Who are these 130 basic phrases in Chinese for?
If the following descriptions sounds like you, then you are in the right place to study these basic phrases in Chinese.
- If you are Chinese learning beginners who already know how to pronounce pinyin, these are totally for you. This list consist of fundamental phrases that all beginners should know.
- If you are beginners who are traveling to Mandarin-speaking places, definitely study the list to help you get around there.
- If you are Mandarin teachers who needs resources for your classroom, here you go.
Please note: Some of the basic phrases in Chinese are straight forward and self-explanatory, so there will no further explanation. However, if any explanation is helpful, they will be provided under the table.
Basic Greeting Phrases in Chinese
|1||Good morning||zǎo shang hǎo |
|2||Good afternoon||xià wǔ hǎo |
|3||Good night||wǎn shàng hǎo |
|4||How are you||nǐ hǎo ma?||你好吗?|
|5||I’m good.||wǒ hěn hǎo||我很好|
|6||How about you?||nǐ ne||你呢|
|7||I’m also good.||wǒ yě hěn hǎo||我也很好。|
Note for # 1, 2, and 3: 早上好、下午好、晚上好 are used more commonly in China and 早安、午安、晚安 are used more commonly in Taiwan. No matter which one you say, native speakers will understand. So, please feel free to just pick one you prefer and stay with it.
|9||Thank you||xiè xie||谢谢|
|10||You’re welcome||bú kè qì||不客氣|
|11||Sorry||duì bù qǐ||对不起|
|12||It’s ok||méi guān xi||没关系|
Introduce Yourself and Small Talks
|14||My name is _______?||wǒ jiào _______||我叫 _______|
|15||What’s your name?||nǐ jiào shén me míng zi?||你叫什么名字?|
|16||I’m from _____||wǒ cóng _______lái||我从＿＿＿＿来|
|17||Where are you from?||nǐ cóng nǎ lǐ lái?||我从哪里来？|
|18||Nice to meet you.||hěn gāo xìng rèn shì nǐ||很高兴认识你|
|19||How’s going with you?||nǐ zěn me yàng?||你怎么样？|
|20||Have you eaten yet?||nǐ chī le ma?||你吃了吗？|
|21||I’ve eaten.||wǒ chī le||我吃了|
|22||Not yet||hái méi||还没|
Note for # 14 My name is _______(wǒ jiào_______) : Literally, it’s “I to be called _______. ” This is an authentic way to say. Additional way is below.
我的名字是_______(wǒ de míng zi shì _______ )。 Literally, it means “my name is _______.” Either way works perfectly. So, the same thing for answering. You can say wǒ jiào _______ which is directly translated as “I to be called _______.” You can certainly say 你的名字是什么(nǐ de míng zi shì shén me? )which is directly translated as “your name is what.”
Note for #20-22 Have you eaten yet? I have eaten/ not yet: This conversation is a common casual small talk or a conversation starters among people in Chinese society. There could be two reasons. Firstly, there is an expression saying 民以食为天(míng yǐ shí wéi tiān)which means food is considered as the heaven for people. So, it shows how important food it is in Chinese society.
Secondly, Agriculture was the main industry back in ancient Chinese. If there was flood or drought, people don’t have enough food to eat. Also, food was scarce, and not everyone can always have enough to eat or to eat until full. Therefore, asking people if they have eaten yet was a common question since long long time ago. It becomes a common casual small talks nowadays, even though things might be different now. These basic phrases in Chinese will make you sound like a local because it really shows that you know about the culture.
General Questions to Help You in Most Situations
|23||Do you like _______?||nǐ xǐ bù xǐ huan_______?||你喜不喜欢_______?|
|24||I like _______||wǒ xǐ huan_______||我喜欢_______|
|25||I don’t like _______||wǒ bù xǐ huan _______||我不喜欢_______|
|26||Do you want _______?||nǐ xiǎng bù xiǎng yào _______?||你想不想要_______?|
|27||I want…||wǒ xiǎng yào _______||我想要_______|
|28||I don’t want…||wǒ bù xiǎng yào _______||我不想要 _______|
|29||Will you_______?||nǐ huì bú huì _______?||你会不会_______?|
|30||I will _______||wǒ huì _______||我会_______|
|31||I will not_______||wǒ bú huì _______||我不会_______|
|32||Do you need to _______?||nǐ yào bú yào _______?||你要不要_______?|
|33||I need to _______||wǒ yào _______||我要_______|
|34||I don’t need to _______||wǒ bú yòng _______||我不用_______|
|35||Do you have _______?||nǐ yǒu méi yǒu _______?||你有没有_______？|
|36||I have _______.||wǒ yǒu _______||我有_______|
|37||I don’t have _______.||wǒ méi yǒu _______||我没有_______|
|38||Where is _______?||_______ zài nǎr? |
_______ zài nǎ lǐ?
|39||_______ is here.||_______ zài zhèr |
_______ zài zhè lǐ
|40||What’s this?||zhè shì shén me?||这是什么？|
|41||This is _______.||zhè shì _______||这是_______|
|42||What’s that?||nà shì shén me?||那是什么？|
|43||That is _______||nà shì _______||那是_______|
|44||When?||shén me shí hou?||什么时候？|
|46||How to _______?||zěn me _______?||怎么_______？|
|48||Why?||wèi shén me?||为什么？|
For # 38 在哪里zài nǎ lǐ/在哪儿zài nǎr：哪里and 哪儿both refer to “where” and both of them totally works. People from the north tend to say 哪儿 and people from the south tend to say 哪里. That is to say, native speakers will understand either one perfectly fine. These two are basic phrases in Chinese that you will here no matter where you go.
|51||Let’s go||wǒ men zǒu ba||我们走吧|
|52||Good looking/pretty||hǎo kàn||好看|
|60||not good/not ok||bù hǎo||不好|
|62||I know||wǒ zhī dao||我知道|
|63||I don’t know||wǒ bù zhī dao||我不知道|
|64||See you later||huí tóu jiàn||回头见|
|65||Really?||zhēn de ma||真的吗？|
|66||Great! (Awesome!)||fēi cháng bàng||非常棒！|
|67||oh my god！||wǒ de tiān ya||我的天呀！|
|68||one second||děng yí xià||等一下|
For # 54 Miss/Ms.: Strictly speaking, 小姐 (xiǎo jiě)is Miss and 女士 (nǚ shì) is Ms. However, 女士 is very formal and it is mostly like used in formal settings, such as award ceremony or speech, etc. Therefore, n daily life, most people just say 小姐 to call all the females (like young ladies, adults) who are not kids.
For # 67 Oh my god!: 我的天呀(wǒ de tiān ya) literally is my god/sky and 呀 is an interjection for surprise. In this case, 呀 (ya) can also be interchangeable with 啊(a) which is also an interjection for surprise. So, it goes 我的天啊(wǒ de tiān a)!When you say this phrase, you will definitely sound like a local!
Asking for Help
|69||I don’t understand.||wǒ bù dǒng||我不懂|
|70||I only understand a little bit Chinese||wǒ zhǐ dǒng yì diǎnr zhōng wén||我只懂一点儿中文。|
|71||Please say it again||qǐng zài shuō yí cì||请再说一次|
|72||One more time||zài yí cì||再一次|
|73||Please say it slower||qǐng shuō màn yì diǎnr||请说慢一点儿|
|74||How do you say_______||zěn me shuō _______?||怎么说_______?|
|75||What time is it now?||xiàn zài jǐ diǎn?||现在几点？|
|76||Do you speak English?||nǐ shuō yīng wén ma?||你说英文吗？|
|77||What does it mean?||shén me yì si?||什么意思？|
Numbers in Chinese
|88||one hundred||yì bǎi||一百|
|89||Excuse me(may I ask), how to go to _______||qǐng wèn, zěn me qù _______?||请问， 怎么去_______|
|90||Go straight||zhí zǒu||直走|
|91||Right turn||yòu zhuǎn||右转|
|92||Left turn||zuǒ zhuǎn||左转|
|93||one intersection||yí ge lǜ kǒu||一个路口|
|98||next to||páng biān||旁边|
For # 89 excuse me: There two different scenarios of “excuse me” in Chinese. This one is “excuse me” in asking a question scenario is more like “may I ask” kind of meaning. Therefore, the phrase is 请问(qǐng wèn) which means “please ask.” This is what you say whenever you would like to ask a question to random people whom you don’t know.
Another scenario is “excuse me” that you say when somebody is on your way and you want them to give you some space to pass by/walk through. In this case, you say “借过(jiè guò)” which means “borrow pass.” The underneath meaning is you are borrowing space for you to pass by.
|102||convenient store||shāng diàn||商店|
For # 103 restroom: If you go to somebody’s home and would like to use the restroom, you say “may I use the restroom?” in English. However, in Chinese, it’s “may I borrow the restroom? 我可以借厕所吗(wǒ kě yǐ jiè cè suǒ ma)？” It would be the word borrow 借(jiè), rather than use 用(yòng), in Chinese. The idea behind it is that you are borrowing the restroom to use when you are at somebody’s home. Therefore, the verb would be to borrow, instead of using it.
If you are in a public place, such as in the airport, you don’t need to use the word borrow借(jiè) anymore. It’s because it’s public and it’s not anybody’s to borrow. When you want to tell your friend you are going to the restroom, you can say “我去厕所(wǒ qù cè suǒ)” “我上厕所(wǒ shàng cè suǒ)” “我去上厕所(wǒ qù shàng cè suǒ)” They all mean the same thing “I go to restroom. ” These variations are also basic phrases in Chinese that you will hear from the native speakers.
|104||Taxi||chū zū chē||出租车|
|109||bus||gōng gòng qì chē||公共汽车|
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|110||How much?||duō shǎo qián?||多少钱？|
|111||Too expensive||tài guì le||太贵了|
|112||Cheaper a little bit, ok?||pián yí yì diǎnr, hǎo ma||便宜一点儿，好吗？|
|113||I’ll take it.||wǒ yào le||我要了|
For the whole shopping section: Please note that bargaining is pretty common in some places. For instance, if you see vendors that sells gifts, clothing, shoes, souvenirs, all kinds of object-kind things, and etc. on the streets or tourism spots, mostly likely they are prepared for a bargaining. They might even raise the prices to begin with, so people can bargain. If people do bargain, they are ready to reduce the price. However, if people end up not bargaining, great, they earn even more than what they have expected. In short, bargaining and negotiating prices is a part of the culture and local people get use to it.
However, one thing to know is that food is not for bargaining. when you see food vendors that sells street food, generally speaking, no body would ask for a cheaper price. Also, the places that bargaining are customary are usually small stores, street vendors, places that sells cheaper items. If you go to department stores or high-end stores, bargaining is less commonly practiced.
As a person who possibly travel to Mandarin-speaking places, I would really suggest to at least listen to how local people bargain. If you are adventurous, you can certainly give it a try by yourself. Well, that’s why you learn these basic phrases in Chinese, right?! It’s to help you communicate and experience the culture too.
Basic Dining Phrases in Chinese
|114||Check please||qǐng mǎi dān||请买单|
|116||I want to order________||wǒ xiǎng yào diǎn _______||我想要点_______|
|117||A cup of water||yì bēi shuǐ||一杯水|
|118||Please give me a fork||qǐng gěi wǒ chā zi||请给我叉子|
|119||Please give me a spoon||qǐng gěi wǒ tāng chí||请给我汤匙|
|124||I don’t eat_______||wǒ bù chī||我不吃_______|
|125||I’m allergic to _______||wǒ duì _______ guò mǐng||我对_______过敏|
|126||I’m vegetarian||wǒ chī sù||我吃素|
For #125 I’m allergic to_______: A lot of food in China or Taiwan contains peanuts, tree nuts or traces of nuts. In particular, some food or dipping sauce can be made with peanut oil but most people forget about that and thought there is no nuts. If you are seriously allergic to nuts, I strongly suggest to bring a Food Allergy Card in Chinese with you. The card should be in details in Chinese, in case people who read the card only understand Chinese. In another words, whenever you order, be sure to show the card and make sure there is not even traces of nuts.
For # 126 I”m vegetarian: 我吃素 is directly translated as “I eat vegetarian food.”
Download the PDF List
In short, above are all the 130 basic phrases in Chinese that I organized for you. Hope you find them helpful! If you would like the list of these 130 basic phrases in Chinese as simple list, please feel free to get it here –> DOWNLOAD THE PDF LIST
If you are interested in learning more fundamental vocabulary, you should absolutely check out this New HSK 1 Vocabulary. Even though you might not be preparing for the HSK exam, its vocabulary list includes essential words that all beginners should know.
Another useful resource to help you lear new words: Blank New Vocabulary Study Sheet