How to Order Take Away in English

Usually, when you study abroad, after a few months you begin to get used to the culture. Speaking to local people becomes easier and conversations become easier to follow.

However, there is one task that still is really scary for non-native speakers: ordering take away (in American English: take out)!

Speaking from personal experience (and lots of other staff members at Kaplan) ordering take away (or take out) in another language can be very scary, especially if the person on the phone speaks really fast.

Here are some tips on how to order take away (take out) in English.

Step 1: Start by ordering something easy

You wouldn't start reading a novel in a new language before you had learned the basics. Ordering take away is exactly the same thing!

Try to order the most simple things first to help you to get used to ordering on the phone in a new language. It will also be easy for the person on the phone to understand you.

Pizza is good for this, as the names of the pizzas are usually one word.

Pizza: a simple option when ordering a take away!
Pizza: a simple option when ordering a take away!

Step 2: Be polite

Being nice and friendly on the phone will help you a lot. Start with a friendly "hello" and remember to include the words "please" and "thank you".

If you are nervous, tell the person on the phone that English is not your first language and ask them politely to speak slower.

Step 3: Practice your numbers!

Lots of take away menus order their food selection by numbers. This is a quicker and easier way for you to order on the phone. Just make sure you have practiced counting between 1 - 200 in English and that you can them out loud when it's time to make the call!

Step 4: Make sure you know your address

It sounds silly, but it's really important to remember where you live, so that the delivery guy can find you.

Do you know where your residence or homestay address is? Memorize these details and write everything down in front of you so you can read it off to the person on the phone.

Remember in particular to memorise your post (or zip) code. The delivery guy will use these co-ordinates to find your address.

It is also useful to memorize your phone number in case they need to contact you!

Make sure you remember your full address and telephone number!
Make sure you remember your full address and telephone number!


Side dish/Side orders: Extra food for your take away order, which accompanies the main dish

Delivery guy: The person who brings the food to your home

Extra toppings: The extra food you would like to put on your pizza

Postcode/Zip Code: The five or six digits at the end of your address. Very useful for the delivery guy to find you.

Questions you might hear on the phone

Can I take your order please?: After you hear this, tell the person on the phone what you would like

Is that for delivery or collection?: Would you like to pick up the food or have it delivered to your door

What's your address?: Tell the person on the phone where you live

Would you like any drinks or sides?: Do you want anything extra with your meal? Let them know now!

Phrases for you to practice 

Hi, I'm not a native English speaker, please could you speak a bit slower for me?: This will hopefully make the experience easier for you.

I would like....: This is a polite way of starting your order.

Could you repeat that please?: If you get confused, please let them know so they can speak slower for you.

When can I expect my order?: This gives you an idea of how long you have to wait.

What's your favorite food to take away? Do you have any special ways to help you order over the phone?

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