The food is served the family style.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by bamboo--tw, Apr 26, 2008.

  1. bamboo--tw Senior Member

    When you are invited to a meal in an American home, it will probably be informal. The food is usually served family style.

    Would it sound better to change the bolded part to "The food is usually served in the family style?" Thanks.
  2. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    I don't think so. "X-style" is commonly used as a direct adverb or adjective (i.e. without preposition), as in this case; it is idiomatic. Your version does not sound, to me, like it was composed by a native English speaker.
  3. anothersmith Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English, U.S.
    "Family style" is idiomatic; "in the family style" is not.
  4. lablady

    lablady Senior Member

    Central California
    English - USA
    I highly recommend that you not use "in the family style". The first thought that came to my mind was its similarity to "in the family way", which is an old-fashioned euphemism for "pregnant". :eek:

    It would be better if you stay with the idiomatic "family style". :)
  5. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    Quite honestly, I've never before heard of a meal being served "family style" or "in a family style". What's it supposed to mean? I don't know whether any Americans would have knowledge of this phrase but, personally, I agree with MM - it sounds like something a non-native-speaker might say.
  6. lablady

    lablady Senior Member

    Central California
    English - USA
    Several restaurants in my town (in the U.S.) serve meals "family style". It basically means that the meal will be served as it would if you were sitting down to eat as a family at home. The food is placed in large serving bowls in the center of the table. Each person is given an empty plate, and the serving bowls are passed around the table allowing each person to serve themselves however much of the food they wish to eat.
  7. SleepingLeopard Senior Member

    English - United States (New York)
    "Family style" is a common phrase in the U.S., and means that the food is not served to each person individually. Instead, all the dishes are put out on the table, and each person takes a plate and helps themselves to whatever they like from the community dishes.
  8. TrentinaNE

    TrentinaNE Senior Member

    English (American)
    I don't know if there are many restaurants that serve "family style" these days, but I'm familiar with the term from the midwest. I even had a family style luncheon for my wedding reception!

  9. Pepperellite

    Pepperellite Senior Member

    American English (Northeastern USA)
    but you would not use the phrase at someone's home (as in the original example). Imagine going to someone's house and being told that dinner will be served restaurant syle!!?!! The phrase is only used at restaurants.
  10. SleepingLeopard Senior Member

    English - United States (New York)
    You might see the distinction in some places. At some homes, (of extremely wealthy people, I would imagine), household staff serve each person individually, the way people are served in a restaurant.

    Even "regular people" may have a dinner party that is catered in this way.
  11. lablady

    lablady Senior Member

    Central California
    English - USA
    I have the impression that bamboo--tw's sentence is intended to be part of a description of American culture for people who might be visiting the U.S.

    While I agree that many of us do not routinely refer to our meals as being served "family style" while we are in our own homes, that phrase does help give travelers who may be unfamiliar with our customs an idea as to what they might expect while they are here.
  12. Pepperellite

    Pepperellite Senior Member

    American English (Northeastern USA)
    I agree that the sentence is describing American culture to people who may not be familiar with it. But I absolutely disagree that it is excusable to use a phrase in such a way that would never be used by a native speaker. In the U.S. I have attended catered events, but was not warned that although the event happened at so-and-so's house the dinner will not be served "family style". I have even been served dinner by a maid, but upon returning home I didn't turn to my wife and say "dinner at our house is served family style". This is not a phrase that is used in this context by native speakers. It is only used to refer to restaurants.
  13. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale
    It's very common in Chinese restaurants, but it often refers specifically to a mixture of tofu and vegetables, at least in this region.

    More important:

    The food is served the family style. :cross:

    This is wrong.

    It can only be written this way, unless other words are added:

    The food is served the family style. :tick:

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