If I visit a friend, and he/she asks me a question like this:

My friend: What would you like to drink?

Me: I’ll have an orange juice, please.

I understand we use “I’ll” (“I will”) when we decide to do something at the time of speaking, such as in the former case.

However, what if I want to drink an orange juice at a coffee shop (because it’s very delicious)? I already planned to buy it before I went to the shop. How can I answer this question at the coffee shop?

Waitress: What would you like to drink?

Me: ………………………

Can I say “I’m going to have an orange juice.”?

3 Answers 3


I understand we use “I’ll (will)” when we decided to do something at the time of speaking in the former case.

I don't believe this distinction is widely recognized by native speakers.

In any case, the coffee shop person doesn't know or care whether you made your decision on the spot or had decided what drink to have before you came in.

"I'll have an orange juice" would be perfectly acceptable in your coffee shop scenario as well as when visiting a friend.


Of course it's also fine to simply reflect the form of the question:

Waitress: What would you like to drink?

Me: I'd like an orange juice.

  • Yes. "I will" does not in any way indicate that you just made the decision now. It's perfectly reasonable to say, "Yesterday I decided that I will go to the movies today", or "Twenty years ago I decided that I will retire before I am 60."
    – Jay
    Feb 10, 2016 at 7:45

You could say that but in English this probably makes more sense:

"May I have an orange juice?"

  • I think this is a bit too tentative for a coffee shop. "May" is asking for permission. It sounds like you're asking the waitress a favour. (Might be suitable if you were asking for a complicated item or something out of the ordinary: "May I have the sauce on the side please?" or "May I have mash with that instead of fries?") I would say "can" is more appropriate in a coffee shop since you're really only questioning whether it's on the menu. Politeness can be added by "I would like" or "please" rather than using "may". Jan 24, 2014 at 13:18

"I'm going to have an orange juice" is a little awkward-sounding, although not ungrammatical. Dropping the "an" helps a little, but probably more common would be just "orange juice, please" or "could I have an orange juice?"

  • 1
    Agree. A native speaker might not say "I will have an orange juice", because if they don't serve orange juice, or if the orange-juice machine is empty, they won't receive it. One of the two replies in this answer, or "I'd like an orange juice", is preferred. "I will" (or "I shall", in British English) could be socially awkward. Feb 19, 2019 at 11:15

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