Smart-Alecky Response to a Prescriptivist Teacher

I found this at 22 Words, but its origin is obscure:

Me: Can I use the bathroom?

Teacher: I don’t know, can you?

Me: When I said “can” I was using its secondary modal form as a verbal modifier asking for permission, as opposed to expressing an ability. I thought since you were a teacher you’d know that. My bad. May I use the restroom?

AB — 19 April 2011

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About quriosity

Al Bredenberg is a writer, researcher, and consultant living in Raleigh, NC.
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