Speak English Around Town » LESSON 3 - Negotiating a Purchase

Negotiating a Purchase

Max is shopping for a used car. He goes to see Jim, who s selling his used Honda. After a test drive, Max negotiates with Jim and gets him to reduce the price by $800.

Jim: Hello. Jim Harris speaking.

Max: Hello, Jim. My name is Max Taylor. I'm shopping for a used car, and I saw your ad for a 2008 Honda Civic.

Jim: The car is still available, but I'm getting lots of calls for it.

Max: How about if I swing by at 5:30?

Jim: Okay. I'm on 433 Main Avenue, across the street from Arroyo High School.

(Max comes over to Jim s house.)

Max: Hi, I'm Max. I'm here to see the car.

Jim: Good to meet you, Max. I'm Jim. Would you like to take a test drive?

Max: Yes, thanks. The last thing I need is another lemon!

Jim: You don't have to worry about that. This is a great car.

(They return from the drive.)

Max: It does drive well.

Jim: And it's in mint condition!

Max: You're asking $8,000 for it?

Jim: Yes, it's a steal.

Max: It's a nice car, but it's a two-door car and I was hoping to buy a four-door.

Jim: A car like this is going to sell quickly. I'd hate for you to miss out.

Max: I'll give you $7,000.

Jim: Let's split the difference. If you can make it $7,500, you've got a deal.

Max: I'd like to sleep on it. Can I give you a ring in the morning?

Jim: I'd like to reach an agreement now. How about $7,300?

Max: Would you take $7,200?

Jim: I don't want to haggle.

Max: I'm sorry to nickel and dime you, but money is tight for me right now.

Jim: Okay, let's close the deal. I'll take $7,200.

  • (to) close the deal
    to reach an agreement during a negotiation
    Example: If you can take $5,000 off the price of the house, we can close the deal now.
  • (to) give someone a ring
    to call someone on the telephone
    Example: I'll give you a ring in the morning so we can make plans for tomorrow night.
  • (to) haggle
    to argue over a price
    Example: Greg haggled with the eBay seller and ended up saving $15 off the price of the guitar.
  • in mint condition
    in excellent condition; like new
    Example: David has a large collection of old comic books in mint condition.
  • lemon
    a car that doesn't work well
    Example: Molly's car is in the repair shop every month. What a lemon!
  • (to) miss out (on)
    to lose an opportunity; to not experience
    Example: Sara submitted her application too late and missed out on the opportunity to spend the semester in Paris.
  • money is tight
    to not have a lot of money
    Example: Money is tight for Paul and Wendy right now, with two kids in college.
  • (to) nickel and dime someone
    two definitions: 1) to argue with someone over a small amount of money. 2) to annoy someone by charging for every small thing.
    Example 1: Mepstein Industries has a reputation for being cheap. People say they nickel and dime their suppliers.
    Example 2: Fred complained that the hotel nickel and dimed him by charging for local phone calls, Internet, and a pass for the gym.
  • (to) reach an agreement
    to make an agreement
    Example: We negotiated for several days before finally reaching an agreement.
  • (to) sleep on it
    to take a day to think about a decision
    Example: I can't give you an answer now regarding the job offer. I need to sleep on it.
  • (to) split the difference
    to share a difference in cost 50-50
    Example: You asked for a salary of $60,000, and we said the position paid $52,000. Let's split the difference and say $56,000.
  • (a) steal
    a very good price
    Example: You bought a new computer for $199? What a steal!
  • (to) swing by
    to visit someone or a place for a short period of time; to make a quick visit
    Example: I forgot my jacket at your house last night. Let me swing by after work and pick it up.
  • (to) take for a test drive
    to drive a car to see how it runs
    Example: Before he bought his new BMW, Jim took it for a test drive.
  • The last thing I need is
    I definitely don't need; I really don't want
    Example: I hope Rick and Jenny are planning to stay at a hotel when they visit town. The last thing I need is more houseguests!
  • you've got a deal
    I agree; I agree to your terms
    Example: You want $99 for that dining room table? You've got a deal!
Practice the Expressions

Fill in the blanks using the following expressions:

  • swing by
  • in mint condition
  • you've got a deal
  • taking it for a test drive
  • miss out
  • split the difference
  • lemon
  • reach an agreement
  • steal
  • haggle

My car is a real (1) __________ and gives me a lot of problems. On Saturday morning, I looked online for used cars. I found a Mini Cooper listed. The ad said the car was purchased last year and was still (2) __________ . Of course, I didn't want to (3) __________ , so I called the number right away. The woman who picked up the phone introduced herself as Donna. She said, "I'm home right now. Can you (4) __________ ?"

I hurried over to her house. The car was a beautiful color and looked like new. Why was Donna selling it? "I don't want to sell it," she said," but I'm moving to Japan in two weeks, and I can't bring it." After (5) __________ , I knew I wanted it and I hoped we could (6) __________ . I said," You're asking $12,000 for this car and my budget is $10,000. How about we (7) __________ and say $11,000?" As you can see, I love to (8) __________ .

"I'd like to close the deal, but that's too low," Donna replied. "This is a great car, and it's already a (9) __________ at $12,000." We negotiated for a few more minutes. When she offered to sell it to me for $11,600, I said,"(10) __________ ."

Answer Key
Practice The Expressions
  1. lemon
  2. in mint condition
  3. miss out
  4. swing by
  5. taking it for a test drive
  6. reach an agreement
  7. split the difference
  8. haggle
  9. steal
  10. You've got a deal
Answer Key
Language Lens: Articles

English has two types of articles: definite (the) and in (a, an).

a/an to refer to something general or any member of a group.
=> Use the to refer to something specific or a particular member of a group. When I say specific, I mean something that is known to both the speaker and the listener.

Compare these two examples from the dialogue:
1. I'm shopping for a used car. (Which used car? The speaker is not being specific).
2. The car is still available. (Both the speaker and the listener know which car. We're talking about a specific car now).

When to use the article "a" or "an":

1) Use "a/an" to refer to any member of a group.
◼ I need a bike. (Any bike - it's not important which one).
◼ If you don't want to be alone, get a dog. (Any dog - it doesn't matter which one).

2) Use "a/an" to describe a person's job, what something is used for, or what type of thing something or somebody is.
◼ Julia is a lawyer.
◼ This car is a two-door.
◼ She's a nice person.

3) Use "a/an" to speak about the general properties of somebody or something.
◼ An infant requires a lot of attention.
◼ An unpaid parking ticket.can lead to many problems.
◼ A beagle is a friendly dog.

4) Use "a/an" to describe a person in a general sense (if you don't know who the person is or if his or her individual identity is not important).
◼ A woman came to the door while you were at the store. (Who? What woman? We don't know).
◼ I'm dating a lawyer.

When to use the article "the":

1) Use "the" when referring to something particular, specific, or unique.
◼ The moon is bright tonight.
◼ The plane ride to France will take _about 8 hours.
◼ The White House is a must-see if you visit Washington, D.C.

2) Use "the" when your listener knows which person, place, or thing you're referring to.
◼ Please open the window. (Your listener knows which window - perhaps because you 're pointing to it or because it's the only window in the room).
◼ The radio is still on. (Your listener knows which radio).
◼ What happened to the lawyer you were dating? (You're referring to a specific lawyer - someone you've already been told about).

When to use "the" and when to use no article:

1) Do not use "the" when talking about generalizations with plural or non-count nouns ( for more on non-count nouns, see Lesson 17).
◼ I like coffee in the mornings. (NOT: the coffee)
◼ Russian is a difficult language. (NOT: the Russian)
◼ Creativity is hard to teach. (NOT: the creativity)
◼ Pandas are popular animals. (NOT: the pandas)
Note: When the noun is singular and you're talking about generalizations, you will often use "the."
Example: The panda is a much studied animal.

2) Most countries do not take "the": France, Australia, South Africa. Some countries do take "the" - especially those countries consisting of more than one word.
Examples: the United States, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic

3) States, cities, and towns do not take "the" except for "The Hague" and for a few towns in the United States.
Examples: California, Paris, Westport, New Haven

4) The names of most lakes, mountains, volcanoes, and islands do not take "the.''
Examples: Lake Superior, Mount St. Helens, Mount Everest

5) Many expressions do not require "the." They include:
◼ at night (but: in the morning, in the afternoon)
◼ at/to college, school, work
◼ Transportation: by car, by foot, by plane, by train
◼ Days of the week and months of the year used with on or in: on Monday, on Tuesday, in December

DO use "the" in these cases:

1) For points of the globe.
Examples: the South Pole, the Equator

2) For most geographical regions.
Examples: the Midwest, the South, the Middle East

3) For names of oceans, seas, canals, and rivers.
Examples: the Mississippi River, the Atlantic Ocean, the Black Sea

4) For forests, deserts, gulfs and peninsulas.
Examples: the Gulf of Mexico, the Black Forest, the Arabian Peninsula

Quick Quiz

Fill in the blanks with the correct article (a, an, the) or choose "no article" if no article is needed.

  1. You're going to Italy? I have _____ uncle who lives in Rome.
    • a) an
    • b) the
    • c) no article
  2. We're going to _____ Lake George for two weeks in August.
    • a) the
    • b) a
    • c) no article
  3. John wants to become _____ doctor.
    • a) the
    • b) a
    • c) no article
  4. We're going to _____ Czech Republic. What towns should we visit?
    • a) a
    • b) no article
    • c) the
  5. At _____ night, I like to read a book and drink _____ cup of herbal tea.
    • a) no article . . . a
    • b) a .... no article
    • c) no article ... the
  6. _____ Nile is _____ longest river in _____ world.
    • a) The ... the ... the
    • b) The ... the ... a
    • c) A ... no article ... the
  7. Emily will definitely get into Yale. She's _____ excellent student.
    • a) no article
    • b) an
    • c) the
  8. I'm going shopping tomorrow. I need _____ new suit.
    • a) no article
    • b) a
    • c) the
  9. We're going to Chicago by _____ car.
    • a) no article
    • b) a
    • c) the
  10. I only drink _____ coffee in _____ morning.
    • a) a ... the
    • b) the ... no article
    • c) no article ... the
Answer Key
  1. a
  2. c
  3. b
  4. c
  5. a
  6. a
  7. b
  8. b
  9. a
  10. c
Answer Key
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