English for Conversations about FOOD – Questions, Answers, Vocab

Food is probably one of the most common conversation topics in English.

In this post, we look at some key vocabulary, questions and natural answers needed for speaking confidently in conversations about food in English.

Questions about food

Here are some common questions about food and drink that you might hear in English:

  • What’s your favourite food / drink?
  • When was the last time you felt hungry?
  • What kinds of food do you enjoy eating?
  • Are there any kinds of food that you prefer not to eat?
  • Do you ever go out for meals?
  • Do you like to cook food at home?
  • Have you ever eaten something really horrible?
  • Can you describe a kind of food or drink from your country?
  • How have food and drink choices changed in the last ten years?

Talking about your favourite food

A simple – but useful – way to talk about your favourite food in English is to say it in four sentences:

first mention the kind of food you like (sweet, savoury, etc). Then, give an example of that food (e.g. cheese). Next, say why you like it, and finally finish by saying how good it tastes (e.g. It tastes amazing).

1. Mention general food preferences

Start off your talk by saying what kinds of food you like. Try to use different ways to say “like” and not just “I really like….”, all the time. Here are a few examples in sentences of how you could start talking about your favourite types of food:

  • Well, if I’m honest, I’d say I’m mostly into savoury things. (I’m mostly into = I tend to prefer)
  • Well, on the whole I’d say I’m more of a savoury kind of person
  • I love salty foods.
  • For me, salty foods are more satisfying than sweet foods.
  • I’m a big fan of sweet things.
  • I’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth.

2. Give a specific example of food you like

In this step, say which actual food you enjoy eating. It can be any food at all – but the stranger, the better!

  • So, I think my favourite food has got to be durian. (“has got to be” is a stronger way of saying “must be….“).
  • One thing I really love eating is blue cheese.
  • My all-time favourite food is cookie dough-flavoured ice cream.

Pronunciation tip: If you want to sound really natural when giving examples of foods you like, stress the verb (plus the adverb if you are using one one) and also the food:
“One thing I really love eating is blue cheese.” (make words in bold sound louder and stronger).

3. Say why you like that food

Next, explain WHY you like that food. Is the the sweet flavour, the smell, or the feel (texture)? Or is it because that food reminds you of something else (your mum’s home cooking, maybe)?

  • What I like about it is the gooey centre and all the sugar on top.
  • the thing I really like about it is the texture.
  • I love how there are so many different kinds.
  • I really love the way it melts in your mouth.
  • I love that cold, sweet flavour.

Sentence structure tip: when native English speakers talk about why they like certain foods, they often change the order of information in their sentences. This means they may start sentences like this:

What I really love about blue cheese is..
One thing I love about blue cheese is..

And then they mention the reason as a noun phrase:

..its strong, salty flavour.

or they may finish with a “that” clause:

..that it’s got such a strong, salty flavour.

4. Say how good it tastes

Lastly, it’s a good idea to finish your “favourite food” talk with a short sentence about how that food tastes. So, end by saying something like: “It’s so delicious!”

Here are some more examples of concluding statements:

  • ……………………. is/are just so delicious!
  • ……………………. is/are lovely!
  • ………………………is/are scrumptious!
  • ………………………is/are so tasty!
  • I love ………………………………………
  • ………………………tastes amazing.
  • ……………….is mouth-watering!

Bring it together

When we put all of the steps together, we get something like this:

Well, if I’m honest, I’d say I’m mostly into.. you know, savoury things, and so, one thing I love eating is cheese. I really love the texture of it, you know, the way it melts in your mouth. I mean, it’s just so tasty!

Remember to link each step in your food talk with a conjunction (and, and so, or, but, etc), so that the ideas flow naturally. And if you want to sound even more like a native English speaker, you can even add a few fillers, like, “you know”, “just” or “I mean”, too.

Natural phrases for talking about food and drink

When you’re talking about your food and drink preferences with English speakers, it’s important use natural language. If you want to keep saying, “I like” / “I don’t like”, that’s fine. But it sounds much more natural to say things like “I’m (not) really into ..” instead. After all, this is what real English speakers would say.

We’ve already discussed how to talk about things we like eating. So here are a few natural ways to talk about foods you don’t like and don’t mind eating:

Talking about food you don’t like

There are lots of natural ways to say “I don’t like that food” in English. If you dislike a certain food, but you can still eat it, you can say, “I’m not that keen on it” or “I’m not that into it“. But if you REALLY hate eating something, then just say, “I can’t stand it!” or “It’s gross!”

Here are some more examples in sentences:

  • I’m not that into fatty food.
  • I’m not really into sweet things.
  • Spicy food isn’t really my thing.
  • I’m not that keen on nuts.
  • It tastes horrible / awful / really bad.
  • I hate it.
  • It’s (absolutely) gross.
  • I can’t stand the taste of it.

Talking about food you don’t mind eating

Here are a few ways of saying we have no real preference for a certain food:

  • Pasta’s OK, I suppose.
  • I’m not too bothered about cheese.
  • I can take it or leave it. (standalone phrase) = I can take cheese or leave it
  • I don’t mind coffee.

Food: vocabulary and collocations for speaking

Food flavours and textures (adjectives)

  • sweet / sugarya sugary dessert / a sweet flavour
  • savourysavoury snacks
  • saltya salty flavour
  • sour sweet and sour sauce
  • spicy a spicy curry / chilli pepper (some people say “hot” instead of “spicy”)
  • bland / plain (not much flavour) – plain-tasting food / Boiled rice tastes very bland.
  • bitter – Coffee tastes bitter without sugar.
  • greasy / fatty foods like chips and hamburgers can be greasy
  • moist / juicy a juicy mango
  • drytoast tastes too dry without butter
  • lumpy – lumpy porridge
  • rubbery / tougha rubbery steak.
  • smoothsmooth-tasting chocolate
  • watery – watery soup
  • hearty(rich, filling) a hearty stew

Adjectives + food

  • raw food – not cooked
  • cooked food – food that is boiled, roasted, fried, grilled, etc
  • fresh food – fresh fish / fresh cream
  • hot food – hot meals, hot soup
  • fast food / convenience food
  • frozen food
  • healthy / unhealthy food
  • nutritious food
  • (un)processed food
  • natural food

Food and drinks in containers

  • a cup of tea
  • a glass of wine / water / milk
  • a bowl of rice
  • a plate of sausages
  • a bag of chips
  • a bottle of beer

Food in shops and stores

  • tins – tinned food -a tin of peaches
  • ready meals / microwave meals
  • packet – a packet of spaghetti
  • jar – a jar of pasta sauce
  • box – a box of breakfast cereal
  • frozen food – frozen peas
  • bag – a bag of lettuce
  • bunch – a bunch of bananas

Mealtimes and breaks

  • breakfast (morning meal)
  • elevenses / brunch / mid-morning snack – anything you eat between breakfast and lunch
  • tea break / coffee break
  • lunch (midday meal)
  • dinner (late afternoon or evening meal)
  • supper (late evening meal) *some people call dinner supper

Words for food prepared in different ways

  • fried (fry) – fried food, fried egg, fried chicken
  • boiled (boil) – boiled potatoes, a boiled egg
  • steamed – steamed cabbage
  • roasted / roast – roast chicken, roasted beetroot
  • grilled – grilled fish, grilled lobster
  • baked – baked potato, baked beans
  • raw (= uncooked) – raw carrots, raw onions

Words and phrases for health choices and diets

  • have a food intolerance – milk intolerance
  • have a food allergy – peanut allergy / an allergy to milk
  • be allergic to (something) – She’s allergic to nuts
  • be on a diet
  • be vegetarian
  • be vegan
  • be on a low carb diet
  • be on a gluten-free diet
  • be on a high protein diet

Other ways to say: “eat in cafes or restaurants”

  • Eat out / eating out
  • Go out for meals / a meal
  • Go (out) for a drink

Vocabulary for talking about what and when to eat / drink

Feeling hungry and thirsty: words and phrases

  • I often feel a bit peckish at around 11am, and I end up eating loads of crisps and snacks.
  • I was starving, so I went and got a burger.
  • I’m parched (thirsty)– let’s get something to drink!
  • sometimes I feel hungry at work.
  • I hadn’t eaten for 24 hours, so as you can imagine, I was absolutely ravenous! (hungry)
  • I often fancy a bite to eat while I’m driving.
  • I thought, “I could do with a bite to eat” (I could do with = I really want / I feel like…)
  • I wanted to eat something, so I had lunch.
  • She said “I wouldn’t mind having something to eat”, so we went for a meal.

Talking about mealtimes – example sentences

  • I usually have breakfast at 7.
  • Is it lunchtime, yet?
  • Is it time for lunch, yet?
  • It must be nearly dinner time.

Deciding what to eat

  • What shall we have for dinner?
  • What shall we eat?
  • Shall we get a takeaway?
  • I fancy something light.
  • Let’s have curry tonight.
  • Why don’t we have some pizza?

Deciding where to eat or drink

  • Shall we eat out, tonight?
  • Do you fancy going out for a meal?
  • Would you like to go for a drink?
  • I can’t be bothered to cook ( I don’t feel like…) – let’s go out for something!
  • Let’s go to that place on the high street, again.
  • Shall we try that café on the corner?

Having meals with others: polite speech (everyday English)

inviting others for meals

A– We were wondering if you’d like to come to ours for a meal.
B– Thanks, that’s very kind of you – we’d love to!
A– Look forward to seeing you, then!
B –Yes, can’t wait!

Before and during a meal

A– Bon appetite! (I hope you enjoy the food – please start eating)
A– Would you like a /some ………………….?
A– Can I offer you a glass of ……………….?
A– Would you like another / some more …………………?

B– Thanks, but I’m really full (you can also say “I’m stuffed”, but this is very casual!)
B– Could you pass the ………………, please? (I can’t reach it myself)
B– This ………………….. tastes amazing!
B– Would you excuse me, please? (when you want to leave the table)

After the meal

B– That was such a lovely meal!
B– What a fantastic / delicious meal!

A– You’re welcome / Glad you enjoyed it!

Language focus: WOULD you like? or DO you like?

Do you like pizza? = Do you enjoy eating pizza?
Would you like some pizza? = Do you want some pizza?

Food and drink: Key vocabulary and collocations

Other words for food

  • a meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner are all different types of meal
  • a dish – “Which dish did you enjoy the most?” (after a meal)
  • something to eat / drink “I need something to drink”.
  • some grub / nosh (UK slang) “I fancy some grub – let’s eat!”
  • cooking – “My mum’s cooking is amazing!” (the food my mum cooks/makes…)
  • cuisine – (food and dishes from a certain nation, e.g., Turkish cuisine – NOT kitchen)
  • items on the menu (in a restaurant)
  • dietary intake (formal)
  • a portion / serving / helping – The amount of food in a dish: “I ended up with a huge portion of ice cream”

Food categories

  • fruit – apples, bananas, etc
  • vegetables – carrots, potatoes, leeks. etc
  • pulses – beans, peas, lentils
  • nuts – peanuts, almonds, walnuts, etc
  • meat – beef, chicken, lamb, turkey, pork, etc
  • dairy – milk, cream, cheese, yogurt
  • cereals – oats, wheat, rice, quinoa, etc (“cereal” usually means “breakfast cereal”, like cornflakes, porridge oats, etc)

Language focus: cake, cakes, a cake, some cake, or some cakes?

With dividable foods like cake / chicken / pie / pizza, etc:

  • some cakes = more than one cake
  • some cake = a piece/part of a cake
  • a cake = one cake
  • cake / cakes = general term for this food type


  • Can I have some cake, please? = I want a slice of cake – NOT a whole cake.
  • Can I have some cakes, please? = I want several cakes.
  • Can I have a cake, please? = I want one cake only.
  • I like cakes / I like cake = general preference (no mention of numbers / amounts, etc)
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