Chengyu Explanations: 讨价还价

讨价还价 mostly relates to the negotiation over price between a buyer and seller, but it also has other similar uses. The following post describes the meaning of this 成语 in detail.

讨价还价

Characters 讨价还价
Pin Yin tǎo jià huán jià
Pleco Definition to haggle over a price
HSK Level HSK 5

Explanation

The original meaning of 讨价还价 relates to the negotiation of a price between a buyer and seller. Notice that 讨价 means ‘ask for a price’ and 还价 means ‘make a counter-offer’. The word 价 is associated with the word 价格, meaning ‘price’.

讨价还价Based on this original meaning, two subsequent uses can be understood. 讨价还价 can describe a negotiation (perhaps unrelated to price) in which both parties repeatedly argue over details. In addition, 讨价还价 may describe the discussion of conditions or circumstances when a task is delegated (e.g. a manager gives a worker a task to complete.)

Grammatically, 讨价还价 usually operates as a verb. It cannot take an object, since the object discussed is the 价格 implied in the phrase itself. 讨价还价 can be modified by various aspect particles (e.g. 了, 过) and auxiliary verbs (e.g. 能, 会) just like any regular verb.


Example Sentences

我姐姐很精明,每次买东西的时候,跟商店的老板讨价还价很长时间。
My sister is very astute. Every time she buys something, she negotiates for ages with the shopkeeper.

我妈妈更厉害,她能把价格从500块讨价还价到75块。
My mum is incredible. She’s able to haggle a price down from 500 yuan to 75 yuan.

不好意思,价格是不能改变的,不能讨价还价。
I’m sorry, the price can’t be changed, it’s non-negotiable.

哈哈!你们外国人真会讨价还价!
Haha! You foreigners really know how to haggle!

你在中国讨价还价过吗?只有讨价还价才能得到很低的价格。
Have you ever haggled a price in China? You can only get low price if you negotiate.

别跟我讨价还价,你不想干就不干,不过你不干就不发工资。
There’s no discussion to be had over this. If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. But you won’t get paid unless it’s done.


References and Further Reading

1. 成语词典 (新世纪版2011修订), p. 643.

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