This blog post was updated on August 25, 2021.
While motioning to the wait staff as if you are writing with a pen in the air is often the universal symbol for getting the check, if you want to be a bit more vocal, you can ask for the bill most simply in a variety of languages. Here is how you can ask for the check in these thirteen languages. By knowing how to ask for the bill, you can avoid waiting at your table for hours on end without being given the check!
Spanish: “La cuenta, por favor”
When you’re finished with your meal and you’re ready for the check, you’ll ask for “La cuenta, por favor.” As you probably know, “por favor” is the way to say “please,” and “la cuenta” (pronounced “lah kwen-tah”) is the check or the bill.
Mandarin: “Mǎi dān”
In China, it’s considered a privilege to be the one paying for the meal, and it’s not very common to split the meal check. To request the check, you’ll say “Mǎi dān.” It’s pronounced a little like the phrase “my dawn” in English, although it’s spoken pretty fast.
Greek: “To logariasmo parakalo”
After eating a delicious meal in Greece, you’ll get your server’s attention and ask for “To logariasmo parakalo” from your server. Both “logariasmo” and “parakalo” have the strongest accent on the last vowel, which sounds like the English word “oh.”
Japanese: “Okanjou o onegaishimasu”
When you’ve enjoyed your food at a Japanese restaurant, you’ll get the attention of your waiter or waitress, and say “Okanjou o onegaishimasu” to request the check. To an English speaker, the phrase sounds like “Oak-on-joe own-a-guy she-moss.” This wording asks him or her to please tally the bill.
Russian: “Chek pozhaluista”
In Russian, once you’ve practiced how to say “please,” this one will be easy. “Chek pozhaluista” sounds like “Check pu-jol-us-ta,” although the “j” sound is softer, more like a “zh” sound. Interestingly, in Russian, the same word for “please” is also used to say “you’re welcome” in response to “thank you.”
Portuguese: “A conta, por favor”
In Portuguese, asking for the check will sound similar to, though not exactly the same as, the same request in Spanish. In Portuguese, you’ll request “A conta, por favor.” Not surprisingly, “a conta” is the check, and “por favor” is the “please” that’s added to make the request polite.
You may also like: European Feast! How To Say “Bon Appétit” in 10 Languages
Czech: “Zaplatíme” or “Za platim”
Once you’ve enjoyed your Czech food, when you’re ready to request the check, the phrase “Zaplatíme” means “We will pay now,” which is perfect if you’re eating with a group. But if it happens that you’re eating alone, you’ll use the similar phrase “Za platim,” which means “I will pay.”
German: “Die Rechnung, bitte”
After enjoying your meal in Germany, to request the check so that you can pay, you’ll ask for “Die Rechnung, bitte.” Pronunciation of the phrase sounds like “dee RECH-nung, BITT-uh,” and, as you may recall, the “bitte” at the end is the German word for “please.”
French: “L’addition s’il vous plait”
When requesting your check in France, you’ll ask for “L’addition s’il vous plait.” It’s pronounced “lad-iss-ee-on see voo play.” Or if the restaurant staff can tell you’re finished, you may be asked if you want “L’addition,” in which case, you can answer with a “Yes, please” by saying, “Oui, s’il vous plait.”
Italian: “Il conto per favore”
After your meal, when you’re ready to pay, you can get the waitstaff’s attention and ask to get “Il conto, per favore.” This phrase in Italian is reminiscent of the Spanish and the Portuguese phrases you may have read above. And it’s pronounced similarly: “Eel conto pair favor-ay.”
Arabic: “Al-hissab law sammaht?”
When traveling through Arab countries during your adventures, you’ll be wise to learn a few words and sentences to make your life easier among the locals. One of them is “Al-hissab law sammaht?”, a phrase to put the cherry on top of your dinner.
Thai: “Check bin khap” (for men) or “Check bin ka” (for women)
This one’s really interesting: depending if you’re a man or a woman, the way of asking for your bill after a meal changes slightly. So you will find yourself yelling “Check bin khap” or “Check bin ka.”
Swedish: “Notan, tack”
Did you score cheap flights to Sweden? Then there’s a sentence you need to memorize if you intend to explore its restaurant scene: “Notan, tack,” which, as you surely have guessed, means “the bill, please”.