for starters

< Previous | Next >
  • angeluomo

    Senior Member
    US English (German/French)
    Unless you use it to refer to the first course of a meal. Then it actually means the food that is served at the beginning. For example:

    "The starters this evening will be shrimp cocktail." Or, "We will be serving shrimp cocktail for starters this evening."

    It can also mean "For beginners", to denote somebody who is just starting something.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    "For starters" refers to the beginning of any series, and it can be a signal that what follows will be long and involved.

    Married couple gets home from a family get-together.
    "You seemed to be in a bad mood all evening long-- what set you off?"
    "Well for starters, if you'll remember, we got off to a late start."
    "Oh that's right, you wanted to just take off and leave the cat stuck on the roof, yowling the whole time we were gone."
    .
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    angeluomo said:
    Unless you use it to refer to the first course of a meal. Then it actually means the food that is served at the beginning. For example:

    "The starters this evening will be shrimp cocktail." Or, "We will be serving shrimp cocktail for starters this evening."

    It can also mean "For beginners", to denote somebody who is just starting something.
    No, it would be singular in the first context - "the starter is shrimp cocktail" "what did you have for a starter?" - unless this is just BE?

    "For starters" in the second example is fine.
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    timpeac said:
    No, it would be singular in the first context - "the starter is shrimp cocktail" "what did you have for a starter?" - unless this is just BE?

    "For starters" in the second example is fine.
    In Australia, the plural can be used when referring to the first course of a meal. A waiter here will say, "For starters we have prawn (shrimp) cocktail, whitebait etc..."
    Starters can also be what are used to start the whole cheese process.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Charles Costante said:
    In Australia, the plural can be used when referring to the first course of a meal. A waiter here will say, "For starters we have prawn (shrimp) cocktail, whitebait etc..."
    Starters can also be what are used to start the whole cheese process.
    I don't have a problem with "for starters" for one thing eg "for starters we have prawn cocktail" (but note that in your example you have slightly confused the issue by having several - prawn, whitebait etc - so even if it were singular you would use the plural here).

    It was just Angeluomo's first example that sounds strange to me. In relation to just one thing, would you say "the starters this evening are prawn cocktail"? That sounds very strange to me (and wouldn't sound better with "is" instead of "are" either).
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    timpeac said:
    I don't have a problem with "for starters" for one thing eg "for starters we have prawn cocktail" (but note that in your example you have slightly confused the issue by having several - prawn, whitebait etc - so even if it were singular you would use the plural here).

    It was just Angeluomo's first example that sounds strange to me. In relation to just one thing, would you say "the starters this evening are prawn cocktail"? That sounds very strange to me (and wouldn't sound better with "is" instead of "are" either).
    Yes, generally there is more than one starter so you would use the plural form but if there was just one on the menu, a waiter could say, "As a starter we have prawn cocktail, for mains we have............". I think tho', that the plural could be used even where there is only one, because it not a usual occurrence. A waiter could say, "We have had problems with delivery today, so we have a limited menu. For starters we have just the prawn cocktail, for main course........"
     

    angeluomo

    Senior Member
    US English (German/French)
    timpeac:

    Your version is definitely OK (the singular one). I got around the awkward lack of concordance between plural (starters) and singular (prawn cocktail) by putting everything in the future. If the waiter were to insist on putting everything in the present tense, probably the singular would be used. However, "starters", as a collective term for the first course in a meal, is very common, regardless of how many are actually served. Here's an example I just pulled off the web, and it is about a restaurant in London:

    I had Malabar Squid for starters, Kerala
    Chicken Curry and Rice for mains.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Charles and Angeluomo

    I'm sorry but I think I am going to have to say this again - I think that the phrase "for starters" in the plural is absolutely fine even if one starter is being served. So there is no need to keep repeating the quotes such as

    charles said:
    A waiter could say, "We have had problems with delivery today, so we have a limited menu. For starters we have just the prawn cocktail, for main course........"
    angeluomo said:
    I had Malabar Squid for starters, Kerala
    Chicken Curry and Rice for mains.
    I do not find those sentences strange, you are preaching to the converted!!

    The only point I am trying to make is that sentences such as

    The starters is/are/will be shrimp cocktail tonight

    where only one starter is mentioned, seem strange to me, certainly in BE.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top