10 Useful Chinese Phrases


Although speaking Chinese is not essential to living in China as a teacher, it certainly helps to be able to speak some. The list of phrases below will help you on your way to making life a little bit easier to navigate in this amazing country. Nǐ hǎo - Hello Although simple, “Nǐ hǎo” is a precursor to many things you will say in Chinese. Saying a simple “Nǐ hǎo” will sometimes garner a big, though undeserved reaction from Chinese netizens.

Wǒ bù huì shuō zhōngwén – I can't speak Chinese It may be evident that you don't speak Chinese, but uttering this phrase will really let the person know that you don't speak it. Unless you say it in perfect Chinese!

Wǒ bùnéng chī là – I can't eat spicy food

In China there are many spicy and delicious foods. However, if you can't eat spicy food then this phrase might save you some uncomfortable eating experiences.

Duōshǎo qián – How much?

Even if you don't know your numbers in Chinese this phrase is still helpful. Most of the time store owners will write the price down for you. Even after a year and a half of living in China this still happens to me!

Wǒ tīng bù dǒng – I don't understand The meaning you get across by saying this will be similar to saying that you don't speak Chinese. It lets the person you are speaking to know that you don't understand anything they are saying. Once your Chinese gets a little bit more advanced it's best not to use this phrase! Kě yǐ jiā wēixìn - Can I add your WeChat If you want to make a new Chinese friend or just make use of WeChat's translation software then this is the phrase for you. I've definitely used it more times than I can could Nǎlǐ nǎlǐ - You're too kind If you want to sound humble or just impress netizens with your native sounding Chinese then you can say Nǎlǐ nǎlǐ whenever you receive a compliment. “You look so good today!” - “Nǎlǐ nǎlǐ,” “Your Chinese is so good!” - “Nǎlǐ nǎlǐ.” Wǒ xiǎng qù zhèlǐ - I want to go here I used this phrase everyday when I first moved to China and didn't yet have DiDi. I would hail a taxi, pull out the WeChat location on my phone, and say “Wǒ xiǎng qù zhèlǐ!” Works every time. Hào chī - Yummy “Hào” literally translates to “good” and “Chī” translates to eat. You can say this whenever you are eating something that pleases your taste buds. Additionally, if you add on “ma” to the end it becomes a question. Hào chī ma = Is it tasty?

Xièxiè - Thanks I remembered not being able to say this properly when I arrived. Chinese tones are a hard this to master but ever if you are not saying it perfectly most people will understand what you are saying. Always say please and thank you! Wǒ bù zhīdào nǐ de yìsi – I don't know what you mean. When your Chinese is a little bit more advanced you can use this phrase instead of Wo ting bu dong. It will prompt the person speaking to you to try and say what they are saying in a different way. Good for Chinese practice and more polite that “tīng bù dǒng!" Learn these phrases and you will be well on your way to communicating like a local! I remembered not being able to say this properly when I arrived. Chinese tones are a hard this to master but ever if you are not saying it perfectly most people will understand what you are saying. Always say please and thank you! Wǒ bù zhīdào nǐ de yìsi – I don't know what you mean. When your Chinese is a little bit more advanced you can use this phrase instead of Wo ting bu dong. It will prompt the person speaking to you to try and say what they are saying in a different way. Good for Chinese practice and more polite that “tīng bù dǒng!" Learn these phrases and you will be well on your way to communicating like a local!

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