English shopping vocabulary to help you shop ’til you drop.
Types of shops in English
department store – a shop that sells many different items in different departments. Harrods is probably the world’s best known department store.
supermarket – a large shop that sells mostly food and household items.
grocer (UK) / grocery store (US) – a shop that sells food.
greengrocer – sells fresh fruit and vegetables.
butcher – sells fresh meat.
baker – sells fresh bread and cakes.
fishmonger – sells fresh fish.
chemist (UK) / drugstore (US) – sells medicines and toiletries.
pharmacy (US) – sells medicines.
newsagent – sells newspapers and magazines.
stationer – sells paper goods.
optician – sells glasses / contact lenses.
DIY store – sells things for home improvement.
hardware shop / hardware store / ironmonger – hard goods, such as nails and screws.
corner shop (UK) – a shop on the corner of your street, selling a range of basic goods – food, newspapers, sweets, bread, etc.
delicatessen (deli) – sells specialist food not normally found in supermarkets. For example, an Italian deli, an Asian deli.
bookshop / bookstore – books.
market – market traders (people who work on a market) have stalls that sell fruit and vegetables, clothes, household items and so on.
petshop – for pets and pet food.
flea market – a group of stalls selling old furniture or clothes.
tea shop (UK) – like a cafe, but sells tea and cakes.
petrol station (UK) / gas station (US) sells petrol, car products and sometimes food.
When we talk about shops, we often put an ‘s on the end. For example, “I’m going to the chemist’s / greengrocer’s / butcher’s / baker’s / newsagent’s / fishmonger’s / optician’s.”
We don’t use an ‘s with these shops: supermarket, hardware store, petrol station, department store.
Shopping vocabulary – “In the Sales”
Here’s some useful shopping vocabulary for finding a bargain in the sales.
December 26 (or Boxing Day) is traditionally the start of the winter sales in the UK, when items are heavily discounted. In fact, bargain hunters can find some items reduced up to 50% off their pre-sale price.
An unbeatable offer / prices slashed (= cut) or give-away prices mean very low prices.
Clearance Sale / Everything must go! = signs in shop windows advertising the sales
snap up a bargain = to buy something cheaply
Asking for things in shops
“Do you have any…?”
“I’m looking for…”
“I wonder if you could help me…?”
What the shopkeeper says
“I’m sorry, we’re out of stock.”
“I’m sorry, that’s the last one.”
“I’m sorry, that’s all we have left.”
What a sales person says
“Can I help you?”
“Are you looking for anything in particular?”
“I’m just looking, thank you.”
“I’m just browsing, thank you.”
Asking about things in shops
“Do you have this in another size?”
“Do you have this in another colour?”
“Is this made of leather / silk / plastic…?”
“Does this come with a guarantee?”
“Is this fully refundable?”
“Can I bring this back if it’s not the right size?”
“Can I bring this back if it doesn’t fit?”
Paying – what the shopkeeper says
“Do you have anything smaller?” (If you pay with a large denomination note.)
Paying – what you say
“I’m sorry, I don’t have any small change.”
“I don’t have anything smaller.”
“Would you have change for this?”
“Can I have the receipt, please?’
“Can I pay by credit card?”
“Can I pay in cash?”
“Is this on sale?”
Shopping Phrases Quiz
Level: Elementary and higher
- It's impolite to say ''I want'' in English to someone you don't know. You can make it more polite by saying ''I'd like''. The expression ''I'm just looking thanks'' means you are browsing and don't need help at the moment.
- Try on = put on the item of clothing.
- That looks great on you = It really suits you and you look wonderful! (The last one in stock = we don't have any more left.)
- A cashier is the person who takes your payment.
- A guarantee means you can bring the item back if it doesn't work. You usually get a guarantee for one or two years. (A refund is when you get your money back.)
- The receipt (pronounced ''receet'') is the piece of paper you get when you buy something with the details of the price and time you bought it.
- A refund is when they give you the money back. (An upgrade is on an aeroplane when you get a better seat.)
- On sale = at a reduced price for a particular length of time.
- We pay ''by credit card'' or ''in cash'' (not ''coins'').
More help with shopping vocabulary and phrases
Here are some useful speaking exercises to help you when you go shopping. You can listen to the conversation, record your sentences, then compare your recording with the original.
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