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Russian grammar - Possibility and permission with можно and нельзя

Possibility and permission with можно and нельзя

There are very common phrases used to express possibility or impossibility of an action.

можно means 'possible', 'feasible', 'allowed'

нельзя means 'impossible', 'not allowed', 'forbidden'

These words are followed by the verb in the infinitive, or by a phrase.

The subject of phrases of this type should be in the dative case.

The subject is commonly omitted in impersonal statements or where it is obvious from the context.

Нельзя with perfective verbs usually means that something is impossible, and with imperfective verbs mean that something is not allowed.

Can I? / (Is it) possible?
Можно войти?
Can I come in?

входить / войти means 'to come in'

Можно вас на минутку?
Can I have you (formal) for a minute?

Here вас is the object and so in the accusative

Здесь можно фотографировать?
Can I take pictures here?
К вам можно?
Can I see you (formal)? / Can I come in?

Here the dative subject is omitted but it is clear that it is мне.

Можно здесь сесть?
Can I sit here?
Да, можно.
Yes, (you) can.
Можно мне ещё кофе?
Can I have more coffee?
Марине можно мороженое, а тебе нет.
Marina can have ice-cream, but you (informal) can’t.
Здесь нельзя купаться.
It’s not allowed to swim here.
Нельзя читать при плохом освещении.
One should not read in poor light.
Нельзя выучить русский за месяц.
(One) can not learn Russian in a month.
Ему нельзя вставать после операции.
He is not allowed to stand up after the surgery.
Тебе сюда нельзя.
You (informal) are not allowed here.
Нельзя забыть то, чего не знаешь.
One can not forget what (you) (informal) don’t know.
Мне нельзя есть шоколад.
I cannot eat chocolate.
Тебе можно пойти в кино.
You (informal) may go to cinema.
Олегу нельзя курить.
Oleg is not allowed to smoke.

курить is imperfective suggesting 'not allowed'

курить / покурить means 'to smoke (cigarettes)'

Марине можно начинать тренировки.
Marina can begin training.
Нам нельзя шуметь на уроках.
We are not allowed to make noise at the lessons.

шуметь is imperfective suggesting 'not allowed'

шуметь means 'to make noise'

Вам можно съесть что-нибудь, если хотите.
You (formal) can eat something if you want.
Вам можно курить на улице.
You (formal) may smoke outside.
Можно ли мне войти?
May I come in?

входить / войти means 'to come in'

Вас можно спросить?
May I ask you (formal)?
Нельзя ли мне взять вашу ручку?
Could I possibly borrow your (formal) pen please?

взять is perfective suggesting 'possibility'

брать / взять means 'to take' or 'to borrow'

Здесь нельзя парковаться.
Parking is prohibited here.

Impersonal statement with omitted subject

парковаться means 'to park (one's car)'

Можно ли есть эти ягоды?
Can (one) eat these berries?

Impersonal statement with omitted subject.