Table Talk: English phrases to make you a good dinner guest

By Jacqueline Schaalje

This subject is on request.

With table talk we usually mean the conversation that is spoken while people at the table eat their dinner, breakfast or lunch. But in this article I won’t go into that, but instead give some instructions for what you say when you’d like some more bread, but you don’t want any more wine. Or the opposite way.

Asking for something that’s on the table:

Could you pass me the salt, please?

Can I hold the pepper for a sec?

Can you hand me the salad?

Could I have some more pasta, please?

Are there any more vegetables? They’re delicious.

I’d like some bread, please.

Could someone pass the water jug this way, please?

How to answer when your host offers you something:

Of course it depends on how well you know the people at the table how formal and polite you need to be. If this is your first time you’ve been invited at people’s home, maybe you’d like to wait until they offer you something.

In that case, here are some examples of what people ask and what you can answer:

Would you like some more carrots? – Yes, lovely. The sauce is great. /No thanks, I’ve already had some.

Would you like some more wine? – Yes please. /No thanks, I’ve had enough.

Would you like to try the beef? – Yes, but only a little bit, please. /No thanks, I don’t eat meat.

Would you like to try the curry? – Yes, I would, but I hope it’s not too spicy? /Can I ask you how spicy it is?

Any more spaghetti? – Thanks, but I’m full. /Thanks, but I can’t eat any more.

Would anyone like more fruit salad? – Yes, I wouldn’t mind having just a little more.


What to say when you’re not quite sure whether you can eat a dish:

It can happen that the host cooked something that makes you a little suspicious. There might or might not be meat in it, which you don’t eat. There may or may not be mayonnaise in it, which you loathe. There could or could not be nuts in it, which make you swell up like a balloon with fever. Well, what’s the problem? Just ask!

I’d like to try the aubergine salad, but can I just ask you whether there’s any mayonnaise in it?

That quiche smells delicious, but I’m worried about there being eggs in it, which I can’t eat.

Does the soup have any meat in it?

Sorry, could I just ask you whether that cake over there contains nuts? I’m allergic to them.

Sorry, but could you point out which dish has less salt? My doctor has told me to cut down my salt intake.



Match the phrases with the right answer.

Click here to do this quiz online.

1 Would you like some stuffed shrimp?

2Would you like another muffin?

3 Could I have more rice salad, please?

4 Would you mind if I poured myself some more juice?

5 Won’t you have a little more of this curry?

6 Would you like to try some of this steak?


A No thanks, I don’t eat meat.

B Of course not! Go ahead.

C No, thank you, I don’t eat seafood.

D No, thank you, they’re delicious but I’m full.

E Of course! Here you go.

F Okay, just a little then. It’s too good.

Done all the free quizzes?

You can order more here.

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