Shopping in Chinese: 45 Must-know Phrases for All Your Mandarin Shopping Sprees
When you need to find out how to get to the grocery store, where to buy painkillers for your massive migraine or how much the dress you’ve been eying costs, your Mandarin skills need to come in clutch.
There are tons of useful words and phrases you need to know to successfully go shopping in Chinese—from asking questions to reading signs and labels.
So in this post I’ll go over 15 must-know phrases and 30 vocabulary words for your next Mandarin shopping spree.
- Sections in a Store in Chinese
- Types of Stores in Chinese
- How to Ask Questions When Shopping in Chinese
- How to Check Out Your Items in Chinese
- How to Read Washing Instructions in Chinese
- And One More Thing...
Sections in a Store in Chinese
|化妆品||huà zhuāng pǐn||Cosmetics|
|体育用品||tǐ yù yòng pǐn||Sporting goods|
|珠宝首饰||zhū bǎo shǒu shì||Jewelry|
|数码产品||shù mǎ chǎn pǐn||Electronics|
|办公用品||bàn gōng yòng pǐn||Office supplies|
|宠物用品||chǒng wù yòng pǐn||Pet supplies|
|美术用品||měi shù yòng pǐn||Art supplies|
|日用品||rì yòng pǐn||Household items|
Types of Stores in Chinese
|百货商店||bǎi huò shāng diàn||Department store|
|电器店||diàn qì diàn||Electronics store|
|五金店||wǔ jīn diàn||Hardware store|
|服装店||fú zhuāng diàn||Clothing store|
|食品店||shí pǐn diàn||Grocery store|
|家具店||jiā jù diàn||Furniture store|
|化妆品店||huà zhuāng pǐn diàn||Cosmetics store|
|珠宝店||zhū bǎo diàn||Jewelry store|
|玩具店||wán jù diàn||Toy store|
|体育用品店||tǐ yù yòng pǐn diàn||Sporting goods store|
|鞋店||xié diàn||Shoe store|
How to Ask Questions When Shopping in Chinese
Pinyin: bǎi huò gōng sī zài nǎ ér?
English: Where is the department store?
Another word for “department store” is 百货商店 (băi huò shāng diàn).
If you’re asking where the shopping mall is located, use 商场 (shāng chǎng), 超级市场 (chāo jí shì chǎng) for supermarket or 夜市 (yè shì) for the night market.
These are probably the most common words you’ll encounter when going shopping in Chinese.
Pinyin: jǐ lóu shì nǚ zhuāng?
English: Which floor is the women’s section?
You can use 男装 (nán zhuāng) for menswear.
Pinyin: yùn fù zhuāng zài nǎ lǐ mài?
English: Where do you sell maternity dresses?
孕妇 refers to a pregnant woman. So attach a 装 to it, and it becomes “maternity dress” since 装 refers to clothing.
Use 香水 (xiāng shuǐ) if you’re looking for perfume, and 长裤 (cháng kù) for pants. You can also check out this post for a complete list of clothing items.
4. 我可不可以试一下? 你们试衣间在哪儿?
Pinyin: wǒ kě bú kě yǐ shì yī xià? nǐ men shì yī jiān zài nǎr?
English: Can I try this on? Where is your fitting room?
When trying on clothes, find out how many items you can bring to the fitting room at a time. Sometimes you can bring three to five items depending on where you shop, so read the signs carefully.
Normally someone is there to assist you, just like shops in the United States.
If you have to call their attention, use 小姐 (xiăo jiĕ) — miss and 先生 (xiān shēng) — sir.
Pinyin: nǐ men fù jìn yǒu méi yǒu xǐ shǒu jiān?
English: Is there a restroom nearby?
洗手间 is the word for restroom. This is the more common way of saying it, although some people still use 厕所 (cè suŏ).
How to Check Out Your Items in Chinese
Pinyin: zhè jiàn duō shǎo qián?
English: How much is this piece?
There are many ways you can ask about the price.
For example, if you’ve already chosen your items, you can tell the cashier 请帮我算一下 (qǐng bāng wǒ suàn yī xià). Then, the cashier would ring up all your items.
7. 简直太贵了! 给我便宜点吧!
Pinyin: jiăn zhí tài guì le! gěi wǒ pián yi diǎn ba!
English: This is really too expensive. Please give me a lower price.
Use this phrase when you’re in the night market or when you’re buying from street-side vendors where there are no fixed prices.
If the seller gives you a price, you can say 再便宜一点 (zài pián yi yì diǎn) — make it cheaper.
This was particularly useful for me when I was shopping in Shanghai. I was trying to haggle for a lower price and kept saying this. And it worked! The lady gave me a lower price.
Just a tip when shopping: if they don’t agree to your price, you can walk out of the shop. They normally then call you back and agree to your rate. So start practicing your bargaining skills and you’ll get the best price out there.
One of the best ways to prepare to go shopping in Chinese is by observing. You can watch videos—like the videos on FluentU—to start feeling more comfortable in authentic, on-the-streets Chinese scenarios.
FluentU in particular uses authentic Chinese videos to help you learn Mandarin as it’s spoken in the real world. You can watch thousands of real Chinese videos taken from the web. FluentU adds interactive subtitles to them, which lets you click on words you don’t know to see definitions, example sentences, add them to flashcards and more.
Pinyin: wǒ yào shuā kǎ.
English: I’m paying with my card.
At the cashier, they’ll usually ask you: 刷卡吗? (Are you paying with your card?).
When you’re paying with credit, you can nod and say 要刷卡 , but say 现金 (xiàn jīn) when you’re paying with cash.
9. 我要这件。 请给我大号的。
Pinyin: wǒ yào zhè jiàn. Qǐng gěi wǒ dà hào de.
English: I want this piece. Please give me the large size.
Use 大号 if you want large, 中号 (zhōng hào) for medium and 小号 (xiăo hào) for small.
小号 are sizes 88 to 90, which is equivalent to sizes 4 to 6 in the US and 34 to 36 in Europe.
大号 is 98 to 102, which is equivalent to size 12 to 14 in the US and size 42 in Europe.
That’s for ladies. For men, 小号 (small) is sizes 88 to 90, 中号(medium) is 96 to 98, 大号 (large) is 108 to 110 and so on.
But if you got the wrong size and want to return your purchase, you can always tell them that 我想把这件退回去 (wǒ xiǎng bǎ zhè jiàn tuì huí qù). This means that “I want to return these items back.”
Pinyin: zhè xiē yī fu yǐ jīng shì zhé kòu hòu de jià gé ma?
English: Are the prices of these clothes already discounted?
折扣 means discount. You can also use 打折 (dă zhé), which means discount or sale, depending on how you use them in your questions.
Whenever items are on sale, you can see a lot of signs announcing this. But be aware of their meanings.
For example, if it’s written as 打七折 (dǎ qī zhé), it means that the items are 30% off and not 70% off. Another is “ 4折起 ” (sì zhé qĭ), which means that it’s up to 60% off.
How to Read Washing Instructions in Chinese
Pinyin: jìn zhĭ piăo bái.
English: Do not bleach.
漂白 means to bleach. Always look at the tag before washing to avoid fading the color of your clothes.
Pinyin: nǐ nà jiàn zhǐ yào gān xǐ jiù hǎo le.
English: Dry cleaning is enough for that piece.
Pinyin: qǐng dī wēn yùn tàng.
English: Please iron at low temperature.
Pinyin: bú néng shǐ yòng xǐ yī jī ,zhǐ néng shǒu xǐ.
English: Do not use the washing machine. Hand wash only.
Some pieces of clothing are more sensitive, so watch out for words like these.
洗衣机 means washing machine, and most tags would indicate that you should not wash that item using the machine.
Pinyin: zhè shì bǎi fēn zhī bǎi mián ma?
English: Is this 100% cotton?
棉 means cotton. Examining the clothing and looking at the tag before ringing up any of your purchases is important. For silk, we use 丝 (sī).
Now, you’re all set to go shopping. Remember these phrases and you’ll surely have the best shopping experience in China. And while you’re there, don’t forget to look our for deals and use your great bargaining tips!
And One More Thing...
If you want to continue learning Chinese with interactive and authentic Chinese content, then you'll love FluentU.
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FluentU's Learn Mode turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you're learning.
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