cheesecakes, <cake / dessert?>

Amber_1010

Senior Member
Chinese-Cantonese
Hello everyone!

If I'm meeting a friend at a cafe, who is just released from work, and I have brought some cheesecakes. I wait until she arrives, it's 8:50 pm , and I'm sure she has not had her dinner. I have some cakes so I offer them to her, saying "Would you like to have some dessert?"

I think it is kind of weird here, saying dessert, since she has not had her dinner. I think if she had just had dinner before she came to meet me, then maybe it could be used (Is that right?), but it is normally used when we are having a meal, at a restaurant, before we finishes our meal, we can have dessert, as a part of dinner.

Do you agree? Would you have used 'dessert'?
I think 'cakes' would have worked.

Thank you!
 
  • 1m83czh

    New Member
    Mandarin
    I would simply say, 'Would you like some cakes?'

    Dessert, as you rightly say, is always served after the main course has been eaten at dinner.
    May I say "wanna have some cakes" instead? I have seen this kind of expression quite often between close friends in English moives/tv series.
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    So, 'Dessert' isn't the right word here?

    What if my friend comes having eaten some pasta, would you say 'dessert' or 'cakes'?
    Either is fine, I think. If you've got cakes, there are no circumstances under which you can't say "would you like some cake[s]?":) But the following exchange is also entirely natural:

    Have you had dinner?
    Just a quick plate of spaghetti.
    Want some dessert? I brought cake[s]!

    The difference is that you're implying that the cakes will be the next course in the meal she started elsewhere.
     

    Amber_1010

    Senior Member
    Chinese-Cantonese
    Either is fine, I think. If you've got cakes, there are no circumstances under which you can't say "would you like some cake[s]?":) But the following exchange is also entirely natural:

    Have you had dinner?
    Just a quick plate of spaghetti.
    Want some dessert? I brought cake[s]!

    The difference is that you're implying that the cakes will be the next course in the meal she started elsewhere.
    Hi!

    But you agree that, as a North American English speaker, we can't and don't say 'dessert' in the context provided in #1, where my friend has not had dinner.
    Correct?
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    Hi!

    But you agree that, as a North American English speaker, we can't and don't say 'dessert' in the context provided in #1, where my friend has not had dinner.
    Correct?
    Correct. But you could say it as a joke: "Oh, you haven't had dinner? Never mind! Have dessert first!"
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I agree that you should probably say, 'Would you like some cake?' or in BrE, 'Would you like some gateau?'

    I think dessert is probably a little strange on its own. In BrE, this is often called 'pudding', and I can imagine someone saying, 'I'm not very hungry - I'll just have pudding.'
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Context, context, context:D

    Dessert can mean one of two things: a later course in a multi-course meal, after the "main course" or a dish that is typically served in that course. A pudding or a fruit salad or a cake etc, can either be served as "dessert course" or be referred to in itself as "a dessert".

    "I have got everything for tonight's dinner but I still have to go to the patisserie to buy a dessert". Later: "My dinner guests cancelled at the last minute so I still have dessert in the fridge. Would you like some?"
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    [...] or in BrE, 'Would you like some gateau?'
    Seriously, nat? Apart from a few specific types of cake involving large amounts of cream and fruit (such as Black Forest gateau), I don't know any BrE speakers who would say "gateau" for "cake". It might be said in a jocular way, or to show off a minimal knowledge of French, but otherwise it would be seen by many Brits as very affected speech.
    May I say "wanna have some cakes" instead?[...]
    Not if you want to speak English! As has been pointed out many times in other threads, "wanna" is not a word. You could say "(Do you) want to have some cakes?"; but if you're offering something to someone, "Would you like ...?" is generally considered a more polite form (and I mean polite, not necessarily formal).

    Ws
    :)
     

    dharasty

    Senior Member
    American English
    Dessert can mean one of two things: a later course in a multi-course meal, after the "main course" or a dish that is typically served in that course. A pudding or a fruit salad or a cake etc, can either be served as "dessert course" or be referred to in itself as "a dessert".
    I agree that (as a native AE speaker... and aficionado of all things sweet) that "dessert" is sometimes simply a synonym for any given sweet food [that one might serve after a meal].

    "None of the entrees at that restaurant looked appetizing, so all I ate for lunch was various desserts."​

    I think this is akin to BE "pudding". (In America, "pudding" is specifically a flavored custard in a bowl... never a cake or pastry.)
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    The BE term "pudding" can be a bit of a minefield. It's used for various kinds of dish, usually of a 'cakey' consistency (sometimes made with suet), or with a base of rice, semolina, tapioca, etc. It may be sweet or savoury, the latter generally being eaten as a main course, the former as a dessert.

    Etymologically, the word "dessert" makes more sense for the final course of a meal, because it derives from the French word for clearing the table — whereas "pudding" originally meant a kind of sausage.

    It's true that both words are used, by different people, for the last course of a meal, and the preference for one over the other has varied over the years by region and by 'social class'. "Dessert" is probably the safest bet, to avoid any confusion, and to be in line with what may be the more widespread use these days (though the proponents of "pudding" will, no doubt, disagree with that!:p). There's also the the word "afters", which I used to hear quite a lot, but not so much recently.

    Ws:)
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Seriously, nat? Apart from a few specific types of cake involving large amounts of cream and fruit (such as Black Forest gateau), I don't know any BrE speakers who would say "gateau" for "cake". It might be said in a jocular way, or to show off a minimal knowledge of French, but otherwise it would be seen by many Brits as very affected speech.
    I'll concede that. I suppose I'm thinking of how things appear on a menu.
     
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