4

I often feel as though I may be coming across rude when ordering in Spanish.

In English I would say something like:

1) Could I have a coffee please?

2) Can I have a coffee please?

3) I'll have a coffee please.

But I would never say "I want a coffee please."

Whereas I've read that it is appropriate in Spanish to say "Quiero un café por favor."

What would be the best way to say things like this in Spanish in an informal/casual setting?

Thanks.

5

Some idiomatic expressions for polite requests:

  • ¿Me podría traer un café por favor?
  • ¿Sería tan amable de traerme un café por favor?
  • ¿Me puede traer un café por favor? (less formal)
  • Quisiera un café por favor.
  • Quiero un café por favor. (less formal)

Adding por favor is not essential, but it adds more politeness for the request.
Words like podría, sería, etc. add the smoothness for polite requests.

4

These are some common expressions used in Spain.

The most common thing to say is just:

Un café, por favor.

If you want to be more polite you can also say:

  • ¿Me pone/pones un café, por favor?

If you are really asking if it's possible to have a certain item in the menu because, say, coffee is only served until 12:00 and it's 12:01, you can say:

  • ¿Puede ser un café?
  • Un café, ¿puede ser?

Literal translations like ¿puedo/podría tomar un café? sound weird because it sounds like you're asking for permission.

  • 1
    I'd like to say that in Colombia (I would guess the rest of latinamerica too) we never use "¿Me pone...". We use "Me trae..", "Me da...", "Me regala...", "Me vende...". The same using "puede" we say "Puede traerme/darme/regalarme/venderme..." but never "Puede ponerme...". The polite or rude part depends on if you say "... , por favor" and the tone of voice of course. – DGaleano Mar 13 '16 at 15:03
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I've read that it is appropriate in Spanish to say "Quiero un café por favor."

I share your discomfort, and find

Quisiera un café, por favor.

more polite.

Now, a casual approach in Mexico would be

¿Me traes un café, por favor?

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