For Here Or To Go?


A few of my students have part-time jobs in cafés and restaurants. This post is for them and anyone else who needs to use English in restaurants.

‘May’ or ‘can’?

Generally, when you are taking orders for people, use ‘may’; it’s more formal and customers should be respected. ‘Can’ is more informal and it’s not really a problem if you use ‘can’ instead of ‘may’ but ‘may’ is more appropriate.

How to ask about takeaway service

One of my students has asked:

Which is better, “For here or to go?” or “Is this to eat in or take away?”

The answer is both are fine. The first one is more informal, the second slightly more formal.


Here in Japan, at a lot of restaurants, it is common to take the bill/check to the cashier. At other places it is common to pay at the table.

Other little things

Japanese people can be very particular about how food ought to be served. The photograph at the top is from my class blackboard.

When the sand (in the timer) has all reached the bottom, (your tea) is ready to drink.

Not all of your food will be ready at the same time. We will bring each dish as soon as it is ready.

You might find these posts particularly useful.

Video: Describing Food

Food Descriptions are Better than Dish Names

Adjective Order

My beautiful, tall, angry, Japanese wife.

Adjective order is tough to get right, not only for beginners but also advanced speakers. Even teachers get confused about the rules (and there are rules).

The less opinion-based or more essential an adjective is, the closer it comes to the noun.

For example, my wife is Japanese. She is beautiful. She is tall, too. Unfortunately, she is also angry.

I could describe her as a beautiful, tall, angry, Japanese woman.

However, we tend not to use chains of four adjectives. Three is a normal maximum, and rarely seen, though chains of two adjectives are often used in everyday conversations.

Here are some songs with more than one adjective modifying a noun.

Little Green Bag

Big Scary Animal

Blue Suede Shoes

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Big Yellow Taxi