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Grocery Store

Grocery Store


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Grocery Store

Hello! In this lesson, we will learn the English associated with going to the grocery store. While it is possible to go through the entire grocery store without speaking to anyone, it is almost impossible to check out with assistance without understanding and speaking to the clerk who checks you out.

Recently, some grocery stores have introduced self-serve check-out lines, where customers scan and sack their own items. This lesson will concentrate on what happens at the assisted check-out counter, with some information about other parts of the store and things you will encounter there.

Most supermarkets have a recycling area, sometimes in the entryway, where you can recycle cans and bottles you purchased at that store.

Some supermarkets will recycle for you; others require that you load your recycling into a can-recycling machine or a bottle-recycling machine. The machine will give a receipt for items purchased at that store, and you can receive a refund on recyclable bottles and cans.

When you enter a grocery store, you will be able to take a "shopping cart" or a "shopping basket". Most shopping carts have a place in the front of the cart for people to put their purses. The same area of the cart has room for a child to sit with his or her legs dangling into the cart. Many people put a child in the cart, but you should not leave the child in the cart unattended. You should also not let the child open or eat any of the food you put into the cart.

The various areas of the store are called "Produce or Fresh Foods, Dairy, Meat, Frozen Goods, Canned Goods, Paper, Beverages, Frozen Foods," and "Bakery". Some stores have a "Deli" or a "Restaurant".

Large supercenters might have a "Pharmacy, Optical Department, Camera Department, Physician's Assistant, Nail Salon," and a "Bank". There is also a "Courtesy Counter" or "Customer Service" counter in most grocery stores.

If you wonder where a certain item is, you can ask a store employee "Where are the paper plates?", for example. The store employee might answer "In Aisle 5.". The "aisles" are the lanes in the grocery store.

Most parts of the grocery store are self-serve. Customers may freely pick up and handle the groceries and put them in their carts. In the produce department, customers can put their fruits and vegetables into plastic bags and sometimes weigh them; even if the customer weighs the produce, the clerk will re-weigh it.

In the meat department, customers may ask a butcher for special cuts of meat or to grind meat to the customer's specifications.
In the bakery, customers can order cakes, pies, breads, and other baked goods for pick-up at a later date.

At the deli, customers can buy food that is already cooked and ready to eat. Customers may pay for and eat the food in a dining area of the restaurant or take it home.

At the courtesy counter or customer service area, customers can make complaints or comments about their shopping experience, bring back unacceptable items, sometimes mail letters, sometimes have photocopies made, and sometimes buy lottery tickets.

At the check-out, customers can check out their items and pay. In this scenario, Jennifer is checking out at an assisted check-out line.

Clerk: Good afternoon, ma'am. Did you find everything?

Jennifer: Yes, thanks.

Clerk: Do you have any coupons?

Jennifer: Oh, yes, here's a coupon for toilet tissue. And I have one for spaghetti sauce.

Clerk: Okay. Thanks. Do you want to donate a dollar to cancer research?

Jennifer: No thanks. Not today.

Clerk: Paper or plastic?

Jennifer: Paper, please.

Clerk: Cash or charge?

Jennifer: Charge. Can I swipe it?

Clerk: Go ahead.

Jennifer (swipes card)

Clerk: Credit or Debit?

Jennifer: Credit.

Clerk: Press Credit.

Jennifer: (presses credit button)

Clerk: Sign on the pad and press Enter.

Jennifer: Okay

Clerk: Carry out?

Jennifer: Yes, please.

Clerk: (Hands Jennifer a numbered tag for carry-out) Thank you. Thank you for shopping at Don's. Have a nice day.

In this scenario, the clerk starts the conversation by saying "Good afternoon, ma'am. Did you find everything?". She could have said "Did you find everything you were looking for?".

Jennifer found everything she was looking for, so she answers "Yes, thanks.", but if she hadn't found something, she could have said, for example, "I was looking for business envelopes, but I couldn’t find them.". The clerk would then call for assistance, and someone would bring business envelopes to the check-out line for Jennifer if the envelopes were available in the store.

The clerk then asks "Do you have any coupons?". Jennifer had cut a coupon out of the newspaper for toilet tissue, and the last time she bought spaghetti sauce, there was an attached coupon for a jar of spaghetti sauce.

She presents the coupons to the clerk. She says "Oh, yes, here's a coupon for toilet tissue. And I have one for spaghetti sauce.". Before she brought them to the store, she checked the "expiration date" on each coupon to be sure the coupons were still valid.

The clerk says to Jennifer "Okay. Thanks. Do you want to donate a dollar to cancer research?". This grocery store is involved in a campaign to collect donations for cancer research, so the clerks are asking every customer whether they want to donate a dollar to the campaign. If customers say yes, a dollar will be added to their bill and will be donated to this charitable cause.

Jennifer doesn't want to donate today, so she says "No thanks. Not today.". She could have said "Maybe next time.". If she wanted to donate a dollar, she could have said "Sure." or "Yes, I will." or "Yes, I'd like to." or "I'd be happy to.".

The clerk asks Jennifer "Paper or plastic?". The question refers to what kind of bag Jennifer wants – a paper bag or a plastic bag. Some people do not want to destroy forests by using paper bags. Some people do not want to consume oil-based plastic products by using plastic bags. Some people bring their own bags to the grocery store.

If Jennifer had brought her own bag, she could have said "I have my own bag. Thanks." or "I can use my own bag." Or "Please put it in my bag.".

The clerk then asks "Cash or charge?" The clerk wants to know whether Jennifer wants to pay cash or use a charge card. The clerk might have asked "How do you want to pay?" or "How are you paying?".

Jennifer answers "Charge. Can I swipe it?". Jennifer is asking whether it is time to swipe her credit card in the card scanner.

The clerk says "Go ahead", which means "proceed". She could have said "Yes, you can." or "Not yet." Or "Hang on." or "Wait a second.".

The clerk then asks "Credit or Debit?". She wants to know whether Jennifer's charge card is a credit or debit card. A credit card uses the credit company's money, which Jennifer will pay back later. A debit card uses Jennifer's own money which is saved in Jennifer's account.

Jennifer answers "Credit.".
The clerk instructs Jennifer to "Press Credit.". Jennifer looks at the card scanner and sees that there is a small button marked "Credit".

Jennifer pushes the button to continue her purchase.

The clerk tells her to "Sign on the pad and press Enter.". Jennifer uses the special stylus which is attached to the scanner to sign her name on the line which appears on the electronic pad.

When she is finished signing, she sees a small button marked "Enter", and she presses the button to complete her purchase.

The clerk asks "Carry-out?". The clerk means "Do you want to use the 'carry-out' service?". The store provides a service which will put the grocery bags into the customer's car. Sometimes this service is called "Drive-up". In that case, the clerk might have asked "Drive-up?". To use the drive-up service, the customer drives up to a marked area of the exterior of the store. The customer presents a receipt or special numbered tag, and the delivery person puts the groceries in the customer's car. It is not necessary to tip the delivery people.

Jennifer wants to use the carry-out service, and the clerk gives her a numbered tag. Jennifer will drive her car to a specified area a delivery person will "carry out" the groceries and put them in Jennifer's car trunk.

The clerk closes the conversation by saying "Thank you for shopping at Don's. Have a nice day.". It is very common for the clerks to say rather robotic phrases at the check-out, like "Thank you for shopping at Don's. Have a nice day.". This phrase is intended to be a personalized advertising line, and it means "goodbye." Customers can answer "Good-bye." or "Thank you.".