Most Useful Eating and Drinking Expressions

07 July 2022

Hello! This week on Everyday Grammar, we will share some common expressions for eating. This is the second part to a question we received from a Learning English fan in Myanmar.

Thin Ya Thaw asked, "Could you tell me the most useful expressions in your daily life? This helps me a lot in learning English. I want to know natural English to communicate with others."

Thank you, once again, for your thoughtful question and study subject, Thin!

We will look at some questions about eating and drinking in today's report.

Food in our daily lives

While thinking of the most useful expressions, food and eating were the first ideas that came to mind.

Americans not only plan daily activities around the weather, but they also plan their days around a meal. We call a meal in the morning, breakfast, and around noon, lunch. A meal in the evening is called dinner. And on the weekend, we sometimes have a late breakfast or an early lunch. So, we call it brunch!

We may cook our food, take fast food home, or choose to eat out at a restaurant. But there are a few phrases that we use to talk about eating and drinking. Let us look at several of these now!

Introductory questions for eating

Are you hungry?

Have you eaten yet?

Do you want to go to lunch?

What's for dinner?

These questions are often used to start a conversation about food and eating. Now, let's look at:

Are you hungry?

We ask this question to see if someone is wanting to eat. The person asking the question may be hungry, themselves. The answer to this question is either a "yes" or "no" and maybe a reason why. For example:

Yes, I'm so hungry! Let's get some takeout!

No, I'm not hungry yet. Let's wait for dinner.

This is also a "yes" or "no" question. But we use the present perfect tense in this question and the adverb "yet" to talk about the recent past. The structure for the question is: An auxiliary or helping verb (be, do, or have) + subject + main verb (past participle).

Have you eaten yet?

The answer to this question can be in the past tense or the present perfect:

Yes, I ate.

Yes, I have just eaten.

No, I haven't eaten anything yet.

Do you want to go to lunch?

The question is really an invitation to someone to have a meal with you, usually at a restaurant, café, or a fast-food place.

What's for dinner?

This question is structured differently from a "yes" or "no" question. The structure here is: What + auxiliary verb or helping verb (be, do, or have) + subject (+main verb).

Here, the questioner believes that the person answering the question has already cooked or prepared the meal. The questioner is asking about the food being served.

Offering drinks

Other questions can be used during a meal, either at home or at a restaurant. If you offer someone a drink, you can ask:

Would you like a drink?

What do you want to drink?

How about some coffee or tea?

Would you like a drink?

Using "Would you like" to start a question is a polite and more formal way to ask if someone wants to have a drink. If you know the person well enough, you might want to use:

Do you want a drink?

What do you want to drink?

And for a close friend, you can even suggest a drink by saying:

How about some coffee, water, beer...?

The structure for a "how about" phrase is: How about + subject + noun or simple verb.

We can also use a gerund within the structure as well, like in this example:

How about grabbing a drink later?

At the end of a meal

And lastly, when we are eating out at a restaurant and it is the end of the meal, we have two important questions:

Do you want to split the bill, check, or tab?

How much should we tip?

The first question is a "yes" or "no" question for splitting the bill or the total cost of the meal. In the United States, it is a common practice for individuals to pay for their own meal at a restaurant unless someone else offers to pay. This is called "splitting the bill."

The second question refers to the practice of tipping in America. The tip is a little extra money on top of the bill for food and drinks to pay for services from the food server or bartender at a restaurant. The amount could be anywhere from 15 percent to 20 percent of the total bill.

Closing thoughts

Today, we learned some common questions that we use to talk about eating.

When offering someone a drink, you can use the structure "would... like" in more formal settings, and the verb "want" for informal ones. "How much" questions can be used to talk about the price of a meal or the cost of tipping.

Now it is your turn! What other eating or food expressions, questions, or answers do you know and use in English? Let us know in the comments below or write to us at

I'm Faith Pirlo.

And I'm Dan Novak.

Faith Pirlo wrote this report for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

formaladj. following established form, custom, or rule

gerund n. (grammar). the -ing form of a verb that acts like a noun

bill n. a list of charges for food or drink

tip v. to give a percentage amount of the bill for services done by others

refer v. to talk about; to write about; to mention