How to bargain in English


My name is Michaela and I am originally from Poland. For the past five years, I have worked for an international company in the retail sector. One of the things I love most about my job is that I travel a lot, and travelling is by far one of my biggest hobbies. Once I finish up with work-related activities I enjoy going to malls, antique stores, markets, and anywhere else I can get my hands on unique items. And if I'm on holiday, well, then you'll find me spending my days looking for the best deals.

Years ago I had a difficult time shopping in English-speaking countries because I just wasn't very secure with my vocabulary. And I definitely don't want to get bogged down in language difficulties when making an important transaction for that perfect pair of shoes or stylish set of cushions! This is especially true at markets and bazaars as the price isn't fixed so I haggle and bargain to my heart's content. Instead of letting a language barrier stand in my way, I started collecting some useful phrases to up the enjoyment I get when shopping in English.

Here are a few examples:

- "I'm just looking, thanks." This is a great one because often I am just looking. When I'm on the hunt for a bargain price, this line can help create the illusion that I'm not interested so the merchant gives me a better price to hook me.

- "Is that the best you can do?" This phrase won't get you anywhere in retail shops with fixed prices. However, if you are in a position to haggle this phrase coupled with a raised eyebrow could get the store holder to lower the price.

- "Do you have this in X?" and "Can I try this on?" Have you ever left a store because you didn't know how to express these questions in English? I know I used to let shyness get the way of a good purchase, but not anymore!

- "I'm looking for…". Sometimes you know exactly what you want but don't know where to find it in the store. This phrase helps speed up the process of getting the items you want.

- Look for words like "sale" or "two for one". "Clearance sales" and "closing down sales" are sure to have extremely low, bargain prices.


Bargaining with vendors and haggling at markets is all about negotiation at its core. And learning how to negotiate is also a key business skill. Berlitz offers customized English courses that cover a variety of topics, and you can increase your English negotiation skills by taking advantage of the Berlitz Negotiation series.

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