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If I was in a store and wanted to know if they had apples would I say to the clerk, 'tiene manzanas' or 'tienen manzanas'? I suspect the former although I'm not asking if he personnally has apples but rather does the store where he is working has them. I suppose in the southern United states, one might ask 'do you all have apples'.

Update

To clarify a little, I'm more interested in the conjugate than the specific question. That is, when asking a representative of a business what the business has for sale or what services it offers do you use the singular or plural conjugate?

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    Well, we'd say "do y'all have apples?" :-) Feb 19 '16 at 17:12
  • I was just going to mention the same: In English, we use the plural... Do you [guys] sell ice here?
    – nopaltepec
    Oct 15 at 15:31
  • What is a conjugate? Do you mean how the verb should be conjugated? In the singular or plural?
    – Lambie
    Oct 15 at 17:38
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When asking a representative of a business what the business has for sale or what services it offers do you use the singular or plural conjugate?

I use plural conjugate for sale and also for services. I agree @ferdoqui: I would use the singular only in a small shop that may be run by a unique person.

En general:

  • ¿Aquí alquilan coches?
  • ¿Tienen pantalones azules de mi talla?

En un negocio unipersonal:

  • ¿Alquila (usted) coches?
  • ¿Tiene pantalones azules de mi talla?

In case of doubt I use plural conjugate.

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In general you assume you are referring to the company instead of the clerk itself. Thus, to me it is more common to use the plural:

¿Tienen manzanas?

You would use the singular "¿Tiene manzanas?" if you were in a small shop that may be run by a unique person.

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Another way to ask is: ¿le quedan manzanas? (This implies that you know the market actually has apples, but you want to know if they have as much as you want.)


If you are refering to two or more people, you can ask ¿tienen manzanas?
If it's just one person, ask ¿tiene manzanas?

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  • taken together, yours and Forest's answers seem to be complete. In any case — we refer to the store not the teller, making the verb plural. Feb 21 '16 at 13:20
  • The first part alone is worth a vote because it complements all other answers. But I have to add that we would use plural even if when talking to a single person, @Ra_'s answer has a more complete explanation.
    – Krauss
    Oct 15 at 12:02
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I would actually ask: ¿Se venden manzanas?

Asking si alguien tiene algo does really sound like you're asking if they/that person personally has the item.

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    I wouldn't. If I go to the grocery, I don't want to know whether they sell apples or not (I assume they do); I want to know if they have some right now. Hence, ¿Tiene(n) manzanas?
    – Gorpik
    Feb 22 '16 at 17:31
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    I would never ask ¿Se venden ...? Somebody may laugh at me if I would. E.g. I enter in a store where they sell fruits and ask —¿Se venden manzanas? — No amigo, vendemos conejos ¿Cuántos quiere?
    – Krauss
    Oct 15 at 11:43
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Question: If I was in a store and wanted to know if they had apples would I say to the clerk, 'tiene manzanas' or 'tienen manzanas'?

Answer: It depends.

tiene there means tiene Ud. [third person singular]

tienen there means tienen Uds. [third person plural]

The usted form is polite everywhere. So, it depends on whether your "you" is plural (you, the store employees) or singular (you, the store **employee).

However, in Spain, I would probably say to a young clerk, ¿ Tienes manzanas? singular, referring to that one employee. Or ¿ Tenéis manzanas?, the plural if referring to the employees as a whole.

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