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Discounts in Chinese: Learn Chinese Numbers | Learn Chinese 101

Discounts…and numbers in Chinese

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

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

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

So Discounts in 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 in English way
Discounts in Chinese
Calculation in Chinese way
5% off
$100 x (100-5)% = $95
$100 x 95% = $95
10% off
$100 x (100-10)% = $90
$100 x 90% = $90
20% off
$100 x (100-20)% = $80
$100 x 80% = $80
25% off
$100 x (100-25)% = $75
$100 x 75% = $75
40% off
$100 x (100-40)% = $60
$100 x 60% = $60
50% off
$100 x (100-50)% = $50
半價 /bàn jià/ (half price)
$100 ÷ 2 = $50
90% off
$100 x (100-90)% = $10
$100 x 10% = $10

折 /zhé/ means DISCOUNT in Chinese

By now, I hope you have grasped the word 折 /zhé/ which means discounts in Chinese. To discount is 打折. It will come in very handy and possibly save you lots of money later on. Let’s practice how to write it in the correct stroke sequence:

折 /zhé/

Bushou (Radical): 手

Total strokes: 7

折 also commonly means “to fold” or “to snap”. The construction of this written character is known as left-right structure. The left side () is the bushou (radical) , which is a simplified version of 手 and represents the hand. This is no surprise as the original meaning of the word is an action carried out by our hands.

Bushou is an important element in the Chinese writing system. We have a more detailed discussion in this post. Meanwhile, we have created some useful practice for you to learn some basic Chinese numbers below.

Counting 1 to 10

The numbers are written the same in Traditional or Simplified Chinese.

Click on the image to download and print out the practice sheet. Learn how each number is pronounced. Trace each number to practice writing.

Counting up to 999

Once you have mastered the numbers 1 to 10, you can quickly move on to count up to 100. As you can see from the sheet, the Chinese number system is very straightforward and intuitive.

In case you don’t know, 100 is 一百 /yī bǎi/. 500 is 五百 /wǔ bǎi/.

After these 90 examples, can you deduce how to say 365? That’s right, it would be 三百六十五!

Now you can count up to 999


Once you have mastered the numbers in Chinese, you should know about classifiers in Chinese. They are of fundamental importance in counting anything in Chinese. In the word 打折 that we just discussed earlier, the character 打 can also be used as a classifier: 一打 means “a dozen”.  You can learn more about this character through this post.


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