Conversational American English: Reading & Listening

Here is a great way to practice your conversational American English. Read the comments by native English speakers about shopping. The words and idioms you may not know are highlighted in red and definitions are given. Read the passages once and review the definitions. Then click on the play button of the music player to listen as you read along.

What are your thoughts on shopping?

A: I like shopping very much. I like to go from one shop to another. If I want to buy a pair of shoes or a shirt, I go to at least three different shops to pick the best one both in quality and price. Shopping is a very relaxing activity and I enjoy doing it.


pick: choose
quality: degree of excellence
activity: exercise


B: I don’t like shopping in a mall. I think it’s a waste of time. Whenever I go shopping, I go with a very distinct purpose in mind. I just don’t like lingering around shops and stores for no reason. Once I get to the shop, I go in, get what I need, and get out of there as quickly as I can.


mall: shopping center
waste of time:
: loss of time; not a good use of time
linger: stay somewhere without aim
for no reason: aimlessly


C: Going to the grocery store is something that I despise. It takes twenty minutes to get there and twenty to get back. You spend at least half an hour in the store itself. If there is a long line at the cashier, then you may waste another fifteen to twenty minutes as well.


despise: hate
line: queue
cashier: an employee who handles money in a store


D: I like to go shopping in a mall or a big department store. You can get everything you need under one roof. The best solution is to do one big shopping every month. You can save a lot of money buying everything you need for the whole month like meat, mineral water, washing liquids, for example, and store them for when you need them. I hate not being able to do something because I have run out of staple items.


under one roof: in one place
run out of something: have no more of something
staple items: important food products

E: I like to go shopping in small stores because the atmosphere is always friendlier. We are lucky to have a small grocery store less than two minutes away from our flat, and the lady who runs it is very kind and helpful. I always seem to end up having a good chat with her before I leave. Shopping there has become a small but very important aspect of our daily routine.


run something: operate something
end up doing something: find oneself in a situation which was not planned
aspect: a particular side of something


F: Shopping gets me irritated. It puts me on edge when there are many people in front of me in line. I go mad when the person in front of me buys twenty different things and acts like there’s nobody behind him. And there I am with only one item in my hand waiting and suffering until he is done with his shopping. When I get to the cashier, there are 10 people in front of me; but when it’s my turn, there’s no one behind me. I get angry with myself for picking the wrong line.


put somebody on edge: make somebody nervous
go mad: get very angry
act like: behave like
item: article, product
suffer: feel pain; experience something unpleasant
when it’s my turn: when I am next in the line

G: I love window shopping. I usually do it on Sunday afternoons when the stores are all closed, but the sun is still out. This is a great opportunity to get some fresh air and see what are in the stores without being hassled by salespeople.


sun is still out: sun is still shining
hassle: bother; annoy


H: I like to do the shopping quick. I buy things with a single purpose in mind. I go straight to the item I want to buy, and I don’t look at other items while I do that. That’s why I don’t like shopping with women. They are easily distracted and often want to shop and look at everything.


go straight: go directly
item: article, product
distract: take attention away


I: I only go shopping when I know I have plenty of time. For me it is a slow, but enjoyable experience. I like walking through the aisles and look at everything thoroughly, so the next time I want something I know where to find it. I always remember where I have seen a particular item that I need. It’s mainly the price that sticks in my head and I know where I can get these things the cheapest. I know by heart how much things cost and which shops have them.


aisle: long narrow passage
thoroughly: carefully and completely
particular: special, different from others
that sticks in my head: that I remember
know by heart: know from memory


J: I always bring a shopping list with me when I go shopping. The reason is that if I don’t write down what I need to buy, I will inevitably forget something by the time I get to the store. This practice only evolved, however, after many years of not getting everything I needed when I went to the store.


inevitably: surely, undoubtedly
practice: habit
evolve: develop gradually


K: As a retired person, I love shopping because it is a very sociable experience. Not going to work everyday anymore, I am a little out of the loop regarding local news and gossip. I always see people I have not seen for a long time. We talk about our lives, health, and, of course, children and grandchildren. We talk also about politics and other problems, and exchange information about people we know. For example, the other day I came across one of my classmates from school whom I had not seen for 20 years. We were happy to see each other and it was great to catch up on what he was doing.


retired person: one who has given up his or her working life
sociable experience: time spent with people
out of the loop: uninformed, not having knowledge of sth
gossip: unfriendly conversation about people
come across: meet by chance
catch up on: get informed about

Thank you to Barna Takacs for providing this material to ESL Mania. Additional content can be purchased from his website,