Let's say I bought a phone that costs 100 dollars, and I paid 150 dollars, but the shop assistant didn't give me the change. Is it natural to say the following?

I am sorry, but could you pay me back the fifty dollar change.

  • 1
    You don't pay back "change" - you just give it. But note that "change" in such contexts only applies if you had no choice but to pay using larger denomination coins or banknotes, which is logically impossible in your cited context (there's no such thing as a $150 banknote). If the phone cost $50 and you paid using a $100 bill, then you'd expect to be given $50 in "change". Feb 8, 2020 at 14:41

1 Answer 1


No your sentence is not idiomatic. We don't use the phrase pay back when talking about change. It really belongs to a context in which you have loaned money to someone.

In practice you would be most unlikely to pay an additional $50 dollars. But let's overlook that. The first thing you would have to do is to explain the situation to the shop assistant.

Excuse me. I have just bought this $100 phone from you. I see that I accidentally overpaid you by giving you a third $50 dollar note/bill. May I ask you to return it to me.

Take a more realistic situation, assuming that you bought a $90 phone with $100 note.

Excuse me, but you haven't given me the ($10) change that you owe me. I paid for the phone with $100 note/bill and you still owe me $10 dollars.

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