English conversations: shopping

Here are some useful phrases you can learn for when you go clothes shopping. (If you need vocabulary for other types of shops, see our page on shopping vocabulary.)

Where you can buy clothes

There are different types of clothes shops. Here are some common ones:

shopping centre = large building with lots of different shops inside (= shopping mall in American English)

boutique = small shop, often expensive, with designer label clothes

charity shop (goodwill in American English) = shop where you can buy second-hand ( = not new) clothes. The money you pay for them goes to charity

factory outlet = shop where you can buy clothes directly from the factory that makes them. Often these clothes (or shoes) are "samples".

department store = large shop with "departments" for men's clothes, women's clothes, household objects, etc.

chain store = a "brand" that has shops in many different towns, such as "Zara" or "H&M".

Useful phrases a shop assistant says

"Can I help you?"
"Are you looking for anything in particular?"
"Do you need any help at all?"
"We don't have any of these left in stock." ( = There is no more of something.)

Useful phrases a customer says

"I'm looking for …"
"I'd like to buy…"

Indicating a piece of clothing

"Do you have this in …"
– medium / large / small / extra large / XL
– blue / black / beige (other colours etc)

Talking about the price

Clothes shops have "sales" when some or all the clothes are discounted.

"Is this in the sales?"
"Is this on sale?"

"There's a discount of 20% on this."
"These jeans are discounted by 20%."

"It's a bargain." (= the low price is a surprise)
"It's cheap." (= doesn't cost much money)
"It's expensive." (= costs a lot of money.)

Trying something on

When you go clothes shopping, you probably want to try something on before you buy it so you know it's the right size or that it looks good on you!

"I'd like to try this on please. Where are the changing rooms?"
"Can I try this on?"

Example shopping conversation

Can I try this on?
Sure. The changing rooms are over there…

… (later)

Any good?
No, not really. (It's the wrong size / It doesn't really suit me.)
Or, "Yes, I'll take it."

Paying

"Where I can pay?"
"The cash tills are over there."

Other shopping vocabulary

to suit = to be in your style, or to compliment your body shape or skin / hair colour
"That dress really suits you!"

to fit = to be the right size
"These jeans don't fit very well."

Clothes can be…
too big (size "Large" when you are size "Small")
too small (small size when you are large size)
too tight (waist measurement 34 when you are waist 38)
too loose (waist measurement 38 when you are waist 34)
too long (jeans leg measurement 34 when your leg measurement is 32)
too short (jeans leg measurement 32 when your leg measurement is 34)

to go well with / to match = to look good with your other clothes
"This jumper goes well with my trousers."
"This colour jumper matches your new trousers."

Now try our quiz on phrasal verbs for shopping!

Practise your listening!

Listen to three shopping conversations. You can also read the tapescript as you listen.

Conversation 1

Can I help you?
Yes, I'd like to try this on, please.
The changing rooms are over there.

Conversation 2

Any good?
Yes, Where can I pay?
Over there, by the door.

Conversation 3

Can I help?
Yes, do you have this in medium?
Let me check for you.


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