China is renowned for plentiful markets, large shopping districts and cheap items.  Moving away from travel pocketbook phrases such as “多少钱?”  (How much?), how can we competently discuss clothing preferences and tastes in Chinese?  This instalment of Practical Chinese has the answer.

When consulting with a friend about which item is the best, or our own personal preference, the following sentence pattern is useful:

你最喜欢哪一件?(Which one do you like the best?)

Note that the final measure word, 件 (jiàn), applies to most articles of clothing.  However, long, thin objects (ties, trousers, belts, etc) are taken by 条 (tiáo) while a pair of something (socks, shoes, etc) is taken by 双 (shuāng). 

A good response (in terms of an answer –> reason –> interaction structure) would be something like:

我最喜欢 [那件]。我觉得它很 [新潮] 。你觉得呢?

(I like that one.  I think it looks trendy.  What do you think?)

(NOTE: the phrase(s) in the square brackets are interchangeable)

Where one is surrounded by many different items of clothing, prefacing the above sentence with the phrase 这些 [皮衣] 中 (Among these [leather jackets]) makes the sentence more specific.  In its completed form, it should read

这些皮衣中,你最喜欢哪一件?(Among these leather jackets, which one do you like the best?)

If you can’t see anything you like, you can say 我没有喜欢呢 (I don’t like anything here)

If your friend or shopping buddy has picked up an unfashionable item from the rack, preface your opinion with phrases like 对我来说 (To me) or 说实在的 (Frankly speaking) to clearly illustrate the subjectivity of your answer – let’s try not to offend anybody!

If you would like to make some negative comments about an article of clothing, you can use: 难看 (ugly), 丑 (chǒu) (ugly), 好老 (old-fashioned) or 廉价 (lián jià) (cheap-looking; not tasteful).  You can additionally use the verb 讨厌 (tǎo yàn) (To dislike) as a (stronger) alternative to 不喜欢.

To praise an item, you can use 好看 (looks nice), 新潮 (xīn cháo) (trendy), 漂亮 (pretty), 合适 (suitable) or 时髦 (shí máo) (fashionable).

Happy shopping!

Michael and Jing


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