Changing Money

3.5 Changing Money

This lesson is set in the PRC. You will learn to understand questions and answers used in changing money. Ms. Novak is at the front desk of her hotel in Beijing. She has a ten dollar bill in Chinese currency that she wants to break. Listen.

Qǐng ni gěi wo liǎngzhāng wǔkuài de.亲你给我两张五块的 Please give ms two fives.

Here’s the counter for bills and other flat things. You’ve already seen it for maps.

zhāng bills/other flat things

Here’s how he says fives.

wǔkuài de五块的 fives

Adding the marker de to wǔkuài changes it from an amount to something characterized by that amount. The size referring to a five dollar bill, the expression wǔkuài de could refer to a five dollar item. That is, a five dollar one.

You’ve already had the marker de used in a similar way in the expression hóngde red ones so we could translate liǎngzhāng wǔkuài de word for word as two sheets five dollar ones.

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It would have been more tactful for Ms. Novak to use a less direct approach such as this:

Máfan nǐ, wǒ zhèr yǒu yìzhāng shíkuàide.那烦你,我这儿有一张十块的 Sorry to bother you. I have a ten here.

Here’s the verb to bother.

Máfan麻烦 to bother

The expression máfan nǐ really means I’m bothering you.

Notice that Ms. Novak refers to herself in terms of location with the phrase wo zhèr, which means something like Here where I am.

The verb yǒu has no subject and is being used in its impersonal sense – there is. We can translate the sentence Here where I am there is a ten dollar bill.

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The indirect approach continues.

Here is the verb for to change.

huàn to change

Notice the neutral tone of the second syllable. In this sentence, the verb gěi is translated not by the English word to give but as the preposition for. There is a logical connection between the meanings to give and for but it is best to keep the two functions distinct. The main verb of this sentence of course is huàn.

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Listen as Ms. Novak continues getting her change.

Nín yào zěnme huàn?您要怎么换 How do you want to change it?
Qǐng gěi wo liǎngzhāng wǔkuàide ba.请给我两张五块的吧 How about giving me two fives, please.

Here’s the adverb how.

zěnme怎么 how

Notice that the adverb zěnme how comes before the main verb huàn to change and not before the auxiliary verb yào to want to.

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The conversation between Ms. Novak and the clerk could’ve ended like this:

Xièxie.谢谢 Thank you.
Bú kèqi.不客气 You’re welcome.

More literally, the expression bú kèqi, means don’t be polite. The English expression, you’re welcome, accepts thanks. The Chinese expression, bú kèqi, declines thanks saying in effect you don’t have to be so polite, I’m not worthy of it.

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Mr. Anderson is on a trip to Canton and is about to pay for a purchase at the Dun Quan hotel there. Listen.

Nǐmen shōu Měijīn ma?你们收美金吗 Do you accept U.S. currency?
Duìbuqǐ, wǒmen bù shōu.对不起,我们不收 I’m sorry, we don’t.

Here’s the verb to accept.

shōu to accept

And here’s how you say US Currency.

Měijīn美金 US currency

Other meanings of shōu are to receive, to collect, and to keep. The original meaning of jīn is gold. Here it means currency.

Listen again and review.

The conversation continues.

Zài nǎr huàn ne. Zhèr yǒu měiyou yínháng?在哪儿换呢。这儿有没有银行 Well, where do I change it? IB there a bank here?
Yǒu. Yínháng jiù zài nǎr.友。银行就在哪儿 There is. The bank is right over there.

The marker ne at the end of Mr. Anderson’s question, Zài nǎr huàn ne, shows that it follows from the clerk’s suggestion. We translate this ne loosely as well. Mr. Anderson would not have been able to start the conversation by asking zài nǎr huàn ne anymore than he could start it in English with Well… You’ve had this usage once before in the sentence, nǐ ne?

Notice that in the choice question, Zhèr yǒu méiyou yínháng, the alternative, negative and affirmative forms of the verb both come before the object. This is as common as the way you’ve had already, where the negative form follows the object.

Notice also in this sentence, that the place word zhèr comes before the word yǒu in Chinese. But in English, the place word here comes at the end of the sentence.

Listen again and review.

Now Mr. Anderson approaches a teller. Listen.

Qǐngwèn, shi bú shi zài zhèr huàn qián?请问,是不是在这换钱 May I ask, Is it here that I change money?
Shì, shi zài zhèr huàn.是,是在这儿换 Yes, you change it here.

As you remember, the marker shi, is used to indicate the center of interest in a sentence, which in this exchange, is the location phrase. The marker shi may be translated it is as in shi zài zhèr huàn qián it is here that you change money.

So far, you’ve heard the marker shi only in past time sentences accompanied by the marker de. In this exchange however, Mr. Anderson is talking about something he wants to do in the future, so the marker de is not used.

The question in this exchange is a choice type question shì bú shi zài zhèr huàn qián is it or isn’t it here that I change money? or in more idiomatic English, is it here that I change money?.

Listen again and review.

The conversation continues.

Nǐ yào huàn duōshao?你要换多少 How much do you want to change?
Wǒ zhèr yǒu yíbǎikuài Měijīnde lǚxíng zhípiào.我这人有一百块美金的旅行支票 I have one hundred U.S. dollars in traveler’s checks here.

Here’s how you say one hundred.

yìbǎi一百 one hundred

Here’s how you say the word travel.

lǚxíng旅行 travel

And here’s the word for a check.

zhípiào支票 a check

You’ll remember that the marker de changes an amount of money to something worth that amount. The phrase, yìbǎikuài Měijīnde lǚxíng zhípiào therefore, refers to a traveler’s check or several traveler’s checks worth a hundred dollars US.

Listen again and review.

The conversation continues.

Jīntiānde páijià shi duōshao?今天的牌价是多少 What is today’s exchange rate?
Yíkuài Měijīn huàn yíkuài jiǔ máo liù Rénmínbì.一块美金换久毛六人民币 One U.S. dollar to one dollar and ninety-six cents in People’s currency.

Here’s the word for exchange rate.

páijià牌价 exchange rate

And here’s how you say RMB, literally the people’s currency.

Rénmínbì人民币 People’s currency

Notice that the verb huàn here means changes into or can be changed for.

Listen again and review.

Pronunciation Practice