Basic phrases in Chinese

130 Basic Phrases in Chinese That You Can’t Miss!

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.

  1. 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.
  2. If you are beginners who are traveling to Mandarin-speaking places, definitely study the list to help you get around there.
  3. 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

 1Good morningzǎo shang hǎo
zǎo ān
早上好
早安
 2Good afternoonxià wǔ hǎo
wǔ ān
下午好
午安
 3Good nightwǎn shàng hǎo
wǎn ān
晚上好
晚安
 4How are younǐ hǎo ma?你好吗?
 5I’m good.wǒ hěn hǎo我很好
 6How about you?nǐ ne你呢
 7I’m also good. wǒ yě hěn hǎo我也很好。
 8Goodbyezài jiàn再见

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.

Being Polite

 9Thank youxiè xie谢谢
 10You’re welcomebú kè qì不客氣
 11Sorryduì bù qǐ对不起
 12It’s okméi guān xi没关系
 13Pleaseqǐng 请

Introduce Yourself and Small Talks

 14My name is _______?wǒ jiào _______我叫 _______
 15What’s your name?nǐ jiào shén me míng zi?你叫什么名字?
 16I’m from _____wǒ cóng _______lái我从____来
 17Where are you from?nǐ cóng nǎ lǐ lái?我从哪里来?
 18Nice to meet you.hěn gāo xìng rèn shì nǐ很高兴认识你
 19How’s going with you?nǐ zěn me yàng?你怎么样?
 20Have you eaten yet?nǐ chī le ma?你吃了吗?
 21I’ve eaten.wǒ chī le我吃了
 22Not yethái 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

 23Do you like _______?nǐ xǐ bù xǐ huan_______?你喜不喜欢_______?
 24I like _______wǒ xǐ huan_______我喜欢_______
 25I don’t like _______wǒ bù xǐ huan _______我不喜欢_______
 26Do you want _______?nǐ xiǎng bù xiǎng yào _______?你想不想要_______?
 27I want…wǒ xiǎng yào _______我想要_______
 28I don’t want…wǒ bù xiǎng yào _______我不想要 _______
 29Will you_______?nǐ huì bú huì _______?你会不会_______?
 30I will _______wǒ huì _______我会_______
 31I will not_______wǒ bú huì _______我不会_______
 32Do you need to _______?nǐ yào bú yào _______?你要不要_______?
 33I need to _______wǒ yào _______我要_______
 34I don’t need to _______wǒ bú yòng _______我不用_______
 35Do you have _______?nǐ yǒu méi yǒu _______?你有没有_______?
 36I have _______.wǒ yǒu _______我有_______
 37I don’t have _______.wǒ méi yǒu _______我没有_______
 38Where is _______?_______ zài nǎr?
_______ zài nǎ lǐ?
_______在哪儿?
_______在哪里
 39_______ is here._______  zài zhèr
_______ zài zhè lǐ
_______在这儿
_______在这里
 40What’s this?zhè shì shén me?这是什么?
 41This is _______.zhè shì _______这是_______
 42What’s that?nà shì shén me?那是什么?
 43That is _______nà shì _______那是_______
 44When?shén me shí hou?什么时候?
 45How?zěn me?怎么?
 46How to _______?zěn me _______?怎么_______?
 47Who?shéi?谁?
 48Why?wèi shén me?为什么?
 49Becauseyīng wèi因为
 50Sosuǒ yǐ所以

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.


Daily Phrases

 51Let’s gowǒ men zǒu ba我们走吧
 52Good looking/prettyhǎo kàn好看
 53Mr.xiān sheng先生
 54Miss/Ms.xiǎo jiě小姐
 55Yesshì
 56Nobú shì不是
 57correctduì
 58incorrectbú duì不对
 59good/okhǎo
 60not good/not okbù hǎo不好
 61maybekě néng可能
 62I knowwǒ zhī dao我知道
 63I don’t knowwǒ bù zhī dao我不知道
 64See you laterhuí tóu jiàn回头见
 65Really?zhēn de ma真的吗?
 66Great! (Awesome!)fēi cháng bàng非常棒!
 67oh my god!wǒ de tiān ya我的天呀!
 68one secondděng yí xià等一下

For # 54 Miss/Ms.: Strictly speaking, 小姐 (xiǎo jiě)is Miss and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

 69I don’t understand.wǒ bù dǒng我不懂
 70I only understand a little bit Chinesewǒ zhǐ dǒng yì diǎnr zhōng wén我只懂一点儿中文。
 71Please say it againqǐng zài shuō yí cì请再说一次
 72One more timezài yí cì再一次
73 Please say it slowerqǐng shuō màn yì diǎnr请说慢一点儿
 74How do you say_______zěn me shuō _______?怎么说_______?
 75What time is it now?xiàn zài jǐ diǎn?现在几点?
 76Do you speak English?nǐ shuō yīng wén ma?你说英文吗?
 77What does it mean?shén me yì si?什么意思?
basic chinese phrases what time


Numbers in Chinese

 78one
 79twoèr
 80threesān
 81four
 82five
 83sixliù
 84seven
 85eight
 86ninejiǔ
 87tenshí
 88one hundredyì bǎi一百


Directions

 89Excuse me(may I ask), how to go to _______qǐng wèn, zěn me qù _______?请问, 怎么去_______
 90Go straightzhí zǒu直走
 91Right turnyòu zhuǎn右转
 92Left turnzuǒ zhuǎn左转
 93one intersectionyí ge lǜ kǒu一个路口
 94frontqián miàn前面
 95backhòu miàn后面
 96leftzuǒ biān左边
 97rightyòu biān右边
 98next topáng 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.

Basic phrases in Chinese for excuse me.


Places

 99Airportjī chǎng机场
 100Hoteljiǔ diàn酒店
 101Restaurantcān tīng餐厅
 102convenient storeshāng diàn商店
 103restroomcè suǒ厕所

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.


Vehicles

 104Taxichū zū chē出租车
 105Subwaydì tiě地铁
 106Boatchuán
 107Carchē zi车子
 108Trainhuǒ chē火车
 109busgōng gòng qì chē公共汽车
Basic phrases in Chinese subway station in Beijing
basic phrased in Chinese about subway for Taipei Metro.

Interested in Beijing Subway Map?! Look at here.

Interested in Taipei Metro Map? Look at here.


Shopping

 110How much?duō shǎo qián?多少钱?
 111Too expensivetài guì le太贵了
 112Cheaper a little bit, ok?pián yí yì diǎnr, hǎo ma便宜一点儿,好吗?
 113I’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 phrases in Chinese for stores in Taiwan.


Basic Dining Phrases in Chinese

 114Check pleaseqǐng mǎi dān请买单
 115Menucài dān菜单
 116I want to order________wǒ xiǎng yào diǎn _______我想要点_______
 117A cup of wateryì bēi shuǐ一杯水
 118Please give me a forkqǐng gěi wǒ chā zi请给我叉子
 119Please give me a spoonqǐng gěi wǒ tāng chí请给我汤匙
 120Delicioushǎo chī好吃
 121Chickenjī ròu鸡肉
 122Porkzhū ròu猪肉
 123Beefniú ròu牛肉
 124I don’t eat_______wǒ bù chī我不吃_______
 125I’m allergic to _______wǒ duì _______  guò mǐng我对_______过敏
 126I’m vegetarianwǒ chī sù我吃素
 127Coffeekā fēi咖啡
 128Teachá
 129Watershuǐ
 130cokekě lè可乐

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

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