Answer to pieces or dollars? A hilarious mixup in Chinese!

Correct Answer
1. B

Answer Analysis

If you paid attention to the beginning of the comic your answer might be A, 2 yuan, since that is what the person in the hat says when the other first asks, “豆腐多少钱 (dòufu duōshǎo qián?) How much is the tofu?” But at the end of the dialogue things get a little confusing. Does it cost 2 yuan for 1 piece of tofu, or 5 毛 (máo) (10毛 equals 1元)?
Actually how much the tofu costs isn’t what is important here! It is trying to keep up with the meaning of “块 (kuài).” Even a native Chinese speaker will have some trouble following along since the meaning of “块 (kuài)” is not specified in this joke. It can cause a lot of misunderstanding and can be interpreted to mean either “piece” or “yuan!”
一块豆腐 (yí kuài dòufu)= one piece of tofu
一块钱 (yí kuài qián)= one yuan
Let’s take a closer look:


A: Dòufu duōshǎo qián?
A: 豆腐     多少 钱?
A: How much is the tofu?


B: Liǎng kuài.
B: 两 块。
B: Two yuan.


A: Liǎng kuài yí kuài?
A: 两 块 一 块?
A: Two yuan for 1 piece? (Or one yuan for 2 pieces.)


B: Yí kuài.
B: 一 块。
B:  One piece. (Here it could also be interpreted that he is saying 1 yuan.)


A: Yí kuài liǎng kuài.
A: 一   块 两 块。
A: One dollar for two pieces. (Or one piece for two dollars.)


B: Liǎng kuài.
B: 两 块。
B: Two yuan.


A: Nà jiùshì wǔ máo yí kuài bei.
A: 那  就是    五 毛   一 块  呗。
A: Then, its 5 mao for 1 piece.


B: Gǔn…
B: 滚…
B: Get out!

More Funny Word Mixups in Chinese:

Drunk or Speechless?
A Great Misunderstanding Caused by the Missing “包 (bāo)Bag
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2 thoughts on “Answer to pieces or dollars? A hilarious mixup in Chinese!”

  1. 很有意思! I have also understood that 块 can mean piece or yuan in context.

    A new word for me 滚 – get out!


    1. jennifer.zhu

      Hi Nduta, I’m glad to hear that. We will keep updating more useful posts, please feel free to check and hope they can help you learn Chinese well.

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