Answer to Worst Gift to Your Chinese Friends!

Correct Answer: C
In Chinese culture, giving and exchanging gifts is very popular. If you have any Chinese friends, learning the ins and outs of gift-giving culture in China is very important.

Especially when you visit a Chinese friend’s house, “点心(diǎnxīn) cakes,” “白酒(báijiǔ) hard alcohol,” “香烟(xiāngyān) cigarettes,” “茶叶(cháyè) tea,” “水果(shuǐguǒ) fruit,” “牛奶(niúnǎi) milk,” and “鸡蛋(jīdàn) eggs” are all traditional Chinese’s gifts from someone who needs a favor.

You can also give “手表(shǒubiǎo) watch,” “化妆品(huàzhuāngpǐn) cosmetics,” “书(shū) book,” “衣服(yīfu) clothes,” etc. as personal gifts. Nowadays, Chinese people, especially the younger generations, also give “巧克力(qiǎokèlì) chocolates,” “红酒(hóng jiǔ) red wine,” or “鲜花(xiānhuā) flowers” as gifts.

However, you should never give the following things as gifts because they bear certain negative meanings.


According to Chinese custom, it is taboo to give someone a clock as a gift. The word clock is “钟(zhōng),” which sounds exactly like the word “终(zhōng) to end,” which also symbolizes a funeral. Thus, giving someone a clock means “送钟(sòngzhōng)” which sounds just like the phrase “送终(sòngzhōng) attending someone’s funeral.” Due to this similarity, a Chinese person would never give another Chinese person a clock as a gift.

梨 (lí)

“梨(lí),” meaning “pear,” seems like an innocent gift, but in Chinese, it gets complicated since “梨(lí)” sounds similar to “离(lí),” meaning “to depart.” In China, occasionally you will see people send their friends pears, but never will you see a pear cut into halves because 分梨 (fēnlí), the same pronunciation as 分离 (fēnlí), means “to separate.” Though it’s unlikely to happen, if you’re ever in China, don’t take pear halves as a gift – instead, go with sliced apples.

伞 (sǎn)

“伞(sǎn)” means “umbrella.” Its pronunciation is similar to 散 (sàn), meaning “break up” in Chinese. Suffice it to say, lovers and friends in China tend to buy umbrellas only for themselves, never as a gift.

In our test, only “时钟(shízhōng) clock” cannot be used as a gift in China. “香烟(xiāngyān) cigarettes,” “白酒(báijiǔ) wine,” and “手表(shǒubiǎo) watch” are all okay. So the answer is C.

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3 thoughts on “Answer to Worst Gift to Your Chinese Friends!”

  1. Bùi Công Chức

    What useful tips they are, I now know better what to give my Chinese friends. Another one, One of my friends also advised me not to give people “books”, especially before an exam or a contest, because “book” in Chinese – “书” – pronounced “shu”, and has the same pronunciation as “输” – which means “to fail”. It’s so pity that I did not know this and I gave her a book just before her final test because I wanted her to revise better.

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