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Chinese Vocabulary Words for Shopping You Must Know

Angela Fang | November 24, 2015 | | 2 Comments

With Thanksgiving just around the corner and Christmas a month away, shopping for gifts is slowly making its way up the list of priorities. However, despite living in busy times we can still find opportunities to learn Mandarin. In this lesson, we’ll learn about some useful Mandarin vocabulary about shopping, as well as situations where these words can be applied.


礼物 (lǐ wù) = “Gift” 
衣服 (yī fú) = “Clothes” 
买 (mǎi) = “Buy”
卖 (mài) = "Sell."

These two words are very similar, but they are are pronounced with different tones. You can learn more about tones here

收银台 (Shōu yín tái) = “Cash register”
•“收” means “accept” and “collect” 
•“银” means “silver”= “台” means “station”
Putting it all together gives, literally, “a station that collects silver.” More practically, “a cash register.” 

玩具 (wán jù) = “Toy”
•“玩” means “play”
•“具” means “an instrument or tool”
Put it all together: “an instrument to be played it,” or more simply a “toy”

购物中心 (gòu wù zhòng xīn) = “Mall”

“购物” means “shopping”
"中心” means “center”
Put it all together: “Shopping center” 

多少钱? (Duōshǎo qián?) = “What is the cost?”

“多少” means “how much”
Separately, “多” means “many/much” and “少” means “little/less.”
“钱” means “money”
Put it all together: “How much money is ___,” or “What is the cost of___.” To ask about a specific object, place the noun before “多少钱.” For example, to ask “How much does this cost?” = “这一个多少钱?”

打折 (dǎ zhé) = “Discount”

Sometimes stores would indicate how the item is discounted by using “打__折”, where the blank would have a numerical value. In English we often see signs like “10% off” or “25% off.” In Mandarin, the discount value written on the sign signals what percentage the current price is compared to the original price. 打九折 (or 打9折) means the current price is 90% of the original price, not off the original price. As another example, 打七折 (or 打7折) means the current price is 70% of the original price.

号 (hào) = “Size”

号 in general is not used by itself. Usually before this comes an adjective that describes what “size” it is. The common sizes are: “小”号 = “small” size, “中”号 = “medium” size, “大”号 = “large” size, and “特”大号 = “extra-large” size. Shoe sizes also are defined with 号. For example, a pair of size 7 shoes would be labeled as 七号 and a pair of size eight and a half would be labeled as 八号半.

QUICK GRAMMAR QUIZ (fill in the blanks):
1. English Translation: I am at the shopping center buying clothes
Chinese: 我__购物中心买衣服 

a) 在
b) 再

Answer: A

Since the sentence is about what location the speaker is at, 在 is the correct use of this homophone pair. The other character, 再, predominantly refers to a repetition of action.

Related: How To Use: 在 vs. 再 

2. English Translation:
Do you want to buy clothes or buy toys?
Chinese: 你想买衣服__买玩具? 

a) 和
b) 或

Answer: B

The question asks for a selection between two items. Option A, 和, means “and,” which is not what the question asks for. 或, the correct answer, means “or.”

We hope that your holidays are joyous and shopping successful!

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Angela Fang

Angela Fang

Angela Fang is a contributing writer at TutorABC Chinese. Born in New Jersey, she decided to go to University of California, Berkeley, to get her degrees in Economics and Math. In her free time, she enjoys napping, surfing the Internet, and playing the violin. Corgis are her spirit animal.

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