coffee / a coffee - countable/uncountable for drinks?

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by David1977, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. David1977 New Member

    Spain
    Spanish
    I know that one can say , "i´d like a coffee", meaning that i´d like a cup of coffee, although we know that coffee is an uncountable noun in this case we are using "a" in front of it because we are referring to "a cup of". So by the same token can we do that with all the drinks in general?could we say: I´d like a water/a beer/a jb with coke/a whisky and a coke/an orange juice/a tea/a pepsi/a fanta?
     
  2. Jim2996 Senior Member

    Boston, MA
    American English
    Yes, and it's done often, especially for things that come in countable containers, like bottles or (shot) glasses.

    Welcome to the forum.

    I don't usually give such short answers, but I can't think of anything else to say.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
  3. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    A simple "yes" wasn't enough for me. I did go to that link, and I found it useful.
    Most of the discussion there assumed the context of a restaurant or bar.
    Certainly the employees of these public eateries are free to make drinks countable: "Two orange juices, a coffee, and a water at Table #5."
    But if you're visiting someone in their home, I think asking for "a coffee" might sound a little rude, as if you were treating your host as a waiter.
    In a friendly setting (as opposed to a commercial one),
    I'd recommend asking for "a glass of water", "a glass of orange juice" or "some orange juice", "a cup of coffee", or "a cup of tea".
    Even in a restaurant, I can't imagine asking for "a tea"—it might suggest that you want to choose a particular kind of tea, from among the (countable) teas that they offer.
    The same goes for "a wine", of course.
    For brand-name drinks, or mixed drinks with standard names, you can say "a Coke", "a Pepsi", "a Fanta", "a martini", "a boilermaker", etc. anywhere, no problem.
    For generic drinks, I find it hard to imagine asking for "a milk", "a water", or "a lemonade"; the only exceptions: "a beer" or "a soda".
     
  4. Jim2996 Senior Member

    Boston, MA
    American English
    David,
    Cenzontle mentioned a great option in the middle of his post: It's often better/more appropriate to ask for some water (or some of whatever drink you want). This gives you three general choices. Now, go out into the world and see what works. You might want to watch from the sidelines for a while, but, trust me, I doubt that you'll even get a funny look.

    His post starts off confusing because I edited my post. I omitted the reference to a recent post on coffee http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2478395
    After I had a cup of coffee, I realized/suspected that you had probably already read that post and were following the rules of opening a new question in a new thread. Miracles do happen.

    Cenzontle,
    Sorry about the edit, I didn't realize how much time had pasted.

    I have heard "a milk", "a water", and "a lemonade." I visited an elementary school a while ago and at lunch everyone gets a/some/a little carton of milk. I bet you also once got those little 8-ounce cartons of milk; they had them when I was young. The kids refer to them as a milk. What I heard a lot was, "I want a chocolate."

    Limonade and other juices are now packed in juice-boxes or juice-packs. They are small foil-lined boxes with juice inside. They come with a little straw attached that children can detach and poke into the top. Kids love them, and can have a apple-juice, a fruit-punch, or a lemonade.

    At one time, at long business meetings, there would be a pitcher of water in the room and glasses (for the executives) or plastic cups (for the rest of us). Now, since water-in-a-plastic-bottle is so common, that is what is often provided. I've heard of people saying, "Please pass a water." It may not be a common as "Please pass me some water," but it's used.
     
  5. David1977 New Member

    Spain
    Spanish
    Thank you very much Jim and Cenzontle for your answers. And thank you very much for your welcome, Jim.:)
     
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