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Scenario: Since my feet are different in size, I wanted to ask the teller at a shoe store if I could buy a pair of shoes that have different sizes (i.e. one shoe is slightly bigger than the other). I am a non-native English speaker and was unable to express my point in one simple, unambiguous question. How should I phrase my question in this case? Thank you very much.

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  • What have you come up with so far?
    – Lawrence
    Aug 11, 2017 at 2:06
  • @Lawrence At the cashier, I asked "can I buy a pair of shoes with different sizes for each?" and it got the teller "completely lost", so I had to explain my point word by word (which made me feel a bit defeated).
    – cody
    Aug 11, 2017 at 2:57
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    You could start by telling the shop assistant that your left and right feet aren't the same size. That helps set the context for using the phrase different sizes.
    – Lawrence
    Aug 11, 2017 at 3:13
  • @Lawrence I really appreciate your help. Yeah, the teller got my point once I explained my situation. In this case, as an English speaker, what would you say to the teller to address this demand, naturally? My thought has been tangled up with my native tongue, so strong that I cannot think of a better way to say it... :-(
    – cody
    Aug 11, 2017 at 3:38
  • What you said was fine. The problem was probably in trying to determine different from what. That's where context comes in. If you say that your left and right feet aren't the same size, then it's left different from right. Otherwise, it might be new different from old, or buy two pairs, the first pair in one size and the second pair in another. From here, you can ask for individual shoes that match each foot.
    – Lawrence
    Aug 11, 2017 at 3:50

1 Answer 1

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I think that the most concise way of saying this is that you need a pair of shoes not of matching sizes.

But as @Lawrence commented, the most natural approach would be to open with a statement explaining why you need that. There are many ways of phrasing that. You could ask: My feet are different sizes. Can I buy a non-matching pair? Another way would be: My feet aren't the same size. Is it possible to buy two different-sized shoes?

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