Shopping, I ask a customer service person where I can find eggs to buy. And I go:

"Excuse me, where are the eggs?"

Now, I am not sure, but I suspect that this is not the right way to ask the question. It sounds a little stupid, as if I were asking my spouse where the eggs I plan to cook for breakfast are.

Is that how you ask the question?

  • If you find your sentence too short and simple you can ask: Where can I find eggs. – rogermue Feb 23 '16 at 0:56
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    There is nothing at all wrong with "Excuse me, where are the eggs?" (Well, when spoken. When written, it's a run-on sentence and the comma should be a full stop. But, unless you're Victor Borge, the person you're speaking to won't know how you're punctuating.) – David Richerby Feb 23 '16 at 3:00

As a native (American) English speaker, I see no problems with your question (or the the other answers). I'd say the the "Excuse me" softens the question sufficiently to use it with a person you don't know.

However, if you wish to soften the question further, you can use the subjunctive. Adding a degree of "hypothetical" makes it even less of a demand.

Excuse me, where would I find the eggs?


Pardon me, where would the eggs be?

Another approach for softening requests is to ask about the request, rather than request directly. (This is seen in using "Pardon me, but do you know the time?", rather than the more direct "What time is it?")

Excuse me, do you know where the eggs are?

Alternatively, you can simply state your situation, and rely on the listener following social conventions and answering the implied question.

Pardon me, I'm looking for the eggs.

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    All your suggestions are perfectly grammatical but the first two sound very old-fashioned. They sound like something from the 1950s or even earlier. – David Richerby Feb 23 '16 at 2:55
  • Is the definite article used correctly here? I'm not a native speaker, but I would use no article here, because I wouldn't mean some specific eggs. – nightcoder Mar 22 '16 at 20:43
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    @nightcoder While you can omit it, the definite article is fine here. "The" is used to refer to items whose identity is established, from being either the only one or the only relevant one from context. -- You could consider "the eggs" as an ellipsis for "the eggs which your store is selling". A joking person might answer "Where would I find eggs?" with "Under a chicken!", but that response doesn't work well if "the" is included. – R.M. Mar 22 '16 at 23:25

In an American supermarket you could ask

What aisle are the eggs in?

  • We could also ask "Where are the eggs?" or simply "Eggs?" Context is king. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 22 '16 at 14:00
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    Where can I find the eggs? may be just a tinge more polite than Where are the eggs? all else being equal, though tone of voice and body language are more important. – choster Feb 22 '16 at 15:25
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    In Texas, would you ask "What aisle are eggs on?" – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 22 '16 at 17:26
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    Everywhere I've been in the US uses "in" not "on" with "aisle" – Kevin Feb 22 '16 at 17:36
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    @Chenmunka: Are you saying that Brits naturally avoid ending the sentence with a preposition? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 23 '16 at 12:28

In fact, that is exactly what you are doing, asking both the customer service person and your spouse

Where are the eggs?

is correct in both instances, but you might only use excuse me in the supermarket.

Other concise ways to ask are

What aisle are the eggs?
(The) eggs are? (where) (looking lost)
Eggs? (with optional pointing in some direction)
Which way are the eggs?

Don't worry about just saying eggs staff know that if you are asking for help it's usually to find something and they tend to be very busy scurrying around so brevity is appreciated

For those who seem befuddled by using shorthand, the reason why it works is because the situation calls for a single objective with an unambiguous description. In this case it's finding a location. Other examples are

Men's Room? to find the restroom
Check please to get the bill in a restaurant
Trafalgar Square? to confirm a destination when getting on a bus in London

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    To my ear, "What aisle are the eggs?" sounds like it's missing a preposition. I much prefer adding an in to that question: "What aisle are the eggs in?" – J.R. Feb 22 '16 at 15:39
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    I agree that adding in to the end sounds better, but if I'm around.. those type of people, I may find myself using the phrase "In which aisle are the eggs located?" – agweber Feb 22 '16 at 18:47
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    As a native American English speaker, I've never added the word "aisle" to a question about where something is in the grocery store. Regarding eggs specifically, they are often located in a refrigerated case that is not even in an aisle, but in one of the major sections like diary. – Todd Wilcox Feb 22 '16 at 20:51
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    I don't know if it's just me (not native speaker, btw), but hearing "Eggs are?" in a supermarket is strange for me. – Andrew T. Feb 23 '16 at 3:27
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    It's hard to imagine a native speaker saying "Eggs are?" in this context. – snailplane Feb 23 '16 at 6:42

In British-English, "What aisle are the eggs in" sounds quite jarring. I would use "Which aisle are the eggs in?".

"Excuse me, where are the eggs?" is perfectly fine though.

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