Centre for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language University of Oxford

Basic Spoken Mandarin      5. shopping 

New words Pronunciation Chinese
This zhè
[A common measure word for objects] ge
How much duōshao 多少
Money qián
Buy măi
Sell mài
Extremely, too tài
Expensive guì
Cheap, reasonable (price) piányì 便宜
[A sentence particle implies excessiveness] le
Many duō
few shăo
No good bùhăo 不好
Small xiăo
[Sentence particle] de


New phrases Pronunciation Chinese
How much is this?

zhè ge duōshao qián

Is this for sale? zhè ge mài bu mài 这个卖不卖?
It's too expensive.

tài guì le

Do you have anything cheaper?

yŏu piányì de ma

I'm not going to buy this.


I am having a look

wŏ kànkan

What would you like (to buy)?

măi shénme


The most important expression when doing shopping in China is "how much is it?". The expression is very simple in Chinese: this one (ge) how much? zhè ge duōshao qián 这个多少钱By the way, ge is the most commonly used measure word. A measure is like the word "bottle" in "a bottle of beer". Chinese use measure words when specifying or quantifying objects.

Another new particle in this lesson is de, which is used to describe objects. In a Chinese sentence the description of an object is placed before de which is followed by the object. An object can be omitted in a conversation, if it is known by the speakers. For example, in a shop you might specify an object by saying "...that big one". In Chinese it is that one (ge) big de... ge de... As you can see the object is omitted after de in the above sentence.