Permission – allowed, permitted, supposed to

Instead of using basic modal verbs like can, could, must & should to express permission, why not take your English vocabulary up a level with some of these more advanced words?

Allowed to

 We use this in place of ‘can/could’ when expressing permission – but NOT possibility.

Structure: Subject + to be + allowed to + infinitive


We are (not) allowed to sit at this table.
Are we allowed to sit at this table?
We were(n’t) allowed to sit at that table.
We will (not) be allowed to sit at that table.

Permitted to

In a more official/formal situation, we can use permitted to. This is usually used with laws/rules to express permission and prohibition.

Structure: it + be (not) permitted to + infinitive


It is not permitted to bring liquids onto the aeroplane
It is permitted to photograph the paintings without flash


Structure: noun + be (not) + permitted


Barbecues are not permitted on the beach
Trucks are not permitted to drive through this area


Structure: gerund verb + be (not) + permitted


Bringing liquids onto the aeroplane is not permitted
Photographing the paintings with flash is permitted

Supposed to/Meant to

 Instead of using ‘should’, we can say either of these phrases in order to express either obligation or permission.

Structure: be (not) supposed to/meant to + infinitive


We’re not supposed to be out after 10pm!
She’s not meant to eat 24 hours before the surgery, but she’s hungry.
I’m supposed to start the meeting at 3pm, but I think we can start early.
No-one is meant to be in the office this weekend, why are you here?

Permission exercise

Rewrite these sentences to make them correct.

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