I've been watching Cheers, and in season 5, episode 1, Frasier says "Sure, Sam, what can I do you for?" I was taken aback, as I hadn't heard that phrase before. I did some research regarding the phrase, and it appears that the phrase is appropriate to use among friends, but among strangers it could potentially imply a nefarious undertone. In light of this, would it be appropriate to use this term among coworkers at work that you've gone out for drinks with, or would it be inappropriate in the workplace regardless?

2 Answers 2


As noted in the linked answers, it is a playful inversion of the words "for you".

I don't want to over analyse this one line. But Fraiser is both a customer and a friend of Sam. The tone is relaxed.

You surely could say it with colleagues that you've gone for drinks with. That's a relaxed social context. But remember that a learner may be treated differently from a native speaker. It is a deliberate "mistake". If a learner produces this mistake, one could assume it is an error and not a deliberate piece of playfulness.


From my experience, "what can I do you for" is much too informal when speaking with your boss / clients. Also, I find it creepy to say it to a complete stranger. However, it is very welcoming when you say it to a buddy. Have a good day.

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