How to Use Discounts Properly in Mandarin Chinese

The Opposite of Western Discounts

Close up of sale tag in clothing store
Dan Dalton / Getty Images

Everyone loves a discount. The bigger the better. When you're shopping, it's always a good idea to keep a lookout for good deals and discount signs. If you're shopping or bartering in China or Taiwan, make sure to understand how discounts work in Chinese. Otherwise, you might end up paying for a price much higher than you expected!

When it comes to Mandarin Chinese discounts, they are expressed the opposite of English. In English, discount signs are labeled as X% off. In Chinese stores, discount signs will tell you the percentage of the original price that you now have to pay. 

So don’t get too excited when something is marked 9 折 (jiǔ zhé); that doesn't mean 90% off. It means you can buy it for 90% of its regular price – a 10% discount.

The format for discounts is number + 折. Western (Arabic) numbers are used instead of Chinese characters.

Here are some examples:

7 折
qī zhé
30% off
5 折
wǔ zhé
50% off
2.5 折
èr diǎn wǔ zhé
75% off

You might be confused as to how 7 refers to 70% rather than 7%, 5 refers to 50% rather than 5%, and so on. This is because 7 折 means 0.7 times the price. If an item originally costs $100 but has a 7 折 discount, then the final cost is 0.7 x $100, or $70. 

So when looking out for discount signs in Chinese, remember that the smaller the number, the bigger the discount.

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Su, Qiu Gui. "How to Use Discounts Properly in Mandarin Chinese." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Su, Qiu Gui. (2020, August 27). How to Use Discounts Properly in Mandarin Chinese. Retrieved from Su, Qiu Gui. "How to Use Discounts Properly in Mandarin Chinese." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 1, 2023).