Discussing Money Matters In Chinese And What You Need To Know

If you are in the business industry, at some point, you might have to talk money matters to a Chinese native. That is why so many business professionals choose to enrol in a Chinese course in Singapore before they go on business trips to China, or before striking up partnerships with Chinese-speaking companies.

China is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with many manufacturing and production factories based in the nation. As such, business owners will look to discuss money topics to their business partners from overseas. If you are ordering a product from a Chinese supplier and have no knowledge of Chinese, you might be confused.

However, don’t fret! We’ve got a few tips to help you out so that you know what to say when discussing money matters in Chinese.

1. Currency

China’s currency is known as RMB (Renminbi) or CNY, the former being the official name for China’s currency. RMB is translated to mean ‘people’s currency’. Many others have also used Chinese Yuan to describe the currency of the country, but how different is it to RMB?

CNY or Yuan is the word that is used to measure the value of something. When counting notes or coins, someone would refer to it as Yuan. The symbol, ‘¥’, is used as the unit of measurement. A bank or foreign exchange company will usually refer to China’s money as Yuan or CNY. An informal way of referring to the currency is kuài, which is often used when buying products from a market. In conversation, merchants or sellers will use this word to negotiate a price on a product.

When you learn Chinese in Singapore, you will probably also learn how to negotiate price in the Singaporean dollar (SGD$) (xīn bì). Other currencies that are available or talked about in Asian countries include:

  • USD (měi yuán)
  • Euro (ōu yuán)
  • Japanese Yen (rì yuán)
  • Hong Kong Dollar (gǎng yuán)
  • New Zealand Dollar (niǔ yuán)
  • Great British Pound (yīng bàng)
  • Australian Dollar (ào yuán)
  • Canadian Dollar (jiā yuán)

2. Necessary Vocabulary

For individuals planning to visit a Chinese speaking country to trade or buy products, it is vital to know a few money-related words. Throughout your Mandarin lessons in Singapore, here are a few key words regarding money terms that you should look to pick up:

  • Cash
  • Currency
  • Loose change
  • Wallet
  • Pennies, cents

As mentioned above, Chinese natives will refer to RMB or Yuan in an informal way, known as ‘kuài’. This is similar to the way Americans speak when they switch from a formal description of ‘United States Dollar’ to ‘bucks’. It means the same thing, while one is informal and the other is formal.

When discussing prices or negotiating bulk costs, you can use phrases such as:

  • ‘How much is this?’ – zhège duōshǎo qián?
  • ‘Can I get a discount?’ – kěyǐ dǎ zhé ma?

If you don’t agree with a price tag or the cost of the product, you can express your concern by saying that the item is ‘too expensive’ – tài guì le.


To get more practice with these phrases and words, joining a Mandarin class in Singapore will be very useful to you. You can then use your newly learnt knowledge to discuss prices, costs, or money matters when travelling or buying products from Chinese speaking countries. Not only is this an excellent way to help you improve your Chinese, but you will also be able to communicate easier when it comes to purchasing goods or products that you love!

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