Are you still open for business? Are you available now?

redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
Background: By the time I rushed to a barber's, I figured I was cutting it a bit too close - the barber's poles hung by the front door were already out. I looked into the store window and the owner, who was also the only barber at the shop, was sweeping the floor. Since other barbers' had closed early for winter solstice today, I tried my luck and asked if he would take one more customer before he left.

Which question would you use to ask the barber if he was still open for business today?

"Are you still open for business?"
"Are you available now?"
"Have you closed yet?"
None of the above

For a moment, I had reservations about "Are you still open for business" as it sounds like I'm asking him to clarify rumors about the shop going out of business, but given the context, I think the meaning is clear and it's one of the appropriate questions to ask.
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    (1) would be OK without "for business": "Are you still open?"
    I don't like (2). It sounds as though you'd made a prior arrangement with him to audition him for a barber shop quartet, and you want him to sing now.
    (3) is OK, but I'd prefer "already" to "yet": "Have you closed already?" You've used "have" correctly here, but "are" would also be correct, and then "closed" would be an adjective. The shop is either open or closed.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thank you for your suggestions, slej, Edinburgher.

    You've used "have" correctly here, but "are" would also be correct, and then "closed" would be an adjective. The shop is either open or closed.
    I've considered "Is the shop closed?" but there was a sense of weirdness that led me to rule it out as a possible option. I'm not able to formulate exactly why. Perhaps it's a little bit better to involve the only barber in the shop by saying "Have you closed already"?:)
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I'd get straight to the point and ask "Can I still get a haircut?" That changes the discussion from the somewhat theoretical concept of being open to a more practical concern. A barber who might answer the general question about being open with "Sorry, we're closed" might say "OK, come on in" when faced with the very real prospect of losing a paying customer.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    I agree with you Egmont. It'd be better to keep the conversation to a minimum and cut to the chase, especially when the barber may feel annoyed that you are keeping him late at work. You know there are a lot of horrible stories about last minute customers being treated unfairly.
     
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