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Counting money

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Cash is king, even though China is now crazy for mobile payments. Either way, though, mastering how to say quantities of money is vital!

Asking "How Much Money" with 多少钱 (duōshao qián)

Before you learn how to count money in Chinese, make sure you know how to ask "how much money" when you go shopping in China.

Structure

Subj. + 多少钱 ?

Examples

  • 多少 钱Duōshao qián? How much?
  • 你 的 手机 多少 钱Nǐ de shǒujī duōshao qián? How much was your cell phone?
  • 我们 的 午饭 多少 钱Wǒmen de wǔfàn duōshao qián? How much is our lunch?
  • 这 杯 咖啡多少 钱Zhè bēi kāfēi duōshao qián? How much for this cup of coffee?
  • 这 件 衣服 多少 钱Zhè jiàn yīfu duōshao qián? How much is this clothing?

Stating Quantities of Money

Structure

Chinese has a specific structure for talking about quantities for money:

Number + 块 + Number + 毛

Examples

  • liǎng kuàimáotwo kuai five mao (2.5)
  • sān kuàimáothree kuai eight mao (3.8)
  • shí kuài liǎng máoten kuai two mao (10.2)
  • 二十 三 èrshí-sān kuàimáo Twenty-three kuai eight mao (23.8)
  • 五十 wǔshí kuàimáofifty kuai five mao (50.5)

Note that "2.5 RMB" reads as 两块五 (liǎng kuài wǔ).

  • èr kuài
  • liǎng kuài two kuai five mao (2.5)

If the smaller units are only in tens, you can just say the number of tens. So "3.8 RMB" is 三块八 (sān kuài bā). This way of giving the price is normally only used for amounts under 100 RMB.

When the smallest unit is 2, it reads as 二 (èr) instead of 两 (liǎng).

  • liǎng kuài liǎng
  • liǎng kuài èr two kuai two mao (2.2)
  • kuài liǎng
  • kuài èr five kuai two mao (5.2)

The first number is the amount of whole RMB (or dollars etc.), and the second is the amount smaller units (e.g. cents). So "3.86 RMB" is

  • 八 毛 六sān kuài bā máo liùthree kuai eight mao six fen (3.86)

And if there's no smaller unit, e.g. "3 RMB," you can just say:

  • sān kuài Three kuai

块 (kuài) is the more common, informal way to talk about money. More formally you can use 元 (yuán) in exactly the same way. This is similar to the difference between "dollars" and "bucks" in American English, or "pounds" and "quid" in British English. 块 (kuài) is appropriate in more situations than "bucks" or "quid," though.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books