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I just started learning chinese and I came across this dialogue from a lesson:

A: Pínɡuǒzěnme mài ? 苹果怎么卖? How much are the apples?

B: Sìkuài. 四块. 4 Yuan.

A: Yǒudiǎnr ɡuì. Kěyǐpiányi yìdiǎnr mɑ? 有点儿贵。可以便宜一点儿吗? A bit expensive. Can you make it cheaper?

B: Sān kuài wǔ. 三块五. 3,5 Yuan.

A: Zài piányi yìdiǎnr, hǎo mɑ? 再便宜一点儿,好吗? Can you make it cheaper?

B: Hǎo, sān kuài. 好,三块。Ok, 3 Yuan.

I'm wondering about the differences between:

  1. Kěyǐpiányi yìdiǎnr mɑ? 可以便宜一点儿吗?

  2. Zài piányi yìdiǎnr, hǎo mɑ? 再便宜一点儿,好吗?

In the lesson they said 再 zài can mean more in chinese, so I understand literally 2. as More cheap a little bit, ok?. So it is clear the speaker wants the product to be cheaper than it is now. However I do not completely understand 1., as literally would mean Can it be cheap a little bit?, missing the comparison specifier.

Question: What's the underlying grammar structure in 1.? Does actually have the word 再 zài implicit, like

Kěyǐ(zài)piányi yìdiǎnr mɑ? 可以(再)便宜一点儿吗?

so it really becomes a "comparison" question such as 2.? Or does this mean comparisons in chinese are a little bit more flexible than other languages (like English), where you always need to specify them in some way?

I asked a chinese friend about this and he said usually 1. can be asked just single time and then if you want to ask for still a cheaper product you use 2. any number of times. Does this mean they are not completely equivalent as I expected?

  • 便宜一点儿 can be comparison, as in '比起那个,这个便宜一点儿' (this is cheaper compared with that). And it also means as an idiom 'to lower the price'. 再 is like asking for a lower price than the current price, so you can use it any number of times and even from the very beginning. – ekd123 Jun 4 at 12:46
  • IMO that sentence is better translated as "can you make it cheaper even more" instead of "can you make it more cheap". – ekd123 Jun 4 at 12:52
  • "可以便宜一点儿吗?"(Can (you) make it cheaper?) "再便宜一点儿,好吗?(Can (you) make it cheaper again, is it OK?)" 再 means again. – 000 Jun 4 at 13:17
  • @000 In the lesson they said 再 can also mean "more" and gave some examples such as 再大一点儿 (bigger) or 再高一点儿 (taller), which is why I thought 再 couldn't mean "again" in this sentence... – Puco4 Jun 4 at 13:29
  • @Puco4 Maybe they means this(sense 4) but I cannot verify whether or not it can be interpreted this way in this component(再便宜一点). I think it more probably means again. – 000 Jun 4 at 14:50
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"可以便宜吗?" = "Can it be cheap?"

"可以便宜一点儿吗?" = "Can it be cheaper?"

"可以(更)便宜一点儿吗?" = "Can it be cheaper (more)?" -- compare to cheaper price

可以(再)便宜一点儿吗? = Can it be cheaper (again) -- repeat 'the action be cheaper

It may be easier to understand with different phrasing:

"可以便宜一点儿吗?" = "Can you lower the price?"

"可以(更)便宜一点儿吗?" = "Can you lower the price (more)?"

"可以(再)便宜一点儿吗?" = "Can you lower the price (again)?"

You can repeat the same phrase as many time as you want until you get the lowest price you can get.

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The structure of the first sentence is 可以便宜.

可以 is "can", 便宜 is something like V-ing form, a noun.

再 means 'again', so it is not 'more', not a 'comparison'.

可以便宜一点儿吗? 再便宜一点儿,好吗?

Those literally means:

Can it be cheap?

Can it be cheap again?

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