Italian Phrase of the Week: Posso avere il conto per favore?

When travelling around Italy, the temptation to eat out will prove difficult to resist with all the wonderful ristoranti there are. But even the best meal must come to an end!

There are different ways to ask for the bill in Italian. One of the most common is: posso avere il conto per favore?

Let’s see how the phrase is constructed:

  • posso = I can
  • avere = to have
  • il conto = the bill
  • per favore* = please

*Note: favore means favour. You can substitute per favore with per cortesia (courtesy, kindness) which is a bit more formal, or with per piacere (pleasure). Per favore and per piacere are commonly used in written and spoken language. Per cortesia is a bit more formal but remains popular too.

This phrase is correct and sounds polite enough in most situations, but you can add an extra layer of politeness by placing mi scusi or chiedo scusa at the beginning which mean excuse me / I beg your pardon.

Mi scusi, posso avere il conto per favore? – Certo signora, glie lo porto subito.

Excuse me, can I have the bill please? – Of course ma’am, I’ll bring it right away.

In English, a more polite form can be created by substituting can with may. In Italian, you can change the present tense of posso to the conditional tense: potrei.

Chiedo scusa, potrei avere il conto per cortesia?

Excuse me, may I have the bill please?

Another polite form is to use the verb portare (to bring). Here as well you can use the present or conditional tense.

Mi scusi, mi può portare il conto per piacere?

Excuse me, can you bring me the bill please?

Mi scusi, mi porterebbe il conto per cortesia?

Excuse me, would you bring me the bill please?

And if you want to impress the cameriere or cameriera (waiter / waitress), you can be extra formal:

Chiedo scusa, sarebbe così gentile da portarmi il conto?

I beg your pardon, would you be so kind to bring me the bill?

If you prefer a quicker, more “straight to the point” version, you can say:

  • Mi porta il conto? Grazie. = Can you bring me the bill? Thanks.
  • Il conto, grazie. = The bill, please.

With the two phrases above, it is important to add grazie at the end or you could sound rude.

Finally, you might want to specify which method of payment you prefer:

  • Posso pagare con la carta? = Can I pay with a debit card / credit card
  • Pago in contanti = I’m paying in cash
  • Posso avere anche la ricevuta? = Can I have the receipt too?