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Hello,

I'd like to ask native speakers a question:

What does a typical shopping list written in English look like?

You see, there are many uncountable nouns like soap, milk, tea, beer, coke etc.

According to what I've been told...

...you can order a coke / a milk / a coffee / a beer in a restaurant. There, it means a cup or glass of the particural beverage.

...you can't buy "a milk" in a shop. Is that true? In a shop, do I really have to say "Can I have a carton of milk / a can of beer / a bottle of coke"? instead of "a milk / a beer / a coke"??? I can't imagine your shopping lists, then.

2 cartons of milk

5 cans of beer

a bottle of coke

3 bars of soap

Honestly, do you really write shopping lists like that?

And I'm not mentioning the fact that the beverage might come in a different container.
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Comments  
Of course not. Shopping lists are scrawled personal messages that are often illegible and uninterpretable to all but the author. A typical list of mine might read: 'bans, milk, decaf, BRD...'. Quantities seldom if ever appear: shopping lists are just reminders, not order forms.

In the first place, we don't ask for milk in a shop, because the shops are self-service: you get it yourself. If you cannot find it, you say, 'Do you have any milk?' If you must ask the clerk for some, you need to mention the container size because it comes in several.
Hi,

I'd like to ask native speakers a question:

What does a typical shopping list written in English look like?

You see, there are many uncountable nouns like soap, milk, tea, beer, coke etc.

According to what I've been told...

...you can order a coke / a milk / a coffee / a beer in a restaurant. There, it means a cup or glass of the particural beverage. Yes

...you can't buy "a milk" in a shop. Is that true? In a shop, do I really have to say "Can I have a carton of milk / a can of beer / a bottle of coke"? instead of "a milk / a beer / a coke"??? I can't imagine your shopping lists, then. In practical terms, I shop in places where I pick up what I want and simply take it to the place where the cash register is. I don't remember the last time I actually asked someone for milk.

I buy beer by the case, by saying '12 Bud Lite, please'.

If I had to ask for Coke, I'd probably just say 'A large/small Coke, please'.

My shopping list would look like

milk

beer

coke

soap

I wouldn't bother to write the quantities.

Best wishes, Clive
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I guess you are doing an exercise at college or school?

Well, as the boys have said, in reality of course shopping lists look like random scrawled down notes. We don't bother to put down quantities because we know in our heads how much we need, they are just to remind us so we don't forget anything.

Most shops are self-service here, again, I can't remember the last time I had to ask for most of these things. The exception is off-licenses where some of the more expensive booze is behind the counter.

But thinking back to the past, no we didn't generally say 'a' whatever unless it was clear from that exactly what we wanted. You wouldn't ask for 'a' milk as they come in different size bottles/cartons. You'd say 'a pint of milk' 'two pints of milk' 'four pints of milk' etc. Beer - well you'd specify the brand and most of them are sold in packs not as single beers. so you'd ask for a 'four-pack of Stella' or 'a case of Bud'. Coke - usually say small or large. Soap. Again, you'd use the brand name but 'a bar of' would be the wording, not just 'a soap'.
Nona The BritBut thinking back to the past, no we didn't generally say 'a' whatever unless it was clear from that exactly what we wanted. You'd say 'a pint of milk' 'two pints of milk' 'four pints of milk' etc.
Interesting topic.

There is no "default" container size for milk that everyone thinks of when they hear the phrase "a carton of milk"? Emotion: wink Here, it would be the one-litre carton.
Nona The Britand most of them are sold in packs not as single beers

You're counting bottled beer of a single brand here, am I right? Emotion: smile If so, is this correct:

Q: How many beers did you buy?
A: Five.

or would you say:

Q: How much beer did you buy?
A: Five bottles.

P.S. Yes, I do admit I would ask "How much milk / chocolate / orange juice did you buy?". But with beer(s)...
Hi

I think I asked a similar question before and in it, I asked whether we can say in a restaurant, "I would like to have steak" because my personal take on this is that when you are ordering and not just stating your preferences, you should say substantively?? or quantitively like this -- "I would like to have a steak, well-done, please." (Is my take on this good?)

As to this person's question, eventhough I am not sure I will be welcomed to comment on this since he wanted a specific type of people to answer, but since I am commenting and at the same time, posing a question of my own, I think, it would be OK.

I think when you are in a store and assuming you have a reason not to get some grocery items by yourself and thus, you will ask a clerk, "Can you get me a 32-ounce bottle of orange juice?" and when you want to pay for it and don't know the price, you might want to ask, "How much is this bottle of orange juice" or "How much is this orange juice?"

I think specificity is recommended in those situations, but when writing the list of items to get and writing a list of items you like, then it is good for you to use in their uncountable forms, like this:

Today I would like to get:

milk

mashed potato

tuna

Food I like:

milk

mashed potato

tuna
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Thank you for your great and heplful answers!

You are right. I was too concerned with grammar books when I was writing my question. In my country, shops are self-service too and we don't write quantities in our shopping list either. Oops.

Two more questions for Clive:

I buy beer by the case, by saying '12 Bud Lite, please'.
If I understand it correctly, I could say "12 Stella" or "6 Carling" - without the plural -s ending.

If I had to ask for Coke, I'd probably just say 'A large/small Coke, please'.
Meaning a large/small bottle of coke, right?

And the final question for everyone:

If you get home with 3 cartons of milk (whatever the size of the cartons) in your bag, can you say "I bought 3 milks"?

Thanks again,

Palo
In the UK

Pastsimple, no there isn't a standard size any more. Milk used to just be sold in glass pint bottles, but these days you get plastic bottles of 1 pint, 2 pint, 4 pint, 6 pint. I don't know what they've got against odd numbers!

Believer, yes you've got the hang of it.
Nona The BritIn the UK

Pastsimple, no there isn't a standard size any more. Milk used to just be sold in glass pint bottles, but these days you get plastic bottles of 1 pint, 2 pint, 4 pint, 6 pint. I don't know what they've got against odd numbers!

Believer, yes you've got the hang of it.
Thanks. What about the beer question (many / much) above? Emotion: wink

P.S. You mentioned Bud. Just curious: What comes to your mind when hearing "Budweiser" in the UK? American or Czech Budweiser? Emotion: wink
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