English Supermarket Vocabulary

Groceries

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The items you buy at the supermarket are called “groceries”. If I go to the supermarket and buy some apples, laundry detergent and napkins these are the groceries I bought.

“We are out of food in the house. I need to get some groceries.”

Aisle

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The aisle is a row of products in the store. The typical American supermarket is set up with about 12 to 15 aisles or rows. They are set up in lines starting from the front of the store and going to the back. The aisles have a sign above them that tells you what is sold in that row.

“The bread is in aisle 3.”

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Cashier

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This is the person that you pay when you are done shopping. They are behind a counter and they have a computer that they use to enter prices.

“I tried to pay the cashier with my credit card, but it was declined.”

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Lane

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The cashiers are set up in rows of about ten and they are called lanes. The lanes are numbered and a cashier may tell you “I can check you out in Lane 2.” This means that the cashier will take care of you in Lane 2.

“All of the lanes have lines. It’s going to take forever to get out of here.”

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Shopping Cart

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This is a wagon like cart that is made of metal bars and can be pushed by its handle. Anything you buy in the store is put in these while you shop.

“I’m not going to buy a lot. I won’t need a shopping cart.”

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Cold Cuts

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These are sliced or cut meats like ham or turkey that are used to put on sandwiches.

“We’ll have to buy some cold cuts to make sandwiches.”

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Coupon

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This is a small piece of paper, usually cut out of a newspaper, which you give to the cashier when you pay for what you buy. The coupon gives you a discount on an item you buy.

“I’m going to use this coupon for $.50 off of diapers.”

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Meal Deal

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Many supermarkets offer a combination of food sold for one price that you can eat for dinner. An example of a “meal deal” would be an offer of a plate of turkey, potatoes and green beans for $5.95.

“They’ve got a meal deal at Randall’s for $7.00.”

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Deli

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This is the part of the store where you buy meat and cheese for sandwiches.

“I’m going to get a pound of Black Forest ham at the deli.”

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Bakery

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This is the part of the store where you buy cakes and other dessert type food.

“They have a great selection of pastries in the bakery.”

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Dairy

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This is where the food items like milk and cheese are found.

“I need some milk and cheese from the dairy section.”

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Produce

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The section where you find fruits and vegetables.

“You’ll find the carrots and the apples in the produce section.”

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Condiments

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These are any items that go on food like ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, relish, etc…

“I’m going to stop in the condiment aisle to get pepper and salt.”

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Cleaning Supplies

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In this aisle you will find all your household cleaners, bleach, mops, and sponges.

“We are going to need some cleaning supplies to get this place clean.”

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Seasonal

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This is the section where you would find beach toys in the summer, Halloween costumes in the fall and Christmas things in the winter. This section always changes to fit people’s needs for that time of year.

“During the month of February you will find Valentine’s Day chocolates and cards in the seasonal section of the store.”

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Check out

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This expression is another way to express that you are going to pay.

“Sir, are you ready to check out?” This is like saying: “Sir, are you ready to pay?”

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Paper or Plastic?:

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When you go to pay for your food the cashier will ask you this question. What they are asking is if you want your groceries put in plastic bags or paper bags.

“Sir, would you like paper or plastic?

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Express Lane:

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This is the lane where you can pay for your groceries if you only have a few items. Usually it’s for people who have ten or less things to buy.

“I’m only buying three things. I can use the express lane.”

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Cash or Credit?:

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Almost all supermarkets in the United States accept cash, credit card and even checks as forms of payment. Since cash and credit card are the most common way to pay the cashier will usually say, “Cash or Credit?” when you are ready to pay.

“Ma’am, will that be cash or credit?

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Please swipe your card:

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If you pay with a credit card the cashier will ask you to slide or swipe your credit card in the small screen/computer attached to the counter that takes your credit card information.

“If that is all you are going to buy please swipe your card.”

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To scan an item:

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Each product that you buy in the grocery store and most other stores too, will have a bar code on the package. This bar code is placed close to the cash register’s bar code reading device and the machine registers the purchase. It then adds it to your bill. Many stores let customers scan their own purchases and pay by entering their credit card or cash into the register.

“The cashier was scanning my purchases while I helped bag them.”

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On sale:

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This will be written on a sign near the product you want to buy if they are selling it for a discounted price.

“Let’s go to Target. They have lawn furniture on sale.”

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The total comes to…/That’ll be…

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The cashier many times tells you the total price of what you purchased by saying one of these expressions.

“_That’ll be_ $47.59. Cash or credit?”

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Ice or Stamps?

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While you are putting your food on the counter to check out almost always the cashier will ask you if you need ice or stamps. Stamps are kept in the cashier’s drawer and ice is located right outside the store. Customers can pay for both at the cash register and get them on their way out.

“Did you find everything that you need? Do you need ice or stamps?”

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To bag the groceries

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In the supermarket when an employee puts the items you purchased in the plastic or paper bags it’s called “bagging” the groceries.

“If the store is really busy you may have to bag the groceries yourself.”

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Do you need help out?

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This is another question asked by almost every cashier after you pay for your groceries. When a cashier asks this he wants to know if you need an employee of the store to help you get the bags of groceries to your car and put them in your car. I am 36 years old and healthy and they always ask me this so I assume it is required for them to ask everyone!

“Sir, do you need help out?”

Exercises to Practice

  • Conversation Activity for Supermarket Expressions
  • Script for Conversation Activity on Supermarket Vocabulary
  • Supermarket Vocabulary Listening Activity
  • Supermarket Vocabulary Fill in the Blanks
  • Supermarket Vocabulary Word Order
  • Supermarket Vocabulary Fill in the Blanks
  • Matching Supermarket Vocabulary