English Lesson: The Real English Conversation at a Fast Food Restaurant

Michael Uncategorized 1 Comment



The day you arrive in a big American city, like New York, on a business trip or for a new overseas post, you’re going to be hungry. Quite possibly, your first meal may be at a fast food restaurant. Here are five essential words you’ll want to remember to help you order food.

  1. Next!
  2. Meal (not ‘set’)
  3. Is that it?
  4. For here?
  5. To go?

When you walk into the shop, the clerk will greet you. They generally say, Next! with a loud, stern voice and no smile. Don’t be alarmed. They are not angry with you. This is just their usual speaking style. The politeness level of speaking used by the staff in a casual, fast food restaurant or shop is much lower than what you may be used to….

When you order in some countries, you may see the word set, like a Big Mac Set. In everyday English, the word set means a collection of items, like a set of wine glasses, a set of dishes, or a set of chopsticks. If you ask for a set in a restaurant, the clerk or waiter will not understand what you want. In the USA, we generally use phrases like Combo Meal (combo is short for combination) or Value Meal. So, a Big Mac Value Meal means you get a Big Mac, French Fries, and a drink.

The question, Is that it? is the usual way to say, “Would you like anything else?” It is often pronounced by the clerk quickly, like this: zad-IT? If you want to order something additional, now is your chance.

Once you have given your complete order, the clerk will ask, Is that for here or to go or the shorter form, for here or to go? For here means you will eat your food in the shop and they will put your food on a tray. To go means you will eat your food back in your hotel or home, and in this case, they will put your food in a bag.

By the way, the phrase take out is used when we talk about ordering food with someone, but we do not say take out to the clerk in a restaurant. For example:

  • Aki: Do you want to go to the Chinese restaurant?
  • Joe: I’m too tired to go. Let’s just do take out.

Ok, so now, let’s see these words in a sample conversation:

  • Clerk: Next!
  • Aki: Can I have a Big Mac Value Meal, please?
  • Clerk: What kind of drink?
  • Aki: Coke, please.
  • Clerk: Is that it?
  • Aki: Yes, that’s it.
  • Clerk: For here or to go?
  • Aki: To go.

That is usually how it goes in the real world. Your English textbook may have a different version. Happy Eating!

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