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Lesson Transcript


Hi everybody! Yinru here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Chinese questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: Is Chinese money called 元 yuán or 块 kuài?
Chinese money is called RMB. This is an abbreviation of 人民币 rénmínbì (“people’s currency”). In an exchange rate table, the unit for RMB is always “yuán” (元). However, in daily life, people often use 块 kuài instead of 元 yuán. The answer is very simple: 元 is used in formal writings, and 块 is used in colloquial, everyday language.
So to ask how much something is, you can say: 这个多少钱?(Zhège duō shǎo qián? “How much is this?”) Then, you may get an answer, such as 五块 wǔ kuài, or 二十块 èrshí kuài.
The same rule applies to 角 jiǎo and 毛 máo. 角 jiǎo is the formal “10 cents.” 1角=0.1 元 (yì jiǎo děngyú líng diǎn yī yuán, “1 Jiao equals to 0.1 Yuan”). The more casual way of saying 角 is 毛 máo. For example:
A: 请问,这个多少钱?(Qǐngwèn, zhège duō shǎo qián? “Excuse me, how much is this?”)
B: 两毛. Or 五块五毛. (Liǎng máo. Or Wǔ kuài wǔ máo. “Twenty cents.” or “Five yuan and fifty cents.”)
And many times, people won’t say the 毛 at the end when there’s both 块 and 毛. So, instead of 五块五毛 wǔ kuài wǔ máo, people might just say 五块五 wǔ kuài wǔ.
Nowadays Chinese don’t use 分 fēn any more. This is the monetary unit for “1 cent.” The smallest money in your pocket would be 1角 jiǎo or 1毛 máo, “10 cents.”
Like any other currency, Chinese money has coins and bills, or notes. “Coins” are called 硬币 yìngbì, which literally means “hard money.” “Notes” are called 纸币 zhǐbì, which literally means “paper money.”
硬币 yìngbì comes in 1角 (yì jiǎo), 5角 (wǔ jiǎo), 1元 (yì yuán).
纸币 zhǐbì comes in 1元 (yì yuán), 5元 (wǔ yuán), 10元 (shí yuán), 20元 (èrshí yuán), 50元 (wǔshí yuán) and 100元 (yìbǎi yuán).


Here’s a cultural tip: China doesn’t have a culture of “tipping.” Traditional businesses wouldn’t take tips, but higher-end, western-style restaurants in mega cities like 北京 Běijīng, 上海 Shànghǎi or 广州 Guǎngzhōu may expect tips.
“Tips” in Chinese is 小费 (xiǎofèi). To say “keep the change,” you can say 不用找了 (Búyòng zhǎo le).
If you have any more questions, please leave a comment below!
I’ll see you again! 再见!Zàijiàn!