Chinese writings of discount

Discounts…. In Chinese

Don’t we all love sales and discounts! So how do you say 10% off in Chinese?

Answer: 九折 – which directly translates as “9-discount”. It means that the discounted price is 90% of the original price.

“20% off’ would be 八折, which directly translates as “8-discount”. It means that the discounted price is 80% of the original price.

So Chinese works backwards (in the same way as many other things, such as names, dates, addresses etc)! What a surprise!

If you think about it, expressing discounts in this way is a real time-saver. We can calculate the discounted price directly from the discount rate, instead of first subtracting the rate from 100% and then doing the calculation. It helps us calculate the price faster, and speed is important when you are bargaining.

Let’s look at some comparisons in calculating the discounted price, assuming that we are buying a video game which originally costs $100.

Discount in English                  Calculation                       Discount in Chinese                     Calculation
5% off                               $100x(100%-5%)=$95                     9-5折                                $100×95%=$95
10% off                             $100x(100%-10%)=$90                      9折                                $100×90%=$90
15% off                             $100x(100%-15%)=$85                 8-5 折                                $100×85%=$85
20% off                             $100x(100%-20%)=$80                      8折                                $100×80%=$80
25% off                             $100x(100%-25%)=$75                  7-5折                                $100×75%=$75
30% off                             $100x(100%-30%)=$70                      7折                                $100×70%=$70
35% off                             $100x(100%-35%)=$65                  6-5折                                $100×65%=$65
40% off                             $100x(100%-40%)=$60                      6折                                $100×60%=$60
50% off                             $100x(100%-50%)=$50         半價 (half price)                       $100 / 2 = $50
60% off                             $100x(100%-60%)=$40                     4折                                 $100×40%=$40
70% off                             $100x(100%-70%)=$30                     3折                                 $100×30%=$30
80% off                             $100x(100%-80%)=$20                     2折                                 $100×20%=$20
90% off                             $100x(100%-90%)=$10                     1折                                 $100×10%=$10
100% off (free!!)              $100x(100%-100%)=$0                免費 (free)                          $100×0%=$0

By the time you reach this part of this article, I hope you have grasped the word 折 which means discount. It will come in very handy and possibly save you lots of money later on. To learn how it’s pronounced and written in correct sequence, please click here.

折 also commonly means “to fold” or “to snap”. The written construction of the word 折 is a left-right structure. The left side is a common radical, which represents the hand. We can deduce from the way it’s written that the word originally means an action carried out by hand.

The Radical is an important element in the Chinese writing system. We will discuss this in more detail in the future. Meanwhile, you will find links to some more useful information on Chinese numbers below.

Remember to check back here again! See you next time~

Writing 1-10 in Chinese (pinyin included)

1-100 in Chinese

basic Chinese strokes

Building blocks of Chinese – strokes

Is it difficult to learn Chinese?

Of course it is!!  It takes an average Chinese student a good 13 years  (6 years of Primary + 3 years of secondary + 4 years of high school) to learn it.

Wait…. Isn’t that the same for an English student to learn English?

Exactly.  So learning any language properly is never an easy job.  But why is Chinese “especially difficult” for English speakers?

Here are some facts:

  • Chinese doesn’t use alphabets – so where do we start?
  • Chinese write with strokes which must be rendered precisely, because the change of length of a stroke can mean completely different things!
  • There are a lot of homophonic characters or even words in Chinese – how do we make out the meaning of what we hear?
  • Chinese uses “radical” system, which contains more than 250 radicals – that’s A LOT more than 26 alphabets in English!
  • Chinese do not conjugate their verbs – how do we express various tense?
  • Chinese use a lot of Cheng-Yu (idioms) in their speech and writing – how do we learn all their historical meanings?
  • There are very few instruction books written with the mind-set based on the Chinese language system

OK.  Let us work at one thing at a time.  While it is true that Chinese do not use alphabets, there are some basic elements that make up each character – STROKES.  There are mainly 8 basic strokes (that’s a lot less than 26 alphabets!!):

Dian (Dot)

Heng (across, horizontal stroke) [ pronounced as Hung(ry)]

Shu (vertical stroke)

Gou (hook)

Pie (left-slanting downward stroke) [pronounced as Pee-eh, NOT as apple PIE]

Na (downwards-right concave stroke)

Ti (tick, upwards stroke)

Zhe (bent stroke)

Download the practice / diagram sheet 1
Download the practice / diagram sheet 2

Let’s first master these strokes, and have more fun looking into other aspects of learning Chinese next time!