Stationery in Chinese – What’s Inside your Pencil Case?
Coming to China to study? Or perhaps to start working at a Chinese company?
Either way you’re going to need to learn how to talk about basic stationery in Chinese. Luckily we’ve got a list prepared for you to get you started!
Essential Vocabulary: how do you say stationery in Chinese?
文具 wénjù = “writing materials/tools” or stationery
⬇️⬇️⬇️ Stationery QUIZ ⬇️⬇️⬇️
Pen in Chinese
- Chinese Characters: 笔
- Pinyin: bǐ
- Meaning: This one is simple: “pen”. But it’s used in a lot of Chinese words for different stationery items.
Pencil in Chinese
- Chinese Characters: 铅笔
- Pinyin: qiānbǐ
- Meaning: 铅 means “lead” and 笔 as you know means pen, so all together thats “lead pen”.
Fountain Pen in Chinese
- Chinese Characters: 钢笔
- Pinyin: gāngbǐ
- Meaning: This literally means “steel pen”. Sometimes it’s used to refer to just a regular, nice pen.
Ball Point Pen in Chinese
- Chinese Characters: 原子笔
- Pinyin: yuánzǐbǐ
- Meaning: Sometimes it’s also called a 圆珠笔 (yuánzhūbǐ) which literally means “round pearl pen”, 原子 was probably chosen as it sounds similar.
School Bag in Chinese
- Chinese Characters: 书包
- Pinyin: shūbāo
- Meaning: This one is simple, it means “book bag”, so it’s not just for school kids.
Calculator in Chinese
- Chinese Characters: 计算器
- Pinyin: jìsuànqì
- Meaning: Another very literal translation into English “calculating machine”.
Eraser in Chinese
- Chinese Characters: 橡皮
- Pinyin: xiàngpí
- Meaning: “Rubber/ Rubber Tree Skin”… makes sense.
Pencil Sharpener in Chinese
- Chinese Characters: 转笔刀
- Pinyin: zhuànbǐdāo
- Meaning: “turn pen knife” another very logical one.
Scissors in Chinese
- Chinese Characters: 剪刀
- Pinyin: jiǎndāo
- Meaning: 剪 on it’s own means “scissors” or also the verb “to cut”, 刀 is “knife”… So altogether that’s: “scissors knife” or “cut knife”.
Sticky Tape in Chinese
- Chinese Characters: 胶带
- Pinyin: jiāodài
- Meaning: 胶 means glue and 带 means “belt/tape”, so: “glue tape”
Paperclip in Chinese
- Chinese Characters:曲别针
- Pinyin: qūbiézhēn
- Meaning: “Paper clip”
Stapler in Chinese
- Chinese Characters: 订书机
- Pinyin: dìngshūjī
- Meaning: “staple document machine”
Note: a staple is a 订书针 dìngshūzhēn – a “staple document needle”
Book in Chinese
- Chinese Characters: 书
- Pinyin: shū
- Meaning: Book
Notebook in Chinese
- Chinese Characters: 笔记本
- Pinyin: bǐjìběn
- Meaning: “Pen record book”
Note: Sometimes a notebook is just referred to as a “本子”。
Ruler in Chinese
- Chinese Characters: 尺子
- Pinyin: chǐzi
- Meaning: “rule/ruler”
Measuring Tape in Chinese
- Chinese Characters: 卷尺
- Pinyin: juǎnchǐ
- Meaning: “roll ruler”
尺 chǐ is also a Chinese traditional unit of length equivalent to 0.333m or 1.094 ft
Measurements in Chinese
While we’re on the topic, let’s quickly run through how measurements work in Chinese.
Although China follows the metric system when it comes to weights, it also has its own system of traditional measurements.
Here are some of the more common traditional measurements and weights you might see around.
Traditional Chinese Measurements
|Character||Pinyin||Metric System Equivalent|
|寸||cùn||3 1⁄3 cm|
|尺||chǐ||33 1⁄3 cm|
These units of measurements along with many more have varied in the length/weight they represent throughout Chinese history, but they were standardised in the 1930s and 1950s.
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Where to Buy Stationery in China?
Luckily for us stationery fans, or for those of you who just need to get some study equipment during your time in China, both cute and practical stationery is pretty affordable in China.
Here are some top tips of where you can find what you need:
- #1 Miniso – An all purpose Japanese-style mini-mart, the Chinese chain store Miniso can be found all across China (as well as outside of China too). It sells everything from cosmetics and electronics to kitchenware and you guessed it stationary! Miniso is a good bet to find a cute pen or notepad in any colour.
- #2 Nome – “Made in China, Designed in Sweden” – Nome is another chain store spreading across China. Similar to Miniso, it stocks a range of bargains in the cosmetics, appliances and household items areas with the addition of clothing! But you’re here for stationery remember and nome won’t disappoint – pens, notebooks, sticky notes… all in lovely designs.
- #3 Small Stationary Stores/ Market Stalls – If you’re looking for a wider range of stationery or perhaps something a bit more Chinese-style, with some nice Chinglish on the front then you’re never far from a stationery store in China. The best places to look tend to be around universities and schools in whichever city you’re in. There are usually a couple of stationery stores nearby so that students can stock up on supplies on a budget.
And if you at first you don’t succeed, well there’s always Taobao (now that you know the Chinese names for what you need)!
Happy Stationery Hunting!
Stationary in Chinese – FAQ’s
How do you say Pen in Chinese ?
Pen in Chinese is 笔 (Pinyin: bǐ)
How do you say Pencil in Chinese ?
Pencil in Chinese is 铅笔 (Pinyin: qiānbǐ)
How do you say Book in Chinese ?
Book in Chinese is 书 (Pinyin: shū)
How do you say Notebook in Chinese ?
Notebook in Chinese is 笔记本 (Pinyin: bǐjìběn)
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