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Chinese Vocabulary for Going to the Supermarket

written by: lss5059 • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 9/11/2012

Transform your next trip to the grocery store into a language learning experience. With this list of Chinese vocabulary for the supermarket, you'll be able to practice finding and purchasing foods in Chinese either in China or a Chinese grocery store in your hometown.

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    Shopping in Chinese Supermarkets

    Whether in China or your home country, a trip to the Chinese supermarket not only allows you to sample some foods you may not be familiar with, it allows you to practice and put into context the Chinese vocabulary for going to the supermarket. Find a few Zhōngguó cài (Chinese food) recipes, make a list of ingredients and head to the store to practice some new vocabulary and useful phrases.

    Chinese supermarkets are a great place to purchase fresh produce, meats, seafood and unusual fruits. While a typical western grocery store may only have one type of soy sauce and five types of onions, Chinese supermarkets are the opposite. You will find a whole range of condiment and ramen noodle brands, but often only one type of each vegetable or fruit.

    If you are worried about proper pronunciation, bring along a Chinese-speaking friend, or ask a store worker to pronounce the items for you. Once you have heard each work or phrase a few times, you should be able to replicate it well enough to be understood.

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    Supermarket Vocabulary

    Vegetables - Shūcài

    • Cabbage - Juǎnxīncài
    • Tomato - Xīhóngshì
    • Onion - Yángcōng
    • Garlic - Dàsuàn
    • Ginger - Jiāng
    • Potato - Tǔdòu
    • Yams - Báishǔ
    • Green onion - Cōng
    • Mushroom - Mógu
    • Eggplant - Qiézi
    • Carrot - Húluóbo
    • Cucumber -Huángguā
    • Hot pepper - Làjiāo

    Fruits - Shuǐguǒ

    • Apple - Píngguǒ
    • Banana - Xiāngjiāo
    • Pear -
    • Orange - Chéng
    • Grapes - Pútáo
    • Watermelon - Xīguā
    • Lemon - Níngméng
    • Lime - Suān chéng
    • Coconut - Yézi
    • Cherry - Yīngtáo

    Meats - Ròu

    • Beef - Niú ròu
    • Pork - Zhū ròu
    • Chicken - Jī ròu
    • Fish -
    • Shrimp - Xiā
    • Crab - Xiè
    • Sausage - Xiāngcháng

    Other Foods

    • Milk - Niúnǎi
    • Rice - Fàn
    • Bread - Miànbāo
    • Water - Shuǐ
    • Eggs - Jīdàn

    Other Words

    • Shopping basket - Lán
    • Bag - Dàizi
    • Shopping cart - Gòuwù chē
    • Pay - Zhīfù
    • Receipt - Fāpiào

    Useful Phrases

    • I want to buy ___. - Wǒ yāo mǎi ___.
    • Where are the ___? - ___ zài nǎlǐ?
    • How much? - Dūoshăo qián?
    • Do you have ___? - Nǐ yǒu mé yǒu ___?
    • Please wait a moment. - Qǐng děng yīxià
    • What is that? - Na shì shén me?
    • Do you need a bag? - Nǐ xūyào yīgè dàizi?
    • Thank you. - Xièxie
    • Goodbye. - Zài jiàn
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    Practice Activities

    Flash Cards

    Before you head to the Chinese supermarket, brush up on your vocabulary by printing out images of all the foods you'd like to learn. Write the Chinese vocabulary word on the back of each card, and test yourself on all the words until you can get through the whole stack. Practice every day until you know the works, then refresh your memory once per week.

    Help from a Friend

    Get together with a Chinese-speaking friend or tutor for a field trip to the Chinese supermarket. As you walk through the grocery store, have your friend point to items while you name the item in Chinese. If you come across items you don't yet know the word for, ask your friend to write down the new vocabulary and pronounce it for you several times.

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    Establishing a context is important when learning Chinese vocabulary for places. Supermarket words are usually very visual and tactile, so being able to look at and touch an apple when you learn the word píngguǒ can be very helpful to cement the new vocabulary in your brain.

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