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  1. #1
    shimacatu_sa's Avatar
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    Definite and Indefinite Articles

    I have some questions about English grammar articles.

    I know that when I order drink or food at a restaurant, I need to use an indefinite article (e.g. Can I get a chicken salad please ?) or a numeral (1, 2, etc). But I am not sure if I need to use a definite article (the) when ordering a dish from today's specials or chef's recommendations because a waitstaff and I are referring to some specific dish in this case. Should I say "I will have the soup of the day" "I'd like the grilled salmon on the today's specials" ?

    How about dishes that has a plural names (e.g. chicken wings, BBQ ribs, pancakes) ?
    What is the best way to order ?

    Can I have one order of chicken wings ?
    Can I have chicken wings ? (but how many ?)
    Can I have the chicken wings ?

    Help me please, articles and prepositions are really difficult. They puzzle me all the time.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Re: Definite and Indefinite Articles

    Welcome to the forum.

    First things first, many waiters find customers starting an order with "Can I get" or "Can I have" quite annoying. If something is on the menu, of course you can have it. One of my friends used to work in a cafe and whenever someone said "Can I get a coffee?" (or another drink), she would say "Yes, you can" and would continue standing at the table. If the customer looked inquisitively at her, she would say "We've established that you can get a coffee but would you like to actually order one?" Admittedly, she didn't last long in the job but she wasn't alone in her frustration.

    Anyway, back to the question of articles. In BrE, we use a combination of no article, the indefinite article and the definite article.

    I'd like a pizza margherita and a side salad.
    I'd like the pizza margherita and a side salad.
    I'd like the chicken and chips please.
    I'd like chicken and chips please.
    I'd like a chicken and chips, a cod and chips and a battered sausage and chips.
    I'd like the penne arrabiata please, but hold the olives.
    I'd like penne arrabiata please.

    If "chicken wings" appears on a menu, it probably says next to it how many you get so you wouldn't have to specify. If there's a choice of, say, 4 wings, 6 wings or 8 wings, then you would order using "I'd like 8 chicken wings please".

    It wouldn't make any difference to me if the item was on the main menu or on a list of specials.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. #3
    shimacatu_sa's Avatar
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    Red face Re: Definite and Indefinite Articles

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I never thought I could annoy people by saying " Can I get ...... ? ". I am going to use the phrase " I would like ...... " from now on.


    Lets me make sure that I understood you correctly.
    When I order something in a restaurant, I don't have to worry about articles at all.
    Anything goes in the situation, any combination of no article, the indefinite article and the definite article.


    Do you think this holds true in other countries, such as the USA, Canada, etc. ?

    Thank you. I think I will be more comfortable ordering food / drink in a restaurant.


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