Common mistakes ordering food in Spanish

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Common mistakes ordering food in Spanish


Learn how to order food or drinks in Spanish


If you have been studying Spanish, you have probably learned some polite expressions to order food or drinks. I could guess you have learned or you have used expressions like “¿Puedo tener…” o “Quisiera”. If I am right, let me say, you are saying it wrong.


If you are coming to a Spanish speaking country, you should know that our language is very direct, but our culture is not. Actually, Hispanic culture is, in general, very polite.


When you get into a place you must first say hello!



Other ways to say that are:

  • ¡Buenas!

  • ¡Buenos días!

  • ¡Buenas tardes!

  • ¡Buenas noches!

  • ¿Cómo estás?

  • ¿Qué tal?

However when it comes to ordering food or drinks, our words are not as formal.


I would like to teach you how we ask for food or drinks. But first let me show you what are the most common mistakes, then you can recognize what you should not say.


1. Puedo tener…


This is probably a wrong direct translation from English, but we do not speak like that.

We do use the verb “puedo” (can) to ask for permission (among other uses), but we do not use it to order food and drinks in restaurants or bars.


2. Me gustaría tener…


3. Yo quisiera…


4. Usted podría…



These three expressions do exist in Spanish, but we use them in more formal contexts, like writing an email, a letter; requesting information in a hotel, etc.


For example:


  • Me gustaría recibir información sobre los precios de las clases.

(I would like to receive information about the prices of the classes).

  • Quisiera conocer a los profesores.

(I would like to meet the teachers).


So we usually do not put the verb “tener” after those.



When it comes to a restaurant, a cafe or a bar, we use other more direct expressions:



1. Me das…



2. Dame…



3. Me traes / Nos traes…



4. Yo quiero…



If you translate these expressions, you will think they are very rude, but they are not.


They are completely normal in our culture and language. If you use them, you will sound much more natural. Of course, do not forget to always add “Por favor”.





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