Sur place

Sometimes, when you are not fluent in a language, you will translate something literally when you are trying to say something. This was the case when I ordered some food at a little take-out sandwich shop Paris one day. The French word “emporter” means to take away, and this is exactly the word that the French use for food to take out. Simple enough.

In North America we usually say “Is that for here or to go?” so I translated the phrase in my head word for word when the clerk behind the counter in the sandwich shop asked if I wanted it to take away, or “emporter”. I said, no, I wanted it “pour ici”, meaning literally “for here”.

She looked at me like I had a horn growing out of my forehead. After this incident in which I did manage to get my food to eat in, I learned that I should have replied with “sur place” meaning to eat it on the premises, or “in place”.