Navigating the Chinese Market: 18 Essential Mandarin Phrases for Shopping

Discovering unique treasures in China’s bustling markets is a must-do for any traveler, providing an enriching glimpse into the country’s diverse cultural heritage. Donning traditional garments like qipao, hanfu, and ethnic attire, adds a layer of authenticity to the experience. However, it’s important to note that effective communication in Mandarin is often required in many traditional clothing boutiques. So, learning a few essential Chinese phrases for shopping can greatly enhance your retail adventures, making them more enjoyable and fruitful.

China’s markets are renowned for their eclectic offerings, ranging from exquisite silk garments to intricately crafted accessories. Whether you’re strolling through the bustling streets of Beijing or meandering through the labyrinthine alleys of Shanghai, each market offers a distinct shopping experience steeped in history and tradition.

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Asking about Clothing and Accessories:

1. What is this?
Zhè shì shénme?

In the souvenir shops at scenic spots, you’ll find a variety of unique clothing. If you’re curious, feel free to ask the shop assistant.

2. Is this men’s clothing or women’s clothing?

Zhè shì nánzhuāng háishì nǚzhuāng?

Certain garments may be ambiguous in terms of gender. Feel free to ask the shop assistant for assistance.

3. Where are the men’s/women’s clothing?
Nánzhuāng zài nǎlǐ? / nǚzhuāng zài nǎlǐ?

Requesting to try on:

4. Where are the fitting rooms?
Qǐngwèn shìyījiān zài nǎ?

Clothing stores at scenic spots typically offer fitting rooms for trying on garments. However, in smaller stores, there may not be separate fitting rooms designated for men and women. Instead, there is often just one fitting room available for anyone to use.

5. Can I try this on?
Zhège kěyǐ shì dài ma?

You’re welcome to handle most items freely to inspect them. However, it’s best to ask the shop assistant before handling delicate crafts or accessories. Additionally, for valuable or replicated accessories, feel free to request the shop assistant’s assistance with trying them on.

6. How do I wear this piece of clothing?
Zhè jiàn yīfu zěnme chuān?

Some local garments can be rather intricate. To prevent any awkward situations, feel free to ask the shop assistant for guidance if you’re unsure how to wear a particular item of clothing.

7. Could you help me put on this?
Nǐ kěyǐ bāng wǒ dài yīxià zhège ma?

The related expressions for accessories in Chinese:
xiàngliàn (项链) – necklace, ěrhuán (耳环) – earrings, shǒuliàn (手链) – bracelet, shǒubiǎo (手表) – watch, jièzhǐ (戒指) – ring, yāodài (腰带) – belt, màozi (帽子) – hat, fàshì (发饰) – hair accessory, yǎnjìng (眼镜) – glasses.

Finding items that suit you:

8. Do you have this clothing in a larger size? It’s a bit small.
Zhè jiàn yīfu xiǎo le, yǒu dà yī mǎ de ma?

9. These shoes are a bit big, do you have a size smaller?
Zhè shuāng xié yǒudiǎn dà le, yǒu xiǎo yī mǎ de ma?

10. Do you have any other styles available?
Nǐmen hái yǒu bié de kuǎnshì ma?

11. Do you have this in other colors?
Hái yǒu qítā yánsè de ma?

The expression of colors in Chinese:
báisè (白色) – white, hēisè (黑色) – black, hóngsè (红色) – red, huīsè (灰色) – gray, fěnsè (粉色) – pink, lán sè (蓝色) – blue, lǜsè (绿色) – green, huángsè (黄色) – yellow, júsè (橘色) – orange.

Inquiring about prices:

12. Excuse me, how much is this?
Qǐngwèn zhège duōshǎo qián?

13. I feel like this price is a bit expensive, can it be cheaper?
Wǒ juéde zhège jiàgé yǒudiǎn guì, néngbùnéng piányi yīdiǎn?

In contrast to chain clothing stores where prices are clearly marked, in small local shops run by locals in scenic areas, you can try bargaining with the owner.

14. If I buy more, can you give me a discount?
Wǒ duō mǎi jǐ jiàn, néngbùnéng gěi wǒ dǎ gè zhé?

A strategy you could use is to buy additional items and negotiate with the merchant for a better price.

Making payment:

15. I’d like to buy this.
Wǒ xiǎng mǎi zhège.

16. Can I pay by card?
Kěyǐ shuākǎ ma?

Generally, larger stores are more likely to offer card payment options.

17. Where do I scan?
Wǒ sǎo nǎlǐ?

If you have Alipay/WeChat Pay, “scan-to-pay” can be very convenient.

18. Could you help me get a bag to put this in?
Kěyǐ bāng wǒ ná ge dàizi zhuāng yīxià ma?

If you’re interested in learning more about traveling to China or everyday Chinese language, feel free to click here for a free one-on-one trial lesson.

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