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I'm just back from Austria and I'm perplexed by the use of "sehr" (unless I misheard) in a situations where I'd expect "gern" to be used (e.g., when a waiter accepts an order). My (rather wild) guess is that it's an instance of "es freut mich sehr" being shortened to just the last word, but can anyone provide an authoritative answer?

It happened in this dialogues:

Gast: Entschuldigung, kann ich bestellen bitte?
Ober: Sehr!

Gast: Ich möchte dies und das.
Ober: Sehr!

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    I am Austrian, but I am not sure if I understand your question correctly. Was it the waiter who said »sehr« or was it the guest? Please can you write down the dialog between guest and waiter, so that I can better understand what you mean? Did you hear this usage just in restaurants or also in other situations? If so: in which situations? – Hubert Schölnast Mar 26 '16 at 20:45
  • Thanks for responding, @HubertSchölnast! I don't remember it being used in settings other than in restaurants (but I admit that my interaction with the locals was somewhat limited that way). A typical exchange would go like this: Me: Entschuldigung, kann ich bestellen bitte? D: Sehr! ... Me: Ich möchte dies und das D: Sehr! – Dmitry Rubinstein Mar 27 '16 at 7:29
  • Ok, If you don't edit your question, I will do it for you. – Hubert Schölnast Mar 27 '16 at 10:27
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    The waiter might have mumbled some more words you might have missed: Could have been Bitte sehr! or Sehr gerne!. "Sehr" alone wouldn't go along well. Or maybe he recognized you as English-speaking and tried to say "Sir?"? – tofro Mar 27 '16 at 10:47
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I am pretty sure, that what you heard is not what the waiter really did say. I am absolutely sure, that the waiter said »Bitte sehr":

Gast: Entschuldigung, kann ich bestellen bitte?
Ober: Bitte sehr!

Gast: Ich möchte dies und das.
Ober: Bitte sehr!

And I am also sure, that the waiter did stress the word »sehr« much more then »bitte«, so that you might not recognize the first word. Maybe also the waiter was mumbling this phrase in a very lazy way because he says it thousand times a day.

Bitte sehr.

is just a friendly and colloquial way to say

You're welcome

It means, that the waiter did understand your order and that he is willing to fulfill your wish. In case that you ask if you can do something, (like »can I order?«) it can also mean:

Yes, you can do it; please do it now.

with a friendly connotation.

  • Thanks @HubertSchölnast, that may well have been as you say - makes perfect sense. – Dmitry Rubinstein Mar 27 '16 at 10:57

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