What is the difference between "you can go first" and "you go first"?

If me and a friend of mine for an example ask the teacher a question at the same time which one should I use

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    By default, You go first is an [imperative] instruction / order (you must or should go first), whereas by default, You can go first grants permission (you can do this if you want to, but you don't have to). But in practice those meanings may in fact be reversed in any given context (they're just likely differences, not absolutely fixed by the specific phrasing). The idiomatic standard After you can carry either implication equally well. Mar 18, 2020 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


"You can go first." The word can implies that you are giving the person the option to do or not do a certain action. "You go first." Removing it implies that you are giving order or forcing someone to do something. You are not giving that person the choice of not doing it.

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