Is the sentence "pay some in cash" understandable?



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?


Posted 2019-11-14T09:22:04.210

Reputation: 185

3What happened then? Were you able to explain? I am curious. – AIQ – 2019-11-14T19:30:14.727

3It'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 – 2019-11-14T22:33:13.937

1@AIQ I wasn't able to explain because as an non-native English speaker, I get really nervous when people can't understand me, so I paid only by card at last. – Huan – 2019-11-15T01:26:18.360

The 'right way' is to use the word tender. But if your noob cashier couldn't understand that, then they're not going to under this. – Mazura – 2019-11-15T03:19:05.793

1The term for this is 'split payment' – Aequitas – 2019-11-15T05:54:13.673


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 – 2019-11-15T13:53:06.920

5@Mazura "tender" is not commonly used in my American experience, "pay" is much more common. – Barmar – 2019-11-15T16:10:30.503

@Barmar is completely correct. In fact the primary exposure most Americans have to the word "tender" in the monetary sense is the phrase "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private" (which is printed on all our paper currency) where "tender" is used as a noun rather than a verb. Using the verb form of "tender" when speaking to a random store clerk is almost guaranteed to cause confusion. – jmbpiano – 2019-11-15T18:00:50.230

2@jmbpiano And most don't really understand that, it's an archaic or legalistic term not really used much in casual conversation. – Barmar – 2019-11-15T18:02:41.517

The sentence in your title question and in the quote below it are different. Both are legitimate English, but the shorter first one is a command and the longer second one is a question. – WGroleau – 2019-11-16T16:30:54.687



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?


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


Posted 2019-11-14T09:22:04.210

Reputation: 41 381

"In cash" is incorrect? – dan – 2019-11-14T10:05:31.607

5@dan No - I wasn't trying to correct that, sorry, I just instinctively wrote "by cash". Either are fine. – Astralbee – 2019-11-14T10:32:12.927

5I think "with cash" works, too. – J.R. – 2019-11-14T17:50:26.700

@Astralbee Hi, we can drop the "for", right? "Can I pay part of it in cash and ... " – AIQ – 2019-11-14T19:31:43.873

1@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 – 2019-11-14T20:02:36.213

1I agree the sentence should be understandable by a native speaker. The problem was more likely that having passed all the items through the till, to prevent fraud the amount billed to the card could not be changed unless the manager or the store supervisor (not the till operator!) took some special action. The "easy way" to do what you want was to make two separate purchases, one for cash and the other by card, but all the items had already been checked out. – alephzero – 2019-11-15T02:07:34.313

4@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 – 2019-11-15T02:47:23.613

"Cash tendered is a sum of money given in payment. It may not be equal to the exact amount owed. Using cashiering as an example (which is part of a business's A/R), cash is presented as payment for a service or to settle an outstanding bill. That cash is tendered. If it is exactly equivalent to the amount of money owed, then cash tendered is equal to (the amount of) cash paid." – Is there a difference between “cash paid” and “cash tendered”?

– Mazura – 2019-11-15T03:12:57.390

The other possibility is that the cashier did understand, but couldn't be bothered to put in extra work. – Aequitas – 2019-11-15T05:56:47.623

3"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 – 2019-11-15T13:51:26.813


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).


Posted 2019-11-14T09:22:04.210

Reputation: 1 562