Okay, so I've become aware of the phrase "you'll have had your tea", which is something of a cliché of a Scottish dialect. I'm not actually sure if it's currently in common usage or not.

But I have become interested in what it means. Literally it seems to be "there'll be a point in the future when you've already eaten", but it might be "I assume you've already eaten now".

What do Scottish people mean when they say this?


"you'll have had your tea"

Refers to an idiom where a visitor who has dropped in at "tea" (a colloquial term for an evening meal) is informed that the host does not intend to feed them.

Reference 1

Reference 2

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    In Edinburgh, where I originate from, we used to say it to a visitor with the meaning of 'we assume you have already eaten, so we don't need to feed you'. A sort of presumption of a past fact, not a future one. You could paraphrase it as "You have had your tea, haven't you"? I vaguely recall that it wasn't restricted to just "tea", though, but any kind of meal or refreshment. – BillJ Feb 25 '16 at 8:58
  • As a Glaswegian in exile in the Far East (Edinburgh), I've always known it as a (probably unfair) caricature of the "inhospitable" Edinburghers in contrast to the welcoming "you'll be wanting yer tea" in Glasgow. – neil Sep 3 '17 at 17:00

This was a catchphrase from a long-running BBC Radio 4 comedy programme "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue".

It was intended to make fun of the stereotypical scottish miserly attitude, that a visitor would not be offered tea to save the money.

A spin off comedy series, called "You'll Have Had Your Tea" was made, with Barry Cryer and Graeme Garden as the main characters Hamish & Dougal.

The phrase isn't necessarily in common use but, like all catchphrases, is often quoted. The use of any catchphrase in conversation varies with the popularity of its source characters.

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  • I was aware of this catch phrase :) Although this question is about real-world usage and it's meaning in context. – AJFaraday Feb 25 '16 at 9:29

You will have had your tea, meaning that at some point in the future, you will be in the position of having had your tea, is a normal use of the future-perfect tense.

However where it is said as a statement of a presumption about something that has already happened, it is an idiomatic use of the future which appears in other forms too. You will know that there is to be a Referendum on 23rd June won't you?

And I accept entirely what @thokiro says.

It is not unique to Scotland, though I am interested to hear that it seems widely used there.

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Well one would think it's quite obvious its intended usage.

"You'll have had your tea then" is a roundabout way of stating this person being spoken to is no longer welcome.

Perhaps I'm being daft at other responses that allude to the same, but there it is nonetheless.

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    Can you explain why it means this, for us poor bedraggled Americans who are peripherally aware, at best, that "having tea" might involve chewing? – Dan Bron Jun 27 '17 at 2:11
  • I missed a bit of context in the question. The phrase is typically used as a greeting as in "Hamish!". "Dougal! You'll have had your tea?" – AJFaraday Jun 27 '17 at 10:24

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