Lesson 16: I do my New Year shopping here

我在这儿办年货 Wǒ zài zhèr bàn niánhuò


As the Lunar New Year is approaching soon, we would like to take this opportunity to share with you the things we do during the festive season.  Lunar New Year is a festive season celebrated by all the Chinese communities all over the world. This year, the Lunar New Year will be celebrated on the 23rd and 24th of January. The dates are calculated based on the Lunar calendar and hence the dates of celebration are different every year.


Before the Lunar New Year, we will spring clean our house and buy goodies to entertain friends and family during the New Year. In this lesson, we will teach you the types of food we usually eat during the festive season and the gifts the children and singles will be receiving.


In the dialogue for today, Wang Li meet Zhang Yun in the shopping mall where people go to do their New Year shopping. They are talking about the goodies Zhang Yun bought at the market.


Wang Li:         Zhang Yun, what are you doing here?

Zhang Yun:     I am doing my New Year shopping.

Wang Li:         What are you buying here?

Zhang Yun:     Sweets, new year cake, melon seeds and packaged beverages.

Wang Li:         Do you come here to do your New Year shopping every year?

Zhang Yun:     Yes, the market here is very big. Have you finished your New Year shopping?

Wang Li:         I have just bought some plastic flowers. Do they sell pineapple tarts here?

Zhang Yun:     Yes, it is over there. Follow me. I want to buy as well.


王丽:            张云,你在这儿做什么?

张云:            我在办年货

王丽:            你在这儿买什么?

张云:            糖果,年糕,瓜子 和包装饮料。

王丽:            你每年都来这儿办年货吗?

张云:            是的。这个商场很大。你办完年货了吗?

王丽:            我刚刚买了一些塑料花。这儿有没有菠萝挞?

张云:            有,那儿买。我来,我也要买菠萝挞。




Wáng lì:           Zhāng yún, nǐ zài zhèr zuò shénme?
Zhāng yún:      Wǒ zài bàn niánhuò.
Wáng lì:           Nǐ zài zhèr mǎi shénme?
Zhāng yún:      Tángguǒ, niángāo, guāzǐ hé bāozhuāng yǐnliào.
Wáng lì:           Nǐ měinián dōu lái zhèr bàn niánhuò ma?
Zhāng yún:      Shì de. Zhège shāngchǎng hěn dà. Nǐ bàn wán niánhuò le ma.?
Wáng lì:           Wǒ gāng gāng mǎi le yī xiē sùliào hua. Zhèr yǒu méi yǒu bō luó tà?
Zhāng yún:      Yǒu, zài nàr mǎi. Gēn wǒ lái, wǒ yě yāo mǎi bō luó tà.


春节 Chūnjié means the same thing as Lunar New Year 农历新年 Nónglì xīnnián. In China, it is called 春节 well in other countries it is known as 农历新年. In some parts of the Chinese communities in the world, Lunar New Year is celebrated by releasing firecrackers 爆竹 (Bàozhú. But this custom has since been removed because of fire hazards that the firecrackers have caused.

Besides  爆竹, another important custom is the giving out of red packets 红包 Hóngbāo to  children and singles who are students or unemployed. Another term for  红包 is 压岁钱 Yāsuìqián.

Before the New Year begins, people will be busy doing spring cleaning and doing New Year shopping. Spring cleaning is 大扫除 Chūnjì dàsǎochú and 办年货 bàn niánhuò means new year shopping as explained in the dialogue above. Let us study a little more on the phrase 办年货.

The Chinese word in 办年货 is a verb rather than a noun. It means to do the new year shopping. 年货 is the new year goodies represented by 年 meaning year and 货meaning goods. The word is a noun in 办公室 Bàngōngshì (office).

刚刚 or is an adverb you use to tell another person that you have just done something a moment ago. For example, when you have just taken your breakfast, you can say 我刚刚/刚吃了早餐 Wǒ gānggāng /gāng chī le zǎo n.

is a preposition and is often combined with a noun or a pronoun to form a prepositional phrase. It is used in front of the predicative verb to indicate the manner of an action. For example, 我跟妈妈去商场 Wǒ gēn māmā qù shāngchǎng (I go to the mall with my mother). The preposition must be placed before the verb. You cannot say 我去商场跟妈妈.

is also a preposition and similar to , must be placed before the verb. You can place a noun before the word and then follow by a verb and an object. For example, 王丽在商场买衣服. 王丽 is the subject, 商场 is the noun, 买 is the verb and 衣服 is the object. 王丽在商场买衣服 Wáng lì zài shāngchǎng mǎi yīfú means Wang Li buys her clothes at the mall. Hence, in order to use this preposition correctly, you have to remember to place the verb after it and not before it.

That is all the grammar notes we have for you in this lesson. Before we end this lesson, we would like to go through some of the meaning of the Chinese characters we have mentioned in the dialogue. For example, 糖果 and年糕. (Táng) by itself means sugar and (guǒ) means fruit. When we put the two words together, they mean sweets and not sugar fruits.

瓜子 guāzǐ is a favorite snack during the New Year.  (guā) means melon and () means seeds. So the next time you see the word, you will know that it is something relating to melon. For example, watermelon is 西瓜 Xīguā and Honeydew is 蜜瓜 Mì guā.

We have come to the end of our lesson for today. We wish all a Happy Lunar New Year and see you in our next lesson.