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I learned English as a second language. As I have never lived in any English speaking country, sometimes I don't know what to say in common daily situations.

One good example of this occurred when I stayed in US for three weeks, beginning of this year. Sometimes I went to a store, was asked what I was looking for, but I didn't know the best way to answer as I wasn't looking for anything specific, just taking a look.

What could I say in this situations, when you don't want the crew's assistance or are not looking for something in particular?

Thanks,

  • 3
    In the UK it's common to dismiss the salesperson with [I'm] just browsing [thank you]. – FumbleFingers May 28 '15 at 19:21
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    I consider this question to be too broad for English.SE, but it might be a good question for English Language Learners. – 200_success May 28 '15 at 19:23
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    Ah, ok. So the word is browsing rather than watching. Thanks, @FumbleFingers. – Arman McHitarian May 28 '15 at 19:23
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    "I'm only looking, thanks" is also a possibility. – Mari-Lou A May 28 '15 at 19:25
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    "Bigger community" is not an excuse for posting to the wrong place. If everyone thinks like that, then ELL will never prosper. – 200_success May 28 '15 at 19:28
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"I'm just browsing, thanks" would be a good response in England or Australia.

6

There are so many options for this:

Clerk: Can I help you find anything?

You:

  • No thanks, I'm doing fine.
  • I'm good.
    • This is very informal but very natural for a native speaker. Depending on how you say it, it can also come off a bit tersely.
  • I'm just looking/browsing, thanks.
    • "Browsing" is a great word for when you're not necessarily planning to buy anything
  • Not right now, I'll let you know if I need anything.
    • This is a great way to imply gently that you'd rather they not bother you. It may be too subtle for some shopkeepers but it's usually understood as a polite way to ask to be left to your own devices.
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    +1, Nice edit. Those are probably the most common replies, along with the simple "no thank you". – DCShannon May 28 '15 at 19:32
  • @crosscounter I tried to look up visual minority, and still don't know what it means. – DCShannon May 28 '15 at 19:34
  • I think I misunderstood the comment in the first place. thanks for your combined answer post – Crosscounter May 28 '15 at 19:35
  • "I'm good" is very natural for younger native speakers, IMO. No one is asking "how are you?", they're asking if you need help finding something. "No, thank you" or "I'm just browsing" are sufficient. Sorry for the rant but this and "No problem" instead of "you're welcome" as a response to "Thank you" are a pet peeve of mine! :-) – Kristina Lopez May 28 '15 at 22:50
  • @KristinaLopez "I'm good" in this case means "I don't need help", not "I'm well". – Catija May 28 '15 at 23:29
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The answers can change according to context as well as how the clerk approaches you, but these work in most cases:

  1. I am fine. & I am good. or I got it/(I think) I will be ok.
  2. Just browsing.

Keep in mind that your body gesture is important too. (crossed arms/open palms to resist the approach is a clear sign that you don't want to be bothered)

Edit: I lived in Toronto, ON Canada for 10 years.

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    +1, "I'm good" is the first thing that comes to mind for me, but I would expect 'looking' rather than 'browsing' (US) – DCShannon May 28 '15 at 19:24
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    @DCShannon Looking is definitely out there - I felt that browsing is more "formal" and universal. I would be more inclined to say 'looking' in most cases. – Crosscounter May 28 '15 at 19:25
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    "I'm good" is very idiomatic but it may seem a bit odd coming from a non-native speaker? It was my first thought, too, to be honest. – Catija May 28 '15 at 19:26
  • @Catija I believe the asker/OP specifically wanted "what natives use" – Crosscounter May 28 '15 at 19:32
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  • You could also say "I'm just scouting around".

But it wouldn't be wrong if you answered: "I'm just looking, thank you."

  • "scout around" (phrasal verb) look in different places for something
  • "We scouted around to find the best price." UE.com
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    I think scouting around would be a little unusual in AmE. Scouting around for what? would be my immediate response as a retail worker. I'm just looking or I'm just browsing or I'm just having a look are rather more noncommittal. – choster Mar 5 '15 at 1:17
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Window shopping

Oh, are you buying something expensive? No, I'm just window shopping.

  • Technically, "window shopping" is done outside of stores, looking in the display windows. – Hot Licks Mar 5 '15 at 3:53

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