Learning to speak English? Over the coming weeks we will present a daily conversation for you to practice, complete with audio and notes in your language. Today’s conversation is about going to the post office.

Postal clerk: What can I do for you today?

Carol: I need to mail this package to New York, please.

Postal clerk: OK, let’s see how much it weighs.…It’s about five pounds. If you send it express, it will get there tomorrow. Or, you can send it priority and it will get there by Saturday.

Carol: Saturday is fine. How much will that be?

Postal clerk: $11.35 [eleven thirty-five]. Do you need anything else?

Carol: Oh, yeah! I almost forgot. I need a book of stamps, too.

Postal clerk: OK, your total comes to $20.35 [twenty dollars and thirty-five cents].

Language notes

  • What can I do for you today? Notice that this question starts with “what,” so the intonation drops at the end of the question.
  • Or, you can send it priority: Notice the stress on “or,” which emphasizes that there is another possibility.
  • $11.35…$20.35: Notice the two different ways the postal clerk says the price. First, he says “eleven thirty-five,” without the words “dollars” and “cents”, then he says “twenty dollars and thirty-five cents.”
  • Oh, yeah! is an expression used here to mean “I just remembered something.” It’s often followed by “I almost forgot.”
  • Your total comes to is a way of saying “the cost is….”
Ready to learn more English? Our materials can help. And the U.S. Department of State has great resources for English teachers and students of all levels.