Have you ever gone shopping somewhere and had trouble getting what you wanted because you didn't know the English words?

Maybe you had trouble finding the thing that people use to carry the food, or maybe you did not know how to ask if something was in the store.

Let's head to the grocery store and learn how to use words for shopping.

When you see a description in bold, just keep reading to learn the meaning of the word and how to use it.

A grocery store aisle with many products on the shelf. Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Step 1: Finding the Food

You're going to the store because you're making a pasta sauce and you need some canned tomatoes.

You need help with a few things:

  1. Where can you find canned tomatoes in the store?

  2. You want the ones that are cheaper.

  3. You also need some help finding the thing that holds all your food while you shop.

You ask a friendly employee for help, who tells you:

  1. The canned tomatoes are in Aisle 3.

  2. The canned tomatoes that are on sale are on the bottom shelf.

  3. The shopping carts are right next to the entrance.

A grocery store aisle Photo by Fikri Rasyid on Unsplash

The important words mean:

  1. Aisle: the space between the shelves in a store.

  2. On sale: when a product is cheaper than usual.

  3. Shopping cart: the wheeled devices that hold your food.


Where did the employee say you could find the tomatoes you were looking for?

Step 2: Getting the Food

You go to Aisle 3, but when you get there, you can't find the tomatoes!

You let an employee know and ask:

  1. What does the empty shelf mean?

  2. Are there other cheaper canned tomatoes in the store?

A mostly sold out grocery store produce section. Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

The employee tells you:

  1. They aren't sold out of the canned tomatoes.

  2. They have some more in stock in the back of the store.

Canned tomatoes in stock on shelves. Photo by Joshua Olsen on Unsplash

The important words mean:

  1. Sold out: all of the products have been sold.

  2. In stock: The products have not all been sold.

Step 3: Leaving the Store

You have what you came for! Now it's time to go home.

But first, you need to figure out a few things:

  1. Where you pay for your products.

  2. There are a lot of people waiting to pay. You wonder if there is somewhere you can pay for your own products without an employee so you can save some time.

The employee tells you:

  1. The checkout is always busy at this time of day.

  2. The lines will be shorter if you use the self-checkout.

The checkout counter at a grocery store. An employee rings items through a scanner. Photo by sq lim on Unsplash

The important words mean:

  1. Checkout: where a store employee scans your products before you pay.

  2. Line: where people wait to pay.

  3. Self-checkout: the checkout where customers scan their own products.


Which answers best describe where you pay for your groceries?

Take Action

Get some practice shopping in English! It doesn't have to be at a grocery store — these words and phrases work anywhere.

A clothing store, with men's clothing items hanging off a rack and folded on shelves. Photo by Clark Street Mercantile on Unsplash


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