a big mac alone

Gabriel Malheiros

Senior Member
Portuguese - Brazil
Hi, there

If I go to the McDonald's and I want a big mac, but not the meal. How could I ask just for the big mac?

"A big mac alone, please"?
"Only the big mac"?

Thank you
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Where I live, if the employee asks, they use the term "sandwich": "Do you want the meal, or just the sandwich?". So I try to say "just the sandwich", or "just the big mac". If I forget the name of it (chicken mcChicken? no, that's not it...) I just say "not the meal".
     

    Gabriel Malheiros

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    Where I live, if the employee asks, they use the term "sandwich": "Do you want the meal, or just the sandwich?". So I try to say "just the sandwich", or "just the big mac". If I forget the name of it (chicken mcChicken? no, that's not it...) I just say "not the meal".
    God willing, I will go to Boston late this year. So, If I use "sandwich" in McDonalds, wouldn't it sound odd at all?

    Thank you
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Like #2, I always say "just". But "only" should work too.

    Sometimes the server does not speak much English, and any word (just, only, etc) may be misunderstood. Then I just repeat my order, or wait until they ask questions I can answer with "yes" or "no".
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I think that they have standardized the conversation. There is a picture menu board. If you order a Big Mac (Item #?), You can order it by the name or the item #.

    At that point you will either volunteer or the clerk will ask, "Will that be the meal or the sandwich?" and "Will that be to stay or to go?"

    I usually volunteer all the information up front and despite that fact they ask the questions anyway.

    Packard: I'll have a quarter pounder with cheese, meal, medium, to stay, with a black coffee instead of the cold drink.

    Clerk: Will that be a meal or a sandwich?

    Packard (thinking to himself that he already provided this information): The meal.

    Clerk: Will that be a medium or large?

    Packard (thinking to himself that he already provided this information): Medium

    Clerk: Will that be to stay? Or to go?

    Packard (Did she listen to anything I said?): To stay. And a black coffee with that instead of a soft drink.

    Clerk: The coffee with cream and sugar?

    Packard (exasperated): No, just black.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Packard: I'll have a quarter pounder with cheese, meal, medium, to stay, with a black coffee instead of the cold drink.
    This seems like an example of a clerk who is just learning English. To that person, the sentence above is just a long string of sounds; they cannot identify all the specific order details within it. What exactly does "cheese meal medium to" mean?

    If I was the clerk and the sentence above was in Spanish, I would probably recognize "coffee" and maybe "cheese". Nothing more. But once it is broken down into separate questions and answers, I would easily understand each response.

    Another possibility is that the Clerk is following a set of rules such as: No matter what the customer says, you must always ask these questions: "meal or sandwich" and "medium or large" and "to stay or to go" and for coffee "with cream or sugar". Rules like that may be frustrating to customers, but it is much less frustrating than finding out later your order was filled incorrectly (especially at the drive-thru, where you don't find out until you get home).
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    This seems like an example of a clerk who is just learning English. To that person, the sentence above is just a long string of sounds; they cannot identify all the specific order details within it. What exactly does "cheese meal medium to" mean?

    If I was the clerk and the sentence above was in Spanish, I would probably recognize "coffee" and maybe "cheese". Nothing more. But once it is broken down into separate questions and answers, I would easily understand each response.

    Another possibility is that the Clerk is following a set of rules such as: No matter what the customer says, you must always ask these questions: "meal or sandwich" and "medium or large" and "to stay or to go" and for coffee "with cream or sugar". Rules like that may be frustrating to customers, but it is much less frustrating than finding out later your order was filled incorrectly (especially at the drive-thru, where you don't find out until you get home).

    It must be the "following rules" bit. This is a McDonald's local to a college and all the clerks seem to be USA born with English as a first language.

    The McDonald's near my office is staffed almost entirely with workers who have English as a second language. Both locations take the orders the same way with questions and answers. That is why I thought this was standardized.

    Standardization is pretty much the mantra for successful franchises; find something that works and stick with it.
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    I think the "standard questions" are a result of the way things have to be keyed into the register. My understanding is that if you put things in in the wrong order, the computer crashes, a manager has to be called, and Ray Kroc's spirit haunts the poor employee for seven times seven years. :D Now, the fact that they can't remember the order long enough to put it in the right way . . . .

    There's also the issue of upselling; they have to offer you fries, upsized drinks, and so on at many places.

    This is not a recent phenomenon. Over 20 years ago, I went into a fast-food restaurant known for its roast beef sandwiches. At that time, they offered an all-you-can-eat salad bar, which is what I ordered. The young man (fluent in English and a native of the US as far as I could tell) asked if I wanted it "for here or to go." (There was no pay by weight option as is common nowadays.) You could see the look of horror on his face as he realized what he had said, so I helpfully replied that I didn't think I could lift it, but if he would help me put it in my car we could try. :D
     
    Computer/language/accuracy of order issues aside, wouldn't another motivation of reciting again the possibilities to the consumer of getting more rather than less be to encourage the customer to run up his own bill???

    Like it seems almost everybody else here, I have patiently stuck to my original order 90% of the time, but there have been those other times, when smelling the French fries, I realize I'm getting hungrier and hungrier, and then in fact DO want the full meal, DO want to double-size everything, and you know what? I want a dessert also, come to think of it. :idea: :rolleyes: :idea: :rolleyes: :D
    \
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    But to go back to Gabriel's original question, I would just ask for the sandwich that you want and await the array of questions that will follow. They will get this sorted out very quickly.

    I ate recently at a food court at a large shopping mall. The vendor's menu was very confusing, they did not ask questions and it took a long time for me to give up and say, "I'll just have the meatball sandwich". (They had fancy names for everything and the actual words "meatball sandwich" did not appear. So you had to know what to call it.)

    At McDonald's you won't suffer that fate.
     
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