I am not saying they mean exactly the same thing, but I thought they could be substituted for one another in a casual conversation unless I am completely off the mark on this.

Let's say for example:

"Next time, I will have you served a refreshing drink instead in a hot summer day."

could be substituted for

"Next time, I will offer you a refreshing drink instead in a hot summer day."

The only difference between the two seems to be that the first one imply that the drink was served by a servant and the second one implies the drink was proposed but not necessarily prepared.

Sorry for asking such an obvious question. I am not an English speaker so I sometimes have trouble to understand the exact meaning of common phrases.

  • Note that the “... Instead in a hot summer day” part Is ungrammatical.
    – Jim
    Jun 27, 2017 at 2:44
  • how is it ungrammatical though? Should there have been a comma?
    – prog
    Jun 27, 2017 at 10:48
  • It is not idiomatic English to say "in a hot summer day". We say, "on a hot summer day". Jun 27, 2017 at 12:45

2 Answers 2


You have it exactly right.

If you came to my home, I could offer you a drink. My servant (if I had one) or my wife (who does actually exist) could get you the drink, or I could get it myself for you. I am providing you with a drink but not being clear who's getting it for you.

If I serve you a drink, that implies that I do it myself.

Note that in normal English (at least in North America), it'd be more common to offer to get a drink than to serve a drink, but both are correct. Serve has a more formal connotation to it.


The words "serve" and "offer" have overlapping meanings.

The word "serve" here refers to the physical act of presenting food or drink to those who will consume it. It can be done with one's own hands or by instructing someone else to perform the act. For example:

Lady Blakely sat at the head of the table serving tea. (with her own hands)

Lady Blakely serves dinner at 8 o'clock. (she instructs her servants)

Food and drink can be offered either verbally or by attempting to serve them, or by doing both at the same time. For example:

Lady Blackely offered it to Wilson extending it to him in a fine bone cup and saying "Tea?"

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