How to Shop in English

Posted by: Tara Benwell
Common questions, problems, and expressions related to shopping.

Your questions: Ask a cashier or salesperson

  • Excuse me…how much is…?
  • What does …. cost?
  • How much is the tax?
  • Is “this” on sale?
  • What is the price after the discount?
  • What’s the total?
  • How much do I owe you?
  • Do you take/accept cash? (OR credit card, debit, cheques)
  • Is this new or used?
  • May I try this on?
  • Do you have “this” in…? (a different size: extra small, small, medium, large, extra large)
  • Can you tell me where the … are? (apples, coats)
  • Can I return this if I need to?

Your problems: Tell a clerk or salesperson

  • I’m afraid, you gave me the wrong change. (incorrect money back after you make a purchase)
  • It doesn’t fit.
  • It’s the wrong size.
  • I need to return this. OR I need to take this back.
  • I lost my receipt. (paper that shows proof of purchase)
  • Excuse me, I can’t find the … (ladies clothing, men’s wear, toy section)

Special Offers and Deals: Watch for these signs and ads

  • Buy one get one free
  • Buy one get 50% off your second item
  • Buy now pay later
  • Pay no money down (no down payment is required)
  • Kids eat free (usually with the purchase of an adult meal)
  • Senior’s discount (people 65 and older get a reduced price)
  • All out-of season stock on sale (ex. summer clothing is on sale at the end of summer)

Restrictions: Watch for these Warnings (sometimes in small print)

  • Deposit required (you must pay a small amount to hold the item)
  • No delivery
  • No exchanges or refunds (you can’t bring an item back if you decide you don’t like it)
  • Exchange only (you can’t get money back; you can change for a different in-store item)
  • No coupons on/during/after… (often on a certain day or at a certain time)
  • Discount or coupon not valid with other special offers
  • Expires … (date you can no longer use coupon or item)

Bonus Expressions to remember

  1. It’s okay to put something back on the shelf if the price is too high. The clerk might put it away for you. Smile and say, “Sorry, that’s more than I thought it would be.”
  2. It’s polite to have small talk with the cashier. If the price is great, smile and say, “That’s a good deal!”

Survival Challenge: Watch the video “Let’s go Shopping”. What does the shopper say when she decides to buy an item? Put your answer in the comment section.

Written by Tara Benwell for EnglishClub | August 2009
Tara Benwell is a Canadian freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry.


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