On entering the Chinese bazaar, Jake had been intent on purchasing a t-shirt, or perhaps a long-sleeved shirt. He had wanted something adorned with Chinese characters to commemorate his trip. Which raised the question of how exactly he had ended up in this state: arms stretched full of imitation Prada bags, Timberland jackets and pashmina shawls and his wallet considerably lighter than when he left the hotel.

Suffice it to say that learning how to say no is an important skill in China. There are a few ways of accomplishing this though, and in today's Chinese lesson we cover one of the less obvious. Instead of just coming right out with a refusal, we teach you to emphasize only the item you want. "It's this one," you'll say, "exactly this one." This is a polite way to control the conversation while making sure you're understood. And it can come in especially useful when you're shopping. Good luck!
 said on
December 5, 2010
 said on
December 22, 2016
What is the difference between "yao ", "xiang " and "Xiang Yao"?

 said on
December 26, 2016
The major difference is the degree of certainty. 要 (yao) is more forceful and implies that something almost certainly will happen because it is your will that it happens. 想 (xiang) is softer and 想要 (xiangyao) lies somewhere in the middle.

For an example of where this matters, think of how confusing using 要 can be in a sentence like 我明年要去欧洲 ("wo mingnian yao qu Ouzhou")。In this case, most people will understand the speaker as saying they WILL visit Europe (i.e. that they've already bought the tickets), not that they would like to visit Europe if they can manage to find the vacation time or the money for airfare. In this context, 想 and 想要 are better for communicating wishful desire because they're less fundamentally less ambiguous.

On a more advanced level, Chinese people often use 想要 in places where they don't like to use just 要 or 想. If someone asks you if you want something, you can't answer 我想 because it just sounds weird. Likewise, 我要 comes across as really self-centered and forceful. But you can say 我想要 as a standalone answer without being too abrasive.