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Dialogue 2-7: At the Post Office

18 July 2013
Male postal worker taking package from female customer (David R. Frazier Photography Inc/Alamy)

At the post office

This is part of the book Everyday Conversations: Learning American English, published by the State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs.

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 ….”