Top 10 Everyday Mandarin Chinese Phrases
If you’d like to learn how to speak Chinese, one of the best ways to begin is to start off with a few simple phrases that every tourist needs while traveling in China. By mastering 10 or so indispensable sentences, you can literally learn how to speak Chinese in 5 minutes; and you’ll know just enough to not only build up your confidence, but also impress your friends and family. After all, how many people do you know who can speak Chinese?
How Difficult is Chinese?
Learning Chinese can be a daunting task, because the language doesn’t have an established alphabet. Rather, Chinese is learned by memorization, one character at a time. To make things more difficult, each character is made up of strokes, not letters; so you can’t just string together a bunch of letters to create words, as we do in other languages.
The good news is that, back in the 1950s, Chinese linguists came up with “pinyin,” an official Romanization system that uses the English alphabet to convert Chinese characters into a readable format. Thanks to pinyin, it’s easier to learn to speak Chinese because it’s no longer necessary to learn the characters too. This makes a tremendous difference, because in order to learn written Chinese at an elementary school level, you would need to learn around 2,500 characters.
Ten Magic Phrases To Unlock Mandarin Chinese
These 10 phrases are simple, common words and sentences that we use all the time in social conversation; but once you’ve mastered them, you can build your vocabulary by adding more each day. This way, within a short time you can have a firm grasp of elementary Chinese, as well as a feel for the pronunciation used by native Chinese speakers.
The Chinese pronunciation is noted in parenthesis after each phrase. Also, it’s important to remember that intonation is key in speaking Chinese. For Westerners, Chinese (like many Asian languages) has a very nasal sound — a sound you can learn to replicate by listening to spoken versions of Chinese online
1. Hello: 你好 Nǐhǎo (Nee how) or Wèi (Way), Goodbye: 再见 Zàijiàn (Szai-jeean)
2. Thank you: 谢谢 Xièxiè (Shieh-shieh), You’re welcome: 不客气 Bù kèqì (Boo kuh-chi)
Note: The Chinese “x” (or “sh”) sound can be difficult for Westerners, because it’s not the way we pronounce it. Rather, it’s akin to a heavy hiss.
3. How are you?: 好不好 Nǐ hǎo ma? (Nee-hao-mah?)
4. I’m sorry: 對不起 (对不起) Duì buqĭ (Dwee boo tchi)
5. Yes: 是 Shì (Sheh), No: 不 Bù shì (Bu-sheh)
6. Nice to meet you: 幸会 Xìng huì (sing hoy)
These next three are absolutely indispensable if you’re planning to travel to China:
7. Do you speak English?: 你会说英语吗 Nǐ huì shuō yīng yǔ ma? (Ni hoy show ying yoo ma?)
8. I don’t understand: 我听不懂 Wǒ bù dǒng (Wuh boo dong)
9. Where is the bathroom?: 厕所在哪里 Xǐshǒujiān zài nǎlǐ? (See-sow-jeean zai na-lee?)
The literal translation of this is “Where is the handwashing room?”
10. Very beautiful: 很漂亮 Hĕn piàoliang (Hen peow-leeung),
Very delicious: 这很好吃 Hěn hào chī (Hen how chir)
As a tourist, one of the nicest things you can do is compliment the scenery (or, if you’re eating, the food) in the host country’s language. This will be much appreciated by the locals, and will go a long way toward making your stay even more enjoyable.
Are You Ready to Learn Chinese?
If you’re ready to learn Chinese, Pandanese will help get you started today. Pandanese makes it easier thanks to its user-friendly website app (designed for desktop or laptop) that teaches Chinese via repetition. Educators and language experts agree — repetition is by far the best way to learn a language, especially one as complex as Chinese. This state-of-the-art app prompts you to review radicals, vocabulary and characters over and over again. This way, you can gradually progress in building your vocabulary, and retain what you’ve learned before you go on to something new.
Once you’ve learned these 10 phrases, this should give you the confidence you need to add to your Mandarin vocabulary. When you’re ready to learn more, be sure to visit Pandanese to start your journey in learning Chinese.
This article was published by the Pandanese Team.