How to haggle in Chinese – Example Sentences

If you’re planning on visiting China or Taiwan then haggling is a skill that is essential to learn. Bargaining for a better price is common practice in most night markets and small shops, and even the larger retailers have some leeway for discount if you are buying goods over a certain value. So it’s definitely worth your while to learn a few phrases to help you avoid being taken advantage of while navigating the sea of people in a Taiwanese night market.

Taiwan Night Market

creative commons image courtesy Prince Roy

Vocabulary

多少錢(多少钱)

Pinyin: duō shǎo qián
English: how much money

價錢(价钱)

Pinyin: jià qián
English: price, cost

價格(价格)

Pinyin: jià gé
English: price, cost

便宜(便宜)

Pinyin: pián yí
English: cheap (in price)

預算(预算)

Pinyin: yù suàn
English: budget

折扣(折扣)

Pinyin: zhé kòu
English: a discount

打折(打折)

Pinyin: dǎ zhé
English: to give a discount
Usage: In Chinese rather than say “10% off” like in English, “discounted to 90% (of original price)” is used instead. So to say 10% off in Chinese, one would say 打九折(dǎ jiŭ zhé), likewise 20% off would be 打八折 (dǎ bā zhé)and so on.

The price is over my budget

There’s no way that you can buy something that costs more than the money you have. Letting the seller know that you are on a budget is a good way to pursuade them to lower the price. Consider this conversation over the price of clothing:

Note: as Hooey points out in the comments below, if you are in Shanghai then you’d want to start bargaining from 10 or 20% of the original cost. The following example is more common in Taiwan, in a small retail shop, for instance.

Customer:
老闆,請問這件衣服多少錢?
老板,请问这件衣服多少钱?
lǎo bǎn, qǐng wèn zhè jiàn yī fú duō shǎo qián ?
Excuse me, boss. How much is this item of clothing?

Shop Owner:
這件衣服590元
这件衣服590元
zhè jiàn yī fú 590 yuán
This one is $590NT.

Customer:
可以算便宜一點嗎?
可以算便宜一点吗?
kě yǐ suàn pián yí yī diǎn mā?
Can you give me a better price?

Shop Owner:
算你550元就好
算你550元就好
suàn nǐ 550 yuán jiù hǎo
I can give it to you for $550NT

Customer:
價格還是有點超過我的預算了,如果可以算500元的話,我就買
价格还是有点超过我的预算了,如果可以算500元的话,我就买
jià gé hái shì yǒu diǎn chāo guò wǒ de yù suàn le, rú guǒ kě yǐ suàn 500 yuán de huà, wǒ jiù mǎi
The price is still a bit over my budget, if you can do it for $500NT I’ll take it.

Shop Owner:
好啦
hǎo lā
okay, okay!

Can you give me a discount?

A lot of the time you’ll find that to get a discount, all you need to do is ask:

可以提供一點折扣嗎?
可以提供一点折扣吗?
kě yǐ tí gōng yī diǎn zhé kòu mā?
Could you offer me any discount?

這個價錢太高了,可以給我折扣嗎?
这个价钱太高了,可以给我折扣吗?
zhè gè jià qián tài gāo le, kě yǐ gěi wǒ zhé kòu mā?
The price is really too high. Is there any discount you can give me?

你可以給我最多的折扣是多少? 你可以算多便宜?
你可以给我最多的折扣是多少? 你可以算多便宜?
nǐ kě yǐ gěi wǒ zuì duō de zhé kòu shì duō shǎo? nǐ kě yǐ suàn duō biàn yí?
What’s the most discount you can give me? How much cheaper can you offer?

如果可以打八折的話我就買。
如果可以打八折的话我就买。
rú guǒ kě yǐ dǎ bā zhé de huà wǒ jiù mǎi.
If you can give me a 20 percent discount I’ll take it.

除非你再便宜一點,不然我不買。
除非你再便宜一点,不然我不买。
chú fēi nǐ zài pián yí yī diǎn, bú rán wǒ bú mǎi.
Unless you can lower the price, there’s no way I can buy it.

Be creative

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, if you’d rather not directly ask for a discount, you could ask for a deal on quantity, mention that a competitor has a better price, or point out a product defect:

如果我買多一點可以比較便宜嗎?
如果我买多一点可以比较便宜吗?
rú guǒ wǒ mǎi duō yī diǎn kě yǐ bǐ jiào pián yí mā?
If I buy more than one can you offer me a better price?

前幾間店我也有看到相同的東西但是價錢比較低ㄟ!可以給同樣的價錢嗎?
前几间店我也有看到相同的东西但是价钱比较低ㄟ!可以给同样的价钱吗?
qián jǐ jiān diàn wǒ yě yǒu kàn dào xiāng tóng de dōng xī dàn shì jià qián bǐ jiào dī! kě yǐ gěi tóng yàng de jià qián mā?
I have seen the same thing in another shop for a lower price, will you match their price?

這有一點點瑕疵ㄟ!可以給我多一點折扣嗎?
这有一点点瑕疵ㄟ!可以给我多一点折扣吗?
zhè yǒu yī diǎn diǎn xiá cī! kě yǐ gěi wǒ duō yī diǎn zhé kòu mā?
This one has a defect, can you give me an additional discount?

Don’t be afraid to ask

If you’re from a western country then haggling in a shop for a better price might seem quite alien. But in China and Taiwan it’s common place, so just give it a shot, you’ll be surprised at how much money you can save.

Have you ever tried bargaining for a better price using Chinese? What happened? Where you successful?

8 responses to “How to haggle in Chinese – Example Sentences

  1. Pingback: Hao Hao Report
  2. Thank you for this lesson! Something I knew already, but something I should learn now. Sure living in China I have to haggle not every day, but absolutely every week. Many times I use the walking away tactic and many times they have shouted “好的,好的” after me. And of course sometimes I just asked a price way too low and they don’t even bother to continue haggling with me 🙂

  3. 货比三家huò bǐ sān jiā
    shop around to get a good buy

    and that’s the key point. except that it’s better to be with your chinese friend when shopping, or just understand the general price on the web before you buy.

  4. Thanks for the phrases, but a discount from 590 to 500 is not really a discount. The prices they tell you in Shanghai is about 3-5 times higher, so you should bargain for 1折-2折

    1. You are right, thanks for pointing this out. I should have noted that above example is common for a small retail shop in Taiwan, and even more broadly speaking in Taiwan there’s no way you could bargain from 2折. I’ll add a note that in China it’s a lot different.

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