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When we are at the restaurant is more correct for the waitress to ask '' what are you having madam?'' or ''what will you have?''

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They are both correct, but "What will you have, Madam?" is a touch more formal.

  • are you sure "what are you having madam?" is correct to use here? Doesn't it sound as if madam was already eating when the question was asked? – Sandeep D Feb 11 '14 at 18:20
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    No, we also use the present continuous form to describe an activity that will surely happen (it's sure that she's going to eat something)...and I don't think "What are you having?" is ambiguous. I'd say it'll always be understood as "What will you be eating?". "What are you eating?", on the other hand, can have two meanings: it could mean "What are you eating NOW?" or "What will you be eating LATER." – Louel Feb 11 '14 at 18:26
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If I were the server (or waitress) in a restaurant I would simply ask:

Are you ready to order, madam?

And sir if the customer were a man.

The versions offered by the OP are grammatically correct but I suspect in a more upscale restaurant they might be considered too "friendly" and inopportune.

  • Completely agree. “What are you having?” is a very natural phrasing to use, though, if you are having dinner with someone and are asking them, i.e., between diners. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 11 '14 at 19:21
  • and this answer receives an inexplicable downvote... – Mari-Lou A Dec 19 '14 at 6:28
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I would expect a waiter or waitress worth their salt to be a bit more cheerful and imaginative than to ask such a bland question.

'Now is there anything on that menu that tickles your fancy?' or 'What do you feel in the mood for?' or 'What can I tempt you with?', would be just three of an infinite number of ways of speaking to a restaurant customer.

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    The first and third are so tired that I find them annoying. If a server spoke to me in that manner, I might find that I was in the mood to go to a different restaurant. – kevin cline Feb 11 '14 at 18:35
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    Offering alternatives is reasonable, but please also answer the question as asked. – Bradd Szonye Feb 11 '14 at 19:21

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