Sunday, 6 April 2014

How to bargain/haggle in China - basic Mandarin phrases

Chinese market

You are tempted to get your fingers on the bargaining. Pick a small stall, choose a strategy and try the phrases down below. You might observe what the natives are doing before making the first move. Put a smile on your face and summon your mighty force. 

Spend some time learning the pinyin rules. They are a bit challenging in the beginning but I promise you will get into it. You can read some notes on pinyin pronunciation and rules at the end of the post:

Useful questions:

1. How much is that (....)? - (...) Duō shǎo qián?

      2. Can you lower the price a little bit? - Néng piányi yīdiănr ma? 

                    3. Can you give me a discount - Nǐ kěyǐ gěi wǒ piányì yìdiǎn ma? 

Key points:

1. It’s too expensive - Tài guì le

2. I want two (of these) - Wǒ yào liǎng gè

3. I am just looking - Wǒ zhǐshì kànkan

4. I'll buy this one - Wǒ yào zhè gè

Learn the Basics: 


Hand gestures system in China for numbers
Hand gestures for Chinese numbers             image source
One - yī

Two – èr

Three - sān

Four - sì

Five - wǔ

Six - liù

Seven - qī

Eight – bā

Nine - jiǔ

Ten - shí

You will be tempted to use the good old fingering system to indicate how many bracelets you want to buy. Bear in mind the Chinese are using different hand gestures for the numbers; take a look at the image on the right. 

Hello (How are you?) - Nǐ hǎo? 

I want - Wǒ yào

I don’t want - Wǒ bú yào 

Good - Hǎo 

Thank you - Xièxiè 

This / That (one) - Zhè gè / Nà gè 

Combine with your chosen strategies or just improvise. Remember practise makes perfect. Good luck!

Note on Pinyin. Deciphering the code: 

There are 4 tones in Mandarin Chinese, distinguished by the raising or lowering of the pitch on certain syllables. The first one is high level, second - rising, third – falling rising, fourth - falling.

For more information and correct transcription refer to this Pinyin chart or make a quick search online. Try to find audio files as well so that you can mimic the original voice. Many people are focussed on the oddly shaped Chinese characters but grasping the correct tones is not less challenging. 

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