Suppose I am in a hostel's kitchen; a guy takes a plate from a cupboard and asks me to save it for him in case somebody needs the plate while he is out. And then another guy comes up to take a plate.

Is it natural to use the adjective taken in the context? For example:

I am sorry, but the plate is taken.


2 Answers 2


Yes, very natural.

The only change I'd make is

I am sorry, but this plate is taken.

so you can refer directly to that specific plate.

  • Not usual at all to say this. But it is grammatical.
    – Lambie
    Feb 9, 2020 at 18:59

In terms of keeping something or reserving something, anything pretty much can be taken/

  • this seat is taken
  • this plate is taken

Generally, though a plate is not reserved for someone's use....

  • The usual expectation is that once you take a plate out of the stack, it's for your use only. If there are no more plates, someone else should not take yours.
    – Barmar
    Feb 7, 2020 at 15:45
  • Who says there is a stack of plates? They could be laid out on a table at place settings.
    – Lambie
    Feb 7, 2020 at 17:45
  • It would be incredibly rude or weird for someone to take the plate from someone else's place setting (unless they're removing a plate after you've eaten). When you take a seat, you essentially "own" the whole place setting. The napkin, silverware, plates, etc. are all "taken".
    – Barmar
    Feb 8, 2020 at 14:28
  • If you take a plate out of a stack, it is already in your hand. Therefore,it does not make sense to then say: This plate is taken, generally speaking.
    – Lambie
    Feb 8, 2020 at 17:59
  • You might put it down somewhere. The sentence in the question is obviously based on a situation where someone else can try to use your plate.
    – Barmar
    Feb 9, 2020 at 2:22

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