Where is the cashier?

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meijin

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi, when you are looking for the counter where you pay in a supermarket etc., I think you ask...

1. Where is the cashier?
2. Where is the check-out?
3. Where can I pay?

etc.

I've always wondered why you ask #1 in English. I've just looked up "cashier" in dictionaries again and also in exsiting WR threads, and made sure that the word means "a person handling payments and receipts in a shop, bank, or business" (source: Oxford English Dictionary). The only exception is probably that the word also means "cashier's counter" in Malaysian English and Hong Kong English, according to one or two of the existing WR threads.

I'm not sure if this is the right question, but......why do you use the singular form? Is it because the store/shop may have only one cashier at the moment? Is it because you only pay to one of them? Or is it because the cashiers are considered as one "cashier" (like "staff")?

In Japan, we ask "Where is the register (counter)?" If you ask a salesclerk or shop assistant "Where is the cashier?" (in Japanese), you'll probably be asked "Which cashier?" or "Do you know his or her name?" or "Why do you need to talk to one of our cashiers?" or "They should be at the counter. You mean you can't find any there? I'll fetch one immediately."
We look for the place, while you (who ask "Where's the cashier?") look for the person/people. Very interesting.
 
  • Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    I'd use 2 & 3. or "Where is the cash desk?"

    I only use "cashier" when referring to a bank teller and asking "Where is the cashier?" would suggest that the person fulfilling that role was not at his/her desk/window - not where you expect them to be.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    but......why do you use the singular form? Is it because the store/shop may have only one checkout at the moment? Is it because you only pay to one of them? Or is it because the checkouts are considered as one "checkout" (like "staff")?
    All of those, :) but personally, I ask "Where do I pay?" or "Where d' y' pay?"
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I would tend to use "the cashier" to mean the person staffing the till or checkout and "Where is the cashier" suggests that he/she is absent and the till is therefore unstaffed.

    In a small shop I'd probably use the singular, otherwise the plural "Where are the checkouts/tills". Or, as has already been suggested, "Where d'you pay?" :)
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thanks all. Well, that's surprising. There's a Japanese website where English learners ask questions and Japanese or non-Japanese English teachers who proudly show their current great career (English-related) and face photo answer them, some Japanese teachers who call themselves a professional teacher, interpreter, president of an English school, etc. all suggest using one of the following (they also suggest "Where can I pay this?" etc., though).

    Where is the cashier?
    Do you know where the cashier is?
    Could you tell me where the cashier is?


    One British teacher who appeared there didn't suggest any of the "cashier" versions.
    Maybe these "cashier" versions are very common in North America, where many Japanese people go to study English.
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    I'd use 2 & 3. or "Where is the cash desk?"

    I only use "cashier" when referring to a bank teller and asking "Where is the cashier?" would suggest that the person fulfilling that role was not at his/her desk/window - not where you expect them to be.
    I wouldn't use "cash desk" in American English, but otherwise I agree.

    A person who rings up purchases in a shop such as a clothing store, often has other duties as well. He or she doesn't just stand at the cash register all the time, unless the store is very busy. Also, there are often many cash registers - a department store will have one in every department - but when the store is not busy they will not all be open. So first you have to find someone working there, and then they will tell you where to take your purchase. ("I can help you over here.") That's why it's sometimes necessary to ask for the cashier, or sales clerk, instead of for the "cash desk," or cash register.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Where is the cashier?
    Do you know where the cashier is?
    Could you tell me where the cashier is?


    Maybe these "cashier" versions are very common in North America, where many Japanese people go to study English.
    Yes, it is common in AE to ask to find "the cashier", meaning "the person who I pay for my purchases". We also ask where the "checkout" is. Either way, we are asking "where should I go, to pay for my purchases (to check out)?"

    It would sound odd to say "where do I go to pay?" In a small store it's the cashier. In a large store it's the checkout (the area with several cash register lines).
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thank you all very much for the additional replies. I've learned a lot.

    So first you have to find someone working there, and then they will tell you where to take your purchase. ("I can help you over here.") That's why it's sometimes necessary to ask for the cashier, or sales clerk, instead of for the "cash desk," or cash register.
    In a small store it's the cashier. In a large store it's the checkout (the area with several cash register lines).
    These were particularly informative. I now see why customers sometimes need to look for the cashier (first). Here in Japan (or Tokyo to be more precise), I think at least one cashier is always present at the counter in a supermarket or department store. In busy restaurants, sometimes no one is there at the counter, but there's a bell or buzzer, and if you ring or press it, someone will come shortly.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    There just isn't one answer and this is one of those cases were it can be asked many different ways.

    Where is the checkout?
    Where can/do I checkout?
    Do I pay at the front?
    Where is the register?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Where is the register?
    This one would just get you blank looks in most parts of the UK.

    We do still use the term "cash register" to mean the integrated piece of equipment with a built-in cash drawer that prints out the receipt for you, but most modern stores have changed over to EPOS terminals with barcode scanners and computer-type screens with keyboards. :)
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    'Registers' are what teachers used to call every morning at school in the olden days*. And the book they would enter the results in.

    *They still might do so nowadays - I don't know.
     
    Last edited:

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Our teachers called roll (or attendance). From the roll book.

    There's no winning, is there?
     

    meijin

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    I think the best choice for English learners is "Where's the checkout?", because its meaning is crystal clear and it works in both AmE and BE. "Where do I/you pay?" will probably work too, but a rude sales clerk or shop assistant who identified you as a non-native English speaker (by your poor pronunciation) might mockingly answer, "You pay at a checkout". :(
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I think the best choice for English learners is "Where's the checkout?", because its meaning is crystal clear and it works in both AmE and BE. "Where do I/you pay?" will probably work too, but a rude sales clerk or shop assistant who identified you as a non-native English speaker (by your poor pronunciation) might mockingly answer, "You pay at a checkout". :(
    Increasingly in BE, if you prefer them, you can ask specifically "Where is/are the self-service checkout(s)?". :D
     
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