What is the difference between "a portion of food" and "a helping of food" ?

  • 1
    They are the same meaning but used in different contexts. At someone's house, you would be asked if you want another helping; If you run a restaurant, you decide on the portions to serve customers.
    – Lambie
    Jan 16 '17 at 22:45
  • Welcome to the Stack Exchange. You might want to check out English Language Learners.
    – J.R.
    Jan 16 '17 at 23:41
  • 2
    "Portion" has a hair more of the sense of being measured, whereas "helping" would tend to be used for the case when the dish is handed to the diner and he/she spoons out as much as desired. But the distinction is not that strong. (Also, "portion" is sort of "clinical" and "helping" is more informal.)
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 16 '17 at 23:59
  • @HotLicks Watson's stag night comes to mind, where Sherlock is using measuring cylinders and John is slinging a few whiskies into the mix. But I suppose only W C Fields regarded alcohol as food. Jan 17 '17 at 0:04
  • 2
    You take a helping, you’re given a portion.
    – Jim
    Jan 17 '17 at 0:06

A helping of food is a single portion of food that is being served to (or that is taken by) someone who is imminently about to eat the food.

A portion is an amount of food that is intended to be allotted to one or more people who will be eating at some point in time which could be immediate or in the distant future.

All helpings are portions, but not all portions are helpings.

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