How to Talk about Shopping in English

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In this English article, you’re going to learn common English phrases, idioms, and expressions on the topic of shopping.

English Phrases (Shopping): Definitions and Examples

1. To Go Shopping vs To Do the Shopping

To do the shopping is used to talk about shopping for food. To go to the grocery store. Whereas, to go shopping is used to talk about shopping in general.

  • We’re running out of food. When do you think you’ll be able to do the shopping?
  • Let’s go shopping this weekend.
  • When was the last time you went downtown to go shopping?

2. Can I Help You Find Anything?

This is what the shop assistant will ask you when you walk into a shop. Here are some common answers to this question:

  • No thank you, I’m just browsing (looking around)
  • Yes, I’m looking for a new cotton sweater
  • Yes, I’m looking for the batteries
  • Yes, I’m looking for something for my wife’s birthday

3. Do have this in medium?

This is when you find something you like but you want a different size.

  • Do you have this blue?
  • Do you have these in size 12?
  • Do you have something like this but cotton?

4. Fit vs Suit

If something fits you, it means the size is correct. if something suits you, it means it looks good on you.

  • Does this fit?
  • It’s nice but it doesn’t quite fit
  • Do you think this suits me?
  • Orange really suits you.
  • Do you think this looks good?
  • It’s a little baggy around the shoulders
  • I think you would look better in the pink one

5. Can I try this on?

This is when you put the item of clothing on so you can see if it’s right for you. Here are more examples and alternatives:

  • I’m going to try this on
  • Where are the changing rooms?
  • I’ll just try it on here

6. I can’t afford that!

This means that it’s too expensive for you. Here are more phrases related to price:

  • I’m not sure I can afford this
  • It’s currently 50% off
  • Do you have anything on sale at the moment?
  • Do you offer a student discount?

7. Are you line? Are you in the queue?

This is what you can ask if you’re not sure if someone is waiting to buy something at the register.

  • There’s a long line – let’s come back later
  • I hate waiting in line
  • Let’s queue up now

8. I think I’m going to take this back

This means to return something that you don’t want.

  • I don’t think I like this – I’ll take it back tomorrow
  • It’s too late to take this back!
  • Can I return this if I don’t like it?

9. Supermarket (Britain) and Grocery Stores (US)

This is where most people buy food.

  • Which is your favorite grocery store in town?
  • The supermarket was packed today (very busy).
  • I’m going to do the big shop later
  • I’m just going to nip to grocery store to pick up a few things – do you want anything?

10. Excuse me, where can I find…?

This is what you can ask a shop assistant directly if you need to find something.

  • Excuse me, where can I find the cereal isle?
  • Excuse me, where can I find the soda?

11. Could I get….

Use this when you’re at the deli counter or meat counter.

  • Could I get fives steaks?
  • Could I get 3 lbs of ground beef?
  • Could I get two of those sandwiches?

12. Small talk at grocery stores

Certain stores have staff who engage in small talk. Here are some common phrases here.

  • How’s your day going so far?
  • How’s it going?
  • It’s going well, thanks.

13: Would you like paper or plastic?

This is specific to the U.S. They still have plastic bags in many stores.

  • I forgot my reusable bags!
  • Let’s get some reusable bags.
  • We’ve got so many plastic bags we don’t know what to do with them

14: Did you get…?

This is what you can ask if someone went to the store and asked what you wanted.

  • Did you get the coffee creamer I asked for?
  • Did you get potatoes?
  • Did you get anything for me?
  • No, I forgot, I’m sorry.

15. I bought this online

Online shopping is becoming more prevalent. Here are some phrases related to this:

  • I bought it online?
  • Did you get it online?
  • I got it online
  • Have you checked the price online?
  • Are you online shopping again?

English Idioms (Shopping): Definitions and Examples

Here are some common idioms on the topic of shopping:

1. This is the perfect fit for you

Before, we talked about how if something fits you (a sweater) then it’s the right size for you. But we can also use this idiom to talk about other things.

  • that job is the perfect fit for you
  • it sounds like the perfect fit for you

2: To be like a kid in a candy shop

Think about how excited children get when they go to a candy shop. This idiom means that someone is very excited!

  • you’re acting like a kid in a candy shop
  • he was like a kid in a candy shop when he got to the soccer game

3: To be all over the shop

This means to be disorganized.

  • that presentation was all over the shop
  • he’s all over the shop

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