Expressions You Need to Know About Money

Everyone has their own personal reason for learning Chinese, including you. Perhaps you are intrigued by languages or you like the idea of being able to communicate with a billion people. But for many Chinese language learners there’s a promise of a variety of work options, and thus, money. That’s what we’ll be talking about today! There are expressions, measure words, and must-know business Chinese vocabulary involving money.
Before we can master money expressions, we must first understand one definition: measure words. In Chinese, measure words are similar to those in English, such as a package of tea, a piece of furniture, a pair of shoes, and so on. The distinction is that nearly every noun in Chinese has its own measuring word. RMB stands for People’s Money in Chinese, and the measure terms for “钱 (qián) money”, are “毛 (máo)”, “角 (jiǎo), “元 (yuán)”, “块 (kuài)”, and “分 (fēn)”.

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Keywords to learn:

●“毛 (máo)” as in “毛钱 (máo qián) dime” relates to money in this context
●“角 (jiǎo)” is usually pronounced as “毛 (máo)” and also means 1/10 the main unit.


一毛钱(yì máo qián) one cent

五角钱(wǔ jiǎo qián) five cents

●“元 (yuán)” unit of money. In the US the Dollar is used while in Thailand it’s Baht, Thus China uses Yuan.
●“块 (kuài)” is used in spoken Chinese. In written form, you will see the character “元 (yuán)”. Also, note that “块 (kuài)” technically is a measure word.


十元钱(shí yuán qián) ten dollars

八块钱(bā kuài qián) eight dollars

●“分 (fēn)” Because the measure word “分 (fēn)” is such a small unit, it is seldom seen or used in nowadays China.


两分钱(liǎng fēn qián) two cents

There’s an informal expression that you may hear amongst friends in a Chinese-speaking setting. It goes like this “我和这件事没有一毛钱的关系 (wǒ hé zhè jiàn shì méi yǒu yì máo qián de guān xi)” and means that “I have nothing to do with this matter.” Quite literally it translates to mean, “I don’t even have a dime of a relationship with this matter.” Here, 一毛钱 (yì máo q ián) means a very small amount or none. Be sure not to use it in a formal gathering as not to sound rude.
“块 (kuài)” is the equivalent of saying “bucks” in English. “块 (kuài)” is the basic unit of currency and if someone tells you how much something costs and doesn’t say a unit, it’s most likely going to mean “块 (kuài)”. For instance, “这件衬衫八十块 (zhè jiàn chèn shān bā shí kuài)” means “this shirt costs eighty Yuan.” Yet, more often than not, “块 (kuài)” is going to be omitted in spoken Chinese.

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gù kè: zhè jiàn chèn shān duō shǎo qián?
顾 客:这   件    衬     衫     多    少    钱?
Customer: How much is this shirt?

lǎo bǎn: bā shí (kuài).
老   板:八 十 (块)。
Vendor: Eighty (bucks)

Once you have earned your money it may burn a hole in your pocket. There’s an expression for that as well “大手大脚 (dà shǒu dà jiǎo)”. This means big hands and big feet if you read it literally, but its meaning in usage is more idiomatic. It means that one is wasteful and very extravagant with their money.

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nǐ shì yí gè huā qián dà shǒu dà jiǎo de rén ma?
你 是 一 个  花    钱   大   手   大  脚   的 人  吗?
Are you a person who uses money extravagantly?

If you don’t need to work hard for your money, then perhaps you have uses their mental talents by working with their heads most of the day. These professionals include teachers, lawyers, doctors, and so on. They are generally considered well dressed and have a decent salary.

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Let’s look at a few examples of the different types of workers in Chinese.

1.蓝领 (lán lǐng)

“蓝 (lán)” means blue, which is the color of the suits that most workers wear at construction sites, farms, factory, mines, or other places. Therefore, the word “蓝领 (lán lǐng)” refers to those who work mostly with their strength rather than their head to earn a living.

2.白领(bái lǐng)

“白 (bái)” is usually used to mean “white,” but also means “in vain.” “领 (lǐng)” is “collar” when used as a noun, but when used as a verb, means “to receive” or “to get.” So “白领 (bái lǐng)” essentially means “white collar”.

3.粉领 (fěn lǐng)

“粉 (fěn)” means pink. The word “粉领 (fěn lǐng)” usually refers to female professionals in teaching, marketing, secretarial work, nursing, etc. Generally speaking, most of the “粉领 (fěn lǐng)” are working at SOHO. Their working time is more flexible than professional female “白领 (bái lǐng)”.

4.金领 (jīn lǐng)

“金 (jīn)” means gold, so the word “金领 (jīn lǐng)” refers to elites in a society such as CEOs, senior officials, and so on. These people have the right to decide the career fate of a “白领 (bái lǐng)”.
What else do you want to know about money and what expressions do you want to learn about? Let us know by commenting.

You May Want to Learn More :

“What Questions Will You Be Asked in China?”
“The Chinese Art of Haggling That You Can’t Miss!”
”Money Buys More Happiness If You Save It”

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