Top 10 Chinese Words for Shopping in China

When you walk around town in China on weekends or holidays, have you noticed the no end of sales and special promotions? No? Because you don’t understand the in-store posters or sales banner outside, and they’re in Chinese! Don’t be so disappointed, here you’re going to learn the top 10 Chinese words for shopping, and it could be useful to anyone who’s in China for any period of time.

  1. 元yuán = Yuan (Chinese currency unit)

    We don’t always use the currency symbol ¥ when showing the price. So when you see a sign like the above one, it’ll help to know that those characters are just telling you the price, it’s  ¥ 899.

    1. 折 zhé = Discount

       “Zhé” discount is very important to know about because it’s counter-intuitive. As you can see from the picture a “7 zhé” discount is actually 30% off. So what it means is: you multiply the original price by 0.7 and then you get the new price. So essentially a “zhé” discount is answering: “How many tenths of the original price do I have to pay?” Therefore, a sign that says “8.5 折” would be a 15% discount, or original price * .85 = new price.

      1. 全场quán chǎng = Whole storeIt’s just good to know that the special is for the whole store. Sometimes there will be a special (and outrageously huge) discount advertised (like maybe even 1 折!) But it’ll only be for one really not pretty item and everything else is actually expensive.
        1. 起qǐ = And up / Starting atHere’s a SENSE advertisement for shoes specials. They start at 50 yuan and get more expensive from there. You’ll also see that little 起 after the 折 character which can get a little confusing. If it’s 3 折起 it doesn’t mean “70% discount AND UP!” It means “starting at 70% discount and getting worse from there.” Since the higher the zhé discount gets, the lower the price gets, they start with the best discount and work “up” from there (which means the price is also working it’s way up.)
          1. 半价bàn jià = Half priceUsing what we learned above, you can now read that sign: “Whole Store Half Price!” Seems almost too good to be true, right?
            1. 买一送一mǎi yī sòng yī = Buy one, get one free

            Literally “buy 1 give 1,” you’ll see this around a lot during festival time and special promotions. There is also “买二送一” which would, be “Buy 2 get 1 free.”

            1. 第dì = _st / _nd / _th
            2. 件jiàn = Item / ArticleThis sign says “第2件半价” dì èr jiàn bàn jià = Second item half price. It’s a 4th-tone bonanza,sounds like you’re shouting and angry, but it’s probably good news. You’ll see that 第 character used a lot. And usually a number is in the middle with 第 as the front bookend and 件 after.
              1. 满mǎn = Filly / Fulfill
              2. 减 jiǎn = SubtractThis sign: “满100减20″mǎn yì bǎi jiǎn èr shí= “Spend (on your total bill) 100 yuan and immediately we’ll subtract 20 yuan.”Well, hopefully you will find yourself recognize those Chinese characters the next time wandering in town. Enjoy shopping in China!

            买一送一mǎi yī sòng yī = Buy one, get one free

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