Ordering: Can I get a "chicken noodles" please?

lemon52

New Member
Chinese
Hi everyone.

This may sound like a stupid question but I was wondering how you would order one serving of something that comes in plural (fries, noodles, etc.).
Would you say "Can I get a French fries please?" or "Can I get French fries please?"
I suppose "Can I get a French fry" should be wrong as that would be asking for one single piece of french fries/fry (I'm not sure which one to say).

I'm asking this because I've gotten so used to saying "Can I get a..." first when I'm ordering (and sometimes I'm still thinking what I want to get) and it almost makes me feel weird not saying the article. I think I've also heard people say "Can I get a _____ noodles?" although I'm not sure if this was from a native speaker or not. What about Cup Noodles? When you're asking for a cup of Cup Noodles, what would/will/do you say? (not sure which one to use here.)

And one more thing also related to ordering. When the server/cashier asks you "Anything else?," should I say "No, that's all" or "That'd be all/That would be all"? Or are they both correct? (I know you could just go with "No" but I want to know specifically which tense to use here.)

I'm learning grammar so I would appreciate it if you could point out the mistakes (or sentences that made you read twice/frown) I've made in this post as well! Thank you all so much!
 
  • joanvillafane

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    a French fries :cross: a noodles :cross: - No, definitely not.

    If it's soup, we say "chicken noodle soup" - (no "s" on noodle) -

    I don't know what "chicken noodles" are - so I can't answer that question.

    Also, you can avoid the singular indefinite article by using the definite article:
    I'll have the noodles.
    I'll have the fries.

    Are you ordering at a fast-food counter or seated at a table? Normally, we don't order by asking a question, but rather by making a statement.
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    Hi everyone.

    This may sound like a stupid question but I was wondering how you would order one serving of something that comes in plural (fries, noodles, etc.).
    Would you say "Can I get a French fries please?" or "Can I get French fries please?"
    I suppose "Can I get a French fry" should be wrong as that would be asking for one single piece of french fries/fry (I'm not sure which one to say).
    'French Fries' are not the best example, since they are usually a side dish, so 99% of the time you would say "Can I get X with French Fries" when ordering the main meal (if that was even necessary, since often fries, or chips as we call them in the UK, come with the meal automatically).

    But say for instance you were ordering a meal with a specific name, like 'Singapore noodles' or 'Big Mac' or 'vindaloo'. You can say 'can I get a Singapore noodles please', or 'can I get the Singapore noodles please', both are correct.* There would never be a dish called 'French Fry' or 'Singapore Noodle' so that would not make sense. Generally speaking you just repeat the name of the dish as stated on the menu, preceded by either the definite or indefinite article, partly depending on the type of meal.

    If I go to a restaurant, I'd be more likely to say 'can I get the farfalle alla Milanese' than 'a spaghetti alla Milanese', but in the same restaurant I would say 'can I get a lasagna'. I can't explain exactly why that is.

    I think I've also heard people say "Can I get a _____ noodles?" although I'm not sure if this was from a native speaker or not. What about Cup Noodles? When you're asking for a cup of Cup Noodles, what would/will/do you say? (not sure which one to use here.)
    I am not sure what 'cup noodles' are so I can't comment on that.

    And one more thing also related to ordering. When the server/cashier asks you "Anything else?," should I say "No, that's all" or "That'd be all/That would be all"? Or are they both correct? (I know you could just go with "No" but I want to know specifically which tense to use here.)
    You'd never say 'that'd be all', because the word 'would' introduces a conditional clause and implies that it is probably not 'all'! You can say 'that'll be all', or 'that's all'. Both are equally correct - the present means that everything you have said up to the present time is everything you intend to order, and the future means that you don't intend to order anything else in the near future, so both have the same effect.



    *as you will have noticed, Joan and I seem to disagree on this, as she thinks that using the indefinite article "a" in this context is incorrect. Maybe that is because she is from the USA, although I doubt it, since we do not natively say 'can I get' in the UK in the first place, it's an American expression which we imported.
     
    Last edited:

    lemon52

    New Member
    Chinese
    Thank you, Joan and Copperknickers, for your responses.

    And Copperknickers, I asked if "that'd be all" would be an option because I often get asked "would that be all?" at the cashier here in the US. I guess they're being polite and in that case would you answer "yes, that'd be all"?

    Thanks again for the detailed explanations you guys gave.
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    Thank you, Joan and Copperknickers, for your responses.

    And Copperknickers, I asked if "that'd be all" would be an option because I often get asked "would that be all?" at the cashier here in the US. I guess they're being polite and in that case would you answer "yes, that'd be all"?

    Thanks again for the detailed explanations you guys gave.
    Are you sure they are not saying 'will that be all'? In the UK 'would that be all' may have been used in the past but is not really used these days by anyone under 50 outside of the Ritz perhaps.

    Anyway, regardless, it is still incorrect to reply with 'yes, that'd be all'. When they say it, they are using a conditional - 'would that be all, or do you want more?' But you can't reply to a conditional with another conditional when the first person has asked you to make a decision. Your decision is not a condition, it's just a plain statement of fact. The only exception to that would be if you were changing a positive into a negative, for example:

    'Would you like anything else?'
    'No, I would not like anything else.'


    Also, as regards what Joan said about ordering with a statement rather than a question, I think that must be a difference between the US and the UK. You can say 'I'll have the noodles' but it's much less common than asking 'Could/can I have (the noodles)' in my experience. Maybe they don't have any noodles left after all, so you don't know whether or not you can have them.
     
    Last edited:

    joanvillafane

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    To clarify, I don't necessarily think that using the indefinite article is wrong. I could also imagine a context where "a large french fries" is possible. But context is important. I asked a question in post #2 that was not answered.

    Here, if you're in a McDonalds or some similar fast-food place, you walk up to the cashier and state what you want. It's more like:
    A: Next!
    B: Big Mac, large fries and a shake.

    If you're seated at a table in a restaurant and a waiter comes to take your order, it's a completely different transaction. Polite requests might make sense, although in my experience, if something is on the menu it's normal to assume that you can order it without asking permission.
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    Here, if you're in a McDonalds or some similar fast-food place, you walk up to the cashier and state what you want. It's more like:
    A: Next!
    B: Big Mac, large fries and a shake.
    You'd get a some funny looks if you said that in the UK, even in McDonalds. Maybe you might say that at a drive-through window.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Can I get a chicken noodles please?" Not in BE.
    "Could I have a chicken noodles please?" "Yes, certainly. Will there be anything else?"

    Menu choices include:
    Soup of the day
    Chicken noodles
    Pizza
    "Could we have two soups, a noodles, and a pizza." I'd be as likely to say "a portion of noodles" as I would "two bowls of soup" - noodles come in a portion and soup comes in a bowl.
    "a noodles" could be replaced by "one noodles", but that has the same grammar as "a noodles".
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    "Can I get a chicken noodles please?" Not in BE.
    "Could I have a chicken noodles please?" "Yes, certainly. Will there be anything else?"
    Which Chinese takeaways do you go to I wonder? Clearly more upmarket ones than I do. But then I do live in Glasgow, so we don't get so many Home Counties butlers working in Chinese restaurants. :p

    On a serious note, as I said above, 'Can I get (a chicken noodles)?' has been imported to the UK from across the Pond in recent times, it's now more common than not in many places. It's not grammatically wrong, so I will continue to use it. British English is not set in stone, it's always changing.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I was surprised by your being willing to say "can I get?" when ordering your meal. A well-trained waiter would say "that's my job, Sir".

    [GRUMBLE]Sadly, we don't have many of those because of the way in which Britons as a race regard waiters.[/GRUMBLE]


    I would never say "get" to order food. I might well ask visitors to my home "what can I get you?", but I'd be doing the getting, not a waiter.
     
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