Buying fruit in Mandarin Chinese

Here’s a short dialogue in Mandarin Chinese about buying fruit at a fruit shop with sentence breakdowns:

Good morning! Would you like to buy some fruit?

zǎoshanghǎo good morning
nínyào (do) you want
mǎidiǎn (to) buy some
here mǎidiǎn means “buy”, while the addition of diǎn means “some”, or “a little bit”.
shénme what
Here, shénme is used to ask about the specific type or kind of fruit that the person wants to buy. So, the phrase translates to “What fruits would you like to buy?” or “What kind of fruits do you want to buy?”
shuǐguǒ fruit
ma <question particle>
This turns what would be a statement into a yes-or-no question. So, in this context, ma is used to indicate that the speaker is asking if the person wants to buy some fruit. Without ma this would be a statement “you want to buy some fruit”, rather than a question” would you like to buy some fruit”

Hello! I would like to buy one jin (0.5 kilograms) of apples and some oranges.

hǎo hello
xiǎngmǎi I want to buy
jīn one jin
A “jin” is 0.5kg
píngguǒ apple(s)
. and
xiē some / a few
chéngzi orange(s)

Alright, these apples are very fresh, and the oranges are also good. How many oranges would you like?

hǎode Alright
zhèxiē these
píngguǒ apples
hěn (are) very
xīnxiān fresh
chéngzi oranges
cuò also not bad
here, “not bad” really means “good”, so this really means “also good”
nínyào you want
duōshǎo how many
chéngzi? orange(s)
Most of the time, you don’t need to change a noun to indicate it’s plural. For example:
chéngzi – One orange
liǎngchéngzi – Two oranges

Just give me six oranges.

gěi give me
Literally broken down this means
gěi – give
– me
liùchéngzi six pieces of orange
Broken down this means
liù – six
– units / pieces of
chéngzi orange
jiùhǎo (that’s enough)
can be translated as “just fine” or “that’s enough.”
So, the sentence means “Give me six oranges, that’s enough.” It suggests that the speaker wants exactly six oranges, and they don’t need more than that

Alright, one jin of apples and six oranges.

hǎode Alright
jīnpíngguǒ One piece of
liùchéngzi six oranges
liù – six; check out our post – How to count in Chinese
– general classifier; check out our post – Chinese Classifiers: What are they and how to use them
chéngzi – orange

May I ask, how much are these apples per jin? Also, how much does one orange cost?

qǐngwèn excuse me / may I ask
zhèxiēpíngguǒ these apples
zhèxiē – these
píngguǒ – apples
duōshǎoqián how much
jīn one jin
In Chinese a “jin” is half a kilogram (approximately 1.1 pounds). Check out our post – What is a Chinese Jin?
háiyǒu also
chéngzi orange(s)
duōshǎoqián how much (for) one
duōshǎoqián – how much

Apples are five yuan per jin, and one orange costs two yuan.

píngguǒ apple
jīn one jin
(half a kilogram)
kuài five kuai
a kuai kuài is another word for a Chinese yuan yuán
chéngzi orange (fruit)
one piece
liǎngkuài two kuai
a kuai kuài is another word for a Chinese yuan yuán

Alright, give me one jin of apples and six oranges.

hǎode alright
gěi give me
jīnpíngguǒ one jin (of) apples
liùchéngzi six oranges

Alright, please pay seventeen yuan.

hǎode alright
qǐngnín please pay
shíkuàiqián 17 yuan
shí – 17 – check out our post – How to count in Chinese
kuàiqián – yuan

Grammar notes

  • Politeness: In Mandarin Chinese, it’s common to use polite phrases like nínyào and qǐngwèn when interacting with strangers or in a customer service context.
  • Measure Words: Measure words (量词 – liàngcí) are used when specifying quantities of items. For example, jīnpíngguǒ uses jīn as a measure word for apples, and liùchéngzi as a measure word for oranges. Check out our post – Chinese Classifiers: What are they and how to use them.
  • Cost and Price: To indicate the cost or price, Mandarin often uses the structure duōshǎoqián, which means “how much money.”
  • Counting: Numbers like for one, liù for six, and shí for seventeen are used in the dialogue. Chinese numbers are relatively straightforward compared to English.
  • Currency: The Chinese word for “yuan” is kuài, and it’s used in the dialogue to denote the currency.