Online shopping
How often do you buy things online? Why? What was the last thing you bought online? Do you ever see things in shops and then buy them online? Why/Why not? Do you think the popularity of online shops is changing your town or city center? Why/Why not?
  • Off the top of your head (idiom) - from the knowledge you have in your memory.
  • Castor (noun) - a small wheel, usually one of a set, that is attached to the bottom of a piece of furniture so that it can be moved easily.
  • Secondhand (adj.) - owned or used in the past by someone else.
  • Brick-and-mortar (adj.) - used to describe a traditional business that operates in a building, when compared to one that operates over the internet.
  • Suspect (adj.) - possibly false or dangerous.
  • Takeaway (noun) - a meal cooked and bought at a shop or restaurant but taken somewhere else, often home, to be eaten, or the shop or restaurant itself.
  • To gut (verb) - to destroy or remove the inside parts of a building.
  • High street (noun) - a street where the most important shops and businesses in a town are.
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Questions and Answers
M: How often do you buy things online?

R: Well, a lot more than I used to because I'm still buying things for the house, and now I'm a responsible adult, I need to do things like order decorations and materials to make repairs to the place.

M: What was the last thing you bought online?

R: I have to check to be sure. But off the top of my head, I think it was a set of castors for my bed. There are these tiny things that stop the bed wheels from moving and damaging things, now that the bed is where it should be.

M: Do you ever see things in shops and then buy them online?

R: Sometimes. Especially books, you can usually get them online secondhand and for a way better price than in then brick-and-mortar stores. I'm not sure I'd get my food shopping order online. I think the quality is a bit suspect.

M: Do you think the popularity of online shops is changing your town or city centre?

R: Oh, it's absolutely exploded since the pandemic. People order things in all the time, from takeaways to the regular weekly shop. It's sort of gutted the high street, which is a bit sad. But people have access to a wider range of goods and services than before and things are moving into replace what has been lost. So it's not a complete disaster.
M: You know, Rory, what's the worst part of online shopping? You know what it is?

R: The waiting?

M: No, Rory, the worst part of online shopping is having to get up and get your cards out of your purse. This is the worst thing.

R: Well, you might not even have to do that if you have like an autofill. Sorry, am I taking the joke seriously again?

M: Yeah, but sometimes you still need this, you know, like, like three numbers. And maybe you forget them. You don't remember them. So you kind of have to get up. Right, dear listener, so, how can we paraphrase shopping online or online shopping?

R: Buying things online. Buying things on the internet or the net.

M: On the internet. Yep. How often... Or we can say like, more often now than I used to. Please make sure you say used to. Like before I did that but not anymore. So like more often now than I used to. I order things online. I order decorations, and materials for the house online. I order materials to make repairs. Make repairs in your house. So a nice collocation. I order materials to make repairs online. And you can say that I order decorations for my house on Amazon. Yeah?

R: How much are Amazon paying you to advertise?

M: No, I'm interested in the preposition. Is it on or in or at Amazon?

R: It's on Amazon.

M: Yeah, Amazon people, just...

R: Pay us money for advertising.

M: We can say that Amazon is a marketplace or a marketplace shop. So I usually buy things on marketplace shops such as Amazon, for example, or I shop online using different marketplaces. You can also say that I shop directly, so I shop, I go shopping, and I shop directly on social media. And Rory, did you know that actually in the US, lots of people buy things on Instagram or TikTok, or just directly on social media?

R: Yeah, I heard about this. There's a special kind of link that you can have. I briefly contemplated doing it myself.

M: So but you don't do it?

R: No, I didn't. I don't know why I don't do it. Probably because I don't produce enough products.

M: If you don't remember, a good phrase to use is off the top of my head. Off the top of my head. It's kind of like, kind of, oh, I can't give you the answer now. But it's this.

R: Well, if someone asks you randomly, like what the last thing you bought was, some people do this all the time. How are they supposed to remember? And in the exam, you don't have your phone. So off the top of my head, as near as I can remember, or as best I can remember. However, I am checking my phone now, and the last thing I bought was actually not the castors for the floor. It was in fact a very, very small bag to take with me to a music festival I'm going to.
M: Oh, okay, nice. Yeah, so you can say like, what was the last thing you bought online? Ooh, I... Off the top of my head, maybe it was a bag, maybe it was, I don't know, milk. Yeah, or like I would have to check my phone to find out. I would have to do it. Yeah. I'd have to check my phone to find out, off the top of my head, I think it was...

R: Yeah, with the contraction it's better.

M: And Rory said... Castors? What did you say?

R: Castors are a thing that you put under wheels to stop them from moving around. So it's like a small ball with rubber on the bottom. And when the wheels move, they only move in the ball, they don't move the whole bed, for example, if you've got a bed on wheels.

M: Go to Google Images and type in castors. And you'll see the pictures. Rory here used a very good strategy. He used a very specific word to answer this question. What was the last thing you bought online? You, dear listener, can choose a very specific item, like a sophisticated band nine word and say it. So for example, Rory, what else can we say? Like super...

R: An electron microscope. A nuclear fission reactor. You could just, you could just make something up. Like that's a... That could go really well or horribly wrong for you.

M: Yeah, go to like IKEA. IKEA website. Okay, dear listener? And choose a very specific thing that you can remember. So if you can remember this word, okay, fine. Maybe like choose one or two. Kind of Something for your house, maybe. Or I don't know, like, maybe something for the kitchen. Сhoose two words, remember them. And hey! Band nine vocabulary. You see? This is how you create a situation for band nine. Can I say make a purchase? Like the last purchase, I made... Or I purchased a painting.

R: Yes.

M: But the word purchase, is it okay to use? Or is it too formal for speaking?

R: It sounds a bit formal, but I don't see the problem with it apart from that. I purchased something online, I purchased these castors.

M: I can get books online. I can get books in usual stores or shops, so buy them or get to them. You can get books online for a way better price. A way better price? Just like for a better price.

R: A much better price or a far better price.

M: Way makes it informal and natural. You can get books online for a way better price. Than where? iI ordinary shops, in usual shops or...

R: Oh, or brick-and-mortar stores. But that's just the physical stores.

M: Yeah. So we contrast online shops, online stores, and the brick and mortar shops. The brick and mortar? Like ordinary offline shops. Yeah, we can call them offline stores or offline shops. So the brick and mortar stores. You can also use this in your essays. You order things online or you make an order. Yeah?

R: Or you place an order. Just thinking about it there.

M: Yeah, or you purchase. Rory, what did you mean when you said the quality is a bit suspect? Suspect?

R: It just means that the quality is not guaranteed. It might be really good or it might be very bad. You don't know. So you suspect that it might not be so great. And I think with online food orders, it can be very good or it can be very bad. Depending.
M: But here, it's an adjective, yeah?

R: Yeah.

M: Like possibly false or dangerous. Like a suspect bag. Strange bag, suspicious. Yeah? Or for example, the results were suspect. And also, dear listener, the recent trend is... We call it ROPO. Research online, and purchase offline. So it's kind of vice versa. You first do your research online, you check out what's going on with a kettle you want to buy to make the best tea ever. And then you go to a brick-and-mortar store, to offline shops and you purchase the item offline. Yep. Research online, and purchase offline.

R: That's the first time I've ever heard of this.

M: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Interesting. And it's kind of it's now kind of people are doing it now. So they don't go to physical stores first, but they research online and then buy the things. Maybe to avoid this craziness with the delivery. Because the delivery is just... The popularity of online shops could change the shops in the city centre. And Rory told us the popularity of online shops has exploded since the pandemic. So online shops have started being super popular.

R: Yeah. Well, yeah. Ridiculously popular. Lots of people order things online now.

M: People order things in all the time. So people order food at home. Yeah? So people order things in all the time.

R: Yeah, if you order, then it's usually food.

M: From takeaways to their regular weekly shop. So people buy groceries, like usual products, like milk, bread, and eggs online. They order food from restaurants. And then, Rory, you said, it's gutted the high street. First of all, tell us what a high street is. And then what gut, to gut.

R: So the high street is a specifically, it's a piece of British English, which means that it's talking about the place in towns where most of the shops are located. So for most people, this is the city center. And so that's, when we refer to the high street we're referring to these places where things are sold in brick and mortar stores. If something is gutted, then it means that a big chunk of it is removed, like a vital part. So if the high street is gutted, then there are lots of shops that are closing down, they're leaving this empty space, for example. And there are no new shops taking their place. But they're being replaced by things like coffee shops and charity shops. So that's not necessarily a bad thing.

M: So there's the popularity of online shops, damaged offline stores in city centres. The popularity of online shops gutted the high street. But now people have access to a wider range of goods and services online. So a wide range of goods and services online, meaning lots of things. Like any product can be bought online, right? These days. And any service as well, I think.

R: Well, almost any. I'm trying to think of something that you might struggle to buy. But...

M: Maybe like to open an account in a bank, in certain banks you have to go, like physically go to a bank to get a card but some banks just you can open an account online and they can deliver the card to you. So no problem. Off, Rory, being a girl is so expensive, you know?

R: Are you looking at your shopping list?

M: Yeah, I just have to buy things, you know? Perfume, cosmetics, shoes, dresses.

R: Do you have to buy them?

M: Absolutely. Like you see my face, Rory? Does it look nice? Look. Shiny. See?

R: I believe that your face would be nice even without all of these expensive things.

M: Yes, dear listener, avoid getting scammed when you buy things online. So if we speak about the dangers of online shopping, we use the words to be or get scammed. And also frauds. Rory, tell us about scams and frauds while shopping online.

R: What can we say about that? If something is a scam, then it's something that's sold under false pretences. So that means that people tell you one thing, that it's going to be amazing. And it turns out not to work properly, for example. The same thing is true of fraud, actually. It's all about saying things that are amazing about the products that are not true.

M: Thank you very much! And we'll get back to you in our next episode! Bye!

R: Bye!

M: Oh, I need new shoes now.

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