Top Tips for IELTS

How to answer speaking questions about shopping

In this lesson I show you ways to talk about shopping for IELTS in part 1 speaking.  The questions about shopping are divided into the types of question you are most likely to get in IELTS speaking.

You’ll also find lots of shopping vocabulary and idioms for shopping that you can borrow for shopping marked in bold. Note that the best vocabulary to use

is precise: the best words are often quite simple but they are exact in meaning e.g. retail park or loyalty card

contains common word combinations:  one of the best ways to use words is to put them together to make common phrases e.g. do the shopping or get a discount

that is varied: it’s okay to repeat language when we speak but you also want some variation too

might be idiomatic: idioms are great to use if you are confident about them. They aren’t necessary but they can make your language sound more advanced e.g. go on a shopping spree or window shop

Questions about shopping

The idea is you look at the questions, think about my possible answers and then make them true for you by using the vocabulary at the bottom of the lesson.

Habit questions

These questions ask you about your everyday shopping habits. Typically you’ll use present simple or past simple tenses to answer them and you may want to use other time phrases to say how often. Note the use of if clauses int here examples to vary the grammar.

Where do you normally shop? 

It depends slightly on what sort of shopping I’m doing. If I’m just doing the groceries, I’ll go to the supermarket, but if I need a little retail therapy then I generally go to the retail park where there’s every sort of shop available and I can window shop to my heart’s content.

When you do go shopping?

Typically I do the shopping at the weekend. There are times though when I’ll pop out to the local corner shop or newsagents if I need a paper or a bottle of milk.

Experience and time questions

These questions ask you about different times when you have shopped. Be careful how you use tenses. Past questions should normally be answered in the past. While it is normal to sue a present perfect at the start of a present perfect question , you may go on to use other tenses too.

Have you ever bought anything online?

Yes I have and I shop online fairly regularly. I do my grocery shopping online nowadays because it’s much more convenient to have it delivered to your door isn’t it? And you get a discount if you use your loyalty card. But I still prefer to shop for clothes on the high street. I prefer to try things on before I buy them.

When was the last time you bought a present for someone?

I guess it was for my wife’s birthday – that was just last month. I got her flowers of course but then I also got her a ring – it was an absolute bargain as it was in the sales.

Likes/dislikes questions

These are questions that ask you about what you like and dislike. Some of the language you need here is the language of likes and dislikes.

Do you prefer to shop in big stores or small shops?

I mostly prefer to shop in department stores. You get a much better selection there and the customer service is generally much better too. Sometimes I go to small boutiques for clothes shopping – it can be more fun.

Is there any kind of shopping you don’t enjoy?

To be honest I dislike most shopping. When I need a pair of shoes I just buy the first ones I see. When I was younger though I was a bit of a shopaholic and went on shopping sprees all the time – mostly for music and gadgets.

Your country/home town questions and opinion questions

These are question where you may need to use more “opinion vocabulary” and one way to extend your answers is to give a reason for that opinion.

What kind of shops are most popular where you live?

That’s a really hard question to answer because there are so many different shops. But I guess the new shopping malls are where most people go and they are more popular nowadays than the old markets. That’s probably because there are more facilities there and they’re just warmer and nicer places to be – outside can be cold in winter!

What are the advantages of shopping online?

I suppose the biggest advantage is that you normally get much more choice than you do on the high street. The you go online you can get something from almost any country in the world now – that’s not exactly the same as in regular shops where you just find the same old produce.

Shopping idioms and vocabulary

shop and words for shop

Shop is an important word with different combinations to learn:

go shopping = a general phrase

do the shoppingwhen you buy things you need probably from the supermarkey

shop aroundnot buy the first thing you see but look for better value or the best product

get = shop!!

purchase/make a purchase = a less common way of saying shop

types of shop

One question you might get is to talk about different types of shop. Here are some for you to think about. I have left out a lot of specialist shops:

a corner shop = a small, local shop that sells a little of everything – it needn’t be on a corner

a newsagentsa shop that sells newspapers

a chemist’s/pharmacya chemist’s is the British way of talking about a pharmacy or a shop that sells medicines

a department store = a large store that sells a range of items in different departments such as food and clothing etc

a supermarket = a large shop that sells many different kinds of goods and food

a hypermarket = a larger supermarket

a market = an open area where there are different stalls selling goods/food

a farmers market = a market that specialises in food sold directly by farmers

a flea market = a market where antiques and second hand goods are sold

a second hand shop = a shop where used goods are sold

a discount store/pound shop = a shop where all the goods are sold at a discount

a boutique = a smaller shop normally specialising in clothes

an online retailer = a shop that is on the internet

a shopping channel = a television channel that is dedicated to promoting sales


the high street = a British term for the main street in a town/city where the largest shops are

a mall = a building where there are several different shops

a shopping centre = another term for a mall

a retail park = an area normally on the outskirts of a town/city with several large retail outlets

ways of shopping/types of shopper

to browse = to look for goods in shop before you buy

to window shop = to go shopping without meaning to buy anything

be a shopaholic = a fun term meaning that you are addicted to shopping

go on a shopping spree = to go shopping and buys lots of items that you may not be able to afford

to indulge in some retail therapy = a fun term meaning that you go shopping to make yourself feel better

to bargain = to try and reduce the price you pay for something

to look for bargains = to look for goods that are good value

be a fashion victim = be the type of person who must have the latest fashion

to try something on = to put on clothes to see if they are your size

to shop online = to shop on the internet

to do the grocery shopping = technically to buy fruit and vegetables, but normally used to mean to buy food and drinks for the household

price and money

be on sale = be at a cheaper price than normal

the sales = a time when most/some goods are on sale

be pricey = be quite expensive

be affordable = you have enough money to buy it

be value for money = not the same as cheap, rather it means that it is worth the money you spent on it

ask for a discount = ask to pay less

get a refund = ask to get your money back if the goods are faulty in some way

to cost an arm and a leg = an idiom meaning very expensive

make an impulse purchase/buy = buy something when you didn’t mean to

be careful with money = not spend more money than you need to

be on a budget = not have much to spend or only spend the money you have

other ideas

have a loyalty card = have a card from a shop that offers you a discount or some special offer

be a loyal customer = use the same shop for a long period of time

offer good customer service = help the customer

opening hours = when the shop is open

Other lessons that can help you

Habit questions

How to talk about habits in part 1 speaking

Opinion questions

Opinion vocabulary for IELTS speaking

Extending your answer

How to extend your answer in IELTS speaking


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