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淘(táo)” and “拍(pāi)”-Mandarin Words on Online Shopping

Sep. 17, 2014

In this day and age, girls don’t always ask their friends to go window-shopping to point out what’s new this season or what’s on their wish list. Instead, it has become popular and convenient to share links to products they’ve recently bought or would like to buy. These days, online shopping plays an important role in our daily lives, saving us time, money, and the trouble of even leaving the house. While you are browsing on Chinese shopping sites you may find a lot of new words, such as “淘(táo)” and “拍(pāi).” Knowing these will help make your online shopping experience smooth and easy.


This character basically means to select something valuable from a heap of something, as in the phrase “淘金(táojīn),” which means “to pick out gold from sand.”

"淘(táo)" on its own has become a common word in colloquial speech. You’ll often hear people saying "淘衣服(táo yīfu)" or "淘东西(táo dōngxi)," which literally mean "to wash clothes" or "to wash something," respectively. The use of "淘 (táo)" nowadays also holds a meaning which draws upon its basic meaning, but with a twist. It means "to search for something to buy amongst a variety of other items," making it an extremely popular word when it comes to all things related to online shopping. Unlike shopping in malls, products purchased online are usually quite cheap with good quality. This is especially true in China, where you can find anything online from real luxury goods to their seemingly flawless imitations.

When speaking of "淘(táo)" and online shopping, it’s impossible to avoid mentioning the biggest online shopping website in China, "淘宝(Táobǎo) Taobao.” Taobao is a site that is similar to eBay and Amazon. Here, “淘(táo)” means “selecting and buying” while “宝(băo)” basically means “treasure or something valuable,” referring to sellers’ products on Taobao.


Kàn! Wŏ jīntiān zài wăngshàng táo de yíjiàn   yīfu,  piàoliang ma?
看,  我   今天   在         网上     淘   的  一件  衣服,漂亮      吗?
Look, I bought this article of clothing on the internet today. Is it nice?

Anne: Wŏ xiǎng mǎi tiáo qúnzi, kěshì méi shíjiān guàngjiē.
Anne:我  想      买   条   裙子,可是 没    时间    逛街。
Anne:  I want to buy a skirt, but I have no time to go shopping. Just use Taobao.

Ella: Shàng Táobǎo a.
Ella: 上         淘宝    啊。
Ella: Just use Taobao.


In the Chinese language, “拍(pāi)” is a verb whose original meaning was to beat or slap something. Just like the word “淘(táo),” it gradually developed into a word used in online shopping, meaning “to buy.”

Browsing online shopping sites, you can often find some good types of bargains, such as “一元起拍(yìyuánqǐpāi), during which, the products’ prices can go as low as one Yuan. For this type of sale, there always tends to be a lot of customers willing to get in on the deal before it ends.

As was mentioned above, “拍(pāi)” is a verb , so we usually use the structure “拍+ something,” meaning “to buy something.”


Qīn, bāng wŏ zài táobăo shàng pāi yìshuāng xié, hăoma?
亲,  帮    我 在   淘宝      上      拍    一双       鞋,好吗?
Sweetheart, could you please help me buy a pair of shoes on Taobao?

Zhège páizi de   xǐyījī     zhìliàng hěn hǎo, wŏmen pāi yìtái ba.
这个    牌子 的  洗衣机   质量      很    好, 我们    拍 一台  吧。
The quality of this brand of washing-machine is very good. Let’s buy one.


  Wāngshang zhèngzài dăzhé, wŏ xiăngqù ___diăn dōngxi.
1. 网上             正在       打折,我    想去    ___  点    东西。
   There is a sale on the internet now. I want to buy something.

A. 拿()

B. 淘(táo)

C. 卖(mài)

    Wŏ zuótiān zài wăngshang pāi le jiàn yīfu,   tǐng piányi de.
2. 我    昨天    在       网上       拍 了 件   衣服,挺  便宜   的。
    In this sentence, what does the word “拍(pāi)” mean?

A. take photos

B. beat and slap

C. buy and pay

See Answers

Chinese Popular Words

General Chinese (Beginner Level)

General Chinese (Intermediate Level)

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