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At the Market – Vegetables Posted by on Aug 8, 2013 in Byki Lists, Culture, food, Shopping, Vocabulary

An important part of your daily life is going to the market (市场 – shì chǎng) to buy groceries. Of course, doing this in China can be difficult if you’re not a native speaker – you can’t understand the labels, you don’t know to ask for what you want, and you find things you’ve never seen before and can’t quite identify.


To make life easier for you, and to ensure that you don’t end up just eating kung pao chicken (宫保鸡丁 – gōng bǎo jī dīng) every day, I’m going to write a short series of posts that provides tons of useful vocabulary for grocery shopping in China. For the first post, here are 25 Chinese words for vegetables (蔬菜 – shū cài):

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 10.11.10 AMStudy those words, and then get out there and hit the market or a restaurant to practice! If that’s not an option for you, try answering these questions at home in Chinese:

  • What vegetables do you like to eat?
    你喜欢吃什么蔬菜? (nǐ xǐ huan chī shén me shū cài)
  • Do you eat vegetables every day?
    你天天吃蔬菜吗? (nǐ tiān tiān chī shū cài ma)

This short video will help you with your pronunciation.

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About the Author:sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


  1. Peter Simon:

    Hi, really important. But funnily enough, this was the first, so probably the easiest thing to learn as a beginner in China. You just go out, point and listen what they say, consult a friend perhaps, and voila! I know most fruits and vegetables at the market. No kidding! But the ‘dou’ in the picture is not beans, it’s something the Indians would call yellow lentils, and I think in English they’re yellow half-peas. Hungarians call them almost the same as that (without the ‘half’). Definitely not beans! Try making ‘doufu’ out of them 😉

  2. Mike Stalder:

    I didn’t see On Cai (water spinach) on that list. I could get it in California, ate it all the time in Nanning, Guangxi, but can’t seem to find it here in Florida.

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