They both mean "Can you/I eat?" So can they be used interchangeably?

I know that the て-form is used when speaking a command to someone so is it a more direct(?) form of asking a question? Like asking a question to someone who is superior to you?

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    As sawa wrote, 食べるいいですか is ungrammatical. Moreover, 食べていいですか does not mean “Can you eat?” – Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 4 '11 at 21:45

The difference is that the former is ungrammatical, the latter is grammatical. They cannot be used interchangeably.

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    About the meaning of the -te form... In this example, it's not a form of command. -te form can have many meanings, and in this case, it's used to connect the verb to the i-adj, which acts as a verb. Literally, it's something like "I eat and it's okay?". – alexandrec Nov 4 '11 at 20:05
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    @alexandrec Your explanation is almost good, but i-adj is an i-adj, it is not a verb. The verb (copula) is です. – user458 Nov 4 '11 at 21:02

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