A Mandarin Corner YouTube video shows a woman haggling over a scarf in Hong Kong.

enter image description here

A snippet from their dialogue:

Zhège liùshí kuài qián, kěyǐ ba?

Liùshí kuài, yào bùliǎo.

Yào bùliǎo a?

Duì a.

Wǒ juédé yībǎi wǔ yě tài guìle! Suànle, suànle. Nà wǒmen jiù zài kàn yīxià ba.

(She eventually gets the shopkeeper down to 65 yuan! Impressive.)

I don't understand what 要不了 (yào bùliǎo) means here. It turns up in various sentences in Jukuu.com (e.g. 要不了多久 (yào bùliǎo duōjiǔ) seems to mean "it won't take much time", and this was raised in another question) which doesn't seem relevant to the dialogue above. Youdao gives "otherwise the", which doesn't make sense.

Question: What does 要不了 in the above dialogue mean?

  • "Youdao gives "otherwise the", which doesn't make sense." Yes, for "otherwise" it is "要不"
    – Tang Ho
    Apr 6, 2018 at 8:12
  • Nothing impressive about turning a $150 price into $65, specially for foreigners. Apr 6, 2018 at 14:33

3 Answers 3


'不了' in this context simply means "can't take" (can't accept).

In English, it would be "I can't take $60 HKD (for this merchandise)"

The shopkeeper refused to take the $60 HKD in exchange of that particular merchandise

要了那六十块就要交出商品了 (if she took that $60 HKD, she would have to hand over the merchandise)


要不了 in the above dialogue means refuse.

in more specific word,shopkeeper will say:六十块我都要不了(到 )货 (i cant stock this up in such low price,so it's less likely to sell you.)

sometime chinese use the wrong word in oral,so you need to catch the main point like . Try to understand them in a simple way because not everyone cant afford the fee of well-education.

  • If the shopkeeper wanted to reason with the customers that the wholesale price is more than $60, she would simply say 来价也不止六十块哦!
    – Tang Ho
    Apr 6, 2018 at 3:49

Don't really like 要不了 in your example, better 卖不了。

  1. I ask you to go and buy something for me.You are not sure of the price of the article. You ask me:


I know it won't cost that much, it is less than 60, I say:


  1. You make an offer of a price to a shopkeeper

这个六十块钱,可以吧?Will you take 60 for this?
六十块卖不了。I won't sell it for 60.

  • 1
    Oh, maybe this is because it was filmed in Hong Kong.
    – Becky 李蓓
    Apr 6, 2018 at 4:58
  • @Pedroski 要不了六十块 and 六十块(我)要不了 are different
    – Tang Ho
    Apr 6, 2018 at 5:18
  • @Becky 李蓓 Yeah, many Hong Kong people's Mandarin is just so so
    – Tang Ho
    Apr 6, 2018 at 5:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.