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Chinese Tenses: A New Way to View Past, Present, and Future

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We all want to deliver the most accurate information when having a conversation, right? While building up a solid vocabulary base and learning proper syntax are important in this regard, there’s another key step: learning how to indicate the correct tense. 

If you’re a native English speaker (or a speaker of any other alphabet-based language), you’re probably used to changing the form of a verb to express tense. 

However, Chinese is a unique language that does not depend on verb conjugation. You heard that right: There is no verb conjugation in Chinese! Instead, one indicates different tenses in Chinese by adding different time adverbs based on the context. This method can be quite ambiguous and it requires a strong sense of understanding in a conversation. 

Of course, there are also advantages to learning Chinese tenses and once you get used to how it works, it will begin to flow very naturally. You’ll soon realize it can be quite convenient compared to memorizing several different verb conjugations.

In this article, we’ll let you in on all the tricks you’ll need to learn Chinese tenses. You’ll be integrating them into your daily conversations before you know it!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. Present
  2. Present Continuous
  3. Past
  4. Future
  5. Past / Future Continuous
  6. Past / Present Perfect
  7. Conclusion

1. Present

Signs with Now, Tomorrow, and Yesterday on Them

Time is always flying between now, the past, and the future.

The Chinese present tense is one of the simplest tenses to learn. All you need to do is add a time adverb to the sentence in order to indicate an habitual action.

A- Time Phrases

  • 总是/老 (zǒng shì / lǎo)  – “Always”
  • 经常 (jīng cháng) – “Often”
  • 现在 (xiàn zài) – “Now” 
  • 每次 (měi cì) – “Every time”
  • 天天/每天 (tiān tiān /měi tiān) – “Every day”
  • 一般情况下 (yī bān qíng kuàng xià) – “In general”
  • 有时 (yǒu shí) – “Sometimes”

B- Example Sentences

In Chinese: 父母不在家的时候,总是由姐姐照顾我。
Pinyin: Fù mǔ bú zài jiā de shí hòu, zǒng shì yóu jiě jie zhào gù wǒ.
In English: “When my parents are not home, it is always my older sister who takes care of me.”
Phrase used: 总是 (zǒng shì)

In Chinese: 他通常一个人去看电影。
Pinyin: Tā tōng  cháng yī gè rén qù kàn diàn yǐng. 
In English: “He often goes to the movie theater by himself.”
Phrase used: 通常 (tōng cháng)

2. Present Continuous

The present continuous tense in Chinese is one of the more complicated Chinese tenses to learn. This is because we must introduce Chinese auxiliary verbs that have no literal English translation. 

For example, we can use 在 (zài), 正 (zhèng), 正在 (zhèng zài), and 着 (zhe) to express the present continuous tense. They all mean something along the lines of “be doing” in English, indicating that the action is currently in progress. However, they are used differently and are not interchangeable with each other. Here are a couple of examples:

Structure #1: Subject + 在 / 正 / 正在 + Verb + Object
Structure #2: Subject + Verb + 着

A- Time Phrases

  • 正在/正/在… (zhèng zài /zhèng/ zài) – “Be doing”
  • 着… (zhe) – “Be doing”
  • 此时此刻 / 此刻 (cǐ shí cǐ kè / cǐ kè) – “At this moment”
  • 目前 (mù qián) – “Currently”
  • 现在 (xiàn zài) – “Right now”

B- Example Sentences

In Chinese: 我正在忙着写作业呢,不能陪你出去。
Pinyin: Wǒ zhèng zài máng zhe xiě zuò yè ne, bù néng péi nǐ chū qù. 
In English: “I am busy doing my homework and cannot go out with you right now.”
Phrases used: 正在 (zhèng zài), 着 (zhe)

In Chinese: 妈妈正在做一顿大餐,而我则在一旁帮她打下手。
Pinyin: Mā ma zhèng zài zuò yī dùn dà cān, ér wǒ zé zài yī páng bāng tā dǎ xià shǒu.
In English: “My mom is preparing a feast right now, and I am helping her by her side.”
Phrase used: 正在 (zhèng zài)

3. Past 

Again, we’re going to introduce some new “friends” for the past tense in Chinese. The particle 了 (le) is a suffix that can indicate things that happened in the past and those that will happen in the immediate future, so be careful and try to get a good understanding of both functions.

Another verb suffix is 过 (guò), which is used often for the past tense in Chinese. It’s usually (though not always) paired with 已经 (yǐjīng), meaning “already” in English. Check below for details on how to use them. 

Structure #1: Subject + Verb + Object + 了
Structure #2: Subject + 已经 + Verb + 过 + Object + 了

A- Time Phrases

  • 了 (le) – Indicating that something happened in the past
  • 过 (guò) – Indicating that something happened in the past
  • 已经 (yǐ jīng) – “Already”
  • 曾经 (céng jīng) – “Once”
  • 以前 (yǐ qián) – “Before”
  • 昨天 (zuó tiān) – “Yesterday” 
  • 去年 (qù nián) – “Last year”
  • 上周 (shàng zhōu) – “Last week” 

B- Example Sentences

In Chinese: 他昨天和朋友出去喝酒了。
Pinyin: Tā zuó tiān hé péng yǒu chū qù hē jiǔ le. 
In English: “He went drinking with his friends yesterday.”
Phrases used: 昨天 (zuó tiān), 了 (le)

In Chinese: 我曾经去过这家餐厅吃饭。
Pinyin: Wǒ céng jīng qù guò zhè jiā cān tīng chī fàn. 
In English: “I went to eat at this restaurant in the past.”
Phrases used: 曾经 (céng jīng), 过 (guò)

4. Future

A Road with Forward Arrows Drawn on It

Do you look forward to the future?

Clear time phrases such as “tomorrow” and “next year” are great indicators for the future tense in Chinese, but you may still need some special Chinese verbs and particles to complete the sentence and make it smoother. For instance, as mentioned above, the particle 了 (le) can be used not only for the past tense, but also for the future tense.

A- Time Phrases

  • 将 (jiāng) – “Will”
  • 打算/计划 (dǎ suàn /jì huà) – “Plan to…”
  • 会/要 (huì /yào) – “Intend to…”
  • 即将 / 马上 / 快 (jí jiāng / mǎ shàng / kuài) – “Soon”
  • 明天 (míng tiān) – “Tomorrow”
  • 下周 (xià zhōu) – “Next week”
  • 明年 (míng nián) – “Next year”

B- Example Sentences

In Chinese: 我打算明年去英国旅游。
Pinyin: Wǒ dǎ suàn míng nián qù Yīng guó lǚ yóu.
In English: “I plan to go to England for a trip next year.”
Phrases used: 打算 (dǎ suàn), 明年 (míng nián)

In Chinese: 妈妈的生日快到了,我计划给她办一场生日派对。
Pinyin: Mā ma de shēng rì kuài dào le, wǒ jì huá gěi tā bàn yī chǎng shēng rì pài duì. 
In English: “My mom’s birthday is coming up; I plan to throw her a birthday party.”
Phrases used: 快 (kuài), 计划 (jì huá)

5. Past / Future Continuous

For the past/future continuous tense in Chinese, simply combine the time phrases provided above with a proper past or future time indicator. The magic here is all in the coordination, nothing complex.

A- Time Phrases

Continuous 

  • 正在 / 正 / 在… (zhèng zài / zhèng / zài) – “Be doing”
  • 着… (zhe) – “Be doing”
  • 此时此刻 / 此刻 (cǐ shí cǐ kè / cǐ kè) – “At this moment”
  • 目前 (mù qián) – “Currently”
  • 现在 (xiàn zài) – “Right now”

Example Past Indicators

  • 昨天 (zuó tiān) – “Yesterday” 
  • 去年 (qù nián) – “Last year”
  • 上周 (shàng zhōu) – “Last week”

Example Future Indicators

  • 明天 (míng tiān) – “Tomorrow”
  • 下周 (xià zhōu) – “Next week”
  • 明年 (míng nián) – “Next year”

B- Example Sentences

Past Continuous

In Chinese: 昨天你给我打电话的时候,我正在刷牙呢。
Pinyin: Zuó tiān nǐ gěi wǒ dǎ diàn huà de shí hòu, wǒ zhèng zài shuā yá ne. 
In English: “I was brushing my teeth yesterday when you called me.”
Phrases used: 昨天 (zuó tiān), 正在 (zhèng zài)

Future Continuous 

In Chinese: 明天你休息的时候,我可能正在和客户谈工作。
Pinyin: Míng tiān nǐ xiū xi de shí hòu, wǒ kě néng zhèng zài hé kè hù tán gōng zuò. 
In English: “I will probably be discussing business with my client when you take a break tomorrow.”
Phrases used: 明天 (míng tiān), 正在 (zhèng zài)

6. Past / Present Perfect

A Woman Looking Up from Her Homework and Thinking

Are you struggling with the Chinese tenses right now?

Congratulations! Now you’ve made it to the advanced tenses in Chinese. 

However, don’t become too perplexed by these so-called advanced tenses. There’s really not much to it! You just need to use the time phrases provided below and combine them with some time adverbs according to the tense. 

For example, for the past perfect tense, you should use one of the time phrases provided below and combine it with something like 上周 (shàng zhōu), meaning “last week.”

Additionally, most of these time phrases can also stand alone without the help of any other time indicators. It all depends on the context.

A- Time Phrases

  • 已经 (yǐ jīng) –  “Already”
  • 自从 (zì cóng) – “Since”
  • ……完 (wán) – “Finish”
  • 到……为止 (dào…wéi zhǐ) – “Until” 

B- Example Sentences

Past Perfect

In Chinese: 截止到上周五,我才完成了该完成的工作的一半。
Pinyin: Jié zhǐ dào shàng zhōu wǔ, wǒ cái wán chéng le gāi wán chéng de gōng zuò de yī bàn.
In English: “I had only finished half of the assigned work by last Friday.”
Phrases used: 截止到… (jié zhǐ dào), 上周五 (shàng zhōu wǔ)

Present Perfect

In Chinese: 我们已经是认识十年的好朋友了。
Pinyin: Wǒ men yǐ jīng shì rèn shi shí nián de hǎo péng yǒu le. 
In English: “We have already known each other and been good friends for ten years.”
Phrase used: 已经 (yǐ jīng)

7. Conclusion

A Man Studying in a Library

The language-learning journey is never easy, but at least we’re all in this together.

It may take a while to digest what you’ve learned today about Chinese-language tenses, but it shouldn’t take too long! Remember, Chinese is not only an ambiguous language but also a flexible one. Just follow the rules and then make sense of it; you’ll soon be amazed at your progress!

ChineseClass101 is everything you’ve ever wanted as a Chinese learner. Our uniquely designed learning system can help trigger your language-learning acumen, while our fun lessons will allow you to enjoy your studies at the same time!

Our lessons are personalized for every level. Whether you’re a clueless beginner, an intermediate learner who has gained some knowledge already, or a proud advanced learner, our materials are designed to suit your needs!

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How Long Does it Take to Learn Chinese?

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How long will it take me to achieve the desired level in my target language? Will I ever get there? 

These can be excruciating questions for any diligent language learner, but knowing the answers can give you a sense of security and motivate you to work even harder toward your goal

Today, we’re going to answer that pressing question: How long does it take to learn Chinese? We’ll give you the best possible answer for each of the three major levels in Chinese learning (beginner, intermediate, and advanced). Moreover, we’ll provide you with a few secret tips on how to learn Chinese effectively! 

But first: Have you ever wondered why some people can learn Chinese quickly, and others learn it more slowly? Well, there are many contributing factors. Your language learning progress can be affected by any number of things, such as…

  • …the kind of environment you’re in. 
  • …the amount of time and effort you dedicate to learning. 
  • …your own gift or knack for languages. 

After reading this article, I believe you’ll have a much better idea of how long it will take you to master Chinese based on these and other factors.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. The Factors Involved in Your Learning Progress
  2. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Beginner Level?
  3. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Intermediate Level?
  4. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Advanced Level?
  5. Conclusion

1. The Factors Involved in Your Learning Progress

As mentioned, there are a few different things that can affect how long it takes to learn Chinese. Here’s a quick breakdown of those factors for you. 

Your Native Language vs. Chinese

All of the time estimates in this guide are based on the assumption that your native language is English or one of the Romance languages, which are very different from the Chinese language. But if you happen to know one or more Asian languages already (such as Korean or Japanese), congratulations! This will definitely give you a major advantage and make the learning process a lot faster for you, because these languages share many similarities with Chinese. 

Your Study Method

Everyone has his or her own way of learning and adapting to things. The first thing you should do is become aware of your personal strengths and weaknesses, and then find the best way to utilize or tackle them. 

Secondly, determine your goal and main reason for learning the language. Do you want to become a fluent Chinese speaker so you can have fulfilling conversations while traveling? Or would you like to read a book in Chinese? Your answers to these questions will determine how much time you should assign to learning different parts of the language, such as reading comprehension/vocab memorization and speaking/pronunciation practice. 

Once you pinpoint your goals, it’s time to take real action! Are you going to self-teach or learn the language systematically at an institution or convenient online class? To figure this out, ask yourself whether you thrive in people-oriented environments, or whether you have enough discipline to study by yourself. Either way, find the learning methods that best suit your interests and preferences. 

From there, it’s all about dedication! 

Your Own Dedication

A Man Studying Late at Night

If you want to achieve something, then you’ll have to pour your sweat and tears into it.

Have you established your goals and put a systematic learning system in place for yourself? Great! But that’s just the start. Learning a language is a daily practice that requires consistency; if you ever break that consistency, your progress may go downhill. 

You need to always keep your motivation in mind and push yourself forward in this long journey, little by little. You might get upset sometimes, but remember that this happens to everyone. It may take a long time for the progress to reveal itself, so it’s normal to become frustrated. The important thing is that you don’t give up. 

The Environment Around You

If you’re planning to move to China for work, study, or even just a short trip, take advantage of the opportunity and talk to people. Pay attention to the way they talk and never feel afraid to speak, even if you have limited proficiency. 

If you were raised in a bilingual environment, this is another huge plus for learning a third language. This is because your brain has already adapted to language learning and switching between languages—one less factor to worry about! 

Of course, it’s possible that you’re stuck in your own place for now and have no native Chinese speakers around. No worries! Try your best to create an immersive environment for yourself, whether that means listening to local Chinese audio sources, watching Chinese shows, or even trying to make a Chinese friend online. All of these things may boost your language speaking ability dramatically!

2. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Beginner Level?

Regardless of your goals, it’s important to start strong as you enter the beginner level. Here’s some useful information on how long you can expect this to take, what the “beginner level” looks like, and how to get there quickly! 

What a Chinese Beginner Needs to Know

A Man with Steam Coming Out of His Ears in Frustration

The beginning part of the learning process is always the hardest!

HSK, also known as 汉语水平考试 (hàn yǔ shuǐ píng kǎo shì) in Chinese, is the only official Mandarin Chinese proficiency exam for non-native speakers in China. It includes six levels across the beginner, intermediate, and advanced stages. 

As a beginner in the Chinese language, you should first start by learning the Pinyin system. Once you have that down, you can move on to learning phrases for basic daily greetings, self-introductions, telling the time, and asking for help and directions, as well as other everyday vocabulary. 

Of course, your proficiency is very limited at this point. Chinese is a tonal language, a concept that is difficult for speakers of English and Romance languages to grasp. In addition, the writing system is quite different and thus complicated to learn. Don’t worry about those things just yet; try your best to master the basics first and the harder aspects will become easier as you progress.

Required Time to Achieve the Beginner Level

Because Chinese is one of the most difficult languages in the world, it usually takes more time to grasp the fundamentals than it would for other languages. Assuming a student is studying consistently on a daily basis and putting in quality effort, it should take around 30-50 hours to achieve a beginner level. 

Secret Tips for Beginners

Are you feeling overwhelmed already, and wondering how to learn Chinese from scratch in the most efficient way possible? Don’t worry! These tips from ChineseClass101.com will help you make the most of your study time. 

Tip #1

Take advantage of your free time or time between tasks! You can keep a stack of flashcards in your pocket to review throughout the day or repeat vocabulary in your head while waiting in line, doing chores, or even taking a shower. Don’t underestimate these precious moments; once they accumulate, they can become pretty powerful.

Tip #2

Watch some Netflix shows or YouTube videos in Chinese with the help of English or Chinese subtitles, and never let a new vocab word slip past you again! Once you catch a word you don’t know, pause the video and look it up. It can be excruciating to pause the video over and over again, but trust me: you’ll learn more this way than you would just being entertained!

Tip #3

Chinese is a flexible language. As a beginner, you should start by mastering the Pinyin and trying to get a hang of the tones. Once you grasp the pronunciation aspect, it’s time to learn the most frequently used vocabulary and practice using those words in sentences. Don’t worry about the writing just yet—after all, learning how to converse is the most important part of learning a language.

Sample Lesson from ChineseClass101 – “How are you?”

Language points: Common daily phrases
Highlight: Learn how to use Chinese adjectives and how to negate them.
Estimated time to study: An hour
Tips: Try to read out loud along with the video, doing so several times until you get used to reading the new phrases. Try reading them by yourself while thinking about the meaning.

3. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Intermediate Level?

Depending on your goals, the next logical step is probably to begin working toward an intermediate level. But what exactly does this look like and how long will it take to get there? 

What an Intermediate Chinese Learner Needs to Know

Two Twin Girls Sitting on the Couch and Raising Their Arms

You’re getting better and better now after so much practice! Congratulations!

It takes about 1-3 years to become fluent in daily conversations in Chinese. At this level, you’ll be able to talk about what you’ve done and express your feelings, which are considered intermediate-level topics. Additionally, you should be able to articulate the different tones most of the time and be able to read any Chinese character with the help of Pinyin. 

The writing system may still seem complicated to you as an intermediate learner, but you should be able to write some basic Chinese characters. In addition, you should be able to read most of the commonly used sentences and have a good understanding of how they’re structured. 

Required Time to Achieve the Intermediate Level

I suggest you spend at least two hours a day studying, which will ensure you can achieve the intermediate level within three years. These two hours should be spent effectively, studying all aspects of the language: active reading, listening, speaking, and writing.

Secret Tips for Intermediate Chinese Learners

Tip #1

Instead of flashcards, you should now have a handbook of all the new and old vocabulary you’ve learned. You should form the habit of reviewing and updating it daily to keep track of your progress.

Tip #2

As you approach the intermediate level, you should try to start thinking like a Chinese speaker. This will pave the way for your upcoming advanced-level studies. Namely, you should actively learn Chinese like a native speaker and try to memorize vocabulary without translating it to your own language.

Sample Lesson from ChineseClass101 – “Chinese Study Abroad”

Language points: Vocabulary and grammar
Highlight: Learn how to stand up for yourself.
Estimated time to study: An hour and a half
Tips: Take advantage of the “Vocabulary” part of the lesson, because it will introduce you to the Chinese spelling, Pinyin, and pronunciation of the most commonly used words for daily conversations.

4. How Long Does it Take to Achieve the Advanced Level?

If your goal is to become completely fluent in Chinese, then let us congratulate you! That will be a huge accomplishment that will change your life for the better. To help you out, here’s everything you need to know about how to reach this level and how long it will take. 

What an Advanced Chinese Learner Needs to Know

Two People with Cardboard Boxes on Their Head Giving the Thumbs-up Sign

Gotta give yourself a thumbs-up if you ever achieve this level!

An advanced Chinese learner should be able to express things in depth and in a more elaborate manner. Prior to reaching this level, you should have started to learn more like a native speaker, meaning that you’re now able to speak, write, read, and listen without translation to your native language (most of the time).

Required Time to Achieve the Advanced Level

It takes about 4-7 years (roughly 2200 to 4000 hours) to become fluent in every aspect of the language, if you spend at least an hour and a half to study every day. However, it’s quite common for learners to become more fluent in some areas than others depending on how they allotted their study time. For example, you might have excellent Chinese speaking skills but have limited reading and writing ability. 

Secret Tips for Advanced Chinese Learners

Tip #1

You should try to create the best possible language learning environment for yourself as possible. To do this, try to think and talk to yourself in Chinese whenever you can; this will enhance your ability to learn the language like a native speaker would. If you’ve experienced any struggles with thinking in Chinese, you should actively look for a solution to this problem while you continue to pick up useful vocabulary and expressions. 

Tip #2

You should now challenge yourself by reading simple Chinese books and trying to keep a journal in Chinese. This will improve your skills in both reading and writing, as well as speaking. Above all, you should shift your goal from simply being able to converse to enriching the conversation.

Sample Lesson from ChineseClass101 – “The Joy of Being Busy”

Language points: Grammar, structure of sentences, and vocabulary
Highlight: Listen to our Chinese host talk about what she does in her spare time to relax in China.
Estimated time to study: Two hours
Tips: Try to learn the sentence patterns and common phrases used here. You can use them for your journal to make your writing sound more natural.

Conclusion

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ChineseClass101 has the ultimate Chinese learning resources for you!

How long does it take to learn Chinese? By now, you should have a much clearer picture of the time commitment you’re looking at based on your goals. No matter what those goals are or where you are right now, there are two important things you should do to maximize your progress: 

  • Know your personal strengths and weaknesses.
  • Build your own unique learning system.

ChineseClass101 has established a unique learning system customized for our dedicated members. Our approach allows students to learn Chinese in the fastest and easiest way possible. We provide thousands of practical, immersive lessons that will guide you through daily Chinese conversations with up-to-date vocabulary and colloquial language—and the fun doesn’t stop there! 

You’ll also get a chance to experience Chinese culture and local life. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, you can be sure to find your perfect fit as we have lessons for every level of proficiency. Join now and you’ll get much more than learning materials. You’ll be getting the language learning experience of a lifetime!

How likely are you to start (or continue) learning Chinese after reading this article? Do you still have any questions or concerns? Let us know in the comments!

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The Top 30 Chinese Proverbs

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There’s a good chance you use proverbs every now and then to enrich your daily conversations. Proverbs are classic sayings taken from literature, history, famous people, or even stories. They’re used to offer wisdom or advice in a nutshell, and they can be fun, powerful, or even life-changing if you ponder over them.

Chinese proverbs are called 谚语 (yànyŭ) in Chinese. There are many ancient Chinese proverbs from thousands of years ago, encapsulating our ancestors’ life-long lessons. These proverbs express all kinds of philosophies and ideas, so learning a few yourself will help you become more familiar with Chinese culture and society. Who knows? You may even be able to use a couple yourself to lighten a conversation

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. Education
  2. Life & Philosophy
  3. Success
  4. Friends
  5. Other Chinese Proverbs
  6. Conclusion

1. Education

A Man Studying on a Library

Learning is a life-long journey.

What better way to begin our list than with a few Chinese proverbs about learning and education? 

#1

Chinese: 学如逆水行舟,不进则退。

Pinyin: Xué rú nì shuǐ xíng zhōu, bú jìn zé tuì. 

Literal Translation: “Learning is just like sailing against the current; if you don’t advance, you will be driven back.”

Meaning: We should never stop learning.

Usage in Context: You used to be very good at playing basketball, but you’ve been lazy and haven’t practiced it in a long time. At some point, you realize “学如逆水行舟,不进则退” and decide to start practicing again. 

#2

Chinese: 世上无难事,只怕有心人。

Pinyin: Shì shàng wú nán shì, zhǐ pà yǒu xīn rén. 

Literal Translation: “Nothing in the world is difficult for one who is determined enough to achieve it.”

Close English Proverb: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Meaning: We can overcome any difficulty as long as we put our heart into it.

Usage in Context: You’re trying to learn how to code, but you’ve become upset because it seems very hard. Your friend sees your frustration and encourages you by saying: “世上无难事,只怕有心人。” 

#3

Chinese: 活到老,学到老。

Pinyin: Huó dào lǎo, xué dào lǎo. 

Literal Translation: “Learn no matter how old you grow.”

Close English Proverb: “Live and learn.”

Meaning: We should continue learning new things for the rest of our lives.

Usage in Context: Your dad stays at home and kills time all day; he has lost interest in growing a hobby or learning something new. You try to motivate him to do so by saying: “活到老,学到老。”

2. Life & Philosophy

A Man Thinking Something

Philosophy comes from our daily lives.

We all experience and perceive life differently, but there are some universal words of wisdom we can all use to guide us or to express our feelings. With that in mind, here are a few Chinese proverbs about life and philosophy!

#4

Chinese: 光阴似箭,日月如梭。

Pinyin: Guāng yīn sì jiàn, rì yuè rú suō.

Literal Translation: “Light travels like an arrow, and time like a shuttle.”

Close English Proverb: “Time flies.”

Meaning: We need to cherish the time we have since it goes by so fast.

Usage in Context: You’ve just had your twenty-first birthday and your parents feel like you’ve grown up overnight, so they say “光阴似箭,日月如梭” to describe their feelings.

#5

Chinese:  强扭的瓜不甜。

Pinyin: Qiáng niǔ de guā bù tián. 

Literal Translation: “When you force a melon from the vines, it won’t be sweet. “

Meaning: It’s not productive to force something to be done.

Usage in Context: You know that someone you like doesn’t like you back, so you try really hard to win his/her heart. Your friend advises you to give it up by saying: “强扭的瓜不甜。”

#6

Chinese: 种瓜得瓜,种豆得豆。

Pinyin: Zhòng guā dé guā, zhòng dòu dé dòu. 

Literal Translation: “A man who plants melons will harvest melons, and a man who plants beans will harvest beans.”

Close English Proverb: “What goes around comes around.” / “You reap what you sow.”

Meaning: You’ll always get what you’ve worked for.

Usage in Context: Your friend has worked very hard and received a good grade on a test; on the contrary, you have been slacking off and received a bad grade. You would then describe the situation by saying: ” 种瓜得瓜,种豆得豆。” 

#7

Chinese: 赠人玫瑰,手有余香。

Pinyin: Zèng rén méi guī, shǒu yǒu yú xiāng. 

Literal Translation: “Fragrance will be lingering over your hands when you give out flowers.”

Meaning: If you help others, they will greatly appreciate you.

Usage in Context: You gave a beggar a sandwich; he seemed very touched by the gesture and thanked you for it. You feel very good about the situation and want to describe the happiness of helping others with the phrase: “赠人玫瑰,手有余香。” 

#8

Chinese: 饮水思源。

Pinyin: Yǐn shuǐ sī yuán. 

Literal Translation: “When you drink the water, remember the spring as the source of the water.”

Meaning: We need to appreciate the ones who originally gave us what we have.

Usage in Context: You have a very decent life and never need to worry about anything. You’ve never thought about why you have so much to enjoy, until you remember the proverb “饮水思源” and realize it’s because your parents worked hard for it. 

#9

Chinese: 机不可失,失不再来。

Pinyin: Jī bù kě shī, shī bú zài lái. 

Literal Translation: “Don’t let an opportunity slip, it won’t come again.”

Close English Proverb: “Opportunity seldom knocks twice.”

Meaning: We need to cherish every single opportunity we have, otherwise we may lose it forever.

Usage in Context: You saw that your dream company is hiring, and you’ve worked hard to revise your resume because you’re aware that ” 机不可失,失不再来。”

#10

Chinese: 不怕一万,就怕万一。

Pinyin: Bú pà yī wàn, jiù pà wàn yī. 

Literal Translation: “We are not scared of ‘ten thousand,’ we are scared of the ‘just in case’.”

Meaning: We need to have a second plan, just in case.

Language Note: In Chinese, “ten thousand” is the reverse of “just in case.”

Usage in Context: The weather is cloudy but it says it won’t rain today. You decide to bring your umbrella just in case. You could describe this situation as: “不怕一万,就怕万一。”

#11

Chinese: 吃一堑,长一智。  

Pinyin: Chī yī qiàn, zhǎng yī zhì. 

Literal Translation: “Every time you fail, you grow wiser.”

Close English Proverb: “A fall into a pit, a gain in your wit.”

Meaning: Learn from your mistakes.

Usage in Context: You fell for a scam and lost money, so you say “吃一堑,长一智。” to show that you have learned your lesson and will be more cautious next time.

#12

Chinese: 姜还是老的辣。

Pinyin: Jiāng hái shì lǎo de là. 

Literal Translation: “Aged ginger is more powerful and spicy.” 

Meaning: The older you grow, the wiser and stronger you get.

Usage in Context: You tried to trick your dad with a prank and failed. Your dad laughs and tells you: “姜还是老的辣。”

#13

Chinese: 物以类聚,人以群分。

Pinyin: Wù yǐ lèi jù, rén yǐ qún fēn. 

Literal Translation: “Objects are categorized with those that are alike, humans are grouped together with those who are similar.”

Close English Proverb: “Birds of a feather flock together.”

Meaning: People who have similar traits or interests get along with each other.

Usage in Context: You often see a group of teenagers bully people at school. You could use “物以类聚,人以群分” to describe the situation.

#14

Chinese: 滴水之恩定当涌泉相报。

Pinyin: Dī shuǐ zhī ēn dìng dāng yǒng quán xiāng bào. 

Literal Translation: “The favor of a drip of water should be reciprocated by a gushing spring.”

Meaning: We should return small favors with much larger ones, and be grateful for even the smallest amount of help. 

Usage in Context: Your friend lends you a pencil to take a test when you don’t have one. It seems like a small favor, but later on, you return the favor by lending him lots of money when he needs it. You could describe this situation as: “滴水之恩定当涌泉相报。”

3. Success

Success Is Never Easy, But It’s Always Worth It.

Success is never easy, but it’s always worth it.

We all want to achieve success, whether it be professionally or in our personal lives. To motivate and inspire you, here are some Chinese proverbs about success. You can always write them down on sticky notes and place them around your home or workspace! 

#15

Chinese: 实践出真知。

Pinyin: Shí jiàn chū zhēn zhī. 

Literal Translation: “Knowledge is tested from practice.”

Close English Proverb: “Practice makes perfect.”

Meaning: We can learn from experimenting and practicing.

Usage in Context: After college, you begin working as an intern at a company. After some time on the job, you realize how important it is to apply what you learned in class to the real world. You could describe this lesson as: “实践出真知。”

#16

Chinese: 良好的开端是成功的一半。

Pinyin: Liáng hǎo de kāi duān shì chéng gōng de yī bàn. 

Literal Translation: “A good beginning is half of the success.”

Close English Proverb: “Well begun is half done.”

Meaning: A strong beginning is crucial to later success.

Usage in Context: You just went to your very first drawing class and you feel very confident about it. You’re proud of what you’ve done for a good beginning and further motivate yourself by saying: “良好的开端是成功的一半。” 

#17

Chinese: 失败乃成功之母。

Pinyin: Shī bài nǎi chéng gōng zhī mǔ. 

Literal Translation: “Failure is the mother of success.”

Meaning: We can always learn from failures to eventually succeed.

Usage in Context: You’ve tried so many times to bake a cake and have failed for different reasons every time. You eventually succeed by recognizing all of the mistakes from your failures, because “失败乃成功之母。”

#18

Chinese: 有志者,事竟成。

Pinyin: Yǒu zhì zhě, shì jìng chéng. 

Literal Translation: “You will be able to achieve your goals as long as you have determination and ambition.”

Close English Proverb: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Meaning: “People who are ambitious and determined enough will be able to succeed.”

Usage in Context: You have a dream of becoming a ballet dancer, and your friend encourages you to pursue it by saying: “有志者,事竟成。”

#19

Chinese: 绳锯木断,水滴石穿。

Pinyin: Shéng jù mù duàn, shuǐ dī shí chuān. 

Literal Translation: “Constant dripping wears away a stone.”

Meaning: Willpower will make the impossible possible.

Usage in Context: You used to be very overweight and no one believed you could ever get in shape. However, after five years of constant healthy diet and exercise, you now have a perfect body shape. You knew you could achieve this because: “绳锯木断,水滴石穿。”

#20

Chinese: 冰冻三尺,非一日之寒。

Pinyin: Bīng dòng sān chǐ, fēi yī rì zhī hán. 

Literal Translation: “It takes more than one cold day for the river to freeze three feet deep.”

Meaning: Excellence comes from the accumulation of consistent, day-to-day hard work.

Usage in Context: You want to play the piano as well as your piano teacher does, but you’ve practiced only a week and feel like you can never achieve your teacher’s level. Your teacher then tells you, “冰冻三尺,非一日之寒。” to imply the years of hard work he’s dedicated to playing the piano.

4. Friends

A Group of Friends

Do you have friends that you want to cherish for a lifetime?

Friends are some of the dearest people in our lives, and there’s much to be said about them. Following are a few Chinese proverbs about friendship that offer useful wisdom and insight on the topic. 

#21

Chinese: 有缘千里来相会,无缘对面不相逢。

Pinyin: Yǒu yuán qiān lǐ lái xiàng huì, wú yuán duì miàn bù xiàng féng. 

Literal Translation: “You will meet people who are thousands of miles away if it’s meant to be, otherwise you will never meet each other although you live just next door.”

Meaning: Fate brings people together no matter how far apart they may be.

Usage in Context: You made a friend during a trip abroad and never got his contact information. Incredibly, you met him again when you came back to your country. You could describe this situation as: “有缘千里来相会,无缘对面不相逢。”

#22

Chinese: 千里送鹅毛,礼轻情意重。

Pinyin: Qiān lǐ sòng é máo, lǐ qīng qíng yì zhòng.

Literal Translation: “Travel a thousand miles to bestow a goose feather; the gift may be small, but it’s a token of a profound friendship.”

Meaning: Gifts given from the heart are priceless.

Usage in Context: You have a friend who is very poor, and she wants to thank you for helping her out financially before. She then uses the best ingredient she has to make a meal to treat you; although it’s not a fancy meal, you feel her gratitude toward you and say “千里送鹅毛,礼轻情意重。” to describe how grateful you feel for such a wonderful meal.

#23

Chinese: 患难见真情。

Pinyin: Huàn nàn jiàn zhēn qíng. 

Literal Translation: “Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends.”

Meaning: True friends will be there for you through a difficult time.

Usage in Context: Your luggage was stolen when you were abroad by yourself. You called many friends to ask for help, and only your best friend immediately transferred you some emergency money. You’re very touched and would like to say “患难见真情。” to describe how you feel about your friendship.

#24

Chinese: 有福同享,有难同当。

Pinyin: Yǒu fú tóng xiǎng, yǒu nàn tóng dāng.

Literal Translation: “To enjoy blessings and endure misfortune together.”

Meaning: True friends share not only the good times, but also the hard times.

Usage in Context: You used to earn lots of money and would always support your friends who were in need of it, but one day you went broke. Your friend is now in a better situation than you are, so he tries to help you out although his life is difficult as well. You could use “有福同享,有难同当。” to describe this friendship.

#25

Chinese: 路遥知马力,日久见人心。

Pinyin: Lù yáo zhī mǎ lì, rì jiǔ jiàn rén xīn.

Literal Translation: “Just as distance tests a horse’s strength, time can reveal a person’s heart.”

Meaning: Time will reveal the true nature of humans.

Usage in Context: You have been best friends with Jack for ten years, and every time you need help he will be there for you; many of your other friends have grown distant with time. You realize how great your friendship with Jack is and use “路遥知马力,日久见人心。” to describe your feelings.

A Woman Reading Something while Standing on a Train

It may take some time to integrate proverbs into your heart.

5. Other Chinese Proverbs

Here are just a few more Chinese sayings and proverbs you may want to memorize! 

#26

Chinese: 说曹操曹操到。

Pinyin: Shuō Cáo Cāo Cáo Cāo dào.

Literal Translation: “Every time when you speak of Cao Cao, Cao Cao will be here.”

Close English Proverb: “Speak of the devil.”

Meaning: The person whom you were speaking about happens to come along.

Language Note: Cao Cao was a Chinese poet and warlord, and he was made a character in the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. This proverb is from the novel.

Usage in Context: You were just complaining about someone’s bad behavior to your friends, and the person you were complaining about happens to pass by. You tell your friends: “说曹操曹操到。”

#27

Chinese: 你敬我一尺,我敬你一丈。

Pinyin: Nǐ jìng wǒ yī chǐ, wǒ jìng nǐ yī zhàng. 

Literal Translation: “You give me one foot of respect and I will return you ten times.”

Meaning: We should return even more respect and kindness than what we’ve received.

Usage in Context: You’re in a business meeting, and your potential partner seems to respect you a lot and has shown much courtesy. He left a good impression by doing so, and you decide to be even more respectful to him. You could describe this situation as: “你敬我一尺,我敬你一丈。”

#28

Chinese: 百闻不如一见。

Pinyin: Bǎi wén bù rú yī jiàn. 

Literal Translation: “Seeing for oneself is a hundred times better than hearing from others.”

Meaning: Seeing something with your own eyes can be more effective than only hearing about it.

Usage in Context: My grandmother has never seen the beach in her life, and she has always heard that it’s pretty. When we took her to the actual beach, she was stunned by the beauty of the beach and couldn’t help using “百闻不如一见。” to describe her feelings.

#29

Chinese: 恨铁不成钢。

Pinyin: Hèn tiě bù chéng gāng. 

Literal Translation: “Wish iron could turn into steel once.”

Meaning: To wish that someone could reach one’s own expectations.

Usage in Context: You’ve failed your test again and your parents are disappointed in you, so they use “恨铁不成钢” to describe their feelings.

#30

Chinese: 瑞雪兆丰年。

Pinyin: Ruì xuě zhào fēng nián.

Literal Translation: “Snowing indicates a good harvest.”

Language Note: This is from a traditional Chinese belief that a time-appropriate snow implies a good harvest for the next year.

Usage in Context: A farmer sees snow not long before the harvest time, so he says “瑞雪兆丰年。” to express hope for a great upcoming harvest.

6. Conclusion

Now, how many Chinese proverbs can you remember? 

Chinese proverbs are worth pondering over as they comprise many people’s experiences and lend us useful wisdom for our day-to-day lives. They’re always simple to say, but hard to apply. That said, we should still try to learn from them! 

We hope you enjoyed this article, but keep in mind that ChineseClass101.com still has so much more to offer you! You can easily create a free lifetime account and receive a variety of lessons that are tailored to your specific needs. Whether you want to know more about Chinese proverbs, culture, slang, grammar, or anything else, we’ll probably have it in store for you—and if not, we’re always updating and adding to our lesson library!

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Beijing Travel Guide: The Top 10 Places to Visit

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As a country with thousands of years of history, China has become a treasureland for many travelers. But because China is such a majestically huge place, where should you start? The answer is definitely Beijing, the nation’s capital and one of its greatest cities.

From famous historical sites that can tell you stories from thousands of years ago to modern marvels that showcase how much Beijing has developed over time, our Beijing travel guide will cover the most exciting places to visit in Beijing. Each of the places on our list will give you a glimpse of Beijing’s beauty and show you what one of the busiest cities in the world has to offer!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. Before You Go
  2. Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip
  3. Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)
  4. Survival Chinese Phrases for Travelers
  5. Conclusion

1. Before You Go

A Map with China Magnified Under a Magnifying Glass

Make Beijing your very first destination in China!

A Brief Overview

Beijing: the old yet charming capital city of China that attracts an abundance of tourists every year. Beijing also has the second-largest population of any city in China. As such, it’s always full of life and people are constantly bustling to and from the small hutongs and streets. Beijing has become one of the best-developed cities in China both economically and culturally, and this prosperity will only continue to grow.

When to Visit and What to Bring

The best time to visit Beijing weather-wise would be during the fall (September-November) or spring (March-May). Summer and winter weather in Beijing can be extreme, with hot temperatures and high humidity in the summer and ice or heavy rain during the winter. If you’re not used to such extreme weather, make sure to bring lots of warm clothes for the winter and sunscreen for the summer, as well as an umbrella and bug spray. Lastly, remember to bring some toilet paper with you, because public restrooms in China rarely provide this amenity.

Transportation

Due to the huge population of Beijing, your best option may be to take a bus or subway. If you rent a car, the traffic will probably torment you, especially considering the different complicated driving rules. Most importantly, if you plan to stay in Beijing for a while, be sure to create a Wechat account and put some money into the Wallet on Wechat. This will be incredibly convenient for you because so many people in China are using their QR code on Wechat to pay for everything, including to rent public bikes and pay for taxis.

Average Cost of Food and Lodging

A common concern among travelers is how expensive their upcoming trip will be. To give you an idea:

A standard hotel room with decent furniture will cost only around 180-250 yuan. 

Dining can be even cheaper depending on what you want to eat. Generally speaking, 100 yuan can easily provide a decent meal for a single person in a restaurant; if you’re sharing dishes as a party, you could spend even less while having a variety of dishes to consume. But don’t be discouraged if you’re traveling by yourself—how about enjoying some simple but delicious street food? Or a bowl of beef soup noodles from a small restaurant in a hutong? It will probably cost less than 30 yuan, and you’ll be surprised at how delicious the homemade-style of the dish is!

2. Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip

Beijing is a huge city with tons of things to see and do, but you can still enjoy yourself during a shorter one-to-three day visit. Here are some of the top attractions in Beijing you need to see if you’ll be here for a very limited time. 

The Great Wall – 长城 (cháng chéng)

The Great Wall is one of the most iconic symbols of China. Want to know why it’s so significant and has such a majestic name? Because it was used in the past to protect the territories of Chinese states as well as the empires. The frontier walls were built throughout different dynasties, which makes the Great Wall a collective effort on the part of many generations and the result of many people’s blood, sweat, and tears. Today, Chinese people often appreciate the majestic Great Wall by exercising on it and challenging themselves to walk the entire road (which is 13,171 miles long!). 

Forbidden City – 故宫 (gù gōng)

If you’re familiar with Chinese culture and history, you’ve probably heard of the famous Forbidden City, an old Chinese imperial palace that was in use from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty. Now, are you wondering how Chinese emperors used to live? The Forbidden City will answer all your questions! During your trip to the Forbidden City, don’t forget to get a tour guide (for around 20 yuan) to tell you the wonderful historical stories along the way.

Temple of Heaven – 天坛 (tiān tán)

The Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China

The heavenly creature is waving at you and welcoming you to visit it!

If you’re a fan of Chinese history, the Temple of Heaven is another gem you’ll love to embrace. The Temple of Heaven consists of religious buildings that were used to administer heavenly activities for the emperors, who were regarded as the Son of Heaven. Important ceremonies were often conducted here, so be prepared to show some respect while walking through the buildings. For instance, emperors used to come here in order to worship the Chinese God and ask for the safety and prosperity of their citizens. 

Highlights of the Temple of Heaven include: 

  • 祈年殿 (qí nián diàn) – The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests 
  • 皇穹宇 (huáng qióng yǔ) – The Imperial Vault of Heaven 
  • 圜丘坛 (huán qiū tán) – The Circular Mound Altar 

Tiananmen Square – 天安门广场 (tiān ān mén guǎng chǎng)

Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China

I bet you can’t wait to sightsee all the gems in Beijing.

Tiananmen Square is a place of great significance, having witnessed the moment when Mao Zedong proclaimed that the People’s Republic of China was thereby established. It’s located near the Forbidden City, but they were separated. This is a budget-friendly place to visit and is not to be missed if you’re in the area. Local Chinese people have great respect for it due to its historical and cultural importance. 

Here, you’ll be able to see several incredible sights:

Today, many locals like to just take a walk here or fly a kite to embrace this historical gem.

Summer Palace – 颐和园 (yí hé yuán)

The Summer Palace in Beijing, China

Go experience the traditional Chinese culture inside the stunning Summer Palace!

The Summer Palace, which once served as a Qing dynasty imperial garden, is today a beautiful and vast collection of gardens, bridges, palaces, and lakes. The place was honorably included on the World Heritage List by UNESCO as the aesthetic epitome of Ancient Chinese architecture. In a nutshell, the Summer Palace is truly an art piece that has been carefully protected throughout the years. Stop hesitating, and go view its beauty before it’s too late!

While you’re there, be sure to stop by its major sights. We recommend: 

  • 万寿山 (Wàn shòu Shān) – Longevity Hill 
  • 昆明湖 (kūn míng ) – Kunming Lake 

3. Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)

Are you planning a longer trip? Great! That will give you much more time to experience Beijing. Here are our recommendations for what to visit in Beijing, China during a longer stay.  Wangfujing Street – 王府井 (wáng fǔ jǐng)

An Asian Man Shopping for Clothes

If you want, go to Wangfujing and let your wallet release a little pressure this one time!

Wangfujing is a popular shopping street in Beijing located in Dongcheng District. It serves up to 280 shops, and this area has been active and prosperous ever since the Ming dynasty. The highlights of the Wangfujing malls include:

  • APM购物中心 (gòu wù zhōng xīn) – Beijing APM 
  • 北京百货大楼 (běi jīng bǎi huò dà lóu) – Beijing Department Store 
  • 东方广场 (dōng fāng guǎng chǎng) – Malls at Oriental Plaza 

There’s also a Wangfujing snack street called 王府井小吃街 (wáng fǔ jǐng xiǎo chī jiē) where you can enjoy a variety of small local Chinese meals and spend some time in the bars.

Xidan – 西单 (xī dān)

Xidan is a commercial district that has almost anything you could think of for modern entertainment. Two popular locations include: 

  • 西单大悦城 (xī dān dà yuè chéng) – Xidan Mall
  • 西单图书大厦 (xī dān tú shū dà shà) – Beijing Book Building

Together, these fun locations host a range of entertainment options, including movie theaters, all kinds of restaurants and stores, escape rooms, and arcades. You can also find snack streets, Karaoke bars, and salons in the area! 

You’ll see people bustling everywhere in Xidan and you won’t believe how alive the whole area feels. If you wanted to, you could probably spend a whole day in the Xidan Mall, which has more than ten floors. The cost of shopping in the Xidan area is also cheaper than that of shopping in Wangfujing.

798 Art Zone – 798艺术区 (qī jiǔ bā yì shù qū)

The 798 Art Zone is a unique gem in Beijing, created by transforming old military factories into the fine piece of art it is today. It boasts a wide spectrum of contemporary art galleries such as the 798 Photo Gallery and Ullens Center. 

If you’re an artist, you’ll be lingering here for hours, stunned by the different Chinese art styles—whether it be quirky, fashionable, or spontaneous, there’s going to be a style that resonates with you. Even if you’re not an artist, you can view this location as being a nice photogenic spot for you to create memories of your time spent in Beijing. 

National Stadium – 鸟巢 (niǎo cháo)

Due to the unique design of its architecture, the National Stadium in Beijing is called the “bird’s nest” in direct translation, and it can hold up to 91,000 people. If you happen to be a fan of a Chinese singer or sports player, there’s a good chance that their concerts or matches will be held here. It’s just such a marvelous place to enjoy fancy events like that. 

Nanluoguxiang – 南锣鼓巷 (nán luó gǔ xiàng)

Nanluoguxiang is a narrow alley that consists of many 胡同 (hú tóng), which are traditional small and narrow alleys. The entire alley extends all the way from East Gulou Street in the north to Di’anmen East Street in the south of Beijing, and is about 800m long—a nice bit of exercise if you could walk the entire thing! If you ask any Beijing local, you’ll find that 胡同 is one of the most iconic things in Beijing. 

You can find many old-fashioned stores alongside some newly emerging ones, selling goods and snacks at an affordable price. If you’re thinking about buying a souvenir, this will be the perfect shopping destination. 

Beijing Zoo – 北京动物园 (Běi jīng dòng wù yuán)

The Beijing Zoo, the oldest zoo in China, is located in the suburban area of Beijing and was founded during the late Qing dynasty. It’s home to up to 450 species of land animals and more than 500 species of marine animals. The zoo serves as a beautiful escape from Beijing locals’ busy modern life, featuring an incredible natural landscape with flowers and rivers and serving as a home to up to 14,500 animals. Last but not least, you know that you’ll get to see the treasure of China here: the Chinese pandas!

4. Survival Chinese Phrases for Travelers 

While you can find English speakers in the most touristic areas of Beijing, it’s always a good idea to pick up some Chinese travel phrases to use in a pinch. Here are ten of the most useful phrases you should learn:

1.

In Chinese: 你好。
Pinyin: Nǐ hǎo. 
In English: “Hello.”

2. 

In Chinese: 谢谢。
Pinyin: Xiè xie. 
In English: “Thank you.”

3. 

In Chinese: 再见。
Pinyin: Zài jiàn.
In English: “Goodbye.”

4. 

In Chinese: 抱歉。
Pinyin: Bào qiàn.
In English: “Sorry.”

5. 

In Chinese: 太好了。
Pinyin: Tài hǎo le. 
In English: “It’s good.”

6.  

In Chinese: 我不太懂你的意思。
Pinyin: Wǒ bú tài dǒng nǐ de yì si.
In English: “I don’t understand you.”

(Used to tell locals you don’t speak the language

7. 

In Chinese: 请问厕所在哪里?
Pinyin: Qǐng wèn cè suǒ zài nǎ lǐ.
In English: “Where is the restroom?”

8. 

In Chinese: 这个多少钱?
Pinyin: Zhè gè duō shǎo qián? 
In English: “How much is this?”

9. 

In Chinese: 我想要这个。
Pinyin: Wǒ xiǎng yào zhè gè. 
In English: “I want this.”

(Used to tell locals you don’t speak the language

10.  

In Chinese: 求助! 
Pinyin: Qiú zhù!
In English: “Help!”

Conclusion

After reading our Beijing travel guide, are you ready to embark on your Beijing adventure? Traveling is a great way to learn about and experience different cultures and lifestyles, and your visit to Beijing will also give you a deeper understanding of the language. What better way to learn a language than through firsthand experience with native speakers? 

Let your adventure begin with ChineseClass101.com! Learning Chinese is a fun and magical experience in itself; when you study with us, it takes that experience and amplifies it! Not sure where to start? If you’re a passionate traveler, then you’ll definitely be pleased to learn about the beauty of other stunning cities in China, many of which we talk about in our lessons. 

Happy learning and safe travels!

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Most Popular English Words in Chinese

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Have you ever been intrigued by how interconnected different languages are? Language is the key to human communication, and despite the vast differences between world countries and their cultures, their people’s languages have always influenced one another. This interconnectivity among languages creates common ground for people all around the world, showing that different languages and cultures are all connected somehow.

Because there are so many common English words in Chinese (and Chinese words in English), studying loanwords can pave the way for an easier language learning journey. Now without further ado, let’s jump right into the abundance of popular English loanwords in Chinese and explore the language phenomenon known as Chinglish.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. Introduction to Chinglish
  2. Chinglish Examples
  3. List of Chinese Loanwords
  4. List of Food-Related Chinese Loanwords
  5. How to Say These Names in Chinese
  6. English Words Derived from Chinese
  7. List of English Words Derived from Chinese Food
  8. Conclusion

1. Introduction to Chinglish

Chinglish is a slang term that refers to spoken or written English as used by the Chinese. Due to the differences between the two languages, something that makes sense in Chinese may sound odd when directly translated in English. This is how Chinglish has become such a prevalent occurrence in China.

As the English language becomes more and more popular around the globe, Chinese people have started to integrate English into not only their education system but also their daily lives. For example, Chinese people love using Chinese words that have a similar pronunciation to English words, creating unofficial English-sounding slang terms (some of which we’ll introduce later).

2. Chinglish Examples

Here are some of the most popular Chinglish phrases and vocabulary. You’ll find these words extremely useful as you continue forward in your Chinese studies! 

“Bye-bye”

In Chinese: 拜拜 
Pinyin: bái bái 

“Hello”

In Chinese: 哈喽
Pinyin: hā lou

“Hi”

In Chinese: 嗨
Pinyin: hāi

“Mommy”

In Chinese: 妈咪
Pinyin: mā mi

“Daddy”

In Chinese: 爹地
Pinyin: diē di

“Good morning”

In Chinese: 古德猫宁
Pinyin: gǔ dé māo níng

“You can you up, no can you BB”

In Chinese: 你行你上,不行别BB。
Pinyin: Nǐ xíng nǐ shàng, bù xíng bié bī bi.
Actual meaning in English: “Put up or shut up.”
Usage in context: When someone is complaining that they cannot achieve something, this phrase tells them to take positive action or stop complaining.

“Good good study, day day up”

In Chinese: 好好学习,天天向上。
Pinyin: Hǎo hǎo xué xí, tiān tiān xiàng shàng.
Actual meaning in English: “Study hard and make progress every day.”
Usage in context: This Chinglish slang term can be used to encourage your friends to study hard.

“No zuo no die”

In Chinese: 不作死就不会死。
Pinyin: Bù zuò sǐ jiù bú huì sǐ. 
Actual meaning in English: “If you don’t ask for it, you won’t be punished for it.”
Usage in context: You could use this when your friend doesn’t know how to swim and still walks into the water on a beach.

“Add oil”

In Chinese: 加油
Pinyin: jiā yóu 
Actual meaning in English: “Go for it.”
Usage in context: You could say this to try encouraging your friend to have faith for a competition.

“People mountain people sea”

In Chinese: 人山人海
Pinyin: rén shān rén hǎi 
Actual meaning in English: It describes a situation where there are lots of people.
Usage in context: You could say this when there are a lot of people at a tourist attraction.

3. List of Chinese Loanwords

In addition to the Chinglish jargon we saw above, there are several English loanwords in the Chinese language. Loanwords differ from Chinglish in that a loanword is adapted into the Chinese language while preserving its original English meaning. Here are some useful examples for you, along with their usage in a sentence.

“Bully” – 霸凌 (bà líng

In Chinese: 这个学校高年级的学生总是霸凌比自己年龄小的孩子。
Pinyin: Zhè gè xué xiào gāo nián jí de xué shēng zǒng shì bà líng bǐ zì jǐ nián líng xiǎo de hái zi.
In English: “The students who are in a higher grade always bully kids who are younger than them.”

“Cool” – 酷 ()

In Chinese: 他打篮球的样子很酷。
Pinyin: Tā dǎ lán qiú de yàng zi hěn kù. 
In English: “The way he plays basketball looks so cool.”

“Calories” – 卡路里 (kǎ lù lǐ)

In Chinese: 为了减肥,我很少吃卡路里高的食物。
Pinyin: Wèi le jiǎn féi, wǒ hěn shǎo chī kǎ lù lǐ gāo de shí wù. 
In English: “I hardly eat food with high calories since I am trying to lose weight.”

“Cartoon” – 卡通 (kǎ tōng)

In Chinese: 小的时候我很喜欢看卡通片。
Pinyin: Xiǎo de shí hou wǒ hěn xǐ huan kàn kǎ tōng piān.
In English: “I loved watching cartoons when I was little.”

“Sofa” – 沙发 (shā fā)

In Chinese: 这个沙发真舒服。
Pinyin: Zhè gè shā fā zhēn shū fu.
In English: “This sofa feels so comfortable.”

“Guitar” – 吉他 (jí ta)

In Chinese: 我曾经学了五年的吉他。
Pinyin: Wǒ céng jīng xué le wǔ nián de jí tā. 
In English: “I learned to play the guitar for five years.”

“Ballet” – 芭蕾 (bā léi)

In Chinese: 芭蕾是一项文雅的爱好。
Pinyin: Bā lěi shì yī xiàng wén yǎ de ài hǎo. 
In English: “Ballet is an elegant hobby.”

“Party” – 派对 (pài duì)

In Chinese: 我们全家人都很喜欢参加派对。
Pinyin: Wǒ men quán jiā rén dōu hěn xǐ huan cān jiā pài duì. 
In English: “My whole family loves going to parties.”

“Mexico” – 墨西哥 (Mò xī gē)

In Chinese: 我曾经去墨西哥旅游过。
Pinyin: Wǒ céng jīng qù Mò xī gē lǚ yóu guo. 
In English: “I went to Mexico for a trip.”

“Tank” – 坦克 (tǎn kè)

In Chinese: 坦克是一项伟大的发明。
Pinyin: Tǎn kè shì yī xiàng wěi dà de fā míng. 
In English: “The invention of the tank is great.”

4. List of Food-Related Chinese Loanwords

A Woman Eating a Slice of Pizza

If you happen to love food as much as I do, you gotta learn these!

Food is what makes the world go round, so it should come as no surprise that some of the most popular English words used in Chinese are those related to food. Take a look:

  • “Chocolate” – 巧克力 (qiǎo kè lì)
  • “Coffee” – 咖啡 (kā fēi)
  • “Cheese” – 芝士 (zhī shì)
  • “Pizza” – 比萨 (bǐ sà)
  • “Curry” – 咖喱 (gā li)
  • “Bacon” – 培根 (péi gēn
  • “Hamburger” – 汉堡包 (hàn bǎo bāo)
  • “Vitamin” – 维他命 (wéi tā mìng)
  • “Pudding” – 布丁 (bù dīng)
  • “Salad” – 沙拉 (shā lā)

5. How to Say These Names in Chinese

There are a number of Chinese words ‘borrowed’ from world-famous brand, celebrity, and movie names. How do you pronounce them in Chinese? 

Global Brand Names


Swedish Meatballs

Have you ever tried the famous Swedish meatballs from IKEA?

  • “Sephora” – 丝芙兰 (sī fú lán)
  • “Coca Cola” – 可口可乐 (kě kǒu kě lè)
  • “Disney” – 迪士尼 (dí shì ní)
  • “Kentucky Fried Chicken / KFC” – 肯德基 (kěn dé jī)
  • “Adidas” – 阿迪达斯 (ā dí dá sī)
  • “Häagen-Dazs” – 哈根达斯 (hā gēn dá sī)
  • “Starbucks” – 星巴克 (xīng bā kè)
  • “Marvel” – 漫威 (màn wēi)

Celebrities/English Names

A Crowd Cheering and Taking Photos

I’m sure you have a favorite celebrity. Learn how to write his/her name in Chinese!

  • “Justin Bieber” – 贾斯汀·比伯 (jiǎ sī tīng·bǐ bó)
  • “Taylor Swift” – 泰勒·斯威夫特 (tài lè·sī wēi fū tè)
  • “Emma Watson” – 艾玛·沃特森 (ài mǎ · wò tè sēn)
  • “Ed Sheeran” – 艾德·希兰 (ài dé · xī lán)
  • “Bruno Mars” – 布鲁诺·马尔斯 (bù lǔ nuò ·mǎ ěr sī)
  • “Michael Jackson” – 迈克尔·杰克逊 (mài kè ěr · jié kè xùn)
  • “Leonardo DiCaprio” – 莱昂纳多·迪卡普里奥 (lái áng nà duō · dí kǎ pǔ lǐ ào)
  • “Kobe Bryant” – 科比·布莱恩特 (kē bǐ ·bù lái ēn tè)

Popular Movie Names

A Couple Watching a Movie Together in a Theater

How can one survive without the entertainment from movies?

  • “Harry Potter” – 哈利波特 (hā lì bō tè)
  • “Titanic” – 泰坦尼克号 (tài tǎn ní kè hào)
  • “Kung Fu Panda” – 功夫熊猫 (gōng fu xióng māo)
  • “Mulan” – 木兰 (mù lán)
  • “Sherlock” – 神探夏洛克 (shén tàn xià luò kè)
  • “Avatar” – 阿凡达 (ā fán dá)
  • “Schindler’s List” – 辛德勒的名单 (xīn dé lè de míng dān)
  • “Edward Scissorhands” – 剪刀手爱德华 (jiǎn dāo shǒu ài dé huá)
  • “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – 本杰明·巴顿奇事 (běn jié míng · bā dùn qí shì)
  • “Mickey Mouse” – 米奇老鼠 (mǐ qí lǎo shǔ)

6. English Words Derived from Chinese

This language exchange goes both directions, and there are plenty of English words from Chinese. How many of these do you hear, see, or use each day?

“Kung Fu”

In Chinese: 功夫
Pinyin: gōng fu
What it is: Traditional Chinese martial art.

Usage in a sentence:

In Chinese: 他可真是功夫了得啊。
Pinyin: Tā kě zhēn shì gōng fu liǎo dé a.
In English: “His Kung Fu is excellent.”

“Yin & Yang”

The Yin & Yang Symbol

It’s fascinating to see how Yin and Yang complement each other. Do you have a partner who is like Yin and Yang with you?

In Chinese: 阴 &(和) 阳
Pinyin: yīn & (hé) yáng 
What it is: An ancient Chinese philosophy that perceives dualism as opposites that are complementary to each other.

Usage in a sentence:

In Chinese: 我们两个的性格就像是阴和阳,可以互补。
Pinyin: Wǒ men liǎng gè de xìng gé jiù xiàng shì yīn hé yáng, kě yǐ hù bǔ.
In English: “Our personalities are just like Yin & Yang, which can complete each other.”

“Chop chop”

In Chinese: 快点快点
Pinyin: kuài diǎn kuài diǎn 
What it is: Deriving from Cantonese, it means “hurry” and is of the same origin as the word “chopstick.”

Usage in a sentence:

In Chinese: 快点快点,我们要迟到了。
Pinyin: kuài diǎn kuài diǎn, wǒ men yào chí dào le. 
In English: “Chop chop! We are going to be late.”

“Ping pong”

In Chinese: 乒乓
Pinyin: pīng pāng 
What it is: A Chinese sport that is like table tennis, where two players hit a lightweight ball on a table back and forth.

Usage in a sentence:

In Chinese: 乒乓球是我最喜欢的运动之一。
Pinyin: Pīng pāng qiú shì wǒ zuì xǐ huan de yùn dòng zhī yī.
In English: “Ping pong is one of my favorite sports.”

“Long time, no see.”

In Chinese: 好久不见
Pinyin: hǎo jiǔ bú jiàn 
Actual meaning in English: “It’s been a long time.”

Usage in a sentence:

In Chinese: 好久不见,你又长高了。
Pinyin: Hǎo jiǔ bú jiàn, nǐ yòu zhǎng gāo le. 
In English: “Long time no see, you are getting taller again.”

“Lose face”

In Chinese: 丢脸
Pinyin: diū liǎn 
What it is: To suffer humiliation because of a certain behavior, especially in public.

Usage in a sentence:

In Chinese: 那个小偷的父母一定会为自己的孩子感到丢脸的。
Pinyin: Nà gè xiǎo tōu de fù mǔ yī dìng huì wèi zì jǐ de hái zi gǎn dào diū liǎn de. 
In English: “The parents of that thief must have felt like they had lost face because of their children.”

“Brainwash”

In Chinese: 洗脑
Pinyin: xǐ nǎo 
What it is: To make someone adopt a mentality by imbuing it forcibly.

Usage in a sentence:

In Chinese: 这首歌天天都在商场里播,听得我都被洗脑了。
Pinyin: Zhè shǒu gē tiān tiān dōu zài shāng chǎng lǐ bō, tīng de wǒ dōu bèi xǐ nǎo le. 
In English: “This song has been played in the mall over and over again to the point I am almost brainwashed with it.”

7. List of English Words Derived from Chinese Food

As can be expected, some of the most popular Chinese words in English are related to food. Here are just a few examples for you:

  • “Ketchup” – 番茄酱 (fān qié jiàng)
  • “Wonton” – 云吞 (yún tūn)
  • “Tofu” – 豆腐 (dòu fu)
  • “Bok Choy” – 小白菜 (xiǎo bái cài)
  • “Chow Mein” – 炒面 (chǎo miàn)
  • “Dim Sum” – 点心 (diǎn xīn)
  • “Hoisin” – 海鲜 (hǎi xiān)
  • “Soy” – 酱油 (jiàng yóu)
  • “Tea” – 茶 (chá)

8. Conclusion

Isn’t it marvelous how we can draw such similarities between different languages and see that people around the world share so much in common? Now that you’ve learned so many English words in the Chinese language, try to embrace the similarities between the two languages. These similarities are a good place for beginners to start for easy memorization. 

If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to learn more Chinese with other fun materials like this on ChineseClass101.com! We will guide you throughout your Chinese learning journey, acting as a beacon and providing you with best-in-class teaching services. 

Happy learning!

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The Magic of Chinese Culture

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China is an old country with thousands of years of history. This rich background has created an enchanting Chinese culture and civilization that attracts nearly 1.5-million tourists in a given year. 

You might have heard of such Chinese traditions as Kung Fu and the Chinese opera…but how much do you really know about them? The more you learn about Chinese culture and traditions, the more profound and fascinating they’ll become to you! 

Language is always a huge component of a country’s culture, so becoming familiar with the culture of China is crucial in mastering the Chinese language. In this guide, we’ll lift the cultural curtain from one of the greatest countries in the world—and trust us, we won’t fail to amaze you!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. Values
  2. Philosophies and Religions
  3. Family and Work
  4. Art
  5. Chinese Food
  6. Traditional Holidays
  7. Conclusion

A Chinese Woman Playing a Traditional Chinese Instrument

Let’s learn about all the fun of Chinese culture!

1. Values

Before we dive deeper into the Chinese culture, let’s look at some prominent Chinese cultural values. 

Collectivism is the embodiment of Chinese culture, a pillar around which society functions. The Chinese are also extremely patriotic. Other values the Chinese hold dear are courtesy, modesty, harmony, righteousness, and filial piety. These traditional values can be traced back to Ancient Chinese culture, thousands of years ago. 

For example, you’ll notice that Chinese people never accept compliments directly. While Westerners are more likely to reply with a “thank you,” the Chinese are more likely to express the fact that they don’t deserve such compliments. However, values like these are two sides of the same coin. While they do have their positive aspects, they can potentially prevent individual critical thinking and decrease the effectiveness of communication.

2. Philosophies and Religions

There are as many as 56 ethnic groups in China, with the Han group being the largest. Each group has distinctive traditions and beliefs, especially minority groups such as the Miao. In addition to different cultural beliefs, people may also identify with different religions. The three major religions in China are Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. However, many Chinese people are not accustomed to having a religion. Unlike in many Western countries, it’s not a necessary part of daily life in China. 

Confucianism is the most important philosophy in Chinese culture. It’s integrated into many areas of Chinese life, especially in the field of education. Many Chinese children learn of the founder of Confucianism, 孔子 (Kǒng zǐ), at a young age from the textbooks in school. Confucianism sheds light on ethical and socio-political teachings that help improve personal and governmental morality.

If you’ve watched any Chinese dramas, you may have heard of the term 神仙 (shén xiān). This refers to gods who live above the sky and are in charge of human lives. Different gods have different roles, such as being in charge of dreams, relationships, deaths, the weather, and so much more. This concept is from Daoism, which stresses the importance of all beings co-existing in harmony. 


3. Family and Work

A Mother and Her Two Children Walking Down a Hill Together

No matter how busy you are from work, always try to make some time for family!

Due to the high respect the Chinese have for collectivism, family has always been prioritized over personal needs in China. It’s very common for married couples to live with the husband’s parents under the same roof, which also shows an imbalance in how the Chinese perceive males versus females. 

In China, families are typically small with a maximum of three or four people. This is due to the restrictions set in place regarding birth, under which most families only have one child and some may have two. Traditional Chinese family structures are strictly based on hierarchy, so many children’s lives are arranged under the total control of their parents. Nevertheless, as people are getting more open-minded in modern Chinese society, this phenomenon is gradually improving. 

Filial piety is another paramount trait for a Chinese person to have. This has made many young men—who rarely work far away from their parents—committed to all the responsibilities at home. 

In the Chinese business world, people often mention connections, which are called 关系 (guān xi) in Chinese. This means that networking well is the key to making your business successful in China. People always like to treat their business partners to a meal and discuss business while eating.

4. Art 

Another fascinating aspect of Chinese culture, art serves as a window into the long history of China as well as its modern-day society. Take a look at the most prominent and unique forms of Chinese art with us!

A- Calligraphy – 书法 (shū fǎ)

Chinese Calligraphy Written with Black Ink

Even our daily writing can be a form of art!

Chinese calligraphy refers to a visual art form that emphasizes the writing of Chinese characters using traditional ink brushes. Chinese people typically use a special type of paper called 宣纸 (xuān zhǐ), which is particularly good for use with an ink brush. There are several standardized styles of Chinese calligraphy, and one can also create their own style of writing. If you’re interested, why not grab a sheet of Xuan paper and an ink brush, write some Chinese characters down, and let your imagination go wild?

B- Chinese Opera – 京剧 (jīng jù)

Unlike any other form of theater art, Chinese opera includes a wide variety of other art forms such as acrobatics, martial arts, and makeup arts. Styles can also vary depending on the region, though there are five major types of operas: Beijing, Yue, Huangmei, Cantonese, and Henan. In Chinese operas, the musical and singing styles are often exaggerated and the costumes are extremely expressive. 

C- Martial Arts – 武术 (wǔ shù)

Chinese martial arts are popularly known as Kung Fu, which is 功夫 (gōng fu) in Chinese. You’ve probably seen crazy fighting scenes in Asian movies with all kinds of fighting styles based on religion. However, the ones you often see on screen are way more dramatic than the authentic Kung Fu today in the real world.

D- Ceramics – 陶瓷 (táo cí)

Everyone knows that the word “China” refers not only to the country itself but also to the famous Chinese ceramics. Because porcelain was originally found in China, Chinese ceramics has a long-established history dating back to the Paleolithic era. The art was later perfected during the Ming Dynasty. The most classic Chinese-style ceramics feature a blue and white willow pattern and are often coupled with some kind of dragon design, which is another iconic representation of China.

E- Ancient Poetry – 古诗 (gǔ shī)

Ancient Chinese poetry played an important role in shaping Chinese literature, and more broadly, Chinese culture. Many Chinese people have a habit of expressing their feelings with verses from Ancient Chinese poetry, showing that these poems have integrated into modern Chinese society. 

This old poetry style is also called classic Chinese poetry, which differs from modern poetry which requires less of a rhythm. Back in the old days, poetry was one of the most powerful influences on people’s view of the world. The deep emotions and strong messages conveyed through this poetry could transform one’s view on both personal matters and political matters—an impressive feat for a time when technological media was not an option.

5. Chinese Food

Chinese Buns with Red Stamps on Them

Have you ever tried authentic Chinese food?

The history of Chinese food culture can be traced back to thousands of years ago and has taken different shapes depending on local preferences. Under the profound influence of Chinese history, Chinese people naturally enjoy sharing dishes. Contrary to many other cultures where everyone gets their own dish, the Chinese share large dishes with everyone around the table. Classic Chinese dishes such as hot pot and dim sum are a great representation of this habit. The most common eating utensil is chopsticks.

There are vast differences between Chinese food culture in the northern regions and the southern regions. The eight major Chinese cuisines are:

  • Sichuan
  • Jiangsu
  • Shandong
  • Zhejiang
  • Anhui
  • Cantonese
  • Fujian
  • Hunan

Ginger, garlic, and green onions are staples across all Chinese cuisines. Star anise and chili are also added to certain dishes. Unlike many Western cuisines where the entree is usually meat, the main component of a Chinese meal is always grain-based (rice, noodles, and steam buns). However, meat is also a star in Chinese food culture as Chinese people eat a variety of meats ranging from fish to ducks, rabbits, and goose.

Aside from main meals, tea is also a big part of Chinese people’s diet. In China, tea is more than just a drink: it is what brings people together and inspires conversations. People love to have a cup of tea and just appreciate the complexity of its lingering taste while having in-depth conversations. This is how the Chinese, especially old people, want to spend their relaxing afternoon. Tea is also widely used in Chinese cuisines and medicines.


6. Traditional Holidays 

Each country has unique holidays that represent the country’s traditions and values. In Chinese culture, holidays tend to revolve around family and loved ones. While we can’t cover all of the major holidays here, we will introduce the most important ones.

A- Chinese New Year – 春节 / 新年 (chūn jié / xīn nián)

Firecracker Debris after Chinese New Year

You know what people usually do for the new year: fireworks!

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or 春节 (chūn jié), is just as important in China as Christmas is in Western countries. On Chinese New Year, everyone is reunited with their families to celebrate the beginning of the new year, based on the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. 

Families hold a reunion dinner, called 年夜饭 (nián yè fàn), on Chinese New Year’s Eve. Dumplings are usually the staple food for this meal. Traditionally, elders need to give children 红包 (hóng bāo), or red envelopes containing money. Other activities during the Chinese New Year include setting off fireworks, going to temple fairs, and watching the traditional TV show made just for the New Year called 春晚 (chūn wǎn).  

B- Mid-Autumn Festival – 中秋节 (zhōng qiū jié)

The Mid-Autumn Festival, called 中秋节 (zhōng qiū jié) in Chinese, is another important holiday in China. It usually takes place on August 15 (according to the lunar calendar) when the full moon occurs. Mooncakes are a traditional rich pastry served during this holiday, as their appearance is a perfect reflection of the full moon. They’re usually filled with sweet red-bean paste or lotus-seed paste.

C- QingMing Festival – 清明节 (qīng míng jié)

The QingMing Festival, or 清明节 (qīng míng jié), is a unique holiday from Ancient Chinese culture, observed for the purpose of reminiscing the dead. It takes place in April, on the fifteenth day after the Spring Equinox. During the holiday, Chinese families will visit and sweep the tombs of their deceased family members, serve ritual offerings, or even burn joss paper in the hope of providing them a better life in the other world.

D- Dragon Boat Festival – 端午节 (duān wǔ jié)

The Dragon Boat Festival is known as 端午节 (duān wǔ jié) in Chinese, and it’s held on May 5 of the traditional Chinese calendar every year. The festival originated from the death of the heroic poet and minister named Qu Yuan, who committed suicide in the Miluo River due to the shame he felt after the emperor decided to become allies with Qin. Today, in remembrance of Qu Yuan, people have dragon boat races and eat 粽子 (zòng zi), a traditional dish made with sticky rice filling wrapped in bamboo leaves.

7. Conclusion

How many Chinese culture facts have you learned now? Hopefully a ton! The profound and ancient Chinese culture, though, is far deeper than what we’ve introduced here. You’ll need to really immerse yourself to get a real taste of it. 

If you want to experience Chinese culture in a more systematic way, ChineseClass101.com is here to provide you with a wide spectrum of materials taught by professional teachers. Our lesson structures are designed to create a fun and natural Chinese learning experience for you. Why not create your free account today and give it a try?

Happy learning!

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The Perfect Gourmet Guide to Chinese Food

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Food is a type of magic that human beings both enjoy and depend upon for survival. Food brings loved ones together at the same table, where everyone is able to share life, indulge in conversation, and even burst into laughter together. Every family has its own homemade dish that tastes just like home, touching the softest spot of one’s heart.

As a dedicated Chinese learner, I’m sure you’re wondering how authentic Chinese foods taste and about the culture behind them. In this article, we’ll introduce you to several popular Chinese dishes you should try—and we’ll even teach you how to make some easy authentic Chinese food on your own. Make sure you stick around to learn all of the Chinese food secrets you’ve been curious about!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Let's Cook in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. Must-Try Dishes in Chinese Restaurants
  2. Authentic Chinese Food vs. Overseas Chinese Food
  3. Unique Chinese Foods
  4. Food-Related Vocabulary
  5. Bonus: Simple Recipes to Make Authentic Chinese Food at Home
  6. Conclusion

Chinese Buns with Red Stamps on Top

Chinese food can be fascinating—like these Chinese buns with a red stamp on top!

1. Must-Try Dishes in Chinese Restaurants

Here’s a brief list of Chinese foods you need to try next time you’re at an authentic Chinese restaurant. Warning: You’ll be hungry by the time you finish reading about these delicious dishes!

A- Hot Pot – 火锅 (huǒ guō)

Hot Pot is a Chinese food staple that represents the culture of eating together. Everyone sits around a pot prepared with a simmering soup stock, in which people can boil a variety of meats and veggies they have on hand. This is one of the best Chinese comfort foods, especially on a chilly day.

B- Dumplings – 饺子 (jiǎo zi)

You’re probably familiar with dumplings, as cuisines from many regions of the world feature some kind of dumpling. Chinese dumplings are another staple of homemade Chinese food—they’re so important that they’re usually served as the entree for Chinese New Year. In general, dumplings are made with dough wrapped around a filling of minced meat.

C- Mapo Tofu – 麻婆豆腐 (má pó dòu fu)

Mapo Tofu is a famous spicy dish that originated from Sichuan cuisine. You’ve probably heard of it before, as it’s a popular dish overseas. The word 麻 () almost indicates a taste of numbness, which is a unique taste produced by the Sichuan peppercorn, combining perfectly with its spiciness.

D- Dim Sum – 早茶 (zǎo chá)

Several Chinese Dishes

Does it make your mouth water when there is a variety of delicious foods to choose from?

A unique facet of Chinese cuisine, Dim Sum is not a dish; rather, it’s a style of serving food that originated in Canton. In Dim Sum, a variety of bite-sized food portions—ranging from meat and veggies to dessert items—is usually served with tea. Servers usually push a table of these foods around to ask which one you would like to try. Dim Sum is a great (and cost-effective) choice if you want a variety of food that you can share with many people.

E- Congee – 粥 (zhōu)

Congee is one of the most popular Chinese comfort foods, and it can be either sweet or savory. Serving as the base of this dish are grains that have been boiled down and simmered into a dense soup. People sometimes like to add meat and veggies to make it savory, or some sugar to make it a sweet treat. This is also a very healthy Chinese food as boiled grain is easy to digest and warm for your stomach.

2. Authentic Chinese Food vs. Overseas Chinese Food

Chinese Spring Rolls

The famous overseas Chinese spring roll may not be that famous in China!

If you’re ever looking for your hometown food in another country, I bet there will come a point when you’re dumbfounded with the localized food there and cry internally, with pride: “This is not what my home tastes like!”

Similarly, Chinese cuisine dishes that have reached other countries are far from being authentic. 

Here are just a few Chinese foods that are not typical in China:

  • Orange chicken
  • Chow mein
  • Honey walnut shrimp
  • Spring rolls
  • Broccoli-and-beef 

Some native Chinese people may have never even heard of these overseas dishes.

To be fair, there are still a few famous authentic Chinese dishes overseas, such as: 

  • Mapo Tofu
  • Dumplings
  • Sweet and sour soup
  • Kung Pao chicken

However, it’s likely that they’re made differently to suit foreigners’ taste buds. For example, meat that is supposed to be pan-fried in China is deep-fried overseas. In addition, some other dishes may not be as spicy as they are in China, and are more likely to be sweet. 

It’s interesting to see how much food can change culturally and how people’s perception of another country’s cuisine is rather limited.

3. Unique Chinese Foods

Some foods can only be found in one country, and these foods are closely connected to the regional cultures. As a language learner, it’s important for you to be familiar with these dishes because it will show how well you know the native culture! Here are a few unique Chinese cuisine staples that you should know about.

A- Coke-Braised Chicken Wings – 可乐鸡翅 (kě lè jī chì)

This is a unique finger-licking Chinese dish, taking advantage of Coke’s sweetness and using soy sauce to turn it into a savory-sweet BBQ-style sauce. A true reinvented foreign Chinese food! If you ever get the chance to try this dish, don’t miss it! It possesses a unique deliciousness that you’ll never get to try anywhere else. 

B- Fish-Fragrant Eggplant – 鱼香茄子 (yú xiāng qié zi)

Although this dish has “fish” in the name, there’s no fish at all in the ingredients! ‘Fish-fragrant’ is a unique Chinese spice from Sichuan cuisine that offers a good combination of spicy, sweet, and sour flavors. The famous Doubanjiang, a typical Sichuan spicy sauce made from fermented soybeans, is the essence of this whole dish. It will definitely bring your taste buds to another level of spiciness!

C- Mooncake – 月饼 (yuè bǐng)

A Yellow-Colored Mooncake

Mooncakes are shaped just like how they’re named—a moon, indeed!

Mooncake is a traditional Chinese dessert that’s usually eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. This is when the moon is in full shape, symbolizing united families. 

Mooncakes have a soft pastry on the outside and some sort of sweet paste on the inside. They’re named after the moon because of their shape. The typical fillings for mooncakes are red bean paste, lotus seed paste, and taro paste, though there are many more depending on the region.

D- Malatang – 麻辣烫 (má là tàng)

Malatang is a famous Chinese street food that many people consider to be a part of their childhood memories. If you were to ask any Chinese adult if they regularly ate Malatang during their school years, the answer would probably be yes. Malatang is a mixture of different meats and veggies that’s cooked quickly in a spicy sauce; some regions serve this dish with sesame paste in it.

E- Youtiao – 油条 (yóu tiáo)

Youtiao is a deep-fried stick of dough. It’s crispy on the outside with a golden crust, but soft and chewy on the inside. This has been one of the most popular Chinese breakfast dishes for decades, and Chinese people love to couple Youtiao with a bowl of fresh soy milk. It’s as if they were made for each other.

F- Sweet Rice Dessert Dumplings – 汤圆 (tāng yuán)

Sweet rice dessert dumplings are made with glutinous rice flour on the outside, which makes the texture incredibly soft and chewy with a natural sweetness. The filling can vary, though the most common ones are black sesame paste and red bean paste.

4. Food-Related Vocabulary

Now that we’ve whetted your appetite, it’s time to look at some Chinese cuisine vocabulary. We’ll show you the most important words for food and cooking, and give you some practical phrases for ordering food in a restaurant. 

A- Food and Utensils

Food食物 (shí wù)
Rice米饭 (mǐ fàn)
Noodles面条 (miàn tiáo)
Chopsticks筷子 (kuài zi)
Bowl碗 (wǎn)
Spoon勺子 (sháo zi)
Cook做饭 (zuò fàn)
Ingredients食材 (shí cái)

B- Common Phrases for Ordering and Cooking

  • In Chinese: 开饭了。
    Pinyin: Kāi fàn le. 
    In English: “The meal is ready to serve.”
  • In Chinese: 这道菜实在是太好吃了。
    Pinyin: Zhè dào cài shí zài shì tài hǎo chī le. 
    In English: “This dish is truly delicious.”
  • In Chinese: 这道菜可真是色香味俱全啊。
    Pinyin: Zhè dào cài kě zhēn shì sè xiāng wèi jù quán a.
    In English: “This dish has it all: a nice appearance, delicious smell, and taste.”
  • In Chinese: 这道菜可以不放辣吗?
    Pinyin: Zhè dào cài kě yǐ bú fàng là ma? 
    In English: “Can you please not make this dish spicy?”
  • In Chinese: 我今天打算做一些家常菜。
    Pinyin: Wǒ jīn tiān dǎ suàn zuò yī xiē jiā cháng cài. 
    In English: “I am going to make some regular homemade dishes.”
  • In Chinese: 我们可以分开付吗?
    Pinyin: Wǒ men kě yǐ fèn kāi fù ma? 
    In English: “Can we pay separately?”
  • In Chinese: 我可以看一下菜单吗?
    Pinyin: Wǒ kě yǐ kàn yī xià cài dān ma? 
    In English: “May I see the menu?”

5. Bonus: Simple Recipes to Make Authentic Chinese Food at Home

Now, let me share with you the secret Chinese food recipes for two classic dishes. These are comfort food dishes that every single Chinese family just has to cook once in a while. They’re easy and quick to make, and most importantly, they offer the deliciousness of an authentic home-cooked meal! Trust me, if you ask any native Chinese person, these dishes are the taste of home.

A- Authentic Chinese Recipe #1: Stir-Fried Tomatoes and Eggs:  西红柿炒鸡蛋 (xī hóng shì chǎo jī dàn)

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • Sliced green onions or cilantro for garnish
  • Salt
  • Steamed rice or noodles, for serving

Step 1

Beat the eggs well with salt, mixing the yolks and whites perfectly. Pour oil into the pan, heat it up, and pour the eggs in smoothly. Once the eggs have taken a solid shape, quickly stir-fry them into pieces and take them out of the pan.

Step 2

Cut an X into the tomatoes’ skin and boil them in hot water until the skin can be taken off (a process called blanching). It’s also fine to leave the skin on if desired. Then cut the tomatoes into slices.

Step 3

Add ginger into the pan and stir-fry it a little with the oil left in the pan. Use the same pan to stir-fry the tomatoes for about 3-5 minutes until aromatic and the liquid has evaporated a little. Add ketchup, soy sauce, and sugar.

Step 4

Add eggs into the stir-fried tomatoes and stir them occasionally for the tomato juice to be absorbed into the eggs. This should take about a minute.

Step 5

Add some salt to taste. Top with the sliced green onion or cilantro, and serve with steamed rice or noodles.

A Bowl of White Rice with Chopsticks In It

Find a recipe that can perfectly marry that bowl of rice of yours!

B- Authentic Chinese Recipe #2: Chinese Stir-Fried Shredded Potatoes: 炝炒土豆丝 (qiàng chǎo tǔ dòu sī)

Ingredients:

  • 3 russet potatoes
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chili oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon any type of vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Sugar to taste
  • Salt to taste

Step 1

Shred the potatoes and put them in a bowl of cold water. Soak them for at least 20 minutes to get rid of starch (the longer, the crunchier).

Step 2

Cut the carrot and bell pepper into thinly shredded slices, just like the potatoes.

Step 3

Remove the potatoes from water and heat the chili oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Add the Sichuan peppercorn and stir-fry it until very aromatic. Drain the Sichuan-peppercorn-flavored oil in a bowl and remove the peppercorns from the pan.

Step 4

Add the Sichuan-peppercorn-flavored oil back into the pan and add the minced garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Stir-fry them altogether until aromatic. 

Step 5

Add the shredded potatoes, carrot, and bell pepper and cook for about 2 minutes over high heat until all ingredients are cooked but crispy on the outside.

Step 6

Add the soy sauce and vinegar and mix well. Lastly, add some sugar and salt to taste.

6. Conclusion

Are you still hanging in there? Or has your stomach started growling and your mouth watering? If you’re craving some great Chinese food right now, make sure you check the authenticity of any Chinese restaurant you plan on visiting. You want only the best! 

Food represents a country’s culture, so make sure you get familiar with these typical Chinese dishes. Whether you’re a conscientious foodie or a hardworking Chinese learner, ChineseClass101.com is always honored to open the magical gate to the Chinese language and culture for you. 

Here, you’ll be presented with fun and professional resources to help you learn the Chinese language. Our lessons, taught by native Chinese speakers, are designed to make you feel as though you were walking right into China! Why not create your free account today to give it a try?

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A Beginner’s Guide to Chinese Grammar

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What is the backbone of every language? Definitely grammar. 

Using proper grammar showcases your professionalism and respect for others. 

Chinese grammar is rather unique. As opposed to English and the Romance languages which follow a strict structure, Chinese is often perceived by foreigners as not even having grammar. Others claim that Chinese grammar is extremely difficult. 

As an art, the Chinese language has its own unique features and much flexibility in its grammar. If you’ve learned other languages before, you’ll find that learning Chinese grammar won’t be a typical language learning experience; there may be many new concepts that you’ve never even heard of. 

Now, let’s dig into this Chinese grammar guide for beginners. Judge the language for yourself!


Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. General Rules of Chinese Grammar
  2. Special Chinese Grammar Point #1: Particles
  3. Special Chinese Grammar Point #2: Different Modifiers
  4. Special Chinese Grammar Point #3: Formality
  5. Special Chinese Grammar Point #4: Common Adverbs
  6. Special Chinese Grammar Point #5: Common Verbs
  7. Special Grammar Point #6: Negative Sentences
  8. Conclusion

1. General Rules of Chinese Grammar

A Green Belter Karate Woman

Learning new concepts may be challenging, but you will eventually ace them!

Welcome to the first reassuring rule of Chinese grammar: The structure of basic Chinese sentences is Subject-Verb-Object, just like in English. However, other special words, such as adverbs of time, have no fixed location in a sentence; you can put these words anywhere based on how much emphasis you want placed on them. In English, on the other hand, we usually only place words like this at the beginning or end of a sentence.

In Chinese grammar, questions can be formed without the use of interrogative adverbs (like “why” or “who”). You can simply say the statement with a rising intonation, sort of like you can do in informal English (“You ate all the cake?”). 

The best part of Chinese grammar is that you don’t even need to worry about conjugating verbs; you can simply add specific words into the sentence to signify the tense.

Here’s a final tip for beginners: Remember that tones in Chinese can dramatically change the meaning of a word or sentence. Using the wrong tone for even a small word can be the difference between effective communication and total confusion. Keep practicing your spoken Chinese with native Chinese speakers and the language will eventually become a part of yourself

Keeping these basic Chinese grammar rules in mind, let’s get to the more challenging parts of Chinese grammar!

2. Special Chinese Grammar Point #1: Particles

Bright Ideas

Never be afraid of asking questions when you encounter a difficulty.

One of the most interesting components of Chinese grammar structures is the question/exclamation particles. They’re typically placed at the end of a sentence to indicate either a question or an exclamation. Magical, right? Just one simple word, and the purpose and tone of your whole sentence transforms! Now, let’s see how to distinguish between the unfamiliar faces of our new friends.

1. Clause + 吗 (ma

This particle is used to indicate that you require a yes/no answer to your question. 

In Chinese: 明天的派对你还打算去吗?
Pinyin: Míng tiān de pài duì nǐ hái dǎ suàn qù ma? 
In English: “Are you still planning to go to the party tomorrow?”

2. Clause + 吧 (ba

This particle is used to make a suggestion.

In Chinese: 妈妈,你就放心让我一个人去旅行吧!
Pinyin: Mā ma, nǐ jiù fàng xīn ràng wǒ yī gè rén qù lǚ xíng ba! 
In English: “Mom, please be reassured and let me go travel by myself!”

3. Clause + 呢 (ne)

This particle changes the emphasis on a topic.

In Chinese: 虽然姐姐比我大两岁,但是很多时候都是我在照顾她呢。
Pinyin: Suī rán jiě jie bǐ wǒ dà liǎng suì, dàn shì hěn duō shí hou dōu shì wǒ zài zhào gù tā ne. 
In English: “Even though my sister is two years older than me, I am the one who takes care of her most of the time.”

4. Clause + 啊 (a)

This particle is used to express exclamation in a statement.

In Chinese: 你家可真漂亮啊!
Pinyin: Nǐ jiā kě zhēn piāo liàng a! 
In English: “Your house is so pretty!”

5. Clause + 啦 (la)

This particle is used to add a relaxed tone in an exclamatory sentence. 

In Chinese: 不要担心我啦。
Pinyin: Bú yào dān xīn wǒ la. 
In English: “Don’t worry about me.”

6. Clause + 嘛 (ma)

This particle is used to place emphasis on an overt fact.

In Chinese: 今天雨下得这么大,我怎么可能还出去买菜嘛。
Pinyin: Jīn tiān yǔ xià de zhè me dà, wǒ zěn me kě néng hái chū qù mǎi cài ma. 
In English: “The rain is incredibly heavy today, there is no way I am still going to buy groceries. ”

Additional notes: As you may have noticed above, these particles don’t possess a tone; they’re simply indicated as “light-sounding” in Chinese. All of these particles can also be used in declarative sentences, as well as exclamatory and interrogative sentences depending on how strong the expression is.

3. Special Chinese Grammar Point #2: Different Modifiers

There are three general modifiers that are used in daily conversations, which are: 的 (de), 得 (de), and 地 (de). While they have the same pronunciation, each one is used differently. It may take some time to digest, but they’re fairly straightforward to learn. Don’t be afraid. Just take on the challenge!

1. Subject + 的 (de) + Object

This modifier may be one of the easiest to understand as you can literally translate it to “of.” It indicates a sense of ownership.

In Chinese: 这是我的书。 
Pinyin: Zhè shì wǒ de shū. 
In English: “This book is mine.”

2. Attribute + 的 (de) + Noun

In Chinese: 我哥哥是一个很有雄心壮志的人。
Pinyin: Wǒ gē ge shì yī gè hěn yǒu xióng xīn zhuàng zhì de rén. 
In English: “My older brother is someone who is very ambitious.”

3. Verb + 得 (de) + State

In Chinese: 这支舞她跳得可真美。
Pinyin: Zhè zhī wǔ tā tiào de kě zhēn měi. 
In English: “This dance she is performing is beautifully done.”

4. Adjective + 地 (de) + Verb

In Chinese grammar, many adjectives can function as adverbs when they modify verbs, without changing their form.

In Chinese: 勇敢地前进吧,我会永远支持你的。
Pinyin: Yǒng gǎn de qián jìn ba, wǒ huì yǒng yuǎn zhī chí nǐ de. 
In English: “Just bravely go for it, I will always be there for you. ”

4. Special Chinese Grammar Point #3: Formality

Man and Woman Shaking Hands

A polite person always draws people closer.

Don’t panic just yet. This is a very straightforward but important point in Chinese grammar. As a people that values politeness and formality, the Chinese use two different forms to express “you.” One is more polite, to be used with people whom you need to show more respect such as your elders or mentors. The other one can be casually used with peers and friends.

1. The polite form: 您 (nín)

In Chinese: 奶奶,您最近身体还好吗?
Pinyin: Nǎi nai, nín zuì jìn shēn tǐ hái hǎo ma? 
In English: “Grandma, how has your health been recently?”

2. The casual form: 你 ()

In Chinese: 谢谢你一直以来的陪伴。
Pinyin: Xiè xie nǐ yī zhí yǐ lái de péi bàn. 
In English: “Thank you for always keeping me company.”

5. Special Chinese Grammar Point #4: Common Adverbs

Woman Holding Her Laptop Thinking of Something

Still bewildered about Chinese grammar? Leave your questions in the comments below and we’ll get back to you!

Now that we’ve gone over some basic Chinese grammar rules, let’s dive in deeper with a list of the most common adverbs to make your sentences even more complete. Keep in mind that while these words are considered adverbs in Chinese, they may be of a different part of speech when translated into English.

1. Able to: 会 (huì)

In Chinese: 她五岁就会做饭了。
Pinyin: Tā wǔ suì jiù huì zuò fàn le.
In English: “She was able to cook ever since she was five years old.”

2. Allowed to/Could: 能 (néng)

In Chinese: 请问我能去一下你家的卫生间吗?
Pinyin: Qǐng wèn wǒ néng qù yī xià nǐ jiā de wèi shēng jiān ma? 
In English: “Could I please (Am I allowed to) go to the bathroom at your house?”

3. Also: 也 ()

In Chinese: 我原本也想买这本书。
Pinyin: Wǒ yuán běn yě xiǎng mǎi zhè běn shū. 
In English: “I was also thinking about buying this book. ”

4. Still: 还 (hái)

In Chinese: 我还是很怀念大学的时光。
Pinyin: Wǒ hái shì hěn huái niàn dà xué de shí guāng. 
In English: “I am still nostalgic about my college times.”

5. Too: 太 (tài)

In Chinese: 你弹钢琴的样子实在是太迷人了。
Pinyin: Nǐ tán gāng qín de yàng zǐ shí zài shì tài mí rén le. 
In English: “The way you play the piano is honestly way too attractive.”

6. Very: 很 (hěn)

In Chinese: 我家有一个很大的游泳池。
Pinyin: Wǒ jiā yǒu yī gè hěn dà de yóu yǒng chí. 
In English: “There is a very big swimming pool in my house.”

6. Special Chinese Grammar Point #5: Common Verbs

Verbs are one of the most important parts of speech, so it’s crucial that you know the most common ones and how to use them. 

1. To have / To possess: 有 (yǒu)

In Chinese: 我家有一只很可爱的小狗。
Pinyin: Wǒ jiā yǒu yī zhī hěn kě ài de xiǎo gǒu. 
In English: “I have a very cute doggie at home.”

2. To be somewhere: 在 (zài)

In Chinese: 你给我打电话的时候我正在外面。
Pinyin: Nǐ gěi wǒ dǎ diàn huà de shí hou wǒ zhèng zài wài mian. 
In English: “I was outside when you were calling me. ”

3. To be: 是 (shì)

In Chinese: 她是一个特别内向的人。
Pinyin: Tā shì yī gè tè bié nèi xiàng de rén. 
In English: “She is a very introverted person.”

4. To go: 去 ()

In Chinese: 我最好的朋友邀请我今天去她家吃饭。
Pinyin: Wǒ zuì hǎo de péng you yāo qǐng wǒ jīn tiān qù tā jiā chī fàn. 
In English: “My best friend invited me to go and eat at her place today.”

5. To come: 来 (lái)

In Chinese: 不管他来我家多少次,都永远记不住路。
Pinyin: Bù guǎn tā lái wǒ jiā duō shǎo cì, dōu yǒng yuǎn jì bú zhù lù. 
In English: “No matter how many times he came to my house, he will never remember the directions.”

7. Special Grammar Point #6: Negative Sentences

There are two words that can be used to form a negative sentence: 不 () and 没 (méi). Remember that these are not interchangeable and have different usages.

1. Subject + 不 () + Verb

Use this structure to indicate that you don’t want to do something (or that you just won’t do it). 

In Chinese: 我是不会出国留学的。
Pinyin: Wǒ shì bú huì chū guó liú xué de. 
In English: “I won’t go study abroad.”

2. Subject + 不 () + Verb

This structure can be used to say that someone is not in the habit of doing something.

In Chinese: 我不喜欢熬夜。
Pinyin: Wǒ bù xǐ huan áo yè. 
In English: “I don’t like to stay up late.”

3. 不 () + Adjective

This structure expresses the negation of an adjective.

In Chinese: 她觉得自己不好看。
Pinyin: Tā jué de zì jǐ bù hǎo kàn. 
In English: “She thinks she is not pretty.”

4. Subject + 没(有)(méi yǒu) + Verb + Object

Use this structure to negate actions in the past or future. 

In Chinese: 我没去打篮球。
Pinyin: Wǒ méi qù dǎ lán qiú. 
In English: “I didn’t go play basketball.”

In Chinese: 我还没吃饭呢。
Pinyin: Wǒ hái méi chī fàn ne. 
In English: “I haven’t eaten yet.”

5. Subject + 没有 (méi yǒu) + Verb + Object

This structure is used to indicate that you don’t have something.

In Chinese: 抱歉,我没有多余的笔。
Pinyin: Bào qiàn, wǒ méi yǒu duō yú de bǐ. 
In English: “Sorry, I don’t have an extra pencil.”

Learning Stuff

Spare some time every day to study a language, and you will certainly improve over time!

8. Conclusion

Now take a deep breath. Have you gotten used to these basic Chinese grammar rules? If you’re still struggling with something, don’t worry. Learning a new language is like embracing a new lifestyle; only when you gradually integrate it into your daily life will you be able to master Chinese.

Of course, we couldn’t include everything about Chinese grammar here—there’s so much more that’s worth exploring. ChineseClass101 is honored to share with you our large pool of Chinese grammar resources, language and culture lessons, and other effective learning materials. We’re here to assist you and help you succeed in your language learning journey. If you want to bring yourself to the next level, don’t hesitate to create your free lifetime account today!

If you have any questions about what we went over today, feel free to leave us a comment. We’ll get back to you with useful information!

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Classic Chinese Quotes You Need to Know

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How many times have you used a popular quote to express something? Being able to apply someone else’s words to our own lives is just so convenient!

But quotes hold so much more potential when you learn them in another language. Studying Chinese quotes can be an excellent way to improve your language skills, gain cultural insight, and learn to see the world through other people’s eyes.

In China, people love to use Chinese quotes and proverbs in their daily conversations. Using one effectively can convey the heart of one’s thoughts, making any conversation a little more meaningful. The Chinese quotes we’ve listed in this article will not only enrich your conversations, but also help you think a little deeper and advise you on your own path in life—they are the epitome of human wisdom, after all. 

Let’s dive right into these classic Chinese quotes. To learn them for a lifetime, remember to keep them in your heart rather than in your brain!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. Quotes About Success
  2. Quotes About Life
  3. Quotes About Time
  4. Quotes About Love
  5. Quotes About Family
  6. Quotes About Friendship
  7. Quotes About Food
  8. Quotes About Health
  9. Quotes About Language Learning
  10. Quotes About Studying
  11. Conclusion

1. Quotes About Success

Do you have big plans for the future, or maybe an upcoming project you’re concerned about? Read through these Chinese quotes on success for an extra jolt of motivation!

A Man Jumping on a Cliff

Success never comes easily.

良好的开端,等于成功的一半。

Pinyin: Liáng hǎo de kāi duān, děng yú chéng gōng de yī bàn.

Literal translation in English: “Well begun is half done.”

Meaning: A successful beginning is a significant step toward ultimate success.

Source: This quote is from the famous Athenian philosopher, Plato.

要做的事情总找得出时间和机会;不愿意做的事情也总能找得出借口。

Pinyin: Yào zuò de shì qing zǒng zhǎo de chū shí jiān hé jī huì; bú yuàn yì zuò de shì qing yě zǒng néng zhǎo de chū jiè kǒu. 

Literal translation in English: “You will always find the time and opportunities for the things you truly want to achieve; you can always make excuses for things you don’t want to do.”

Meaning: If you truly want to do something, you will always manage to achieve it, with no excuses. 

Source: Unknown.

没有最好,只有更好。

Pinyin: Méi yǒu zuì hǎo, zhǐ yǒu gèng hǎo. 

Literal translation in English: “There is no such thing called ‘being the best,’ there is only ‘to be better’.”

Meaning: We should always seek to improve ourselves, no matter how much we achieve.

Source: Unknown.

2. Quotes About Life

Life can be peaceful, exciting, wonderful, or quite difficult—and sometimes all of those things at once! Wherever you are in your life journey, we think you’ll be inspired by these Chinese quotes about life.


生活就像一面镜子,你对他笑,他就对你笑;你对他哭,他也对你哭。

Pinyin: Shēng huó jiù xiàng yī miàn jìng zi, nǐ duì tā xiào, tā jiù duì nǐ xiào; nǐ duì tā kū, tā yě duì nǐ kū.

Literal translation in English: “Life is just like a mirror: he will smile back to you if you smile, he will cry back if you cry first.”

Meaning: Our attitude determines the way our life goes. 

Source: This quote is originally from the famous British novelist, William Makepeace Thackeray.

生活不是一场赛跑,生活是一场旅行,要懂得好好欣赏每一段的风景。

Pinyin: Shēng huó bú shì yī chǎng sài pǎo, shēng huó shì yī chǎng lǚ xíng, yào dǒng dé hǎo hǎo xīn shǎng měi yī duàn de fēng jǐng. 

Literal translation in English: “Life is not a race; life is a journey, and you need to appreciate every piece of the scenery.”

Meaning: We need to appreciate every chapter of our life. 

Source: Unknown.

3. Quotes About Time

Time is what binds us to our own mortality, and there are several Chinese language quotes on the topic. Take a look!


种树最好的时机是二十年前,其次就是现在。

Pinyin: Zhǒng shù zuì hǎo de shí jī shì èr shí nián qián, qí cì jiù shì xiàn zài.

Literal translation in English: “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”

Source: This quote is translated from the book Dead Aid, written by Dambisa Moyo.

我把别人喝咖啡的时间用在工作上。

Pinyin: Wǒ bǎ bié rén hē kā fēi de shí jiān yòng lái gōng zuò shang. 

Literal translation in English: “When other people are drinking coffee, I am working.”

Meaning: We have to use our time effectively, even when others are relaxing.

Source: This quote is originally from the famous Chinese writer, poet, and literary critic, Lu Xun.

时间就像海绵里的水,只要愿挤,总还是有的。

Pinyin: Shí jiān jiù xiàng hǎi mián lǐ de shuǐ, zhǐ yào yuàn jǐ, zǒng hái shì yǒu de.

Literal translation in English: “Time is just like the water in a sponge; it will come out as long as you make the effort to squeeze it.”

Meaning: Time can always be saved as long as you try hard enough.

Source: This quote is originally from the famous Chinese writer, poet, and literary critic, Lu Xun.

4. Quotes About Love

Are you in love? Or maybe you’re a hopeless romantic? Either way, we think you’ll enjoy reading these Chinese quotes on love.

Men and Women Forming Hearts with Their Hands

Cherish the love you have.

爱之深,责之切。

Pinyin: Ài zhī shēn, zé zhī qiè. 

Literal translation in English: “The deeper the love is, the harsher the reproaches are.”

Meaning: Love makes people care so much that they’re willing to hurt the other person’s feelings if it’s for their own good.

Source: This quote is originally from part of the ancient Chinese text called Strategies of the Warring States.

两情若是长久时,又岂在朝朝暮暮。

Pinyin: Liǎng qíng ruò shì cháng jiǔ shí, yòu qǐ zài zhāo zhāo mù mù. 

Literal translation in English: “Durable love keeps without living together day and night.”

Meaning: True love can withstand long distances.

Source: This quote is from the famous Chinese poet, Qin Guan, from the Song dynasty.

喜欢是放肆,爱是克制。

Pinyin: Xǐ huān shì fàng sì, ài shì kè zhì. 

Literal translation in English: “Liking someone is to be free, loving someone is to control yourself.”

Meaning: True love needs restriction and sacrifice.

Source: Unknown.

如果你想要被爱,就要去爱,并要让自己值得被爱。

Pinyin: Rú guǒ nǐ xiǎng yào bèi ài, jiù yào qù ài, bìng yào ràng zì jǐ zhí dé bèi ài. 

Literal translation in English: “If you would be loved, love, and be loveable.” 

Meaning: Only when we deserve love are we able to be loved.

Source: This quote is originally from Benjamin Franklin.

5. Quotes About Family

Family is one of the most important aspects of life, even if they can be hard to get along with sometimes. Read these Chinese quotes about family to gain some cultural insight on family in Chinese culture.

Family Going to Watch Movies

Remember to always have some quality family time no matter how busy you are.

家永远是我们温暖的避风港。

Pinyin: Jiā yǒng yuǎn shì wǒ men wēn nuǎn de bì fēng gǎng. 

Literal translation in English: “Our home will always be the warmest harbor.”

Meaning: Families are always there to support us.

Source: Unknown.

人生就是旅途,不管我们漂到哪,最终还是会回到家。

Pinyin: Rén shēng jiù shì lǚ tú, bù guǎn wǒ men piāo dào nǎ, zuì zhōng hái shì huì huí dào jiā. 

Literal translation in English: “Life is a journey; no matter how far we go, we will eventually return to home.”

Meaning: We will always miss our home no matter where we go.

Source: Unknown.

6. Quotes About Friendship

True friends are one of life’s greatest joys and necessities. Can you relate to these Chinese quotes on friendship?

Four Women Standing with Each Other

True friends will always be there for you.

时间会替你筛选出那些真正属于你身边的人。

Pinyin: Shí jiān huì tì nǐ shāi xuǎn chū nà xiē zhēn zhèng shǔ yú nǐ shēn biān de rén. 

Literal translation in English: “Time will help you screen the friends who really belong to you.”

Meaning: True friends will always stand by you, no matter what happens. 

Source: Unknown.

有福同享,有难同当。

Pinyin: Yǒu fú tóng xiǎng, yǒu nàn tóng dāng. 

Literal translation in English: “Share the happiness together, go through the hardship together.”

Meaning: Friends go through everything together, both the good and the bad. 

Source: This quote is originally from a Chinese novel from the Qing dynasty, called Officialdom Unmasked

7. Quotes About Food

Who doesn’t love to enjoy some good food? Here are a couple of Chinese sayings and quotes about food we think you’ll relate to!

Foods on the Table
We can never live without delicious food, can we?

人是铁,饭是钢,一顿不吃饿得慌。

Pinyin: Rén shì tiě, fàn shì gāng, yī dùn bù chī è de huāng. 

Literal translation in English: “Humans are iron, food is steel, you have to eat to stay away from hunger.”

Meaning: Meals give strength and nourishment to the human body and therefore cannot be skipped.

Source: Unknown.

好吃不过饺子。

Pinyin: Hǎo chī bú guò jiǎo zi.

Literal translation in English: “Nothing is more delicious than dumplings.”

Meaning: Chinese people dearly enjoy dumplings as their traditional food.

Source: Unknown.

8. Quotes About Health

Staying in good health should be the top priority in one’s life, because it allows you to fulfill other goals! These Chinese health quotes express the importance of maintaining good health. 

    → Of course, even our best efforts can fail when it comes to health. See our vocabulary list of Common Health Concerns and be prepared for the next time you’re not feeling well.
A Patient and a Doctor
Without health, we can’t really do anything else!

身体是革命的本钱。

Pinyin: Shēn tǐ shì gé mìng de běn qián. 

Literal translation in English: “Your health is the necessity of the revolution.”

Meaning: Health always comes first.

Source: This quote is originally from Chairman Mao

健康是一个人最大的财富。

Pinyin: Jiàn kāng shì yī gè rén zuì dà de cái fù.

Literal translation in English: “The greatest wealth is health.”

Meaning: Health is the most valuable thing.

Source: This quote is originally from the Roman poet Virgil, who proposed that one’s well-being is essential to human happiness.

9. Quotes About Language Learning

Have you reached a plateau in your language learning and need some inspiration? You’re in the right place!


掌握另一种语言就是拥有第二个灵魂。

Pinyin: Zhǎng wò lìng yī zhǒng yǔ yán jiù shì yōng yǒu dì èr gè líng hún.

Literal translation in English: “To have another language is to possess a second soul.”

Meaning: Learning another language allows you to see the world through new eyes and makes you a more open-minded person. In a sense, it adds depth to who you are.

Source: This is originally from Charlemagne, who was also Emperor of the Romans and united the majority of Western and Central Europe.

语言是这世界上最强大的武器。

Pinyin: Yǔ yán shì zhè shì jiè shang zuì qiáng dà de wǔ qì.

Literal translation in English: “Languages are the most powerful weapon in the world.”

Meaning: Languages can become powerful if used correctly.

Source: Unknown.

10. Quotes About Studying

It can be really hard to sit down and study, we know! Hopefully the following quotes will help you see studying as something beautiful, and not something to be dreaded.

A Woman Reading Book while Standing on a Train

Study hard whenever you can.

读书要眼到、口到、心到、手到、脑到。

Pinyin: Dú shū yào yǎn dào, kǒu dào, xīn dào, shǒu dào, nǎo dào.

Literal translation in English: “While reading a book, it is important to use your eyes, mouth, heart, hands, and brain.”

Meaning: When we read books, it is better to read, speak out loud, understand it with our heart, look up references and make notes, and think about it all at the same time. 

Source: This quote is originally from the famous Chinese writer, poet, and literary critic, Lu Xun.

好好学习,天天向上。

Pinyin: Hǎo hǎo xué xí, tiān tiān xiàng shàng. 

Literal translation in English: “Study hard and move up everyday.”

Meaning: Study hard and try to improve.

Source: This quote is originally from Chairman Mao. 

11. Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed discovering some insightful philosophical ideas from these classic Chinese quotes. Now, contemplate on them; soon enough, you’ll be able to integrate them into your daily Chinese conversations. Whether you warm your loved one’s heart with Chinese love quotes or use Chinese quotes about language learning to motivate yourself, these words of wisdom are sure to benefit your life. 

Of course, ChineseClass101.com always has more resources than you know. The quotes we outlined in this article are only the basics; by exploring our website and clicking on the links provided throughout the article, you can learn so much more Chinese! 

ChineseClass101 will always serve as your beacon during your Chinese language learning journey!

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Chinese Business Phrases: How to Talk Like a Professional

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Whether you’re a student seeking the opportunity to live and work in China, an international company employee who has been transferred to the branch office in China, a specialist who deals with clients or partners in China, or simply a Chinese language enthusiast who’s eager to expand your vocabulary, knowing some essential business phrases in Chinese will benefit you professionally, socially, and financially.

In this article, we’ll present you with fifty common Chinese business phrases and patterns (with examples, key vocabulary, and notes) to use in different business circumstances in China. Be it a job interview, a business meeting, or a chat with coworkers and clients, you’ll be prepared to handle it in smooth business Chinese. 

Now, let’s get down to business!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Business Words and Phrases in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. Nail a Job Interview
  2. Interact with Coworkers
  3. Sound Smart in a Meeting
  4. Handle Business Phone Calls and Emails
  5. Go on a Business Trip
  6. Learn More on ChineseClass101.com

1. Nail a Job Interview

Job Interview

Going to a job interview well-prepared is your first step toward career success. 

Keep in mind that Chinese culture values humbleness and respect toward seniors (those who are older than you or who have more experience). In a job interview, it’s important to show good manners in front of your interviewers and to impress them with solid facts and stats, instead of big, empty words. 

Here are some useful Chinese business phrases that will help you find a job in China:

A- Talking About Yourself 

The following Chinese phrases for business interviews will help you introduce yourself to your interviewer and tell them about your experience. 

1. 您好,我是 ___。/ 我叫 ___。

Pinyin: Nínhǎo, Wǒ shì ___. / Wǒ jiào ___.
Translation: “Hello, I am ___.” / “My name is ___.”

Note: 
您 (nín) is a polite form for “you.” It’s recommended to use 您 (nín) to address your interviewer.

2. 这是我的简历。

Pinyin: Zhè shì wǒ de jiǎnlì.
Translation: “This is my resume.”

Key Vocabulary:

  • 简历 (jiǎnlì) – “resume”

3. 我有过___的经验。

Pinyin: Wǒ yǒuguò ___ de jīngyàn.
Translation: “I have had the experience of ___.”

Key Vocabulary:

  • 经验 (jīngyàn) – “experience” 

Example:
我有过电话推销的经验。(Wǒ yǒuguò diànhuà tuīxiāo de jīngyàn.)
“I’ve had the experience of telemarketing.”

4. 我会___。

Pinyin: Wǒ huì ___.
Translation: “I can ___.”

Example:
我会说汉语和德语。(Wǒ huì shuō Hànyǔ hé Déyǔ.)
“I can speak Chinese and German.”

5. 我擅长___。

Pinyin: Wǒ shàncháng ___.
Translation: “I’m good at ___.”

Example:
我擅长制作表格。(Wǒ shàncháng zhìzuò biǎogé.)
“I’m good at making spreadsheets.”

6. 我曾经获得___。

Pinyin: Wǒ céngjīng huòdé ___.
Translation: “I have been awarded ___.”

Key Vocabulary:

  • 曾经 (céngjīng) – “once”
  • 获得 (huòdé) – “to earn” / “to acquire”

Example:
我曾经获得年度优秀员工的称号。(Wǒ céngjīng huòdé niándù yōuxiù yuángōng de chēnghào.)
“I have been awarded the title of ‘Employee of the Year’.”

B- Polite Phrases

Here are some useful phrases you can use to thank your interviewer, ask questions, and let your interviewer know that you want to keep in touch. 

7. 谢谢您给我面试的机会。

Pinyin: Xièxiè nín gěi wǒ miànshì de jīhuì.
Translation: “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to come in for an interview.”

Key Vocabulary:

  • 机会 (jīhuì) – “opportunity”

Note:
This phrase can be used at the beginning or the end of the interview.

8. 对不起,能再说一遍吗?

Pinyin: Duìbuqǐ, néng zài shuō yí biàn ma?
Translation: “I’m sorry, could you say it again?”

9. 冒昧地问一下___。

Pinyin: Màomèi de wèn yíxià ___. br>
Translation: “Excuse me for asking ___.”

Key Vocabulary:

  • 冒昧 (màomèi) – “presumptuous” 

Example:
冒昧地问一下,这个职位的薪水范畴是多少?(Màomèi de wèn yíxià, zhège zhíwèi de xīnshuǐ fànchóu shì duōshao?)
“Excuse me for asking, but what’s the salary range for this position?”

10. 期待您的答复。

Pinyin: Qīdài nín de dáfù.
Translation: “Look forward to your reply.”

Key Vocabulary:

  • 答复 (dáfù) – “reply” / “response” 

Note: 
This phrase could also be used as an ending phrase in other circumstances, such as in an email.

2. Interact with Coworkers

A Man and Two Women in an Office

Even though your Chinese workers are likely to speak English, it’s still a good idea to make an effort to speak Chinese in the office. It will help you build relationships inside the company and learn both professional skills and the Chinese language quickly. Following are some practical business phrases in Chinese for communicating with your coworkers.

A- Asking for Help

11. 能帮我一下吗?

Pinyin: Néng bāng wǒ yíxià ma?
Translation: “Could you give me a hand?”

12. 这个怎么用?

Pinyin: Zhège zěnme yòng?
Translation: “How do I use this?”

13. 您有空教我一下吗?

Pinyin: Nín yǒukòng jiāo wǒ yíxià ma?
Translation: “Do you have time to show me briefly?”

Key Vocabulary: 

  • 有空 (yǒukòng) – “to have time”

Note: 
So far, we have three phrases ending with 一下 (yíxià), which literally means “a bit.” It’s attached to verbs or verb phrases in colloquial language to soften the command or request.

B- Expressing Gratitude and Giving Compliments

14. 太谢谢你了。

Pinyin: Tài xièxie nǐ le.
Translation: “Thank you so much!”

15. 辛苦了。

Pinyin: Xīnkǔ le.
Translation: “Thank you for working hard.”

Note: 
This is a common but untranslatable phrase used to express gratitude for someone who is working for you. The literal translation is “It was hard work,” but it could also translate as “Thank you for working hard.”

16. 你太厉害了!

Pinyin: Nǐ tài lìhai le!
Translation: “You’re so good!”

Key Vocabulary: 

  • 厉害 (lìhai) – “awesome”

17. 我要多向你学习。

Pinyin: Wǒ yào duō xiàng nǐ xuéxí.
Translation: “I need to learn a lot from you.”

C- Socializing After Work

Asian Woman and Caucasian Man at a Party

18. 下班后有安排吗?

Pinyin: Xiàbān hòu yǒu ānpái ma?
Translation: “Do you have plans after work?”

Key Vocabulary:

  • 安排 (ānpái) – “arrangement” 

19. 我请你___。

Pinyin: Wǒ qǐng nǐ ___.
Translation: “I’ll buy you ___.” / “My treat to have ___.”

Example: 
我请你喝奶茶。(Wǒ qǐng nǐ hē nǎichá.)
“I’ll buy you milk tea.”

20. 我可以搭你的顺风车吗?

Pinyin: Wǒ kěyǐ dā nǐ de shùnfēng chē ma?
Translation: “Can I hitch a ride with you?”

Key Vocabulary: 

  • 顺风车 (shùnfēng chē) – [slang] This is a vehicle that offers a free ride (usually to people the driver knows).

3. Sound Smart in a Meeting

Business Phrases

Meetings are an indispensable part of office life. While they’re often perceived as boring or stressful, they can also be your ticket to promotion. Through meetings, opinions and ideas are shared and discussed, which gives you opportunities to show your talent, hard work, and dedication. 

In conjunction with proper Chinese business meeting etiquette, the following phrases will help you sound smart in front of your supervisors and clients.

A- Expressing Opinions

Giving your opinion on something is a cornerstone of effective business communication. Here are some useful phrases to help you do so. 

21. 我觉得___。

Pinyin: Wǒ juéde ___.
Translation: “I feel/think ___.”

22. 我个人认为___。

Pinyin: Wǒ gèrén rènwéi ___.
Translation: “I personally think/consider ___.”

23. 我同意/不同意这个看法。

Pinyin: Wǒ tóngyì /bù tóngyì zhège kànfǎ.
Translation: “I agree/don’t agree with this view.”

Key Vocabulary: 

  • 看法 (kànfǎ) – “view” / “opinion” 

Making Suggestions
Don’t be afraid to speak up during the business meeting with suggestions!

24. 我建议___。

Pinyin: Wǒ jiànyì ___.
Translation: “I suggest ___.”

25. 要不这样吧___。

Pinyin: Yàobu zhèyàng ba ___.
Translation: “How about this ___.”

Example:
要不这样吧,您先考虑几天。(Yàobu zhèyàng ba, nín xiān kǎolǜ jǐ tiān.)
“How about this, you think about it for a few days.”

B- Making Negotiations

Here are a couple of phrases you’re going to need for Chinese business negotiations.

26. 这个价格我们没办法接受。

Pinyin: Zhège jiàgé wǒmen méi bànfǎ jiēshòu.
Translation: “We can’t accept this price.”

Key Vocabulary: 

  • 没办法 (méi bànfǎ) – “have no way” / “can’t”
  • 接受 (jiēshòu) – “to accept”

27. 如果贵公司愿意___我们就___。

Pinyin: Rúguǒ guì gōngsī yuànyì___wǒmen jiù___.
Translation: “If your company is willing to___we will then___.”

Note:
贵公司 (guì gōngsī) literally means “honorable company,” and it’s an honorific term to refer to the company you’re speaking with.

Key Vocabulary: 

  • 愿意 (yuànyì) – “willing to”
  • 如果……就……(rúguǒ… jiù…) – “if…then…” 

C- Giving Presentations

Have you been asked to present in front of your supervisor, coworkers, or clients? The following phrases will help you give a smooth presentation in Chinese.

28. 请看这个图表。

Pinyin: Qǐngkàn zhège túbiǎo.
Translation: “Please look at this chart.”

29. 我来汇报一下上个月的公司业绩。

Pinyin: Wǒ lái huìbào yīxià shàng ge yuè de gōngsī yèji.
Translation: “Let me give a report on the company’s performance last month.”

Key Vocabulary:

  • 汇报 (huìbào) – “to report”
  • 业绩 (yèji) – “performance” 

30. 请各部门配合我们的工作。

Pinyin: Qǐng gè bùmén pèihé wǒmen de gōngzuò.
Translation: “Each department, please cooperate with us.”

Key Vocabulary:

  • 部门 (bùmén) – “department”
  • 配合 (pèihé) – “to cooperate” 

4. Handle Business Phone Calls and Emails

Black Telephone

Impress your clients and colleagues by using the following phrases when making phone calls and writing emails. 

A- Phone Phrases

31. 你好,我是___ / 这里是___。

Pinyin: Nǐhǎo, wǒ shì ___  / zhèli shì ___.
Translation: “Hello, this/here is ___.”

Note:
Use your name or title after 我是 (wǒ shì), meaning “I am.” Use your office name after 这里是 (zhèli shì), meaning “here is.”

32. 您好,请问是___吗?

Pinyin: Nínhǎo, qǐngwèn shì ___ma?
Translation: “Hello, may I ask if this is ___?”

Key Vocabulary:

  • 请问 (qǐngwèn) – “May I please ask…”

33.  ___在吗?

Pinyin: ___zài ma?
Translation: “Is ___ here?”

Example:
刘主管在吗?(Liú Zhǔguǎn zài ma?)
“Is Director Liu here?”

34. 我是。有什么可以帮你的吗?

Pinyin: Wǒ shì. Yǒu shénme kěyǐ bāng nǐ de ma?
Translation: “Speaking. How can I help you?”

35. 好的,没问题

Pinyin: Hǎo de, méi wèntí.
Translation: “Okay, no problem.”

36. 我们___见。

Pinyin: Wǒmen___jiàn.
Translation: “See you ___.”

Example:
我们下周一见。(Wǒmen xià zhōuyī jiàn.)
“See you next Monday.”

B- Email Phrases

Here are a few business Chinese email phrases you can use when corresponding with colleagues or clients.

37. 尊敬的 ___

Pinyin: Zūnjìng de ___
Translation: “Honorable ___”

Note:
This polite prefix is used to address someone in formal situations.

38. 请注意查收。

Pinyin: Qǐng zhùyì cháchōu.
Translation: “Please check (your inbox for the above-mentioned subject).”

Note:
This is used to remind someone that an important document has been or will be sent soon, so they should be ready to check their inbox.

39. 如有疑问,请随时和我们联系。

Pinyin: Rú yǒu yíwèn, qǐng suíshí hé wǒmen liánxì.
Translation: “If you have any questions, please contact us any time.”

Key Vocabulary:
随时 (suíshí) – “at any time”
联系 (liánxì) – “to contact”

40. 祝好。

Pinyin: Zhù hǎo.
Translation: “Best regards.”

Note:
This is a simple and generic letter ending that is appropriate in both business and casual settings.

5. Go on a Business Trip

Man and Woman at an Airport

Business trips can be exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. Things will go a lot smoother if you know a few essential Chinese business phrases for the trip, especially if you’re traveling to China with colleagues who don’t speak Chinese and rely on your language skills! 

A- Before the Trip

41. 我需要订___

Pinyin: Wǒ xūyào dìng ___.
strong>Translation: “I need to book ___.”

Example:
我需要订三个大床房。(Wǒ xūyào dìng sān ge dàchuáng fáng.)
“I need to book three queen bedrooms.”

Note: 
In China, the most common hotel rooms are:

  • 双床房 (shuāngchuáng fáng) – “double single beds”
  • 大床房 (dàchuáng fáng) – “big bed,” i.e. “queen-size bed” 
  • 套房 (tàofáng) – “suite”

42. 这是我们的行程单, 请过目

Pinyin: Zhè shì wǒmen de xíng chéng dān, qǐng guòmù.
Translation: “This is our itinerary, please have a look.”

Note: 
过目 (guòmù) literally means “to pass one’s eyes,” and it’s a formal way to ask someone to check something. It’s often used with people of higher social status, such as supervisors and clients.

B- During the Trip

43. 你好,我是___公司的___,很高兴认识你。

Pinyin: Nǐhǎo, wǒ shì ___ gōngsī de ___. Hěn gāoxìng rènshi nǐ.
Translation: “Hello, I’m ___ from ___ company. Nice to meet you.”

44. 这是我的名片。

Pinyin: Zhè shì wǒ de míngpiàn.
Translation: “This is my business card.”

Key Vocabulary: 

  • 名片 (míngpiàn) – “business card”

45. 谢谢你们送我们回酒店。

Pinyin: Xièxie nǐmen sòng wǒmen huí jiǔdiàn.
Translation: “Thank you for driving us back to our hotel.”

46. 你好,我有预订,名字是___。

Pinyin: Nǐhǎo, wǒ yǒu yùdìng, míngzi shì ___.
Translation: “Hello, I have a reservation under the name ___.”

Key Vocabulary:

  • 预订 (yùdìng) – “reservation”

47. 明天的会议几点开始?

Pinyin: Míngtiān de huìyì jǐdiǎn kāishǐ?
Translation: “When does tomorrow’s meeting start?”

Key Vocabulary:

  • 会议 (huìyì) – “meeting” / “conference”
  • 几点 (jǐdiǎn) – “(lit.) what o’clock” / “what time”

48. 附近有可以游览的地方吗?

Pinyin: Fùjìn yǒu kěyǐ yóulǎn de dìfang ma?
Translation: “Are there any places that we could tour around in this area?”

Key Vocabulary:

  • 附近 (fùjìn) – “nearby”
  • 游览 (yóulǎn) – “to tour” / “to go sightseeing”

C- At the End of the Trip

49. 感谢各位的热情招待。

Pinyin: Gǎnxiè gèwèi de rèqíng zhāodài.
Translation: “Thank you everyone for your hospitality.”

Key Vocabulary:
热情 (rèqíng) – “warm” / “cordial”
招待 (zhāodài) – “hospitality”

50. 我们合作得很愉快,期待下次再见。

Pinyin: Wǒmen hézuò de hěn yúkuài, qīdài xiàcì zàijiàn.
Translation: “It was pleasant working with you, hope to see you again.”

Key Vocabulary:
愉快 (yúkuài) – “pleasant”
期待 (qīdài) – “to look forward to”

Jobs

6. Learn More on ChineseClass101.com

Did we cover all the business phrases you wanted to learn in this article? If you’d like to learn more, check out our Business Chinese for Beginners lesson series and learn more business phrases with audio, downloadable lesson notes, and question-answering from our certified teachers. 

Remember: On ChineseClass101.com, we have weekly updated learning resources in various forms, from flashcards, to vocabulary lists, to podcasts, and even to video lessons. You can choose whatever works for you! 

Need to boost your Chinese in a short amount of time for your next business meeting in China? No problem! Check out our Premium PLUS subscription to get customized learning paths and one-on-one instruction from your own personal teacher.

Happy learning! 

About the author: Influenced by her grandfather, Yinru has shown interest in languages and teaching since early childhood. After getting her degrees in English and Education, Yinru moved to the US and continued her career as a Mandarin teacher. 

Yinru enjoys travelling, photography, and introducing Chinese food to her non-Chinese friends.

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