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Show Me the Money

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Show Me the Money
Great job on Lesson 10! Shopping is necessary for us all, so let’s move right along with shopping-specific vocabulary. By the end of this lesson you will be able to:
  • Exclaim that something is expensive or cheap
  • Ask 'how much' in a new way
  • Understand 3-digit numbers
Flash Cards - Vocabulary
Flash Cards - Vocabulary
Complete Lesson (PDF)
Printable PDF version of this lesson

Show Me the Money

多少 ( duō shǎo ): how much, how many
Radicals: 夕 (evening) and 小 (small)
Sub-Word : 多 - much; many
少 - few; less
Components for 1st Character: 夕 (evening)
Components for 2nd Character: 小 (small), 丿 (line)
多少 can be used to ask about any object that can be counted. One of its most common uses is in regards to price. We already learned 几块钱 in Lesson 5. 多少钱 also means "How much money?". 多少钱 is more common in everyday, informal language and often the word 钱 is omitted.
Memorization Hint: Many? Few? How many are there, really?

东西 ( dōng xi ): thing, stuff
Radicals: 一 (one) and 西 (cover)
Sub-Word : 东 - east
西 - west
Components for 1st Character: 一 (one), 亅 (hook) and 丶 (dot)
Components for 2nd Character: 西 (cover)
Just like the word “stuff” in English, 东西 can be used to talk about nearly anything when you’re not sure exactly how to describe it. 那是什么东西? (What is that thing?) You might also use 东西 when you're speaking about something generally: 我要买东西 (I want to buy something).
Memorization Hint: From the east side of your home to the west, we all have stuff in between.

买 ( mǎi ): to buy
Radical: 乙 (second)
Component: 乙 (second), 大 (big) and 丶 (dot)
Use 买 to say you will buy something or you want to buy something. For example: 我要买它. To tell someone you are going shopping, you can say: 我要去买点东西 (I’m going to go buy a few things).
Memorization Hint: After I buy something it becomes "my" (mǎi) thing.

便宜 ( pián yi ): cheap
Radicals: 亻 (man) and 宀 (roof)
Sub-Word : 便 - convenient
宜 - suitable, right
Components for 1st Character: 亻 (man), 曰 (speak), 一 (one) and 丿 (line)
Components for 2nd Character: 宀 (roof) and 一 (one)
Because 便宜 is an adjective it should be preceded with 很, or some character that can act as 很 as will be introduced in later lessons.
Memorization Hint: Something that's cheap is certainly conveniently suitable!

贵 ( guì ): expensive, noble
Radical: 贝 (shell)
Phonetic: 贝 (bei)
Component: 中 (middle), 一 (one) and 贝 (shell)
贵 is also an adjective and should be preceded with 很, or some character that can act as 很 as will be introduced in later lessons.
Memorization Hint: The character 贵 looks like an important nobleman wearing expensive gowns.

吧 ( ba ): modal particle indicating suggestion
Radical: 口 (mouth)
Phonetic: 巴 (ba)
Component: 口 (mouth) and 巴 (to wish for)
吧 is a polite way of suggesting that someone do something. Simply place it at the end of a sentence. "你每个星期学中文吧" means "(You should) study Chinese every week.". You can even pair 吧 directly with a single verb: 来吧! (Come here!)
Memorization Hint: To open your mouth and wish for someone to do something is like making a suggestion to others.

毛 ( máo ): Chinese dime
Radical: 毛 (fur)
Component: 毛 (fur)
毛 is 1/10 of a 块, which was introduced in Lesson 5. These two words should be used in informal language and are most commonly heard when speaking aloud.
Memorization Hint: The character 毛 is also a radical that means fur. Can you picture the three pieces of fur in this radical? Now, just remember that one piece of fur isn't worth much, but if you gather up enough—now that's worth a dime!

角 ( jiǎo ): Chinese dime
Radical: 角 (horn)
Component: 角 (horn)
角 is the equivalent of 毛. You should use 角 in formal situations, but it is also the way that you will see a Chinese dime written in menus and on signs.
Memorization Hint: While 角 is written with 7 strokes, if you count every line at a differing angle, there are 10. 10 角 make one Chinese dollar!

元 ( yuán ): Chinese dollar
Radical: 儿 (legs)
Component: 二 (two) and 儿 (legs)
元 is the equivalent of 块. About 7 元 equals 1 US dollar (12-2008). It's easy to find restaurants in China with lunch for 2 totaling less than 50 元.
Memorization Hint: 2 people can fill their stomachs (all the way to their legs) for a fair price in China.

百 ( bǎi ): a hundred
Radical: 白 (white)
Phonetic: 白 (bai)
Component: 白 (white) and 一 (one)
Once you understand how to create 10s in Chinese, hundreds are no problem. Just remember to say the number of hundreds you have first. Like this: 300 is 三百. How about 298? That's 二百九十八. Be sure to read through the Discussion section for more specifics.
Memorization Hint: Turn your head to the right to imagine百 on its side. 一 becomes a 1 followed by two zeros: 100!


Numbers are important in any culture, especially when you need to buy something. In China there are many large, outdoor markets where individual vendors bring their goods to sell. Often these vendors do not have set prices for their goods and it is expected that you will barter till the price is right. Department stores and supermarkets do not allow bargaining.

Prices will be given with the largest unit first. For example, 9元5角. This phrase can be used in the written form or spoken form (more formal). It is not necessary to say “and” between the two amounts. 9块5毛 has the same meaning, but is mostly just used in spoken Chinese.

Now, let’s consider larger numbers. You’re looking to buy a CD player, but can’t find the price anywhere, so you ask: 这个多少钱?The merchant responds: 六百七十块钱. Can you guess what the price is? You’re right on if you said 670 kuai! Often十 is omitted and the pronunciation becomes六百七块钱, or even六百七 because the fact you’re talking about money is understood. If this number was 607, the merchant would have said: 六百零七块钱.

Remember: numbers are typically not written with characters.

It looks nice (好看), but it’s too expensive? The first step to showing your disappointment with the price is to express this: 很贵!If you say this with confidence, you might bring the price down a bit simply with that.

Grammar: Do Something Just a Little
  • Add 一点儿 (pronounced yi dianr) to any verb to show that the degree to which it’s done is “a little”. It is very common for 一 to be dropped or lost to become 点儿.
  • 儿 is not a necessity here, but it makes the phrase more conversational and more natural. In particular, you’ll hear儿 added to the end of many different words in Beijing.
  • Note: 儿 can mean child. 女儿 (nǚ ér) means daughter and 儿子 (ér zi) means son.
Vocabulary Review:
  1. 多少 duō shǎo how much, how many
  2. 东西 dōng xi thing, stuff
  3. 买 mǎi to buy
  4. 便宜 pián yi cheap
  5. 贵 guì expensive, noble
  6. 吧 ba modal particle indicating suggestion
  7. 毛 máo Chinese dime
  8. 角 jiǎo Chinese dime
  9. 元 yuán Chinese dollar
  10. 百 bǎi a hundred
Pierce has become good friends with Xiao Yuan's brother, Hui Feng. Hui Feng's birthday is coming up and Pierce goes shopping to buy a gift. He has a little trouble getting a good price.
 Wǒ yào mǎi diǎn dōng xi.
 I want to buy something.
 好. 这个好看, 也很便宜.
 Hǎo. Zhè gè hǎo kàn, yě hěn pián yi.
 Okay. This looks nice, and it’s cheap.
 Duō shǎo qián?
 How much?
 Èr bǎi jiǔ shí wǔ yuán wǔ jiǎo.
 295 yuan and 5 jiao.
 元是什么? 角是什么?
 Yuán shì shén me? Jiǎo shì shén me?
 What is “yuan”? What is “jiao”?
 一元是一块. 一角是1毛.
 Yì yuán shì yí kuài. Yì jiǎo shì yì máo.
 One yuan equals one kuai. One jiao equals one mao.
 二百九十五块五毛...! 不便宜.
 Èr bǎi jiǔ shí wǔ kuài wǔ máo...! Bù pián yi.
 295 kuai and 5 mao...! It’s not cheap.
 Hǎo kàn ba!
 It’s nice!
 不好看! 便宜一点儿吧.
 Bù hǎo kàn! Pián yi yì diǎnr ba.
 It’s not nice. Make it a little cheaper.
 好的... 二百块.
 Hǎo de... èr bǎi kuài.
 Okay... 200 kuai.
 Unable to get the price he wants, Pierce decides to go to a different merchant who will sell him the same thing for cheaper.
Fill in the Blank:

我要去买__ __.败涂地(something)
Wǒ yào qù mǎi __ __.
I want to go buy something.

这个东西__ __ __? (is how much)
Zhè gè dōng xi __ __ __?
How much is this thing?

这个好看!8 块5毛吗?__ __一点儿吧! (please make it)
Zhè gè hǎo kàn! Bā kuài wǔ máo ma? __ __ yì diǎnr ba!
This looks nice! 8 kuai 5 mao? Please make it cheaper!

你要__什么东西? (buy)
Nĭ yào __ shén me dōng xi?
What do you want to buy?

两__块钱很贵吧! (hundred)
Liǎng __ kuài qián hěn guì ba!
200 kuai is expensive (suggestion).

我没有一__. (Chinese dollar)
Wǒ méi yǒu yì __.
I don't have 1 yuan.

你明天晚上来__. (
Nĭ míng tiān wǎn shàng lái __.
Why don’t you come tomorrow evening?

那个__不__? (expensive)
Nèi gè __ bú __?
Is that expensive?

这个很便宜. 是五__. (Chinese dime)
Zhè gè hěn pián yi. Shì wǔ __.
This is cheap. It’s 5 mao.

十__是1元. (Chinese dime)
Shí __ shì yì yuán .
10 jiǎo equals 1 yuan.
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