wait at tables/wait on tables

lovliv

Member
Chinese
When he worked in New York, he had to wait ___ tables in restaurants every day.

On, at, for or no preposition needed?

Thanks!
 
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  • Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    US English - "to wait table" (no preposition required)

    UK English - "to wait at tables"
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Grammatically, any of the three could fit.

    It's unlikely he'd have had to climb on to a table, so we can disregard "on".
    "At" suggests he worked as a waiter in different restaurants every day, which seems strange.
    "For" suggests that every time he went to a restaurant, he had to wait for a seat. This seems the most likely in a large city like New York.:rolleyes:

    I suspect "at" is the answer the person who set the question is looking for but it's a poor question. Where did you see this?
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    US English - "to wait table" (no preposition required)

    UK English - "to wait at tables"
    :thumbsup: That is, if you're talking about the job of waiter.

    Of course, "he had to wait for tables in restaurants every day" can also mean that when he went to a restaurant for his lunch or dinner, the staff made him wait.

    ...It's unlikely he'd have had to climb on to a table, so we can disregard "on"....
    Not so. There are British idioms where "wait on (table)" means to have a job as waiter.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Yes, I agree and I think it's used in AmE too, but something about the way the sentence is worded made me think of someone who had to climb up on tables in different restaurants every day as part of his job. Just me, I suppose.
     
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    lovliv

    Member
    Chinese
    :thumbsup: That is, if you're talking about the job of waiter.

    Of course, "he had to wait for tables in restaurants every day" can also mean that when he went to a restaurant for his lunch or dinner, the staff made him wait.


    Not so. There are British idioms where "wait on (table)" means to have a job as waiter.
    British use wait on tables and wait at tables to mean the same thing?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    You wait on diners at tables .. (BrE)
    In American English, we have no problem with shortening this to "You wait on tables." since tables are obviously tables of diners.
    "Wait at tables." sound very odd to me even though "Wait on diners at tables." is fine.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I'm surprised that BE speakers think "wait on tables" is used to mean to work as a waiter. It certainly does not for me. I am familiar with the AE usage described by Myridon.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't come from Devon. I've no problem with waiting on people or waiting at tables. I've never heard or seen "to wait on" without an object.

    What does he do for a job?
    He waits on. o_O:confused:
     

    prudent260

    Senior Member
    Chinese

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Where did you get that from? That certainly isn't the case in any variety of American English that I have ever encountered.

    Like Myridon, the other American in this conversation, I would say "wait on tables."
    Here are some examples. There are more.

    Wait tables : To serve food.
    American Slang: Cultural Language Guide to Living in the USA
    By Joseph Melillo, Edward M. Melillo
    American Slang
    Does Waiting Tables Make You Weak?: Character Building Through Service Positions
    By Wendy D. Schamber
    Does Waiting Tables Make You Weak?
    Carol Wolper
    Rare Bird Books, 24 Sep 2013
    Adapt Or Wait Tables
    Sometimes you have to wait tables or answer phones ...
    Breanna & Amber: Help Each Other Achieve Their Dreams
    By Sabrina Depina Graham
    Breanna & Amber
    When I was a student, I waited on tables to earn money. to be a waiter or waitress; also, to wait tables wait at tables.
    Webster's New World American Idioms Handbook
     
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