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6 Comments

  • Actually, the American version does involve “going and getting”, but they want the other person to do the fetching, or are suggesting that they would do it themselves if it were allowed (which it obviously isn’t in a restaurant). “Can I get” is more polite than “Go and get me a coffee”.

  • The use of “Can I get…” goes back much further than episodes of ‘Friends’, and those of us old enough to remember the ‘Sixties will know Marvin Gaye’s (Holland -Dozier-Holland) song ” Can I get a witness” , also covered by the Rolling Stones. When the meaning of a simple phrase has to be explained in this way surely it has failed in its primary purpose of communicating, in this case a request!
    I’m no purist but to me it’s just another example of lazy English, just like ” Let’s go eat.”

  • My Grade 8 teacher (in Canada, so it was Grade 8, not Eighth grade), said always that “get” was the ugliest word in the English language.

    Since then, and it is more than sixty years, I have been trying to avoid the word get, and all its forms of got, gotten. I find that get is the word of choice in so many situations. I don’t get it!

  • I would suggest that indeed use of the verb to get is uncouth and demonstrates ignorance on the part of the user. The lowest common denominator, however, will always win and one day it will be wholly acceptable. (c.f. swearing). Thus the use of “may” rather than “can” or “could” already seems antiquated in effect.On reflection I probably say none of these things. “A prawn baguette, please” “Two teas and some toast, please” etc. Thus it is the please and, of course, the thankyou* that are important.
    * the noun is thankyou. Perhaps “spellcheckers” have a lot to answer for!!

  • I have noticed that U30s in the UK now tend to make food orders almost always saying “can I get”, and not “can I have”, or “I’d like..” It’s mildly irritating for old fogeys like me. However, I’m a TEFL teacher, and this kind of thing is important to take notice of. There’s no real point in teaching English as you think it’s used, or even how you think it ought to be used. You really need to teach it as it is really used at street level. At the very least, you should teach two or three common ways of making requests, preferably including the most up to date lingo.