How to Offer Things in English as a Second Language

Learning to accept offers graciously is also important

Going out for Dinner
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Offering things in English is essential whenever you want to be polite, have guests at your home, or even organize a work event. The phrases below cover both how to offer various items to your guests, as well as how to accept offers graciously. Learn to use these phrases so that you can offer and accept things graciously and in a socially appropriate manner.

Offering Phrases

It's common to use phrases such as "would you like" and modal forms such as "Can I" or "May I" to offer something.

Here are some of the most important phrases used to offer something:

  • Can I get you some...?
  • Would you like some...?
  • May I offer you some...?
  • Would you like me to get you some...?

Some mini-dialogues containing these asking phrases might be:

Bob: Can I get you something to drink?
Mary: Yes, that would be nice. Thank you.

Jack: May I offer you some tea?
Doug: Thank you.

Alex: Would you like some lemonade?
Susan: That would be nice. Thanks for offering.

Always use "some" words when offering someone something.

Informal

Use these phrases when offering something in an everyday situation:

  • How about some...?
  • What about some...?
  • What do you say about some...?
  • Are you up for some...?

Mini-dialogues containing offering phrases in informal situations would be:

Dan: What about something to drink?
Helga: Sure, do you have any scotch?

Judy: Are you up for some dinner?
Zina: Hey, thanks. What's on the menu?

Keith: What do you say about going bowling?


Bob: That sounds like a good idea!

Accepting Offers

Accepting offers is just as important, or even more important, than offering things. Make sure to thank your host. If you don't want to accept an offer, politely refuse. Offering an excuse is also a good idea in order not to offend your host.

The following phrases are commonly used when accepting offers:

  • Thank you.
  • I'd love to.
  • I'd love some.
  • That would be nice.
  • Thank you. I'd like...

Some examples of accepting phrases include:

Frank: May I get you something to drink?
Kevin: Thank you. I'd like a cup of coffee.

Linda: Would you like me to get you some food?
Evan: That would be nice. Thank you.

Homer: May I offer you something to drink?
Bart: Thank you. I'd like a soda. 

Politely Refusing Offers

Sometimes it's necessary to politely refuse an offer even if it's a kind one. In such cases, use these phrases to politely refuse offers. Provide a reason why you want to refuse an offer rather than just saying "no." 

  • Thank you, but...
  • That's very kind. Unfortunately, I...
  • I'd like to, but...

Examples of using polite refusals in dialogue include:

Jane: Would you like some cookies?
David: Thank you, but I'm on a diet.

Allison: How about a cup of tea?
Pat: I'd like to have a cup of tea. Unfortunately, I'm late for a meeting. Can I take a rain check?

Avram: How about some wine?
Tom: No thank you. I'm watching my weight.