Results 1 to 9 of 9
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • German
      • Home Country:
      • Germany
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Feb 2007
    • Posts: 177
    #1

    Do you need a cup of tea?

    When I was in Thailand a Thai friend quite often asked me "Do you need some drink?" or "Do you need some food?". I explained to him that it is not a question of need. Instead he should ask "Do you want something to drink?" or "Would you like something to eat?" as this was better English.

    As it happened, a few weeks later an American lady offered to make some tea and she asked me "Do you need a cup of tea?" This was the first time ever that I heard a native speaker using this expression to offer a drink or food. Is this some kind of Americanism? I mean, I could understand if somebody asked "Do you need an ambulance?" or "Do you need a doctor?" assuming I was somewhat injured, but why would one use "Do you need..." when offering food or drink?

    Phew, I think I need a cup of tea now.

    TomUK

  1. 5jj's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 28,134
    #2

    Re: Do you need a cup of tea?

    Informally, I might ask, "Do you need a refill?"

  2. riquecohen's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • Brazil

    • Join Date: Aug 2010
    • Posts: 6,002
    #3

    Re: Do you need a cup of tea?

    I have also heard it used when offering a refill. I can't imagine asking if a guest needed a cup of tea, unless it were offered as some type of curative. If they were upset about something, one might ask if they needed a drink.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 24,104
    #4

    Re: Do you need a cup of tea?

    Yes, it's strange. (I thought American ladies drank coffee). Like the others, I wouldn't use "need" that way.

  4. konungursvia's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Mar 2009
    • Posts: 5,158
    #5

    Re: Do you need a cup of tea?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Yes, it's strange. (I thought American ladies drank coffee). Like the others, I wouldn't use "need" that way.
    I normally wouldn't use "need" but see nothing wrong with it. We have cultural traditions that prescribe a conditional of "want" but in fact, we do need both food and drink, don't we?

  5. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 24,104
    #6

    Re: Do you need a cup of tea?

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    I normally wouldn't use "need" but see nothing wrong with it. We have cultural traditions that prescribe a conditional of "want" but in fact, we do need both food and drink, don't we?
    To be honest, I've never needed a cup of tea in my life. If I were visiting an American (or Canadian) lady, and she asked me whether I needed a cup of tea, I would probably have to think about what she meant. So, it's useful to know that it means "Would you like a cup of tea?" and that there was nothing about me that made her think I needed tea.

    In other words, in my culture, if we are offering a drink to someone, we don't normally ask whether a person needs it. To me, it sounds like the lady will go to the trouble of making the tea if I actually need it, but might be reluctant if I merely would like it.

  6. Ouisch's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2006
    • Posts: 4,142
    #7

    Re: Do you need a cup of tea?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    (I thought American ladies drank coffee).
    Usually they do, unless they're trying to act all cultured and stuff. Or if they're having one of those "celebrate the special moments of our life" experiences with their lady friends. (Not that I'm one to stereotype tea-drinkers or anything.)

    And no, "do you need..." is not a common way to offer a beverage, unless it's a shot of brandy to a panicky person. My late mother-in-law often used an unusual sentence construction when offering food or drink - she'd ask, for example, "Would it suit you to have biscuits for breakfast?" Her phraseology originally struck me as strange and awkward, but after spending more time in the American South I found that this is a common expression 'round those parts when asking someone if they'd like a particular food or drink item.

  7. Newbie
    Interested in Language
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Aug 2011
    • Posts: 7
    #8

    Re: Do you need a cup of tea?

    when i associate the word 'need' with non-imperative items/subjects, it's usually in the past tense when the person offered can make a more subjective diagnosis on its necessity

    "i needed that cup of tea"

  8. konungursvia's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Mar 2009
    • Posts: 5,158
    #9

    Re: Do you need a cup of tea?

    You're all definitely right that it is unusual. I was suggesting it's not wrong, just less polite, and more over-stated, to use "need."

Similar Threads

  1. [Idiom] My cup of tea.
    By Ksenia in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 22-Apr-2011, 17:52
  2. [Vocabulary] cup of tea
    By maiabulela in forum English Idioms and Sayings
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 26-Feb-2011, 13:34
  3. That's not my cup of tea !
    By crazYgeeK in forum English Idioms and Sayings
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 13-Nov-2010, 02:38
  4. [Grammar] Cup of Tea
    By Snappy in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 14-Apr-2010, 08:41
  5. cup of tea
    By Unregistered in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 18-Oct-2007, 11:21

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •