I have been wondering does this phrase ‘which one you are after’ make sense? If in a restaurant scenario, I want to ask customer which one would you like? Can I say which one you are after instead?

I am not sure about the correct phrase I can use in this scenario. Since all the internet searching results show me this phrase ‘what are you after’, not ‘which one are you after’?

  • If you are the waitress, it's not appropriate to ask a customer 'What are you after?'. Presumably they are 'after' something to eat or drink! If they are studying the menu, you could ask "What would you like?" or "Have you chosen yet?" If they are choosing from a number of similar items, such as different flavours of ice cream, "Which one would you like?" is appropriate. Dec 24, 2019 at 13:38
  • You should be careful about using idiomatic / slang to be after [something] to mean to be in pursuit of / seek [something]. Firstly because it is "slangy", but secondly because in some contexts it naturally carries negative implications - trying to obtain something [that you're not supposed to have] secretly, or in a bothersome way, for example. Dec 24, 2019 at 14:01

1 Answer 1


Neither "What are you after?" nor "Which one are you after?" would make sense here.

To be after something means to be trying to get it. This suggests that there is some effort required to obtain what you are looking for. For example:

What type of job are you after?

Usually, a menu item in a restaurant is not a difficult thing to obtain.

Here you would normally say "What would you like?" If a list of options the customer must choose from has already been mentioned, then you might instead use "which one." For example:

We have turkey, ham and salami sandwiches. Which one would you like? - I'll have turkey, please.

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