Paying for Lunch

In English there is a saying, “There is no free lunch.” This means that you can never really get something for free, because you always have to pay a hidden cost somewhere.

But what if you decide to be a great friend and GIVE a free lunch (or dinner) to your new English-speaking friend? What can you say in English to talk about paying for another person?

Take a look at these five expressions below that you can use to talk about paying for your friend or business partner.


1. Allow me to pick up the check!

Pick up (the tab/the check/the bill) 

This comes from the cultural rule that the first person to touch the bill that the waiter leaves at the table is the one to pay it.

Formal or Informal?
An expression starting with “allow me to (+verb)…” is more formal. You could simplify this formal saying to just, “Allow me!”

Less formal options: I’ll pick up the check. / I’m going to pick up the bill.


2. Let me take care of the check.

Take care of (the tab/the check/the bill)

If you “take care of something,” it is no longer a problem. In money, this means to pay.

Formal or Informal?
Similar to “allow me”, the expression “let me (+base verb)” is also very polite, though not as formal sounding.

Less formal options: I’ll take care of this. / I’m going to take care of the bill.


3. I’ll treat you to lunch!

Treat (someone) (to a meal/dinner)

This expression means that you are promising to pay for the meal.

Formal or Informal?
This is usually used in less formal situations, usually between friends and family members.


4. It’s my treat!

This is a common expression for someone to say as they take the check or bill. Like number 3 above, it is more informal and should be used with friends and family.


5. It’s on me!

This is another common expression to promise to pay. You would also say this when you pick up the bill in order to make it clear that you are paying.

If your company is paying for the meal, you can say, “It’s on the company!” However, it is usually best to not even mention it in a more formal situation and just pay.


If you go out with friends, it is more than likely that your friends will offer to “go Dutch” and “split the bill” (which is the cultural norm); however, if you say any of these phrases above, and pay for the meal, they are sure to be delighted!

Just don’t forget to tip your waiter!


Questions? Comments? Let me know in the comments below or in the comments form on the side!

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