And can I just say: "哪里买票?"? This is what I used when I was in China and everyone seemed to easily understand. Is this shorter sentence incorrect or non-native sounding? How do native speakers ask this kind of question?

  • See this two sentences, like @YCode explained, 我去买票了: I am going to buy tickets (you can not know whether had bought or not in this sentence). vs 我买到票了: I have bought the ticket.
    – xenophōn
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 2:19
  • The two sentences 哪里可以买票 and 哪里可以买到票 are almost the same, for that in this case the speaker surely want to get the ticket, but not want to know where to buy only. Generally we speak 在哪里买票 rather than 在哪里可以买到票.
    – xenophōn
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 2:23
  • I'm fairly certain I just learned this concept in my textbook. The answers all seem to get at the gist of it, but if I'm right the term describing what's happening is the "resultative complement" and it means that 到 is complementing (following after and adding to) 买 by providing more information about "how" the buying went. resources.allsetlearning.com/chinese/grammar/… Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 14:49

7 Answers 7


买票: is all about the act of purchasing a ticket. 买到票: is about where a ticket can be successfully purchased.

But the two are often used interchangeably.

  • 1
    When the latter is used, it usually means tickets are amost sold out.
    – DannyNiu
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 3:09
  • 到 definitely adds to the emphasis on availability, though not necessarily. One can ask “哪里可以买到票” if one wonders where to buy tickets as well. Another scenario of using 买到票 has to do with hard-to-get tickets--as in "where to get these (impossible-to-get) tickets?" As I said, these two are often used interchangeably, but one can say "I said '买票', not '买到票' ” (or vice versa) for clarification.
    – YCode
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 20:50

“哪里买票”(1) sounds perfectly native to me.

The difference between these two sentences lies in: (1) doesn't address the likely scenario where you can't get a ticket even if you tried to buy one.

Whereas “哪里可以买到票”(2) clearly states “Where (can I) buy and get a ticket?”

  • Ok, thanks. How about 哪里可以买票? My guess is that this isn't correct because adding the 可以 requires also adding 到. Am I right? Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 23:14
  • 哪里 – where; 可以 – can, may; 买 – to buy; 票 – ticket. “哪里买票” literally translates as “Where (to) buy (a) ticket?” “哪里可以买票” literally translates as “Where can/may (I) buy (a) ticket?” Both are perfectly idiomatic in Chinese (though the literal translations sound weird). With “可以”, you sound more polite.
    – tonghe
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 23:48

When you add "到" into the sentence, it shows that you need to find a place that can guarantee that you can buy a ticket, thus shows that you are in a hurry.


I see some nuances when I use those sentences/phrases.

I would use these sentences '哪里买票','在哪里买票', or '请问, 在哪里买票', when I try to ask where the ticket office(售票处) is. Most likely, I would use '请问, 在哪里买票' because that sounds more polite than the other twos. Those sentences can be paraphrased as (请问)买票的地方在哪里, and they are usually used when you arrive a site(say a station), but you are not sure exactly where the ticket office is located in there.

I would use 哪里可以买票 and 哪里可以买到票, when I am not sure where I should go to get tickets(train station, Internet or any other places). The latter connotes that you are asking for a place where can surely get tickets, the former is just to ask where you can buy tickets but unsure if you can get tickets successfully.


买票= buy ticket

买到票 = buy and get ticket

In this context, these two phrases are both acceptable.


哪里买票 = where can I buy ticket? (tell me somewhere I can try, but you don't have to be 100% sure that I can get the ticket, maybe they sold out, or they are not selling the ticket now, but they were before)

哪里可以买到票 = where can I buy ticket? (you are 100% sure that I can buy a ticket there - but still there might be something happened that I could not get the ticket)


There are some differences between them.you may use “买票”when you are close to the place where you can get tickets and “买到票” is opposite

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