Asking Permission ESL Activities, Worksheets and Games

Can I...?

ESL Asking Permission Game - Reading, Listening and Matching Activity - Elementary (A1-A2) - 20 minutes

In this fun asking permission game, students ask permission to do different things and race to find the person who has each 'Yes, of course' response. Divide the students into groups of four and give each student a card (A, B, C or D). On each card are three 'Can I...?' questions that ask permission and nine replies that give or refuse permission. Student A begins by asking the first 'Can I...?' question on their card to one of the other students, e.g. 'Can I try on these jeans?' That student looks for a matching reply on their card. If the chosen student gives permission by saying 'Yes, of course...', Student A crosses off the question. If the chosen student refuses permission by saying 'I'm sorry...' Student A has to wait until their next turn before asking permission from another student. Student B then asks their first 'Can I...?' question to one of the other students and so on. The first student to cross off all their 'Can I...?' questions wins the game. The game continues until all the students have crossed off all their questions.
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Can I... yes or no?

ESL Asking Permission Game - Reading, Listening and Speaking Activity - Elementary (A1-A2) - 20 minutes

In this asking permission game, students ask permission to do different things and guess whether their partner is going to grant or refuse permission. This activity helps students practice asking permission with the modal verbs 'can', 'may' and 'could' as well as various phrases for granting and refusing permission. Give each pair of students a set of permission cards and a set of response cards. The students shuffle each set of cards separately and place them face down on the desk in two piles. Students take it in turns to pick up a permission card and use the modal verb (can, may or could) and the prompt shown on the card to ask permission to do something, e.g. 'May I use your computer?' The student then guesses whether their partner will grant or refuse permission. Their partner then picks up a response card and grants or refuses permission using the expression on the card, e.g. 'Yes, of course.' If the student guessed correctly, they score a point. If not, their partner scores a point. The game continues with students taking it in turns to play until all the cards have been used. The student with the most points at the end of the game wins.
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May I...?

ESL Asking, Giving and Refusing Permission Activity - Listening and Speaking - Elementary (A1-A2) - 20 minutes

In this free asking permission speaking activity, students practice asking, giving and refusing permission using cards as prompts. Give each student a card. On one side of the card is a permission prompt and on the other is a tick or cross. Students hold their card so the permission prompt is facing towards them and the tick or cross is facing away. Students then go around the class asking, giving and refusing permission with as many different partners as possible. If students see a tick, they give permission. If there is a cross, the students refuse permission. When the students have finished, they repeat the activity, but this time they hold their card the other way round so the permission prompt is facing away. The students then go around the class, asking permission to do different things each time they speak to a classmate. The students continue in this way until they have spoken to as many different partners as possible.
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Asking, Giving and Refusing Permission Worksheet

ESL Asking Permission Worksheet - Reading, Writing and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 20 minutes

Here is an asking permission worksheet to help students practice language for asking, giving and refusing permission. Give each student a copy of the worksheet. The students begin by using ten polite phrases to ask permission for the items shown on their worksheet. After that, students fill in missing letters in phrases that give and refuse permission. Students then work with a partner and take it in turns to ask, give and refuse permission using the items from Exercise A and phrases from Exercise B.
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Asking, Giving and Refusing Permission - Interactive Worksheet

ESL Asking, Giving and Refusing Permission Interactive Worksheet - Writing Exercise - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 20 minutes

Here is an interactive PDF version of the above worksheet for English teachers working online. In the interactive worksheet, students do an online exercise to practice phrases for asking, giving and refusing permission.
 

Do you mind if I...?

ESL Asking Permission Activity - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 30 minutes

In this free asking permission activity, students practice asking, giving and refusing permission with 'Do you mind if I...?' Give each student a copy of the worksheet. The students go around the class asking permission for the things shown on their worksheet using 'Do you mind if I...?' Students only give permission if they genuinely think they don't mind. If students do mind, they refuse permission and explain why. For each item on the worksheet, students must speak to two people. When a classmate responds to a question, the student writes down their answer and name on the worksheet. When everyone has finished, students give feedback to the class on the people who gave and refused permission.
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How to Ask, Give and Refuse Permission Lesson

ESL Asking Permission Lesson - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 60 minutes

In this asking permission lesson, students learn how to ask, give and refuse permission using various phrases. Give each student a copy of the lesson. The students begin by completing two gap-fill dialogues with words from a box on the worksheet. Students then read the two conversations with a partner and compare their answers. Next, students identify the phrases used to ask permission in the two dialogues and write them in a table. Students then write in the phrases used to give and refuse permission. In the empty squares, the students think of and write other phrases they could use. After that, students use the phrases in the table to write questions asking permission for the things shown on the worksheet. Students then write a response to each question, giving or refusing permission. Following that, students write four questions asking permission and practice asking, giving and refusing permission with a partner. Students then read some short impolite dialogues and rewrite them to be polite using the phrases they have learnt. Finally, students write a conversation in pairs where they ask, give and refuse permission. These conversations are then presented to the class.
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How to Ask, Give and Refuse Permission - Interactive Lesson

ESL Asking Permission Interactive Lesson - Reading, Matching and Writing Exercises - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 60 minutes

This is an interactive PDF version of the above lesson for people teaching English online. In the interactive lesson, students complete a variety of online exercises to learn how to ask, give and refuse permission.
 

Perfect Partners

ESL Asking, Giving and Refusing Permission Activity - Listening and Speaking - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 30 minutes

In this fun asking permission activity, students learn how to ask for, give and refuse permission. Divide the students into two equal groups (A and B) and give each student a corresponding card. Tell the students that they are going to try to find their perfect partner by asking and giving permission for the things on their card. If they find someone who asks or gives permission for all four items on their card, they have found their perfect partner. All the students with card A sit down. Their task is to give and refuse permission. If a student asks permission for an item on their card, they must give it. If a student asks permission for something that is not on their card, they must refuse and give a reason. The students with card B circulate and ask the students sitting down permission for the things shown on their card, e.g. 'Would it be alright if I borrowed a pen?' If a student gets permission for all four things on their card, they have found their perfect partner and must sit down with them. If a student is refused permission for anything on their card, they must move on and speak to another student. When everyone has found their perfect partner, the students swap roles to give them practice at using all the language.
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Picture This

ESL Asking Permission Activity - Drawing, Listening and Speaking - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 30 minutes

In this engaging asking permission activity, students draw pictures of situations where people ask permission and their partner tries to guess what questions the people in the pictures say. Divide the students into two groups (A and B) and give each student a corresponding worksheet. The students then draw pictures of situations where people ask permission in the corresponding numbered squares on the worksheet. For example, if the question was 'Can I borrow a pencil?', the student might draw a picture of someone with a piece of paper and nothing in their hand. When everyone has finished drawing their pictures, students cut the worksheet so the drawings and questions are separate. Students then pair up with someone from the other group. The students give their partner the drawings they have made. The students then take it in turns to guess what the person says to ask permission in each of their partner's pictures. Questions 1 to 4 begin with 'Could I...?' and questions 5 to 9 begin with 'Can I...?' Students get three chances to guess the question in each picture. If a student guesses correctly on the first try, they score three points. On the second try, they get two points. On the third try, they score one point. The student with the most points at the end of the activity is the winner.
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Asking Permission Board Game

ESL Asking Permission Board Game - Reading, Listening and Speaking Activity - Low intermediate (B1) - 30 minutes

This free asking permission board game can be used to help students practice or review asking permission using a variety of phrases and verbs. Give each group of three or four a copy of the game board, a set of verb cards, a dice and counters. The students shuffle the cards and place them face down in a pile in the assigned space on the game board. The players then take it in turns to roll the dice and move their counter along the board. When a player lands on a square, the student picks up the top card from the pile and then asks permission using the verb on the card and the phrase on the square. For example, if the player landed on the 'Do you think I could...?' square and picked up the 'have' verb card, the student might say 'Do you think I could have another cup of coffee?' The other students in the group judge whether the question has been phrased correctly and is appropriate. If it is, the other students grant permission, e.g. 'Go right ahead'. If not, the other students refuse permission (e.g. I'm afraid that's not possible.) and the player goes back to their previous square. The verb card is then placed at the bottom of the pile and it's the next student's turn to play. The first player to reach the finish wins the game. Afterwards, there is a class feedback session to review the things the students asked permission for using each verb.
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12 Ways to Ask Permission - Printable Version

ESL Asking Permission Activity - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking - Intermediate (A2-B1) - 20 minutes

In this useful asking permission activity, students guess missing words in questions that ask permission to do something. Divide the students into pairs (A and B) and give each student a corresponding worksheet. Students get three chances to guess the missing words in each question that asks permission. Student A begins by guessing the missing words in the first question. Student B listens and tells their partner if they are right or wrong. If students guess correctly the first time, they score three points. On the second try, they get two points. On the third try, they score one point. After the missing words have been guessed correctly or three chances have passed, Student B guesses the missing words in the second question. When a student successfully guesses the missing words, they write the words in the gaps on the worksheet. The student with the most points at the end of the activity is the winner. When the students have finished, they go through any questions they got wrong and compare worksheets to check their answers.
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12 Ways to Ask Permission - Interactive Version

ESL Asking Permission Interactive Breakout Room Activity - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking - Intermediate (A2-B1) - 20 minutes

This is an interactive PDF version of the above activity for online English teachers. In the breakout room activity, pairs of students guess missing words in questions that ask permission.
 
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