Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

American English in Daily Life: Shopping for Groceries

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Wed, Oct 03, 2012 @ 07:03 AM

American English in Daily LIfe  shopping for groceriesAre you currently living in the United States or planning to move to the United States?

If so, one of your weekly tasks in your new life will be grocery shopping.

In this article, I will answer your questions about how to use American English in your daily life at the grocery store.

Read this article to learn how to order food at the counter using the correct measurements and find out about typical American norms for shopping. Don't forget to take the video quiz to test your knowledge and learn new vocabulary!




Q: How often do people go to the grocery store?


 calender grocery shoppingA: In many European countries, people stop at the neighborhood market or grocery store every evening.

That is not the case in the U.S. Most people in the U.S. do one big shopping trip each week and buy everything they need.

This is most common in rural and suburban areas.

In larger cities, people might go more often because they can't bring a huge load of groceries home in a car and they might live closer to a small market or grocery store.



Q: How do I say the amount that I want?


meat counterA: When we order fresh meat, cheese, fish, and salads (pasta salad, potato salad, bean salad) at the grocery store counter, we specify how many pounds we want.


To check the conversion from grams to pounds, please visit this site: Metric Conversions





Q: How do I ask the person at the counter for meat or cheese?


Formal and polite:

  • "I would like two pounds of American cheese, please."
  • "Could I have a quarter of a pound of salmon?"
  • "I would like to order three pounds of chicken breast."



  • "Can I get a half of a pound of potato salad?"
  • "Can I have three quarters of a pound of sliced cheddar cheese?"
  • "I'll have four pounds of sliced turkey."


More information on grocery shopping vocabulary



Grocery shopping vocabulary in English can be complicated! Don't worry if you don't know every term. Just keep going to the grocery store and keep trying to speak with the clerks. Eventually, you will learn how to correctly use the most important phrases.

Do you have still have questions? Please reach out to the English and Culture community on our Facebook page and we will try to answer your questions!


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Photo credit: krossbow, Naomi Ibuki,    qmnonic

Topics: English Lessons, Daily Life in the US

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