the difference between words: shop, store and restaurant


Many of my students get confused between the words “shop”, “store” and “restaurant”, so I would like to go over that in my blog today.

Generally speaking, a “shop” and a “store” are places where you go to buy something. The difference is that a “shop” is usually quite small, and a “store” is big. On the other hand, a “restaurant” is a place where you go to eat something. Even if it’s for cheap food like hamburgers or chicken, we still call it a restaurant but, in that case, it will be called a “fast food restaurant”. Let me give you some examples:

I bought this necklace in a cute little shop near my house.

Is there a shop around here where I can buy some cigarettes?

ABC Limited is my favorite clothing store. They always have a good selection of the latest fashions.

XYZ Company is a huge chain of electronic goods stores. There are many locations all over the country.

I like to go to this cozy little Italian restaurant in Shinjuku with my girlfriend. It’s very romantic.

A: Would you like to go to the French restaurant for dinner tonight?

B: Actually I don’t have much time. Let’s just go to a fast food restaurant instead.

I don’t usually eat at fast food restaurants because it’s not very healthy.

There are some exceptions where we can refer to a restaurant as a “shop”. They are a  “pizza shop” and an “ice cream shop”.

In Japan, people often say “sushi shop”, but instead they should say “sushi bar” or “sushi restaurant”. A “sushi shop” is a small store usually on the street where people can buy sushi, but they don’t stay there to eat it.



  1. GabachoMike Said:

    Togo’s is a sandwich shop. yet they have tables to sit and eat your food.
    Subway is calling itself (in TV ads), a restaurant.
    They sell the same fare and many (but not all), also have tables to eat your food.

    english semantics aside, what is your take on this?


    • Hi there.

      I’ve never heard of Togo’s before but I suppose “sandwich shop” would be another exception that goes with “pizza shop” and “ice cream shop”. I suspect Subway is trying to set itself apart in its ads by calling itself a restaurant.

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