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.


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


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

My sister is very astute. Every time she buys something, she negotiates for ages with the shopkeeper.

My mum is incredible. She’s able to haggle a price down from 500 yuan to 75 yuan.

I’m sorry, the price can’t be changed, it’s non-negotiable.

Haha! You foreigners really know how to haggle!

Have you ever haggled a price in China? You can only get low price if you negotiate.

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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