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I was in a store yesterday and I decided to get rid of all my coins, so when I was at the checkout counter, I told the clerk that:

Can I pay some in cash and the rest by card?

The clerk said that he doesn't understand me, and I thought maybe the sentence was incorrect and not clear in meaning.

What's the right way to construct the sentence?

  • 3
    What happened then? Were you able to explain? I am curious. – AIQ Nov 14 at 19:30
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    It's possible that the store's point of sale system doesn't support mixed cash/card transactions and the clerk's never been asked to do that before. – Justin Lardinois Nov 14 at 22:33
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    Just to underscore it: This sentence is absolutely fine as-is. It's exactly what I would have said (I'm a native English speaker) if I meant "some of the bill." Astralbee's excellent answer offers some ways you could adjust it, but you don't need to. What you said was spot on. – T.J. Crowder Nov 15 at 13:53
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    @Mazura "tender" is not commonly used in my American experience, "pay" is much more common. – Barmar Nov 15 at 16:10
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    @jmbpiano And most don't really understand that, it's an archaic or legalistic term not really used much in casual conversation. – Barmar Nov 15 at 18:02
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I think your statement was perfectly understandable, and although it might need very slight adjustment to be beyond criticism, I believe any English speaker would almost certainly understand what you meant. I would guess that the cashier was inexperienced and maybe had not come across this kind of request before.

The only adjustment I would make is to qualify what you are referring to by "some". If you had bought multiple items and wanted to split your spending by paying for some of the items by different means, effectively getting two different bills, you could say:

Can I pay for some of my items in cash and the rest by credit card?

Or, if you'd already divided the items, you could be specific and say:

Can I pay for these items in cash and the rest by credit card?

If you simply meant for the cashier to split the bill by two payment methods without dividing your items across two different bills, you should perhaps make it clear that by "some" you are referring to some of the bill and not some of the items:

Can I pay for some of the bill in cash and the rest by credit card?

OR

Can I pay for part of this in cash and the rest by credit card?

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    @dan No - I wasn't trying to correct that, sorry, I just instinctively wrote "by cash". Either are fine. – Astralbee Nov 14 at 10:32
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    I think "with cash" works, too. – J.R. Nov 14 at 17:50
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    @AIQ That would be valid in all cases except "Can I pay for these items...". There is an implicit "you" that gets replaced in that case. "Can I pay [you] [for] part of this..." versus "Can I pay these items [for]...". The second implies you're giving money to the items, or using the items as tender. – Phlarx Nov 14 at 20:02
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    @alephzero That depends on where the OP is. In Australia, in our biggest supermarket chains, being able to split payment is built into the POS system, you just need to tell the operator. You can also do it in the self-checkout ones where you scan your own items, but I think it's a semi-hidden feature. I've used it before when I've wanted to use up the remaining amount on my gift card and pay the rest with cash. – Fodder Nov 15 at 2:47
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    "I think your statement was perfectly understandable" Absolutely agree. And in fact, it's exactly as this native speaker would have said it. I wouldn't have made any of the changes listed in this answer if I meant (implicitly) "the bill." (I would have done the "of these" if I meant specific items.) – T.J. Crowder Nov 15 at 13:51
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I actually just did this an hour before seeing this question. The main way I phrase it is by using first and rest, like this:

I'd like to pay twenty dollars cash first and then pay the rest with my card, please.

It's also made clearer by handing them the $20 cash while also holding up the card at the same time (though not handing over the card until after they accept the cash).

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