Here’s a fun example to learn the Chinese word for “free” – a sign with an offer of free false teeth! Before we fully translate the message on the sign, let’s first have a look at the word for free:
This is a really straightforward word to understand, comprised of 免 （miǎn） which means to “avoid” and 费（fèi） which is a “fee”, so unless you’re stealing something this must mean “free”.
Right, let’s translate the rest of the sign and see who’s eligible for the offer:
老人免费装假牙（lǎo rén miǎn fèi zhuāng jiǎ yá）
Elderly people free fitting false teeth (Free false teeth fitting for the elderly)
The message is made up of four words the first being 老人（lǎo rén）which is the elderly (more literally “old people”). The second, 免费 （miǎn fèi）, we have already learned means free. Next is 装 which is the verb of the sentence and means to fit or install. Lastly is 假牙（jiǎ yá） “false teeth” – made up of 假 “false” and 牙 “tooth/teeth”. When I first saw the sign I assumed it meant that the teeth were free, though reading careful it became clear that it’s only the installation that is free.
So there we have it, if you’re elderly you need not go gummy, get your false teeth fitted for free!