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Are the following expressions grammatically correct? If not, how should I correct each?

Giving 10 dollars to the store clerk:

  • Can I get some change in quarters?
  • Can I get some quarters in exchange?
  • Can you make change for one dollar into quarters?
  • Can you break up one dollar into quarters?
  • Can you exchange one dollar for quarters?
  • 2
    May I have four quarters back, please? – Davo May 24 '17 at 12:38
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This is probably most common: "Can you make change for {a dollar | a twenty | a hundred}?" "Sure, what do you need?" "{Quarters | two tens | twenties} please"

Here are some corrections to your phrases (assuming American English):

Can I get some change in quarters?

Depending on the situation, this might be seen as a little too informal, it might be better to say 'May I have...' or 'Do you have...' instead. But if you're in a very informal encounter (like if you're familiar with the person, or you know for sure that they routinely make change in the form of quarters, or if you're just feeling lazy), your question is an okay and grammatically correct phrase.

Can I get some quarters in exchange?

People don't usually phrase it in this way (they don't say exchange when talking about change). You're likely to get the answer "for what?" since you didn't specify what you need to change ($1). Also, when people say "in exchange", they almost always say "in exchange for (something)".

Can you make change for one dollar into quarters?

This is probably the closest one to the correct version, almost everyone would understand exactly what you're asking here. But you should say "in quarters" instead of "into quarters".

Can you break up one dollar into quarters?

Most people would say "can you break a dollar?", And if you don't say anything else people usually assume a denomination to use (if you're breaking a dollar, quarters; if you're breaking a 20, a mix of 10s 5s and 1s, or they might ask what you want).

Can you exchange one dollar for quarters?

Most people wouldn't say it this way, but they would understand what you mean.

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How many quarters do you want back? Four, or forty? That affects how I'd ask the question.

If I only wanted four quarters back, I would say it like this:

Can you please make change for a ten? I need four quarters.

A slightly more informal version would be:

Can you please break a ten? I need four quarters.

In both versions, I add that bit at the end about the four quarters, because many cashiers might assume the default way to break a ten would be to give you one $5 bill and five $1 bills.


If I wanted all of the change back in quarters, though, I would say something a bit more complicated. Because this might pressing the limit as to how many quarters a cashier may have available, I might say something like this:

I'm hoping to get $10 worth of quarters. Can you break a ten into quarters?

or:

I need $10 in quarters. Is there any way you can exchange a $10 bill for quarters?

If I was at a bank, however, I might just phrase it this way:

Could I please buy a roll of quarters?

but that only works because you happened to ask about the exact quantity that quarters are routinely rolled in at U.S. banks.

0

I would say

Can you give me ten dollars worth of quarters?

or if you want bills you could say

Can you give me a five and five ones for this ten?

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