WAITER: Hello, I’ll be your waiter today. Can I start you off with something to drink?
RALPH: Yes. I’ll have iced tea, please.
ANNA: And I’ll have lemonade.
WAITER: OK. Are you ready to order, or do you need a few minutes?
RALPH: I think we’re ready. I’ll have the tomato soup to start, and the roast beef with mashed potatoes and peas.
WAITER: How do you want the beef — rare, medium, or well done?
RALPH: Well done, please.
ANNA: And I’ll just have the fish, with potatoes and a salad.
• Can I start you off with something to drink? Notice how the question starts with “Can.” Since this is a yes/no question, the intonation rises at the end.
• And I’ll have lemonade. Notice how Anna stresses “I’ll” and “lemonade” to emphasize her choice.
• Are you ready to order, or do you need a few minutes? The word “or” signals a choice here. Notice the rising intonation on order, and the falling intonation on minutes (the first choice is “Are you ready to order?” and the second choice is “Do you need a few minutes?”).
• I’ll have the tomato soup to start, and the roast beef with mashed potatoes and peas. Notice that “tomato soup,” “roast beef,” “mashed potatoes” and “peas” are stressed because the food order is the important information here. Notice also that “tomato soup,” “roast beef” and “mashed potatoes” are compound words. The stress falls on the second word in each phrase.
• Well done, please. Notice that the subject and verb are omitted in the response; only the necessary information is given.
• I’ll just have the fish. Anna says “just” here to mean that she does not want a starter.