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Quite a few times now, a waiter or shop assistant has asked me:

Will that be fine?

I've noticed that I've only ever heard Indian English speakers use this turn of phrase.

To my (British) ear, it sounds unidiomatic: I would always ask

Will that be OK?

expecting the answer

Yes, that's fine.

I'm intrigued to know what's going on here. Am I right in my assumption, from my own experience, that this is common in Indian English but not British English or (I think) American English?

I've been trying to analyse it to work out why there would be a difference, and I'm wondering whether it's something to do with stereotypical British reserve. The British question/answer would go something like this:

  • Q: Will that be OK? [Subtext: of course, I wouldn't dream of suggesting that my poor efforts could ever be positively fine: mere acceptability is all a worm such as I can hope for.]
  • A: Yes, that's fine. [Subtext: I wouldn't want to be so rude as to confirm his suspicion that it's merely acceptable. I'd better make it clear that his efforts are unrelentingly fantastic.]

This seems a plausible enough reconstruction to explain why Brits like me are so unassuming, but it wouldn't really explain why Will that be fine? isn't also idiomatic in American English.

Is this prevalent only in Indian English? If so, can anyone explain why?

  • Isn't it derived from these common expressions?: (that's) fine with me and (that's) fine by me; (that's) okay by me; (that's) okay with me That is agreeable as far as I am concerned. (The expressions with by are colloquial.) Sue: I'm giving away your old coat. Bob: That's fine with me. Sally: Can I take twenty dollars out of your wallet? Fred: That's okay by me—if you can find it, of course.idioms.thefreedictionary.com/fine+with+me – user66974 Oct 13 '14 at 12:52
  • i feel it's almost impossible to explain any usage. the question "is this prevalent in InE" is a good question, I don't know. maybe someone does. – Fattie Oct 13 '14 at 12:54
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If you call customer care in India, you would definitely hear them using their "fine and ok" interchangeably.

So I have heard the InE speakers say, (a heavily accented):

  • Will that be fine/ok for you?
  • Is that ok for you?
  • That's ok with me.

and the prepositional usage varies too ... It's ok with me but ok for you .

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