Chloë is at a fast food restaurant. She wants to order a burger. Robert, the boy who works behind the counter, is giving her many options to choose from. Chloë is not really sure what she wants on her burger. But when she finally completes her order, she realizes something is missing …
FR : Chloë est dans un restau snack, elle veut commander un hamburger. Robert, l’employé du comptoir, lui propose de nombreux choix pour sa commande. Chloë n’est pas très sure de ce qu’elle veut. Elle finit par se décider, mais au moment de payer, elle découvre qu’il lui manque quelque chose …
Un simple sandwich : regarder et écouter
Un simple sandwich : comprendre
Un simple sandwich : bulles
Un simple sandwich : role play 1
Un simple sandwich : role play 2
This expression is used very frequently in retail and services in France when welcoming a customer, and means “what can I do for you ?” Variants often used include :
“Que puis-je pour vous ?” (omitting “faire”)
“Puis-je vous aider ?” (can I help you ?)
“Comment puis-je vous aider ?” (how can I help you ?)
For example, if you call a restaurant for ordering food in French, the person answering the phone may say “(name of store) bonjour, que puis-je faire pour vous ?
When you want to ask for something politely, instead of saying “je veux” you typically use “je voudrais” (conditional tense, e.g. I would like), a less direct and abrupt way of asking.
For example, when ordering food in French, you typically say “je voudrais un steak tartare s’il vous plait”. Note you often add “s’il vous plait” at the end of a sentence that starts with “je voudrais”.
In this dialogue about ordering food in French, the clerk asks the customer “sur place ou à emporter ?” (for here or to go ?) In this context, “sur place” means for eating here, in the restaurant, as opposed to “à emporter”, which means for take away (the order).
“Sur place” can also be used in different contexts. For example, you can say :
“je vais voir sur place”
e.g. I’m going to check it out on site, at the place.
Another example :
“on va au cinéma ce soir, on dinera sur place”
This means, we’ll have dinner on site at the movie theater, or nearby.
Thus, in general, “sur place” means “there at the place”.
This is a common French expression to indicate hesitation among several options. In this dialogue, as she’s ordering food in French, Chloë says :
“je crois que je vais prendre le pain normal”.
This may indicate she’s not completely sure about what she wants to order, which is why she uses “je crois que je vais prendre” instead of just “je vais prendre”. The restaurant clerk understands she wants the normal bread, but he can tell it was a hard decision for her.
Another example : someone asks you what you want to order saying :
“tu veux du thé?”
You may reply “je crois que je préfère un café”. In this case , what you really mean is “je préfère un café”, but it’s a polite thing to indicate some hesitation, as if the proposed tea would have been an acceptable alternative as well, thus softening your refusal somewhat.
Towards the end of the dialogue on ordering food, Cloë says :
“je crois que j’ai oublié mon porte-monnaie”.
In this case “je crois que” does not reflect indecisiveness nor a polite phrase. Chloë has just realized she forgot her wallet and is reluctant to break the news to the clerk.
Here again, “je crois que” acts as a language softener as she announced the bad news.
Right after Chloë orders her sandwich, the clerk asks :
“vous voulez ketchup, moutarde, mayonnaise avec ?”
“Avec ?” here means “avec votre sandwich ?”, it’s a contracted way of referring to the sandwich.
“je t’apporte un café. Tu veux du sucre avec ?”
which means, “do you want sugar with your coffee ?” You can only finish your sentence with “avec” if you’ve just mentioned the object that’s being accompanied. In the previous example, we mentioned coffee right before saying “avec ?”
Later in the French dialogue about order food, the clerk asks Chloë :
“vous prendrez des frites avec ça ?”
That’s another way of saying the same thing. He could have also said :
“vous prendrez des frites avec ?”
since Chloë just ordered a sandwich a moment earlier.
As she’s ordering her food, Chloë says :
“mettez-moi juste un peu de ketchup” (give me just a little bit of Ketchup)
meaning, “mettez-moi du ketchup dans mon sandwich” (in my sandwich)
Here Chloë says : “euh, je ne sais pas …” to express hesitation, as she’s still making up her mind about what to order (see next phrase comments). She might have continued by saying, for example :
“Euh, je ne sais pas … je crois que je vais prendre de la salade …”
She uses the word “juste” to let the clerk know she only wants ketchup, but none of the other items the clerk listed (mustard, barbecue sauce, mayonnaise)
At one point Chloë says :
“euh, je ne sais pas …”
to express hesitation, as she’s still making up her mind about what to order. She might have continued by saying, for example :
“Euh, je ne sais pas … je crois que je vais prendre de la salade …”
As she’s ordering food in French, Chloë says :
“… mais pas d’oignons s’il vous plait” (but no onions please)
This phrase comes after “donnez-moi une peu de …” (give me a little…), followed by “mais pas d’oignons”, meaning “ne me donnez pas d’oignons” (don’t give me onions).
It’s a shortcut often used in spoken French.
She might have also said as a standalone sentence :
“Pas d’oignons s’il vous plait !”
which means “je ne veux pas d’oignons dans mon sandwich” (I don’t want onions in my sandwich), or “ne me mettez pas d’oignons” (don’t put onions in my sandwich).
As Chloë adds french fries to her order, the clerk says :
“et une portion de frites !” (and one order of french fries)
This is a common way in restaurants and bars to confirm out loud the latest item the customer has just ordered. Here, it means “so I’m adding an order of french fries to the items you’ve already put on your order”.
For example, you’ve just ordered two beers, and now you order a ham and cheese sandwich. The waiter confirms your addition saying
“et un jambon fromage !”
He may even shout it out loud to the kitchen staff to get the order rolling.
As the customer is ordering food, the clerk uses a shortcut to say “would you like anything else ?” :
“Autre chose ?” (anything else ?)
The customer normally responds by adding to his order, e.g. :
“Oui une salade s’il vous plait” (yes, I’ll have a salad please)
or close his order e.g. :
“non ce sera tout” or “non c’est tout” (no, that’ll be all), meaning the customer is done with her order and is ready to pick it up.
“Ça vous fait (price)” is used very frequently in retail to let the customer know the total amount she has to pay. In this dialogue about order food in a restaurant, the clerk says :
“ça vous fait 7,20 euros”
and waits to take the customer’s payment.
He might alternatively say :
“ça vous fera” or “cela vous fera” 7,20 €.
This is a very commonly used phrase in spoken French to express exclamation, suprise, ou annoyance.
In our conversation at a restaurant the clerk is annoyed because he’s wasted a lot of time taking the customer’s order and now needs to cancel it because she has no money for paying. He expresses his frustration and irritation.
Another example of using oh la la: suppose you see someone realizing an incredible sports performance, you say :
“oh la la ! Quelle exploit !” (what a performance). In this case, it’s amazement and admiration you’re expressing. “Oh la la !” is used very often by French speakers and in various contexts.
While Chloë is ordering food, another customer is waiting in line for his turn. When he hears that Chloë forgot to bring her wallet and has no money for paying, he says :
“Génial … il ne manquait plus que ça !” (great, just what we needed !)
“Génial” is used in an ironic way, exactly the opposite of what the man means. What he really means is what a pain she is, what an air head ! She made us waste all this time for nothing.
He adds :
“il ne manquait plus que ça!” (just what we needed)
a very common expression in informal spoken French. What this means is, it was bad enough to have to wait for her to make up her mind and complete her order, on top of that she has no money for paying !
This expression is typically used in response to an annoying piece of news (here, she forgot her wallet).
So for example, I’ve planned a picnic for Saturday, but the weather forecast now says it’s going to rain that day. I say :
“oh non ! Il ne manquait plus que ça !”
expressing my frustration.
You can also use this expression when some bad news comes on top of an already painful situation – as is the case in our dialogue.
Chloë might have simply said :
“je suis vraiment désolée”
But using “Désolée … Vraiment …”, she expresses her apologies and regrets for leaving her wallet at home more strongly and sincerely.
We can feel she’s contrite, ashamed and embarrassed as she can feel both the employee and the other customer are quite frustrated and annoyed.