Shop Smart in China: Cheat Sheet of Phrases

Shop Smart in China: Cheat Sheet of Phrases

Welcome to China, a country renowned for its rich cultural heritage, historical landmarks, and bustling markets. As a foreign visitor, immersing yourself in the local shopping experience can be both thrilling and daunting. To ensure your shopping endeavors are successful, we have curated a comprehensive guide of Mandarin phrases that will enable you to communicate effectively with local vendors and make informed purchases. Let’s delve into this handy cheat sheet and unlock the secrets to shopping smart in China!



Greetings and Basic Phrases

When entering a shop or market, it’s essential to establish a friendly rapport with the vendors. Here are some basic greetings and phrases to initiate conversations:

  1. 你好 (nǐ hǎo) – Hello
    • Use this ubiquitous greeting to initiate conversations with shopkeepers or vendors. It portrays a sense of respect and friendliness.
  2. 谢谢 (xièxiè) – Thank you
    • Show your gratitude by using this phrase after receiving assistance or making a purchase. Politeness and appreciation are highly valued in Chinese culture.

Shopping for Clothing

China offers a plethora of fashionable clothing options. When shopping for clothes, keep these phrases in mind:

  1. 我可以试一下这个吗? (wǒ kěyǐ shì yīxià zhège ma?) – Can I try this on?
    • Use this phrase when you find a garment you’re interested in. It politely requests permission to try it on, and the vendor will guide you to the fitting room.
  2. 有没有大一点的号? (yǒu méiyǒu dà yīdiǎn de hào?) – Do you have a larger size?
    • If the clothing item is too small, inquire about a larger size with this phrase. Sizes may vary, so it’s useful to know how to ask for alternative options.
  3. 多少钱? (duōshǎo qián?) – How much is it?
    • Inquire about the price of an item using this phrase. Keep in mind that bargaining is customary in local markets, so be prepared for negotiations.

Buying Souvenirs

Exploring China is incomplete without acquiring unique souvenirs. To facilitate your souvenir shopping experience, employ these phrases:

  1. 这个多少钱? (zhège duōshǎo qián?) – How much does this cost?
    • When purchasing souvenirs like traditional Chinese handicrafts or local delicacies, use this phrase to inquire about the price. It signals your interest and initiates the transaction.
  2. 能给我一个优惠吗? (néng gěi wǒ yīgè yōuhuì ma?) – Can you give me a discount?
    • Bargaining for a better price is common in China, particularly in local markets. Politely ask for a discount using this phrase, and the vendor may consider offering you a better deal.

Ordering Food and Drinks

Chinese cuisine is renowned worldwide, and savoring local dishes is a must. Enhance your dining experiences with these phrases:

  1. 我想要… (wǒ xiǎng yào…) – I would like to have…
    • When dining at a restaurant or ordering street food, use this phrase to indicate your desired dish or beverage. Follow it with the name of the item you wish to order.
  2. 请给我一份… (qǐng gěi wǒ yī fèn…) – Please give me a portion of…
    • If you want to specify a particular portion or serving size, employ this phrase to make your request clear. This ensures you receive the desired amount of food or drink.

Exploring the North and South Regions

China’s vast territory encompasses diverse regions with distinct cultural and linguistic characteristics. Here are a few examples comparing phrases between the North and South:


  1. In the North:
    • 这个多少钱? (zhège duōshǎo qián?) – How much is this?
    • 多少钱一斤? (duōshǎo qián yī jīn?) – How much is it per kilogram?
  2. In the South:
    • 这个多少钱? (zhè ge duōshǎo qián?) – How much is this?
    • 一公斤多少钱? (yī gōngjīn duōshǎo qián?) – How much is one kilogram?

These regional linguistic variations reflect historical influences and local dialects, providing a glimpse into China’s diverse cultural tapestry.


Equipped with this comprehensive cheat sheet of Mandarin phrases, you are now ready to embark on your shopping adventures in China. Whether browsing for clothing, buying souvenirs, or ordering food, these essential phrases will empower you to communicate effectively and navigate the vibrant markets with confidence. Immerse yourself in the local culture, embrace the diversity of the regions, and enjoy the captivating shopping experiences that China has to offer.