Life skills tip of the week: ways of offering something to someone

Posted by on March 18, 2014

Express-Yourself-MEDO-Web-232x300pxAs part of our pragmatics series, we bring more useful content and tips from the Macmillan Dictionary on expressing yourself.

The previous language tip looked at ways of suggesting something.

This week’s tip gives some ways of offering something to someone, and some ways of accepting or refusing an offer:

Would you like…? is the most usual way of offering something to someone, or inviting them to do something.
Do you want…? is a more informal way of offering something to someone:
Would you like a magazine to read while you’re waiting?’ ‘Thanks very much, that would be great.’
Do you want another coffee?’ ‘No, thanks – I must be going.’

Would you care for…? is a very formal way of asking someone if they would like something:
Would you care for dessert, madam?’ ‘Thank you, I’ll have the apple pie.’

(Do you) fancy…? (British English) and How about…? are informal ways of asking someone if they would like something:
Fancy an ice cream?’ ‘No, thanks, I’m on a diet.’ ‘How about a cold drink then?’ ‘OK, I’ll have a diet cola.’

Who wants…? is used when offering something to a group of people.
Can I get you…? is used especially when offering someone food or drink:
Who wants another glass of wine?’ ‘I’d love one.’
Can I get you anything?’ ‘I’m fine, thanks.’

What will you have? and What can I get you? are used when asking someone what they would like, especially in a restaurant, bar or café:
‘It’s my turn to get the drinks. What will you have?’ ‘An orange juice, please.’

I couldn’t and Not for me, thanks are both ways of politely refusing food or drink that someone has offered you. Not for me, thanks is more informal:
‘Would you like another piece of cake?’ ‘I couldn’t. It was delicious though.’
‘Do you want salad with your pizza?’ ‘Not for me, thanks.’

Would you like to learn more about pragmatics? Keep a close eye on our pragmatics page where the second of our life skills lesson plans was published last week. For more information about Life Skills, visit the Macmillan Life Skills page.

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