I know we don't ask the waiter to get us a different order once it has been put on our table, but anyways if you changed your mind and the waiter brought your order and you want to say "can I get an orange juice instead?", will "change/exchange" be used?

Can you change this to an Orange juice?

Can you exchange this to an orange juice?

So should "change" or "exchange" be used?

  • 2
    It should be exchange this for in this sentence. But, that aside, either one can be used. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica May 22 '19 at 7:31
  • So @Jason Bassford, should it be: "Can you please exchange this for an orange juice". – It's about English May 22 '19 at 9:18
  • Yes, that's right. You could also use replace this with. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica May 22 '19 at 9:25
  • @Jason Bassford,what will be more likely :"can you replace this with an orange juice" or "can you exchange this for an orange juice"? – It's about English May 22 '19 at 10:23
  • 1
    Honestly, if I were at a restaurant, I'd say Can you get me an orange juice instead? or Can you make this an orange juice? (In short, you said it the most naturally in your question before bringing up the other words.) I don't know which of the specific phrases here I would prefer. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica May 22 '19 at 11:13

To change means to transform. To exchange means to replace.

Therefore, if you ask:

Please change the orange juice into a steak.

you actually ask for the miracle / magic of the orange juice being transformed into a steak.

If you ask:

Please exchange the orange juice for a steak.

It actually means that you want him to take the orange juice back and bring you a steak instead.


It seems like you're mixing up two different idiomatic way of asking for a food order to be changed. "Change" means to alter something, while "exchange" means to swap, so they each have different uses.


  • We change something to something else.

  • We exchange something for something else.

Obviously, you cannot literally change one item of food or drink into something else - a burger cannot become a steak - but if you wanted to change an order that you had placed, but not yet received, it would be idiomatic to ask:

Can I change my order to an orange juice?

Your order was for something else, now that order will be changed. They won't keep the old order - an order is just your request written on a notepad - so it isn't an "exchange".

We would use the word "exchange" when asking for one thing to be swapped for another, so one situation would be if your food had arrived and you were not happy with it. If you wanted to ask them to take one item away and replace it with another, you might say:

I'm not happy with this burger - can it be exchanged for a hot dog?

An alternative situation where we might use the word "exchange" during the order stage is if we were asking for a substitution. For example, let's say you wanted the burger, and the menu says it comes with fries, but you want a different side. You might say:

I'd like the burger, but can I exchange the fries for a side salad?


Typically, in common parlance, you would hear it as "change":

Can I change this for an orange juice, please?

The correct word is actually "exchange", and perhaps we could argue the correct way to write "change" when using it in this context would be:


I.e. We have remove the "ex" and replaced it with an apostrophe, acknowledging that it comes from the word "exchange". (However, you would never actually write it like this.)

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