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I have read the following sentence in a Italian learning tool:

Posso avere un minuto per pensare ?

(= Can I have a minute to think ?)

Is that an usual construction in Italian? In English, IMHO it would be more common to say "Can I think for a minute?" (= Posso pensare per un minuto?).

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The two are used interchangeably, but yes, it is a usual phrase structure.

In my opinion, the first sentence somehow stresses the idea that you are asking permission for something that belongs to the person you are interacting with (a minute of his time) or that is just out there (a minute of time) and you are asking permission to "take" it. This is a structure I would use when having been asked a question at an oral exam without knowing the answer right away. I think it adds a hint of courtesy to the question.

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