BBC listed 'Can I get a...' as the most irksome Americanism. Then what is the most British way of making an order?

  • "Could I please have...?" followed by awkward shuffling as you try to avoid making eye contact with the server or anyone else in the shop. – John Clifford Mar 13 '16 at 20:47
  • @JohnClifford lol why would one avoid eye contact? Just curious! – MAKZ Mar 13 '16 at 21:01
  • Self-effacing is the British way, eye contact may be considered aggressive, same as on the subway in NYC, if sys contact is necessary then always with a smile. – Peter Mar 13 '16 at 21:02
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    I'm surprised no-one has pointed out that we British naturally tend to express things more obliquely than Americans. So we usually ask Do you have a...?, since it's contextually obvious that if they do have it, we want it. (For the less-well-educated, it's 'Ave you gotta [light, boy]?) – FumbleFingers Mar 13 '16 at 23:09
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    You might want to wait to accept an answer until you get one that contains fewer errors. – snailboat Mar 14 '16 at 0:00

Firstly, let me point out that is should be written as

Can I getta...?

which is asking about the possibility of having something, possibly in a particular way.
The BrE equivalents might be

Please could I have...
Could I please have...
I would like to have...
Would it be possible to have... if it's not too much trouble.

Some examples

AmE Can I getta pint of beer, (please)?
BrE (A) lager, please (pint is understood as the default in any pub)

AmE Can I get that on a roll?
BrE Please could I have that on a bap.

AmE Can I getta hamburger without pickles and lettuce?
BrE Would it be possible to have the hamburger without pickles and salad?
if the hamburger has already been order then Sorry is prefixed to the request
BrE Sorry, would it be possible to have the hamburger...

AmE Can I getta train there?
BrE Would you know if the overland or tube goes there?

  • I was with you up until the point where you said an American would start a sentence with "sorry". :P – John Clifford Mar 13 '16 at 21:30
  • @JohnClifford awwww ... :D – MAKZ Mar 13 '16 at 21:32
  • I have added annotations to my answer, apologies for not having them in earlier. – Peter Mar 13 '16 at 21:53
  • Hehe, +1 for bap. – John Clifford Mar 13 '16 at 22:05
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    It's misleading at best to say it "should" be written getta. That's a non-standard spelling, and learners generally should not spell it that way. – snailboat Mar 14 '16 at 21:50

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