To request someone to eat his food completely, can we say:

Please finish your food

Please finish your meal

Please finish your dish

Please finish your cake, please finish your sandwich

If yes, which are correct, if no, what should I say.

What about to say:

Please finish your plate

  • 1
    you can, but it sounds weird, at least to me. – Maulik V Aug 1 '15 at 8:47
  • "Empty your plate". "Eat up all your food". "Finish your cake/sandwich". – AdrianHHH Aug 1 '15 at 11:09
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    Finish your dish (and to a lesser extent, Finish your bowl) are unusual/unlikely. Where the reference implies eat everything in/on the food container (as opposed to directly referencing the food itself), the only really common one is Finish your plate. If you check out the (relatively few) written instances of Finish your bowl you'll see they're usually followed by ...of cereal, etc. But plate isn't usually followed by of [whatever food is on the plate]. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Aug 1 '15 at 11:59
  • @FumbleFingers Thank you, in fact you already answered what I was going to ask about finishing a plate – Ahmad Aug 1 '15 at 12:26
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    You might also be interested in the idiom clean your plate which is used informally (at least in American English) to mean "eat all the food that has been served to you". It's the sort of thing a parent might say to a child who doesn't want to eat his vegetables. Note that it does not mean wash your plate. Even if you clean your plate in this sense, your plate will not be literally clean afterward. – Nate Eldredge Aug 1 '15 at 14:37

The versions with food, meal, cake, and sandwich all sound fine to me. The one with dish sounds peculiar – unless you are talking to a chef who is preparing a dish:

Please finish your dish, so I can use the stove.

This is one of those ELL questions that makes me marvel at our confusing language. Grammatically and syntactically, there's nothing wrong with, "Please finish your dish." And it's not like dish is such an unusual word; it's used often enough to refer to the main course of a meal.

I suppose we can make it sound a less strange by adding some more context:

I don't care if you eat your carrots and peas, but please at least finish your main dish. Shrimp is too expensive to just throw that all away, and it won't keep overnight.

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  • Thank you, by the way, can one say, please eat your meal to the end? – Ahmad Aug 1 '15 at 10:31
  • Thank you, to complete my question, I added another phrase to finish your plate, which you may want consider in your answer – Ahmad Aug 1 '15 at 12:27
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    @Ahmad No. "Eat your dinner," "finish your dinner," or "finish your meal" are all acceptable, but not "eat your meal." "To the end" wouldn't work, but "to the last bite" would work, for a rare bit of added emphasis. (And nobody really cares about making anyone finish lunch or breakfast, for some reason.) – Jason Melançon Aug 1 '15 at 12:43
  • @JasonMelançon, Thank you, then it is Eat your dinner to the last bite, I feel it could be common to say such sentence to a child who doesn't eat well (at least in my culture). – Ahmad Aug 1 '15 at 12:55
  • People can say finish your plate as a shortened form of finish [what's on] your plate – although nowadays, with exercise down and obesity up, many nutritionists are talking about the value of not finishing your plate. – J.R. Aug 1 '15 at 13:58

Native speakers would not express the idea "please finish eating what remains on your plate" with the phrase "*finish your dish", except in possibly the rarest of contexts.

A "dish" is either the plate itself (which is clearly not what you mean) or the meal perceived as a recipe or an item on a menu, particular ingredients selected according to a rationale and prepared in a certain manner.

The restaurant serves a delicious dish with chicken, garden vegetables, red wine, and aromatic herbs.

Is Beef Wellington a suitable dish for a wedding dinner where the groom's family is French?

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