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Giving Gifts To Chinese People

The holidays are coming up, and it's the season to buy gifts for all your family and friends! It's a happy time, but in the Chinese culture, there are certain gifts you should never give. Is a clock a symbol of longevity? Does a basket of pairs resemble wealth? Read on to learn about Chinese gift-giving!...

Nov 30, 2014 12:00 AM
Comments · 15

Thanks for this informative article!


An English tip: "alas" is a word used for something negative.  For example, 


"Alas, he had three flat tires and had to miss the wedding."


For your sentence, you could use a positive term like "Happily" or "Fortunately" or "Take heart" or "Don't worry" of "cheer up" or …


"Take heart, this article …"

September 29, 2015

Once I created a quotation for a client (Chinese) and the total after tax came to exactly 514, 514 CNY! 514 ( yāo ) sounds too close to 我要死 ( yào ), "I want to die"....twice!...Needless to say I gave a discount!

Other good numbers to give to your loved one are:

520 (same as 521) "I love you"

1314 as it is pronounced similar to 一生一世( shēng  shì) which means "love you always," or "love you forever"

July 11, 2017

Once you've been in China long enough these numbers find their way in to your own life - it's difficult to ignore them once you get the gist. It's pretty simple:

0 means "you"

1 pronounced yī means "you" and pronounced yāo means "want" or "going to"

2 means "stupid"

4 means "die/death"

6 means "good luck"

8 means "good luck"

13 (Shanghai) means "crazy/foolish"

18 means "going to get rich"

250 means "stupid"


So any variations of the above 'bad' numbers is not good, and any variation of the 'good' numbers is great!

NB: the number one is often pronounced yāo when read individually from a group of numbers. For e.g., when quoting your telephone number; 138 1111 8888, you would say yāo sān bā yāo yāo yāo yāo bā bā bā 

July 11, 2017

@Hilda, unfortunately some people do, but I would ignore such things so if these things are equivalent then I'll just ignore them too.

December 30, 2014

Just want to say, 發 and 八(8) doesn't have the same pronouciation, simply sound similar like mandarin do.


And to Mr Ma, is not about if we, chinese, actually believing it. These are rituals, traditions. Like the people at backstage would say break a leg instead of good luck. Like 13 and black cat in the western world. Are the westerner actually believing these nowadays? Though I have to say, as a warm reminder, some of us do mind a lot about these things, especially the older generations. So, better not to ignore them.

December 16, 2014
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Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English
Learning Language