I'm studying in America but I'm having a hard time using proper expressions in proper situations..So I'm really nervous when I speak English..

  1. When I order 2 meals and want to tell a staff that I want to put sauce in one and don't want to put sauce in the other, how can I say this shortly?

  2. When I pay after having lunch and want to pay separately, is it okay to say 'We're gonna pay separately.' ?

  3. Do I have to say 'you're welcome' to every single 'thank you'? Cause I find many Americans say thank you even though I don't really do something helpful for them. For example, teachers say thank you when I hand in my assignment which is so weird for me to hear thank you about it and I don't know what to say after hearing that.

  • 1
    Welcome to ELL! These should probably be three separate questions; you can edit this one to ask only #1, and ask two others for the other two. Feb 21, 2016 at 1:26

3 Answers 3


It' s OK. Relax. Remember to breathe.

1) Tell them to "Hold the sauce on the other." It means I don't want sauce on the other. It's common usage in a restaurant.

2) This is fine.

3) Americans respond a lot to non-verbal language such as nods of the head. Some cultures spend a lot of time in the morning saying "Good Morning..How are you..blah, blah." Most Americans are less formal than that. In the morning, "Hi" or "Good morning."

If you want to impress your teachers when you hand in an assignment say "Thank you!" right back at them, and meet their eye.

  • Thank you so much! Can I also say' Hold the milk on the other' when I don't want to put milk in only one cup of coffee?
    – JoAnn
    Feb 21, 2016 at 2:43
  • 2
    @JoAnn - The best way to say that is to say that you want milk (or cream?) in one coffee, but you want the other coffee black. (See what is black coffee.)
    – J.R.
    Feb 21, 2016 at 4:11

For each of your situations in turn:

1) For the same meal being orders twice

(pattern) Two somethings, one with sauce and the other without
Two hamburgers, one with ketchup and pickles and the other without

2) For splitting the bill

We're gonna pay separately (this is fine)
We're going to split the bill
Can you split this on both cards
Could we get separate checks (can be said before ordering)

It can be a nice gesture to tell your waiter when you are ordering that it will be two separate checks if you both intend to only pay for what you each order, otherwise you'd both just split the bill

3) After "thank you"

There are several things you can say or do after someone says "thank you" to you, it depends on the situation

You're welcome (can never go wrong this this one)
No problem
Don't mention it
My pleasure

Look forward to the next one (after handing in your assignment)
Can't wait for the next one
See you soon (in response to "thank you for coming")

A simple non-verbal smile goes a long way.

  • 2
    +1 for "separate checks." (Incidentally, separate checks and split the bill might not mean the same thing. Let's say you order the house special and a Coke for $12, and I get an $8 cheeseburger and drink water. If we have separate checks, I'd get a bill for $8 and you'd get one for $12, but if we "split the bill," we might just each pay $10.)
    – J.R.
    Feb 21, 2016 at 4:14

You're right about "thank you" – not every "thank you" needs a "you're welcome."

Besides "You're welcome," other options (depending on the situation) might included:

  • No problem. (when you've done something very small to help the other person)
  • Don't mention it. (when you've done something helpful, but you don't want the other person to make a big fuss over it)
  • Thank you! (when someone else has served you in some way, such as at a store or restaurant)

In the case where you describe – a teacher accepting your assignment – there's really no need to reply. A smile is just fine. If you really feel like you want to say something, though, you could always say something polite like:

  • I hope I did well!


  • That was an interesting assignment.

However, I'd recommend avoiding such remarks unless you really mean them. Don't tell a teacher that an assignment was challenging when it was really easy, or interesting if you found it boring. Most people don't appreciate comments like that unless they are sincere.

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