In China they sometimes sell coffee in such a way that you can buy two cups of coffee, but you can collect only the first one today, and the other one at any other day starting from tomorrow. You would have to pay for both cups today - the full price for the fist cup and only 50% of that for the other cup. On the day when you make this purchase, they will give you a special ticket that will allow you to pick up your second cup (without paying, of course) starting from the next day.

I wonder how this format of selling is called in English. In Chinese they call it simply "one cup, another cup". So a sentence like "I want to buy one-cup-another-cup coffee, please" is quite common. But how would a native English speaker express the same thought in English? Is there any special term for this kind of selling format?

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    I don't think we have a single phrase for that kind of format. I've never heard of anything exactly like that in the US; the best way I could describe it might be "buy one, get one half off" or "buy one, get half off your next purchase" but that doesn't usually mean you have to pay now but pick it up later. It might be described as a kind of loyalty program but those aren't usually only two-day things.
    – stangdon
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 11:54
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    You do see the phrase advanced purchase a lot, meaning paying for something now that you won't use until later. It's most often used with hotel rooms or travel arrangements, usually with the implication that you are getting a discount or a locked-in price. Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 14:24

1 Answer 1


There are acronyms:


Buy one, get one.


Buy one, get one free.



Buy one, get one half off.

Whether you have to wait a day will vary.

P.S. There are also programs where the shop hands you a paper card to carry around in your wallet, which gets a hole punched into it or has an X written on it whenever you buy an item. After 10 or 12 purchases, you get one free. And there are programs where you are given a plastic card to carry around; it has a magnetic strip which keeps track of your purchases, which results in a long stream of discount coupons being printed out at the cash-register whenever you purchase items at the shop or store. These streams are sometimes a meter long.

  • Can you, please, provide phonetic transcription for all those acronyms? I am especially interested in where (on what syllables) the native speakers would put the stress in those acronyms.
    – brilliant
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 13:00
  • I have never heard them spoken, but I would imagine that the first would rhyme with the words No and Go, accent on the first syllable. I don't know if people actually say these acronyms as if they were words, as they do, say, with "CAT scan".
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 13:25

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