The cool thing is that you can use it as an impersonal form, although there are some exceptions, because we usually use it before a verb. For example, when the noun in the sentence is pluarl, we prefer to use the form Si possono as in the following examples:

  • Si possono lasciare le ciabatte sulla battigia?
  • Si può lasciare il telo mare sulla sdraio?

See? Ciabatte is plural, so you’d better use Si possono, while telo mare is singualr, so you can use Si può. This happens when the topic of the sentence is an object, because maybe you can’t leave flip-flops on the shoreline, but you can leave there your goggles.

È permesso?

This is an expression that never changes regardless of the person and the context. However, this expression is not used to ask for a permission that is not directly related to the will of the other person. On the contrary, it depends to the rules of a certain situation or place. For example, schools, swimming pools or libraries have their own set of precise rules that need to be respected. Therefore, you can use È permesso to ask what is allowed and what is forbidden. For example:

  • È permesso prendere due libri in prestito?
  • È permesso andare in bagno durante gli esami?
  • È permesso tuffarsi in piscina?

Please note that also È permesso follows the same rules as Si può. So, you should say:

  • Sono permessi i cani sulla spiaggia?
  • È permesso il costume al bar della spiaggia?

However, you can also explicit a verb and simply use the form È permesso!

  • È permesso introdurre / far entrare i cani in spiaggia?
  • È permesso indossare il costume al bar?

È consentito?

This expression has the same meaning as È permesso. You can use it in the same contexts, but it is slightly more formal. As in the previous expression, this is related to the rules and customs of a certain place or situation.

The cool thing about this espression and “È permesso” is that they are both impersonal, so you don’t have do conjugate them!

  • È consentito prendere due libri in prestito?
  • È consentito andare in bagno durante gli esami?
  • È consentito tuffarsi in piscina?

In conclusion…

So, now that you know how to ask for permission in Italian, you can go wherever you want. Just be sure that you are allowed to!

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