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How to Apologize in Chinese like a Native

If you’ve just started learning Chinese, you may have wondered at some point, “How do I say sorry in Chinese?” Indeed, it’s vital to learn how to say sorry in Chinese culture, and any culture for that matter. We’re all human, and we all tend to make mistakes in the long journey of life, both small and large, and a fitting apology is almost always desired afterwards. This is when we need to say the “magic word” to make everything right again. Apologizing is the key to harmony in a relationship, as it can help you move past many unnecessary conflicts and misunderstandings.

There are different ways of how to say sorry in the Chinese language. As a language learner who just set sail for Chinese, this article will help you get a sense of the unique way native Chinese people apologize. After you master the art of apologizing in Chinese with this article, you’ll never have to worry about not knowing what to say when you make forgivable mistakes! What are you waiting for? Let’s delve into how to give an apology in Chinese Mandarin. Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet - How to Improve Your Chinese Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

  1. The Most Important Apologizing Words
  2. How to Take the Blame
  3. Expressions for Formal and Business Situations
  4. Condolences
  5. Other Expressions
  6. How to respond
  7. Conclusion

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1. The Most Important Apologizing Words

First things first! Here are some of the most common ways to apologize in Chinese, with some grammar explanations to make things clearer for you. This includes how to say “sorry” and “excuse me” in Chinese, which are two phrases you definitely will want to know!

  • In Chinese: 对不起。
    Pinyin: dui bu qǐ
    In English: Sorry

The origin of this phrase is very interesting. Ancient Chinese people liked to showcase their knowledge by using couplets, which is a traditional form of art in the Chinese language. However, it’s often difficult to complete the pair. So, in order to express that they weren’t as knowledgeable as the person they were speaking to, people would say 对不起, which meant they weren’t able to complete the couplet. Later, it spread and become a popular way to apologize.

Now, you can use 对不起 for a simple sincere apology. But keep in mind that it also indicates that you owe someone for what you did, so be careful when you use it, as it can be seen as a strong word. It’s best suited for an occasion where you feel the need to own up to your mistake and desire forgiveness in return. To make it even more formal, you can add the subjective and objective, such as in: 我对不起你 (wǒ duì bu qǐ nǐ), meaning “I am sorry to you.”

  • In Chinese: 抱歉。
    Pinyin: bào qiàn
    In English: I am sorry (I hold my apology).

Compared to 对不起, 抱歉 is a lighter way to say I’m sorry in Chinese than the degree of apology that 对不起 entails. If there’s something you strongly feel sorry about and you feel desperate to express your apology, don’t use 抱歉 as it’s not sufficient to express your emotion in this context. 抱 literally means “hold,” and 歉 means “apology.” The whole word conveys a sense of guilt and regret, so if you ever feel bad about something and want to express it, this word is a good fit.

  • In Chinese: 不好意思。
    Pinyin: bù hǎo yì sī
    In English: Excuse me.

The literal meaning of 不好意思 is “feeling embarrassed or shy,” which indicates an even lighter degree of apology compared to 抱歉. For things that aren’t as significant or that you don’t personally feel extremely bad about, feel free to use this phrase to politely show your apology for the little inconvenience you caused, such as being late.

Sometimes Chinese people also use it for expressing their shy or awkward feelings. For example, when people feel too flattered and thus are embarrassed by a compliment, they might say 你说的我都不好意思了(nǐ shuō de wǒ dōu bù hǎo yì sī le), meaning “You are making me feel embarrassed.”

Additional note: You can also add 真 before any of the three phrases above. It means “really,” which adds a sincerity to the apology.

2. How to Take the Blame

  • In Chinese: 我错了。
    Pinyin: wǒ cuò le
    In English: It is my fault.

This can be used both seriously and casually. In a serious situation, it emphasizes the fact that you’re willing to admit your mistakes. You can also repeat it to comfort someone who’s unsatisfied or irritated by something trivial you did, usually with people you’re close with.

  • In Chinese: 是我不好。
    Pinyin: shì wǒ bù hǎo
    In English: It is my bad.

You can bravely admit your mistake by saying this. This is a neutral expression as well, which suits both serious and casual situations. You may want to add 原谅我吧 (yuán liàng wǒ ba), meaning “please forgive me,” right after to make your apology sound more genuine.

  • In Chinese: 责任全在我/是我的责任。
    Pinyin: zé rèn quán zài wǒ /shì wǒ de zé rèn
    In English: All the responsibility lies on me/It is all my responsibility.

This is a powerful expression for owning up to all the responsibility for something you’ve done. Essentially, this puts all of the blame on yourself.

  • In Chinese: 要怪就怪我吧。
    Pinyin: yào guài jiù guài wǒ ba
    In English: If you have to blame someone, blame me.

If there’s an embarrassing situation where someone has to own up to his/her mistake for the sake of a group, and you want to be the one who takes the fall, this is the right phrase to use. Usually, you need to add some good explanation right after in order to support the reason why you should be the one to take the blame. It’s sometimes good to be the one who admits the mistake, because everyone else may dearly appreciate your sacrifice for turning the embarrassment into a better atmosphere.

3. Expressions for Formal and Business Situations

3 Ways to Say Sorry

You’ll find this section extremely helpful and relevant if you’ve ever wondered how to say phrases like “Sorry I’m late,” in Chinese. Let’s take a look at the most common formal and business Chinese apologies.

  • In Chinese: 抱歉/不好意思/对不起,麻烦你了。
    Pinyin: bào qiàn / bù hǎo yì sī / duì bu qǐmá fán nǐ le
    In English: I am sorry to trouble you.
  • In Chinese: 抱歉/不好意思/对不起,我今天不能去了。
    Pinyin: bào qiàn / bù hǎo yì sī / duì bu qǐ, wǒ jīn tiān bú néng qù le
    In English: I am sorry that I won’t make it today.
  • In Chinese: 抱歉/不好意思/对不起,我要先走一步。
    Pinyin: bào qiàn / bù hǎo yì sī / duì bu qǐ, wǒ yào xiān zǒu yī bù
    In English: Sorry, I have to go.
  • In Chinese: 抱歉/不好意思/对不起,我来晚了。
    Pinyin: bào qiàn / bù hǎo yì sī / duì bu qǐ, wǒ lái wǎn le
    In English: Sorry that I am late.
  • In Chinese: 不好意思/抱歉,借过一下可以吗?
    Pinyin: bú hǎo yì sī / bào qiàn,jiè guò yī xià kě yǐ ma
    In English: Sorry, do you mind stepping aside?

For the phrases mentioned above, you can use different forms of “sorry” depending on the degree of importance regarding the specific event, and the part after the comma conveys different situations. Please feel free to substitute the phrase, keeping in mind that 对不起 indicates the strongest degree of apology, and 抱歉 is the second strongest one. 不好意思 indicates the least degree of apology of the three. You can always add some additional explanation after saying sorry, to make your situation more clear so that people can better understand your apology.

  • In Chinese: 打扰一下,请问发生什么了?
    Pinyin: dǎ rǎo yī xià, qǐng wèn fā shēng shén me le
    In English: Excuse me, what happened?

Although “Excuse me” in English indicates a sorry feeling, in Chinese it literally means “allow me to disturb you,” where 打扰 means “to disturb.”

4. Condolences

  • In Chinese: 很抱歉听到这个消息。
    Pinyin: hěn bào qiàn tīng dào zhè gè xiāo xī
    In English: I am sorry to hear that.

When learning how to say “I am sorry to hear that” in Chinese, you can now entail what we learned earlier. 抱歉, in this sentence, is used to express some specific event that you feel sorry about. You can also substitute 听到这个消息 meaning “to hear the news,” with many other things that you want to express your sadness about. This also goes for “I am sorry that…”.

  • In Chinese: 节哀顺变。
    Pinyin: jiē āi shùn biàn
    In English: I am so sorry for your loss.

Learning how to say “sorry for your loss” in Chinese may be one of the most important phrases you can master, and can be the difference between clearly expressing your sorrow for a loved one—or failing to. This is an old traditional phrase for comforting people who lost someone dear to them. 节哀 means “repress sadness,” and 顺变 means “let go of the accident and change.”

5. Other Expressions

Ways to Say Sorry

  • In Chinese: 我向你赔礼道歉。
    Pinyin: wǒ xiàng nǐ péi lǐ dào qiàn
    In English: Let me apologize to you.

赔礼 represents the action of compensating a formality for apologizing, which suggests a serious situation. When you use it, it may require some physical performance to fully express the apology, such as a bow or treating the person to a meal.

  • In Chinese: 你能原谅我吗?
    Pinyin: nǐ néng yuán liàng wǒ ma
    In English: Will you forgive me?

This phrase conveys a powerful desire for forgiveness, which is usually used for a fault that’s caused by a very serious condition.

  • In Chinese: 你别生气啊。
    Pinyin: nǐ bié shēng qì a
    In English: Don’t be mad.

This can be used for both serious and casual occasions when apologizing. Whenever a sentence-final interjection such as 啊 is included, the sentence is usually not as formal or serious, and indicates a softer expression.

  • In Chinese: 我不是故意的。
    Pinyin: wǒ bú shì gù yì de
    In English: I didn’t do it on purpose.

You can definitely use this phrase for self-defense for an act you didn’t intentionally commit. It’s usually added right after a “sorry” phrase.

  • In Chinese: 你别怪我啊。
    Pinyin: nǐ bié guài wǒ a
    In English: Please don’t blame me.

怪 can mean different things depending on the situation. For example, for an adjective it can mean “weird” or “strange.” Please keep in mind that it’s used as a verb meaning “blame” here.

6. How to respond

  • In Chinese: 没关系。
    Pinyin: méi guān xi
    In English: It’s fine.
  • In Chinese: 没事。
    Pinyin: méi shì
    In English: It’s okay.
  • In Chinese: 没什么大不了的。
    Pinyin: méi shén me dà bú liǎo de
    In English: It is no big deal.
  • In Chinese: 这有什么的。
    Pinyin: zhè yǒu shén me de
    In English: That is nothing.
  • In Chinese: 别放在心上。
    Pinyin: bié fàng zài xīn shàng
    In English: Don’t mind it.

7. Conclusion

Are you gaining more confidence after learning all the expressions along with the explicit explanations provided? It’s not as difficult as you thought, as long as you come to the right teacher and source to study Chinese!

Fortunately, here at, you can find just this. Here, you’ll be able to obtain a delightful learning experience and acquire the best resources to help you speak Chinese like a native. What are you waiting for? Come visit us right now!

In the meantime, be sure to continue practicing these various ways of how to say “I am sorry” in the Chinese language. You’ll get the hang of it in no time!

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The Chinese Double Ninth Festival

Each year, the Chinese celebrate the age-old Double Ninth Festival, which is sometimes referred to as the Chongyang Festival or Senior Day. Few Chinese holidays reach as far back into history as this one does, with origins in the Han Dynasty. Further, the Double Ninth Festival reflects many of the values and beliefs most dear to the Chinese people, such as respect for ancestors and the elderly.

In this article, you’ll learn all about the Double Ninth Festival in Chinese culture, including its most notable traditions. As any successful language-learner can tell you, understanding a country’s culture is a vital step in mastering the language. And at, we hope to make every aspect of your language-learning journey both fun and informative, including this one!

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1. What is the Double Ninth Festival?

The Double Ninth Festival (Chongyang) originated from ancient times, as early as the Han Dynasty, when people celebrated the autumn harvest for the year. Essentially, the Double Ninth Festival is a day for Chinese people to avoid bad luck (we’ll explain how later) and to show respect and honor toward one’s ancestors.

According to the Double Ninth Festival story, there was once a man who was warned about danger to his village. He listened to the warning, escaped into the mountains, and thus survived the village catastrophe. This explains the focus on ascending heights to avoid ill fortune.

2. When is the Double Ninth Festival?

Ninth Day of Ninth Lunar Month

The date of Double Ninth Day is on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, hence its name. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2019: October 7
  • 2020: October 25
  • 2021: October 14
  • 2022: October 4
  • 2023: October 23
  • 2024: October 11
  • 2025: October 29
  • 2026: October 18
  • 2027: October 8
  • 2028: October 26

3. Double Ninth Festival Celebrations & Traditions

During the crisp autumn days, what interesting celebrations do people hold? Well, Double Ninth Festival traditions are many.

Traditionally, the customs of the Double Ninth Festival include ascending heights, enjoying chrysanthemums, and drinking. “Ascending heights” is an elegant way to say hiking. In many northern areas, autumn is the best time to be outdoors, with clear skies and crisp air. Hence, many people choose to go out, hike, and enjoy the views.

At the Double Ninth Festival, people not only ascend heights, but also eat Chongyang cake. In Chinese, “cake” (gao) is a homonym of “height” (gao), which has an auspicious sense of rising step-by-step.

The chrysanthemum symbolizes longevity and is one of the most popular flowers in China. There has long been a tradition of enjoying chrysanthemums at the Double Ninth Festival. Hence, the Double Ninth Festival is also called the Chrysanthemum Festival. In fact, the whole ninth lunar month is the month of chrysanthemums. Many flower markets and botanical gardens hold chrysanthemum exhibitions one after another, attracting tourists to enjoy and take photos.

At the Double Ninth Festival, people drink chrysanthemum wine, which is made from chrysanthemums and glutinous rice. It’s said that chrysanthemum wine can protect eyesight and prevent aging. If you like drinking, you may want to try it.

In recent years, the Double Ninth Festival has also been called the Elderly Festival since, in Chinese, “nine” is a homonym of “long,” which represents long life. Thus, people usually commemorate their ancestors or organize activities to show respect to the elderly on this day. For example, many primary schools and middle schools take students to work as volunteers in nursing homes, and some medical centers also offer free health consultations to the elderly.

4. Why is it Called Chongyang?


Why do we call Double Ninth Day Chongyang in Chinese?

In ancient China, numbers were subdivided into two opposing types: Yin (feminine) and Yang (masculine). Since nine is a Yang number and the ninth day of the ninth lunar month has two Yang numbers, it is called Chong (double) Yang.

5. Essential Vocabulary for the Double Ninth Festival

Chrysanthemum Flower

Here’s the essential vocabulary you need to know for the Chinese Double Ninth Festival!

  • 菊花 (júhuā) — chrysanthemum
  • 登高 (dēnggāo) — climb a mountain
  • 郊游 (jiāoyóu) — picnic
  • 风筝 (fēngzhēng) — kite
  • 香 (xiāng) — incense
  • 菊花酒 (júhuā jiǔ) — chrysanthemum wine
  • 重阳糕 (Chóngyáng gāo) — Chung Yeung rice cake
  • 久 (jiǔ) — long time
  • 祭祖 (jìzǔ) — pay respect at ancestors’ grave
  • 九月九 (jiǔyuè jiǔ) — the ninth day of the ninth lunar month
  • 重阳节 (Chóngyáng jié) — Double Ninth Festival

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and accompanied by relevant images, check out our Double Ninth Festival vocabulary list!

How ChineseClass101 Can Help You Master Chinese

What are your thoughts on the Double Ninth Festival in China? Is there any similar holiday in your country? Let us know in the comments; we always look forward to hearing from you.

To continue learning about Chinese culture and the language, explore We provide an array of fun and effective learning tools for every learner, at every level:

  • Insightful blog posts on an array of cultural and language-related topics
  • Free vocabulary lists covering a range of topics and themes
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  • Mobile apps to learn Chinese anywhere, on your own time
  • Much, much more!

If you’re interested in a more personalized, one-on-one approach to language-learning, be sure to upgrade to Premium Plus. Doing so will give you access to your own Chinese teacher who will help you develop a learning plan tailored to your needs and goals. Yes, really!

Learning Chinese is no easy feat, but your hard work and determination will pay off in the long run. And ChineseClass101 will be here to help you on each step of your language-learning journey!

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Celebrating the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is the second-most important festival in Chinese culture. This holiday is special, and particularly close to the hearts of Chinese people, because of its emotional connotations. The Mid-Autumn Festival represents thankfulness and unity among loved ones, something that even family or friends far away can experience as they look up at the same full moon.

In this article, you’ll learn about the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival and the traditions associated with it. In learning about this significant Chinese holiday, you’ll gain much insight into Chinese culture—and this is an essential step in mastering the language.

At, we hope to make every aspect of your language-learning journey both fun and informative. So let’s get started!

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1. What is Mid-Autumn Festival in Chinese Culture?

To Chinese people, the Mid-Autumn Festival is second in importance to the Spring Festival. Just like during Thanksgiving in the U.S., young people who normally leave their families to make a living and work hard will return home for a gathering with their relatives. Essentially, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a time of thanksgiving and togetherness with loved ones, which is done through gazing at the full moon.

Moon appreciation is an activity with a special emotional significance to Chinese people, especially those with relatives or significant others who live far away. When they look at the same bright moon, they associate their mutual longing for each other with it. This is a unique expression of Eastern romantic emotions.

Further, there’s a Mid-Autumn Festival story about the archer Hou Yi and his wife Chang’e, who the Emperor of Heaven sent to destroy excess suns to end the people’s suffering. Hongkongers, in particular, find much meaning in this story on the Mid-Autumn Festival.

2. When is Mid-Autumn Festival?

A Full Moon

The date of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival varies each year on the Gregorian calendar, as it takes place on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. For your convenience, we’ve composed a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2019: September 13
  • 2020: October 1
  • 2021: September 21
  • 2022: September 10
  • 2023: September 29
  • 2024: September 17
  • 2025: October 6
  • 2026: September 25
  • 2027: September 15
  • 2028: October 3

3. How is it Celebrated?

Festival Dragon

The day before the Mid-Autumn Festival, every big city experiences citywide traffic jams because everyone is busy visiting friends to give them mooncakes, the most popular Mid-Autumn Festival food. The traditional flavors of mooncakes are egg yolk and lotus paste; they’re soft and crumbly, and taste sweet. Mooncakes are round to represent reunion, so people exchange mooncakes to convey their wishes for family harmony and wholeness.

As the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar is at the end of fall, it often coincides with National Day, which falls on November 1. Whenever this happens, the government will arrange for a seven- or eight-day public holiday.

To take advantage of this long holiday, more and more working-class people choose to drive out of town to a holiday villa in the countryside for a few days of vacation. Breathing the fresh air in nature while appreciating the moon and eating mooncakes is lots of fun.

In some places, children will enjoy carrying around Mid-Autumn Festival lanterns, shaped like favorite cartoon characters.

4. Special Moon Idioms

Chinese people associate special feelings with the moon, and especially like to use the moon to describe their feelings and emotions.

Let me introduce a four-word idiom that has to do with the moon: 花好月圆. It means that the flowers are good, and the moon is also round. In other words, life is beautiful and fulfilling. Chinese people use this idiom to congratulate newly-married couples, or during a housewarming.

Another Chinese saying goes, “The moon of the fifteenth, the roundness of the sixteenth,” which means that the moon on the fifteenth of the lunar month may not be as round as that on the sixteenth. This means that our life may be better tomorrow, so we should look forward to tomorrow with a positive attitude.

5. Vocabulary You Should Know for the Mid-Autumn Festival

Snowy Mooncakes

Here’s some vocabulary you need to know for the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival!

  • 满月 (mǎnyuè) — full moon
  • 蛋黄 (dànhuáng) — egg yolk
  • 月饼 (yuèbǐng) — moon cake
  • 月兔 (yuètù) — Moon Rabbit
  • 嫦娥 (cháng’é) — Chang’e
  • 后羿 (Hòu Yì) — Houyi
  • 灯笼 (dēnglong) — lantern
  • 莲蓉 (liánróng) — lotus seed paste
  • 赏月 (shǎng yuè) — moon watching
  • 冰皮月饼 (bīngpí yuèbǐng) — snowy mooncake
  • 中秋节 (Zhōngqiū Jié) — Mid-Autumn Festival

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival vocabulary list!

How ChineseClass101 Can Help You Delve into Chinese Culture

We hope you enjoyed learning about the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival with us! Do you have any astrology-related holidays in your own country? Let us know in the comments!

To continue learning about Chinese culture and studying the language, explore We provide an array of fun and effective learning tools for every learner, at every level:

  • Insightful blog posts on a variety of cultural and language-related topics
  • Free vocabulary lists covering a range of topics and themes
  • Podcasts to improve your listening and pronunciation skills
  • Mobile apps so you can learn Chinese anywhere, on your own time
  • Much, much more!

If you’re interested in a more personalized, one-on-one approach to learning Chinese, be sure to upgrade to Premium Plus! Doing so will give you access to your own Chinese tutor who will help you develop a learning plan based on your needs and goals. Yes, really!

Chinese isn’t an easy language to tackle, but your hard work and determination will pay off. You’ll be speaking, writing, and reading Chinese like a native before you know it, and ChineseClass101 will be here with you for each step of your journey to language mastery!

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

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Use Your Body Gestures to Communicate in Chinese


When you’re engaged in a conversation, body gestures play a great role in conveying your message. A lot can be integrated into your body language. With well-performed body gestures along with verbal language, individuals’ communication can be way more efficient and delightful.

Due to the differences between cultures, the rules for body gestures can vary. China, with a rich and strong history, refers to this as 礼仪之邦 (lǐ yí zhī bāng), meaning a state of ceremonies. As the very crutch of Chinese language, Chinese gestures and body language in Chinese culture hold much importance. If you want to communicate and express yourself more vividly and properly, here’s a guide to open your eyes to Chinese culture and its body gestures! Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet - How to Improve Your Chinese Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

  1. Body Gestures for Greeting
  2. How to Express Numbers
  3. Special Body Gestures
  4. Popular Informal Body Gestures for Fun
  5. Conclusion

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1. Body Gestures for Greeting

Chinese Hand Gestures

In China, body language and gestures are commonly used to express friendly greetings in both formal and casual environments. Here’s a quick guide, though these are mostly self-explanatory and common in other cultures and regions.

1- Nod

Nodding is one of the easiest ways to greet someone. It’s often used with people you’re not very familiar with, in formal business occasions, or when you don’t have time to talk. You can just simply nod with a smile to the person you wish to greet.

2- Shake Hands

Hand Shake

Shaking hands is a vital body gesture for showing courtesy and friendliness in Chinese culture. It shows a good measure of politeness and respect. You can use this gesture either in a formal business occasion or at a casual party to make some new friends.

3- Wave Hands

Woman Waving Hand

Similar to Western culture, waving hands when saying goodbye or hello is very common in China as well. It’s more likely to be used between close friends or people your age.

2. How to Express Numbers

Similar to in other cultures, Chinese body signs and hand movements are often used to express numbers. Learn more about this aspect of Chinese body language and gestures here.

1- One through Five

  • In Chinese: 一
    In English: One
  • One Finger

  • In Chinese: 二
    Pinyin: èr
    In English: Two
  • In Chinese: 三
    Pinyin: sān
    In English: Three

There are two ways of doing three depending on personal habits. One way looks like an OK gesture where thumb and index finger form a ring, and the other three fingers point up straight. There other is to simply stick out three fingers.

Three Fingers

  • In Chinese: 四
    In English: Four
  • Four Fingers

  • In Chinese: 五
    In English: Five

Five Fingers

As you can see, in Chinese number gestures from one to five, the hand gestures are nearly identical to those in western countries. The number of your fingers that you stretch out literally represents the number you’re suggesting. These hand gestures aren’t difficult to master, right? Now, are you ready for more of a number challenge?

2- Six through Ten

  • In Chinese: 六
    Pinyin: liù
    In English: Six

For numbers from six to nine, the explanations for the gestures are controversial. Some say that the gestures mimic the writing. Six and eight mimic their Chinese characters, 六 and 八 respectively. If you do the gesture and then keep it upside down, can you see that the shape looks just like the character? And gestures for seven and nine mimic the shape of 7 and 9.

Six Gesture

  • In Chinese: 七
    In English: Seven

Seven Gesture

For numbers six and seven, the reason why the finger is presented like this is very easy to understand: The thumb represents the number “five.” Now you can see how the fingers are added to become the number represented.

  • In Chinese: 八
    In English: Eight

Eight Gesture

The meaning for this gesture is a little controversial. An easy and commonly accepted way to explain this is that 八 looks like how the fingers are positioned. However, it can mean different numbers in different regions. For example, in Taiwan, it means seven.

  • In Chinese: 九
    Pinyin: jiǔ
    In English: Nine

Nine Gesture

Ten minus one equals nine, and that’s what the curved index finger represents, meaning one less than ten.

  • In Chinese: 十
    Pinyin: shí
    In English: Ten

Ten Gesture

There are various ways of doing ten. One common way is to use index fingers from both hands to form a cross. This is a way to mimic its Chinese character 十, which looks like a cross. Another way is to hold a fist, which looks like a rock, and it means 石(shí) in Chinese. This pronunciation is the same as 十 (shí), so when a Chinese person sees a fist, it’s not hard to imagine the number ten. Feel free to choose whatever that makes you feel comfortable.

These Chinese hand gestures are probably quite different from what you know (sometimes they can even be different between various regions in China!). It might take some time for you to memorize it all, but don’t worry! Just try to understand how they’re represented, as this will help you absorb the gestures more quickly!

3. Special Body Gestures

Chinese gesturing also includes a few special body gestures that you should know before your trip to China! Here are a few of them.

1- How to Point to Yourself

In Chinese culture, when you’re relating something to yourself, you may point to your own nose with your index finger. The meaning of this is completely different from its meaning in Western culture, where it may be considered rude to do so. However, remember to avoid pointing your finger to other people’s nose. It’s perfectly fine for yourself, but when referring to others, you may want to use your whole palm instead to show full respect.

2- Hug People Carefully

When it comes to hugging, Chinese people might be a bit reserved. In Western culture, it’s perfectly normal to hug someone when greeting, even someone you barely know. As for Chinese greetings, Chinese people cannot accept such closeness. If it’s not someone you’re extremely close with or it’s not a very special occasion on which to show affection, remember to avoid hugging! This Chinese gesture may be considered rude. You may just want to offer a handshake instead.

People Hugging

3- “Come Here” Gesture

When you want to summon someone to come to you, as commonly known in Western culture, you usually make this sign with your palm facing up. This is slightly different in China. Chinese people are accustomed to making their palm face down while summoning people.

Anyhow, this is usually for people who are younger than you, kids, your employees, taxis, or waiters. For peers or your elders, this may be considered inappropriate and perceived as a lack of respect. You may instead want to politely invite them over with your arm suggesting the direction, or with a proper bow.

Come Here Gesture

4. Popular Informal Body Gestures for Fun

Chinese nonverbal communication can go way beyond simple greetings and formalities—they can even be fun! Here are a few Chinese gestures and signs that have gained popularity in Chinese culture for being convenient and even cute! You’ll fit right in with your Chinese surroundings once you get the hang of these.

1- Make a Little Heart

Using your thumb and index finger to form a little heart has recently become an incredibly popular gesture in Asia because of how adorable it looks. Many celebrities are starting to do it as well to show their love for their fans. If you have a close Chinese friend (or are someday able to meet the celebrity of your dreams!) and you want to show how much you appreciate him/her, this is undoubtedly a pleasant way to do so!

2- Make “Okay” with Your Fingers

Similar to in Western culture, you can certainly indicate “OK” with your fingers since the English phrase “Okay” (along with many other simple English phrases) have been integrated internationally and are now a part of Chinese people’s daily lives.

OK Sign

3- Fist and Palm Gesture

This is a Chinese tradition meaning “wish you good fortune.” It may feel strange at first, but as you practice more and get used to it, it will become very fun and natural to do! Chinese people usually do it during New Years, especially young people; they do it to elders to show their respect and good wishes. If you show this gesture to elders during a Chinese New Year celebration, you might want to add 给您拜年了! (gěi nín bài nián le), which is a way to say “wish you a happy new year” in Chinese.

Fist and Palm Gesture

4- Typical Peace Sign for Taking Pictures

If there’s one pose that everyone uses at least once in their life for a picture, it’s the “peace” sign. However, Chinese people use it quite differently than some Western people. In Chinese culture, they like to show the side of their palm to the camera while taking a picture. Further, girls like to put the “peace” sign close to their face or even directly point it to their face.

Peace Signs

5- Pinky Promise

In many cultures, a pinky promise means an agreement. Many friends and couples like to make promises to each other in this way, and many Chinese people think it’s a lovely way to make a promise. One thing to remember is that this is not seen as a formal agreement in Chinese culture, so be sure not to use it for an official contract or anything like that.

5. Conclusion

Did you have fun learning common body gestures in China? Is your desire for learning more interesting Chinese culture aroused? If you wish to learn more about Chinese people and their culture beyond what we already introduced above, just come to to embrace all kinds of sources regarding learning the Chinese language and its culture!

In the meantime, why not practice these body gestures to learn Chinese more effectively (and with a lot more flair)? Best wishes for your Chinese learning endeavors! Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet - How to Improve Your Chinese Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

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The Hungry Ghost Festival in Chinese Culture

Of China’s three ghost-related festivals, the Hungry Ghost Festival is the most important. The Hungry Ghost Festival, Chinese culture dictates, is when people worship and show great respect to the dead. The Chinese believe that on this day, the gates of hell are open, allowing the spirits of dead ancestors to roam the earth until the gates shut again.

Learn about the Chinese Ghost Festival with and gain a greater understanding of Chinese culture as a whole. Immersing yourself in a country’s culture is the most effective way of mastering its language, and we hope to make it both fun and informative!

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1. What is the Ghost Festival in China

The Chinese Ghost Festival, like its Qingming (or Tomb Sweeping Day) holiday, is a ghost-related holiday and one of great cultural significance. The old saying, according to the Hungry Ghost Festival origin, is that on this day, ghosts return from the underworld and wander on the earth.

Hence, people worship their ancestors through Hungry Ghost Festival offerings to drive evil away and have their families blessed.

2. When is the Chinese Ghost Festival?

Souls Wandering in Moonlight

The date of the Ghost Festival varies each year on the Gregorian calendar. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2019: August 15
  • 2020: September 2
  • 2021: August 21
  • 2022: August 12
  • 2023: August 30
  • 2024: August 17
  • 2025: September 6
  • 2026: August 27
  • 2027: August 16
  • 2028: September 2

3. Chinese Ghost Festival Traditions & Customs

Someone Lighting Candles

On this day, people give steamed buns to those deceased family members who they believe have lost their connections, to keep their hunger at bay on their way to the underworld. There is also a custom of illuminating lights during the Ghost Festival, to send ghosts off and guide them back to the underworld. It sounds a little creepy, right?

Worshiping ancestors during the Ghost Festival is slightly different from Tomb Sweeping Day. First, people worship at noon. Usually, they prepare a full table of delicious dishes; the good Ghost Festival food shows the ghosts that they are living a happy life, and their ancestors don’t need to worry about them. Families with elderly people will pay more attention to details such as arranging seven pairs of chopsticks, seven wine glasses, and a carved wooden fruit box, in order to show respect to their ancestors.

There is a Chinese saying that “ghosts won’t knock at the doors of those with a good conscience,” meaning that evil won’t come if a person doesn’t do bad things; it will go away instead.

4. Traditional Taboos

During the Hungry Ghost Festival, there are two things that you’d better not do.

To avoid running into ghosts, people believed in ancient times that moving to new houses and marrying should be avoided throughout the ghost month.

Essentially, any important or life-altering events/actions should be avoided during this holiday, as hungry ghosts could easily make a mess of things.

Other taboos include:

  • You shouldn’t go out at midnight as this increases your chance of running into ghosts.
  • You shouldn’t wear red cord accessories.
  • You shouldn’t bring bells.
  • You shouldn’t hang and dry clothes.
  • You shouldn’t pick money up off the street.

5. Useful Vocabulary for the Chinese Ghost Festival

Burning Incense

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for the Chinese Ghost Festival!

  • 祖先 (zǔxiān) — ancestor
  • 纸钱 (zhǐqián) — Joss paper
  • 中元节 (Zhōngyuán Jié) — Ghost Festival
  • 烧香 (shāoxiāng) — burn incense
  • 孝 (xiào) — filial piety
  • 祭奠死者 (jìdiàn sǐzhě) — hold a memorial ceremony for the deceased
  • 纸扎祭品 (zhǐzhā jìpǐn) — varieties of paper items burned for the deceased
  • 游魂 (yóuhún) — wandering soul
  • 素食 (sùshí) — vegetarian meal
  • 阎罗王 (Yán Luó Wáng) — Yama
  • 祭祀 (jìsì) — sacrificial offering

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Chinese Ghost Festival vocabulary list!

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“Lol” in Chinese & More: Chinese Slang for the Internet

Do you have a social media account? Do you want to trigger an interesting conversation with friends online? As the Internet has become an essential part of human life in modern society, I believe most of you will say yes.

Chinese people are one of the most active groups on social media, and it requires some skills to talk to them online. For example, what’s “lol” in Chinese? Being able to properly use 网络流行语 (wǎng luò liú xíng yǔ), or popular Internet slangs in Chinese, can be entertaining and can help to build a closer relationship between individuals online.

Chinese people also like to use many stickers and GIFs, which are known as 表情包 (biǎo qíng bāo), to show their emotions in a vivid way. Further, they’re passionate about developing Chinese Internet slangs.

Of course, it’s not at all difficult to make your Internet experience full of fun in Chinese, as long as you master some of the popular Chinese words and slang with!

Table of Contents

  1. Common Chinese Social Media
  2. Common Chinese Number Slangs and Letters
  3. Common Words
  4. Popular Slang Sentences
  5. Conclusion

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1. Common Chinese Social Media

The First Thing To Do is Start Off with the Right Social Media!

  • Wechat

    This is the most popular social media that Chinese people use. If you want to build a long-term relationship with someone, one of the first things you’ll ask is: “May I have your Wechat?” Wechat has become a part of Chinese people’s life, and in China, you’ll see Chinese people check their Wechat on a daily basis. Be aware that it’s a rather private social media; make sure that you’re eligible enough to ask for someone’s Wechat before you actually do.

  • Weibo

    Weibo is much like Twitter. It’s a rather public social media, where many celebrities post and interact with fans on a follower-based social media. If you ever want to initiate some word-of-mouth to have a fan-base, Weibo is a good place to start. Of course, you can also use it as a public version of “Wechat” to post as many things as you like.

  • QQ

    QQ is another popular social media where you can post and chat with your friends. It also offers services like listening to music, playing social games, microblogging, and more.

  • TikKok (Douyin)

    TikKok has only become popular in China recently. It’s known as 抖音 (dǒu yīn) in Chinese, and is a place where you can create and share your videos. Many celebrities also use it for broadcasting.

Ready to learn Chinese internet slang? Without further ado, here’s our Chinese internet slang list and guide to Chinese slang!

2. Common Chinese Number Slangs and Letters

Let’s start off our list of Chinese words and slang, with number and letter slang. These Chinese characters and slang expressions are commonly used and are perfect to add to your arsenal as you learn Chinese slang!

1- 666

Meaning: Used to compliment people who are good at something.

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 今天游戏你打的可真棒啊,666!
Pinyin: Jīn tiān yóu xì nǐ dǎ de kě zhēn bàng a, liù liù liù!
In English: Today you did so good on the game, excellent!

Additional notes: This Chinese slang is originally from 溜溜溜 (liù liù liù) and 牛牛牛 (niú niú niú), which means “excellent” in Chinese, and the number six has the same (or similar) pronunciation as the word. That’s why people now simply use 666 as a compliment.

2- 520

Do You Know That You Can Actually Express Your Love With Numbers?

Meaning: I love you.

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 今天是情人节,我想告诉你520。
Pinyin: Jīn tiān shì qíng rén jiē, wǒ xiǎng gào sù nǐ wǔ èr líng.
In English: Today is Valentine’s Day, and I want to tell you that I love you.

3- 233

Meaning: Laugh out loud; pounding the floor.

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 你看这个笑话是不是很逗,233。
Pinyin: Nǐ kàn zhè gè xiào huà shì bú shì hěn dòu, èr sān sān.
In English: Look how funny this joke is, LOL.

Additional notes: 233 is the code of a GIF emoticon on the social media platform 猫扑 (māo pū). The image depicts a character laughing hard and pounding the floor. As this emoticon became popular, people started to use just its code, 233, to refer to this emoticon.

4- 886

There Are Three Simple Numbers That Are Equivalent To When You Wave Your Hands And Say Goodbye.

Meaning: Bye bye.

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 我要去写作业. 886,待会聊。
Pinyin: Wǒ yào qù xiě zuò yè le. bā bā liù, dā huì liáo.
In English: I am going to do my homework. Bye bye, we can talk later.

Additional notes: 886 has a similar pronunciation as the word 拜拜咯 (bái bái lo) in Chinese, which means “bye bye.”

3. Common Words

Here’s Chinese slang (internet) that’s sure to come in handy while chatting it up with your Chinese friends!

1- 卖萌

What is this Little Adorable Kitten Doing? Let’s Find Out a Word to Describe It!

Meaning: To showcase cuteness.

Pinyin: mài méng

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 你看我家猫,又在卖萌了。
Pinyin: Nǐ kàn wǒ jiā māo, yòu zài mài méng le.
In English: Look at my cat, she is showing her cuteness again.

2- 学霸

Meaning: Someone who’s excellent at school and always gets good grades.

Pinyin: xué bà

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 她次次考试都是班里第一名,简直就是个学霸。
Pinyin: Tā cì cì kǎo shì dōu shì bān lǐ dì yī míng, jiǎn zhí jiù shì gè xué bà.
In English: She is always in first place for every exam, so good at school and studying!

3- 土豪

Meaning: Someone who’s extremely rich.

Pinyin: tǔ háo

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 我听说他家有辆私人飞机,可真够土豪的。
Pinyin: Wǒ tīng shuō tā jiā yǒu liàng sī rén fēi jī, kě zhēn gòu tǔ háo de.
In English: I heard that his family owns a private airplane, he is so rich.

4- 小鲜肉

Meaning: Guys who are young and good-looking.

Pinyin: xiǎo xiān ròu

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 听说韩国又出了一个很帅的组合,里面全是小鲜肉!
Pinyin: Tīng shuō hán guó yòu chū le yī gè hěn shuài de zǔ hé, lǐ miàn quán shì xiǎo xiān ròu!
In English: I heard that another K-POP group just debuted, and it’s full of young and cute guys.

Additional notes: The direct translation for 小鲜肉 is little fresh meat, which is a funny way to describe cute young guys.

5- 男神

Meaning: A man who’s considered the person of your dreams.

Pinyin: nán shén

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 今天我又在学校看见男神了,我的心当时扑通扑通地直跳!
Pinyin: Jīn tiān wǒ yòu zài xué xiào kàn jiàn nán shén le, wǒ de xīn dāng shí pū tōng pū tōng de zhí tiào!
In English: I saw the man of my dreams again at school today, and my heart was beating so hard!

Additional notes: This is a term often used by girls who consider male celebrities or their crush as the man of their dreams.

6- 单身狗

Meaning: Someone who’s single.

Pinyin: dān shēn gǒu

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 又是一年光棍节,我还是一只单身狗。
Pinyin: Yòu shì yī nián guāng gùn jié, wǒ hái shì yī zhī dān shēn gǒu.
In English: It’s another Single’s Day, and yet I am still a single dog.

Additional notes: Single’s Day in China is a very special holiday for young people who are single. It’s called 光棍节 (guāng gùn jié) in Chinese, and is on November 11 because the numbers of the date (11/11) are four straight ones that look pretty lonely as they’re standing by themselves.

7- 小姐姐

Meaning: Girls who are young and pretty.

Pinyin: xiǎo jiě jiě

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 我刚才在图书馆看到了一个特别漂亮的小姐姐。
Pinyin: Wǒ gāng cái zài tú shū guǎn kàn dào le yī gè tè bié piào liàng de xiǎo jiě jie.
In English: I just saw a super cute girl at the library.

Additional notes: 小姐姐 in Chinese means “little sister.” It’s a longer version of 小姐, which is similar to “Ms.” in English when addressing young ladies.

8- 尬聊

Meaning: To have an embarrassing conversation.

Pinyin: gà liáo

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 刚才有个男生跟我搭讪,然后我们居然尬聊了整整一个小时。
Pinyin: Gāng cái yǒu gè nán shēng gēn wǒ dā shàn, rán hòu wǒ men jū rán gà liáo le zhěng zhěng yī gè xiǎo shí.
In English: There was a guy who was hitting on me just now; I can’t believe we had an embarrassing conversation for a whole hour.

9- 作死

Meaning: To ask for death; used to describe someone who does things without knowing the actual danger of doing them.

Pinyin: zuò sǐ

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 你明知道明天考试今天还去看电影?真是作死啊。
Pinyin: Nǐ míng zhī dào míng tiān kǎo shì jīn tiān hái qù kàn diàn yǐng? Zhēn shì zuò sǐ a.
In English: You clearly knew that there is an exam tomorrow and you still went to see a movie? You are really asking for death.

4. Popular Slang Sentences

1- 也是醉了

Literal translation: “I am so drunk.”

Pinyin: yě shì zuì le

Meaning: Used to express your inability to help something that is very ridiculous.

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 我男朋友竟然拿我那么贵的香水当清洁剂喷,也是醉了。
Pinyin: Wǒ nán péng yǒu jìng rán ná wǒ nà me guì de xiāng shuǐ dāng qīng jié jì pēn, yě shì zuì le.
In English: I can’t believe my boyfriend sprayed my expensive perfume as an air freshener, I am speechless.

2- 感觉不会再爱了

Literal translation: “I don’t think I’m going to love anyone anymore.”

Pinyin: gǎn jiào bú huì zài ài le

Meaning: To feel desperate and hopeless when something bad happens.

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 等我好不容易攒够钱,我一直想买的衣服居然没货了,感觉不会再爱了。
Pinyin: Děng wǒ hǎo bú róng yì zǎn gòu qián, wǒ yī zhí xiǎng mǎi de yī fú jū rán méi huò le, gǎn jué bú huì zài ài le.
In English: I finally have enough money now, but the clothes I have been wanting to buy are out of stock now, I feel hopeless.

3- 你这是要上天啊

Literal translation: “It seems like you are flying to the sky.”

Pinyin: nǐ zhè shì yào shàng tiān ā

Meaning: Used to describe someone doing something that’s considered crazy and insane.

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 你确定要在期末考试前旅行?你这是要上天啊。
Pinyin: Nǐ què dìng yào zài qī mò kǎo shì qián lǚ xíng? Nǐ zhè shì yào shàng tiān a.
In English: Are you sure you want to travel right before final exams? You’re crazy.

4- 友谊的小船说翻就翻

Literal translation: “The boat of our friendship can be overthrown anytime.”

Pinyin: yǒu yì de xiǎo chuán shuō fān jiù fān

Meaning: Used to make fun of your friends when they do something that makes you feel like he/she isn’t cherishing your friendship.

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 没想到你竟然为了男朋友爽我约,友谊的小船说翻就翻啊。
Pinyin: Méi xiǎng dào nǐ jìng rán wèi le nán péng yǒu shuǎng wǒ yuē, yǒu yì de xiǎo chuán shuō fān jiù fān a.
In English: I can’t believe you are standing me up for your boyfriend, our friendship is so weak.

Additional notes: This slang is for nothing serious, and is usually used between friends who want to make fun of each other. In Chinese culture, people enjoy using irony and sarcasm with their close friends; this is a large aspect of their humor.

5- 惊不惊喜?意不意外?

Literal translation: “Are you surprised? Is it out of your expectation?”

Pinyin: jīng bú jīng xǐ, yì bú yì wài

Meaning: Used to show irony for some surprising news.

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 你看没看今天微博热搜?听说你喜欢的明星公布恋情了!惊不惊喜?意不意外?
Pinyin: Nǐ kàn méi kàn jīn tiān wēi bó rè sōu? Tīng shuō nǐ xǐ huān de míng xīng gōng bù liàn qíng le! Jīng bù jīng xǐ? Yì bú yì wài?
In English: Have you checked out the trend today on Weibo yet? I heard that the celebrity you like has announced that he is having a relationship! Are you surprised? Is it out of your expectation?

6- 整个人都不好了

Literal translation: “I don’t feel good for my whole being.”

Pinyin: zhěng gè rén dōu bù hǎo le

Meaning: Used when you feel upset about something and are on the verge of collapsing.

Usage in a sentence:
In Chinese: 知道我的期末考试成绩之后,我整个人都不好了。
Pinyin: Zhī dào wǒ de qī mò kǎo shì chéng jì zhī hòu, wǒ zhěng gè rén dōu bú hǎo le.
In English: After I got the grades for my final exams, I don’t feel good.


We hope you enjoyed our Chinese slang list. Did these fun Chinese Internet slangs enrich your knowledge of Chinese? Let us know which of these slang terms is your favorite!

It’s time to take yourself to a notch higher in your Chinese skills by visiting, which offers numerous entertaining lessons and articles, all to improve all aspects of your Chinese. Here, you can enjoy more professional and interesting Chinese phrases, as well as Chinese culture, with videos and blog articles. Why not give it a try and see how the adventure goes for you?

Know that your hard work and determination will get you where you want to be with your Chinese. You’ll soon be speaking like a native, and will be here with you for each step of your journey!

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Chinese Words with no English Equivalent

Have you ever had an expression in your language that you couldn’t find an accurate translation for in another language? Don’t worry, as this is common for every language learner. The art of a language is way beyond words, as it’s also based on the culture and history of a country.

Each well-developed language has its own essence that cannot be fully integrated into another language. Chinese is no exception. There are many Chinese words with no English equivalent, words you may never know exist though they’re spoken daily in China.

There are many Chinese words with no English equivalent waiting for you to explore! If you want to sound like a native, be sure to grasp these words and try to integrate these untranslatable Chinese words into your daily conversation! Knowing how to use these Chinese words with no translation will surely give you an advantage when communicating in Chinese!

Table of Contents

  1. 热闹 (rè nao)
  2. 撒娇 (sā jiāo)
  3. 加油 (jiā yóu)
  4. 缘分 (yuán ​fèn)
  5. 冤枉 (yuān wǎng)
  6. 孝顺 (xiào​ shùn)
  7. 辛苦 (xīn kǔ)
  8. 见外 (jiàn wài)
  9. 失恋 (shī liàn)
  10. 追… (zhuī)
  11. 下台阶 (xià táijiē)
  12. Conclusion

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1. 热闹 (rè nao)

Look at how full of people this place is! This exactly describes the word we’re going to introduce.

Crowd Carrying Flags

  • Literal translation: Bustling
  • Meaning: Fun and lively
  • Example situation: If there’s a place that has a lot of people, a lively vibe, and you like it, that place is 热闹 (rè nao).
  • Usage in a sentence:
    In Chinese: 这条街真是热闹,人山人海的。
    Pinyin: Zhè tiáo jiē zhēn shì rè nào, rén shān rén hǎi de.
    In English: This street is so fun and lively, it’s full of people.
  • Additional notes: 热闹 is a very common descriptive word for an atmosphere that makes people feel fun and lively due to the large amount of people involved, and often gives people an urge to get involved in the atmosphere with others.

A fun fact is that the word 人山人海 is a form of a Chinese idiom called 成语 (chéng yǔ). Here, its literal translation is “people mountain people ocean,” which means “people are like mountain and ocean,” which utilizes exaggeration to make the image more vivid and accurate. You’ll learn a lot more 成语 like this along the way as you climb the ladder higher and higher in studying Chinese.

2. 撒娇 (sā jiāo)

Has your girlfriend ever acted cute in a childish way? This is the right word for that moment!

Woman Wrapping Arms Around Man from Behind

  • Literal translation: Showcase cuteness
  • Meaning: Act like a spoiled child
  • Example situation: If your girlfriend is doing something adorable and childish to get your attention, (for example, being pouty) she is 撒娇 to you.
  • Usage in a sentence:
    In Chinese: 我的女友正撅着嘴用她水汪汪的大眼睛看着我,正在冲我撒娇。
    Pinyin: Wǒ de nǚ yǒu zhèng juē zhe zuǐ yòng tā shuǐ wāng wāng de dà yǎn jīng kàn zhe wǒ, zhèng zài chòng wǒ sā jiāo.
    In English: My girlfriend is being pouty and looking at me with her watery eyes, she is acting like a child to me.
  • Additional notes:
    This is a very common word in Chinese that people use to describe the special type of childlike cuteness that’s usually done to get attention, typically used for children, girlfriends, pets, etc.

3. 加油 (jiā yóu)

What should you do when your friend needs to be encouraged? Just give them a thumbs-up and say this to them. It’ll certainly give them some energy!

Man Giving Thumbs-Up Sign

  • Literal translation: Add gas
  • Meaning: Go for it
  • Example situation: If your friend needs to be encouraged before giving her presentation, you
    can say 加油 to her.
  • Usage in a sentence:
    In Chinese: 待会的比赛加油哦,我支持你。
    Pinyin: Dài huì de bǐ sài jiā yóu o, wǒ zhī chí nǐ.
    In English: Just go for the competition later, you have my full support.

4. 缘分 (yuán ​fèn)

  • Literal translation: Fate
  • Meaning: Somehow, a force drives things or people together in a desired and meaningful way
  • Example situation: If your teacher from elementary school happens to become your mother-in-law in the future, there is a 缘分 between you guys.
  • Usage in a sentence:
    In Chinese: 没想到这么多年之后我又遇见你了,咱们真是有缘分。
    Pinyin: Méi xiǎng dào zhè me duō nián zhī hòu wǒ yòu yù jiàn nǐ le, zán men zhēn shì yǒu yuán fèn.
    In English: I can’t believe I met you again after all those years, this is such a fate between us.

5. 冤枉 (yuān wǎng)

Have you ever felt extremely upset like the man in this photo because of being wrongly accused of something? Don’t worry, as the word we’re about to show you can help you point out your sorrowful feelings in a moment like this!

Man in Cell Expressing Deep Sorrow

  • Literal translation: To wrongly accuse
  • Meaning: Unjustly judged
  • Example situation: If you accused your little brother of eating your snacks because they’re gone, and later found out you put them somewhere else, you 冤枉 your brother.
  • Usage in a sentence:
    In Chinese: 你冤枉他了,他没有拿你的橡皮,是我刚才临时借用了你的橡皮。
    Pinyin: Nǐ yuān wǎng tā le, tā méi yǒu ná nǐ de xiàng pí, shì wǒ gāng cái lín shí jiè yòng le nǐ de xiàng pí.
    In English: You unjustly judged him, he didn’t take your eraser, it was me who just borrowed it.

6. 孝顺 (xiào​ shùn)

Look at how close this family is, and guess what the key is for such a great relationship between Chinese parents and children. You’ll see soon.

Chinese Parents with their Children

  • Literal translation: Filial
  • Meaning: Obedient, respectful, loyal, and responsible to their parents and elder families
  • Example situation: If a person listens to his parents about everything and spends as much time with them as he can, he is very 孝顺.
  • Usage in a sentence:
    In Chinese: 他为了陪在自己父母身边放弃了留学的机会,真是个孝顺的儿子。
    Pinyin: Tā wéi le péi zài zì jǐ fù mǔ shēn biān fàng qì le liú xué de jī huì, zhēn shì gè xiào shùn de ér zǐ.
    In English: In order to stay by his parents’ side, he gave up on the opportunity to study abroad, he is such a responsible and great son.
  • Additional notes: 孝顺 is a trait that Chinese attach great value to. China is a country that holds the bond between children and parents very dearly from tradition.

7. 辛苦 (xīn kǔ)

  • Literal meaning: Laborious
  • Meaning: To have worked hard or done a lot for something
  • Example situation: If your friend has spent a long time proofreading your essay for you, you should tell them that you are so 辛苦 and show your gratitude.
  • Usage in a sentence:
    In Chinese: 这么远赶过来给我过生日,真是辛苦你了。
    Pinyin: Zhè me yuǎn gǎn guò lái gěi wǒ guò shēng rì, zhēn shì xīn kǔ nǐ le.
    In English: You have come so far to celebrate my birthday with me, thank you for your effort.

8. 见外 (jiàn wài)

When your friends are being too polite and refuse your courtesy like this, they are being 见外.

Two Women Walking Together in the Snow

  • Literal translation: To look outside
  • Meaning: Being too polite just like an outsider would be
  • Example situation: If your best friend keeps saying “thank you” and wants to treat you with something big for a small favor you did for them, they are being 见外.
  • Usage in a sentence:
    In Chinese: 咱们这么好的朋友,不用跟我见外。
    Pinyin: Zán men zhè me hǎo de péng yǒu, bú yòng gēn wǒ jiàn wài.
    In English: We are such close friends, don’t be so polite to me like you’re a stranger.
  • Additional notes: Although Chinese people attach great importance to manners, they usually don’t say “thank you” to their very close friends or family for small favors, because doing so is viewed as 见外.

9. 失恋 (shī liàn)

Do you know what’s likely to happen when a relationship seems to be broken like this? Well, they might both 失恋 soon!

A Man Behind the Woman

  • Literal translation: To lose love
  • Meaning: Just broke up and felt disappointed in love
  • Example situation: If your friend just got dumped and felt heartbroken, he just 失恋.
  • Usage in a sentence:
    In Chinese: 他最近心情一直很低落,因为他失恋了。
    Pinyin: Tā zuì jìn xīn qíng yī zhí hěn dī luò, yīn wéi tā shī liàn le.
    In English: He has been very frustrated lately, because he just broke up.

10. 追… (zhuī)

  • Literal translation: To chase after someone
  • Meaning: The progress toward winning someone’s heart by a series of actions
  • Example situation: If a guy is giving flowers to a girl he likes, he is chasing after that girl.
  • Usage in a sentence:
    In Chinese: 自从他对那个女孩一见钟情之后,就一直在追她。
    Pinyin: Zì cóng tā duì nà gè nǚ hái yī jiàn zhōng qíng zhī hòu, jiù yī zhí zài zhuī tā.
    In English: Ever since he fell in love with the girl at first sight, he has been chasing after her.
  • Additional notes: This is an interesting expression unique to Chinese culture that focuses on the actions of how an individual wins the heart of another individual. That’s why you’ll often hear people ask a couple questions such as: “Who chased after whom?” or “How long did you chase after him/her for?” This may be one of the most beautiful untranslatable Chinese words.

11. 下台阶 (xià táijiē)

  • Literal translation: To go down a step
  • Meaning: To give someone a chance to save face so as not to be embarrassed
  • Example situation: If someone’s embarrassed because of a conversation and you said something to change the topic, the person is able to 下台阶.
  • Usage in a sentence:
    In Chinese: 刚才他们聊的话题实在是太让我尴尬了,还好我朋友转移话题我才能下台阶。
    Pinyin: Gāng cái tā men liáo de huà tí shí zài shì tài ràng wǒ gān gà le, hái hǎo wǒ péng yǒu zhuǎn yí huà tí wǒ cái néng xià tái jiē.
    In English: What they were talking about made me extremely awkward, thanks to my friend who changed the subject I was able to be saved from the embarrassment.
  • Additional notes: If you’re familiar with Chinese culture, you’ll know that there’s another popular term called 脸面 (liǎn miàn) meaning face, which indicates one’s need to maintain honor for their public image, so 下台阶 can be seen as a course of action to save someone’s face.

12. Conclusion

Now do you have a deeper understanding of the Chinese language by learning all these interesting and unique Chinese untranslatable words? By integrating these words into your daily conversations, you’ll be able to get a better glimpse at how Chinese culture works.

Still feel desperate to learn more? Continue your journey in studying professional Chinese today at Here we offer a great source of Chinese lessons that’s both fun and entertaining! From blog posts, to helpful vocabulary lists, and online forums, there’s something here just for you!

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Mao Zedong & The Communist Party of China: CPC Founding Day

With two important festivals celebrated on the same day, no wonder this day bustles with colored flags fluttering and is full of excitement! What are the activities involved in this celebration, and who was Mao Zedong?

Let’s take a look at these two festivals to help you better understand the Chinese culture as a whole. After all, sound cultural knowledge is one of the most important steps in mastering a language. And at, we hope to make this learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What are CPC Founding Day & Hong Kong’s Return Anniversary?

July 1 is the anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China.

In July, 1921, communist organizations from different areas of China sent their representatives to Shanghai to hold the First Congress of the Chinese Communist Party and declared the establishment of the CCP. Mao Zedong, the founder of Communist Party of China, suggested setting July 1 as the anniversary of the CCP’s “birthday,” which is usually called the “Party’s Birthday.”

Also, July 1 is the anniversary of the Return of Hong Kong, commonly known as the “Ninety Seven Return,” (or “the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong,” or “Hong Kong handover“), and mainland China refers to this day as Hong Kong returning to its motherland.

These all refer to the historical event when the United Kingdom handed the sovereignty of Hong Kong back to the People’s Republic of China. This Hong Kong return to China is one of the most significant aspects of China’s history.

What was the Cultural Revolution in China?

The Cultural Revolution in China largely had to do with promoting Maoism and finding ways to preserve Chinese communism. So, when was the Cultural Revolution in China?

Beginning in 1966, the end of the Cultural Revolution in China was in 1976. In 1976, Deng Xiaoping worked with reformers to undue much of the Maoist policies within the Party.

2. CPC Founding Day & Hong Kong Return Anniversary Date

Man Speaking in Front of People

Each year, the Chinese observe CPC Founding Day and Anniversary of the Return of Hong Kong on July 1.

3. Reading Practice: How is CPC Day Celebrated?

How does China celebrate these two events? Read the Simplified Chinese text below to find out, and find the English translation directly below it.



Although July 1 originated from political events, the celebrations across the whole country have made it part of China’s holiday culture. On July 1, a celebratory evening party is broadcast on TV. Documentaries, films, and TV series regarding the CCP will also be on show to tell people about the past and to draw pictures of the future.

Yi Guo Liang Zhi is a phrase that frequently appears in TV news, and it means “one country, two political systems.” Hong Kong and Macao are special administrative regions where their established system can be retained under a high degree of autonomy for a certain period. It is a principle originally proposed by China’s former leader Deng Xiaoping for the unification of China.

4. How Long is the Holiday?

Flowers and Wreaths on Graves

How long is the holiday for these two events?

Despite being of great significance, July 1 is not a public holiday with days off. CCP members even need to attend meetings on July 1 and report their ideological work.

5. Useful Vocabulary for these Two Chinese Holidays

Communist Flag

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for CPC Founding Day in China!

  • 政党 (zhèngdǎng) — political party
  • 毛泽东 (Máo Zédōng) — Mao Zedong
  • 邓小平 (Dèng Xiǎopíng) — Deng Xiaoping
  • 文化大革命 (Wénhuà Dà Gémìng) — Cultural Revolution
  • 纪念 (jìniàn) — commemoration
  • 共产主义 (gòngchǎn zhǔyì) — communism
  • 共产党 (Gòngchǎn Dǎng) — Communist Party of China
  • 马列主义 (Mǎ Liè Zhǔyì) — Marxism-Leninism
  • 社会主义 (Shèhuì Zhǔyì) — Socialism
  • 解放 (jiěfàng) — liberate
  • 建党节 (jiàndǎng jié) — CPC Founding Day

To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, check out our CPC Founding Day vocabulary list.


We hope you enjoyed learning about CPC Founding Day and the Anniversary of the Return of Hong Kong with us! Did you learn anything new? Let us know in the comments!

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How to Introduce Yourself in Chinese and Give a Decent First Impression

We live in a world where we constantly need to be building connections with new people, whether it’s for a business occasion, an interview, a new working place, or a new school…and we certainly like to leave a positive mark on the very first impression.

An appropriate self-introduction is one of the first steps for people to get to know you and it represents the gist of you. As a beginner in Chinese, the first thing you’ll probably want to master is the right way to introduce yourself, in order to make a decent impression.

China is a country that has been cultivated for thousands of years with a strong cultural background of its own. Undoubtedly, there are sets of rules for how to phrase things during a self-introduction in the Chinese language. “Introduction” in Chinese is 介绍 (jiè shào), and this article has incorporated the most quintessent and useful Chinese phrases for a decent 介绍. Now is the opportune time for you to study them!

Without further ado, let’s take a look at various greetings in Chinese along with situational Chinese phrases that are sure to help you as you navigate this interesting culture! Here are our suggestions and tips on introducing yourself in Chinese.

Table of Contents

  1. Introducing Basic Information and Identifying Yourself
  2. Placing Yourself in Society
  3. Personal Details
  4. Formal Phrases for Certain Occasions when You First Meet People
  5. Additional Tips for Introducing Yourself in China
  6. Bonus Questions
  7. Conclusion


1. Introducing Basic Information and Identifying Yourself

1- Name


  • In Chinese: 我姓……
    • Pinyin: Wǒ xìng…
    • In English: “My last name is…”

In Chinese culture, when people first get to know you, they may not directly ask your name; instead, inquiring for your last name is more common. Interestingly, in order to pay you some respect, they may ask you: 您贵姓?(nín guì xìng?), which literally means: “What is your noble last name?”. In this situation, you reply: 免贵姓王 (miǎn guì xìng wáng), which means: “To drop the noble, it is Wang.” In this example, we used 王 which is one of the most common Chinese last names. You can simply replace it with your own last name to reply. Please remember, it’s very important in Chinese culture to stay humble and use the phrase “to drop the noble.” Otherwise, they may form a negative impression of you.

Less formal:

  • In Chinese: 我叫……
    • Pinyin: Wǒ jiào …
    • In English: “I am called…”
  • In Chinese: 我是……
    • Pinyin: Wǒ shì…
    • In English: “I am…”
  • In Chinese: 我的(中文)名字是……
    • Pinyin: Wǒ de (zhōng wén) míng zi shì…
    • In English: “My (Chinese) name is…”

To introduce yourself in Chinese is really straightforward. Simply say “hello” in Chinese, use any sentence pattern above, and add your name where the ellipsis is.

If you also have a name in Chinese, don’t forget to use these expressions to let your Chinese friends know! Talking about your name in Chinese is a vital and interesting part of the culture.

Don’t know how to write your name in Chinese? Ask our teachers on this page. You can also learn more about Chinese names and surnames there!


  • In Chinese: 叫我丽丽吧。
    • Pinyin: Jiào wǒ lì lì ba.
    • In English: “Just call me Lili.”

2- Nationality and Hometown

  • In Chinese: 我来自美国。
    • Pinyin: Wǒ lái zì měi guó.
    • In English: “I come from the United States.”
  • In Chinese: 我是一名日本人。
    • Pinyin: Wǒ shì yī míng rì běn rén.
    • In English: “I am a Japanese.”

名 is a classifier in Chinese for a certain identity. There are many other classifiers in Chinese and you’ll be able to learn more as you study the Chinese language in more depth. You can try to make another sentence for your own identity, as it’s not limited to nationality. 我是一名学生 (wǒ shì yī míng xué shēng) is another example, meaning “I am a student.”

  • In Chinese: 我的家乡在四川。
    • Pinyin: Wǒ de jiā xiāng zài sì chuān.
    • In English: “My hometown is in Sichuan.”

Since Chinese people have a strong sense of belonging for identification for their hometowns, when you introduce yourself, 家乡 meaning hometown, may be a common question to be asked.

3- Age

Here’s some information on talking about your age in Chinese.

  • In Chinese: 我今年二十岁。
    • Pinyin: Wǒ jīn nián èr shí suì.
    • In English: “I am twenty years old this year.”

This is a formal expression for adults, plain and simple. You can also omit 岁 meaning “years old” for short, just like how we say in English “I am twenty”.

  • In Chinese: 我今年有五岁啦!
    • Pinyin: Wǒ jīn nián yǒu wǔ suì la!
    • In English: “I am five years old this year!”

This is often said by a kid in a very childlike tone. If you’re a child, you may tell people your age in this manner innocently and with confidence. People will probably be amazed by how adorable and natural the way you say it is, especially if you’re a foreign child!

4- Where you Live

  • In Chinese: 我住在北京。
    • Pinyin: Wǒ zhù zài běi jīng.
    • In English: “I live in Beijing.”
  • In Chinese: 我家在北京。
    • Pinyin: Wǒ jiā zài běi jīng.
    • In English: “My house is in Beijing.”

在 means to be located in Chinese, while introducing locations, you can just simply put the subject before it and the location you wish introduce right after 在.

2. Placing Yourself in Society

1- Major and Profession

  • In Chinese: 我的专业是会计。
    • Pinyin: Wǒ de zhuān yè shì kuài ji.
    • In English: “My major is accounting.”
  • In Chinese: 我是一名律师。
    • Pinyin: Wǒ shì yī míng lǜ shī.
    • In English: “I am a lawyer.”

This is the same expression as we mentioned before. 一名 can also be utilized for introducing your identity in terms of your career. Keep this in mind when talking about your job or profession in Chinese.

2- Where you Work or Study

  • In Chinese: 我在北京工作。
    • Pinyin: Wǒ zài běi jīng gōng zuò.
    • In English: “I work in Beijing.”
  • In Chinese: 我在美国上学。
    • Pinyin: Wǒ zài měi guó shàng xué.
    • In English: “I study in the United States.”

3- Information about Family

  • In Chinese: 我家里有四口人。
    • Pinyin: Wǒ jiā lǐ yǒu sì kǒu rén.
    • In English: “There are four people in my family.”
  • In Chinese: 我家里有个妹妹/姐姐。
    • Pinyin: Wǒ jiā lǐ yǒu gè mèi mèi /jiě jiě.
    • In English: “I have a younger/older sister.”

In Chinese, a younger sister and an older sister are defined in specifically different forms. Definitely keep this in mind when talking about your family in Chinese—it’s important!

3. Personal Details

1- Describe Your Personality with a Few Words

  • In Chinese: 我的性格……
    • Pinyin: Wǒ de xìng gé…
    • In English: “My personality is…”

There are many different words you can use when talking about your personality in Chinese, but for now we’re going to introduce only the most common ones:

  • 活泼 (huó pō) meaning “bright”
  • 开朗 (kāi lǎng) meaning “outgoing”
  • 内向 (nèi xiàng) meaning “introvert”
  • 外向 (wài xiàng) meaning “extrovert”
  • 乐观 (lè guān) meaning “optimistic”

2- Hobbies

Here’s some information on talking about your hobbies in Chinese—this has the potential to be one of the best parts of your introductory conversation!


  • In Chinese: 我的爱好是听音乐。
    • Pinyin: Wǒ de ài hào shì tīng yīn yuè.
    • In English: “My hobby is listening to music.”


  • In Chinese: 我喜欢跳舞。
    • Pinyin: Wǒ xǐ huān tiào wǔ.
    • In English: “I like dancing.”

3- Pets

During more casual greetings in Chinese, you may find that pets come into the conversation (who doesn’t love to boast about their furry companion to friends?). Here’s a sample sentence you may find helpful to get you started.

  • In Chinese: 我家有一只小狗/小猫。
    • Pinyin: Wǒ jiā yǒu yī zhī xiǎo gǒu/xiǎo māo.
    • In English: “I have a dog / cat at home.”

4- Future Plan

  • In Chinese: 我打算以后……
    • Pinyin: Wǒ dǎ suàn yǐ hòu…
    • In English: “Later I am planning to…”

You can use this sentence to introduce many different things for your future, such as what job you want to have, where you plan on living, when you want to marry, etc.

5- How Long You’ve been Studying Chinese

While introducing yourself in Chinese, it may come as no surprise that someone will want to know how long you’ve been at this whole studying thing. Here’s an example of how you can answer.

  • In Chinese: 我学习中文有两年了。
    • Pinyin: Wǒ xué xí zhōng wén yǒu liǎng nián le.
    • In English: “It has been two years since I started to study Chinese.”

4. Formal Phrases for Certain Occasions when You First Meet People

1- Business Occasions

  • In Chinese: 跟高兴认识您/你。
    • Pinyin: Hěn gāo xìng rèn shí nín /nǐ.
    • In English: “I am glad to meet you.”
  • In Chinese: 希望我们合作愉快。
    • Pinyin: Xī wàng wǒ men hé zuò yú kuài.
    • In English: “Hopefully we will pleasantly work together.”

It’s a good courtesy to offer to shake hands, or nod and bow a little at the same time, while saying both of the formal Chinese phrases above as a show of respect.

2- Introduce Yourself to Everyone in a New Working Place

  • In Chinese: 大家好,我是一名新人,以后请大家多多指教。
    • Pinyin: Dà jiā hǎo, wǒ shì yī míng xīn rén, yǐ hòu qǐng dà jiā duō duō zhǐ jiào.
    • In English: “Hello everyone, I am new here, please guide and teach me in the future.”

“Please guide and teach me in the future” is a very common saying in Chinese for people who are new to a place and still need to learn and gain more experience. This phrase is often said to people who have more experience than they do in a certain field (though it can also be said as a show of humility). Instead of 大家, you can also use a special Chinese term 前辈 (qián bèi) meaning “people who have more experience than you,” to show how respectful you are.

5. Additional Tips for Introducing Yourself in China

1- Stay Humble

If you ever talk to a native Chinese person, you’ll find out something interesting about them: They won’t directly take a compliment from people the way that western people do. In western culture, people will probably say “thank you” and naturally take the compliment as though they deserve it. Formal greetings in Chinese, especially, require a level of humility. So if you’re receiving a compliment from Chinese people during an introduction, there are two common ways you may reply to be seen as humble:

  • In Chinese: 不敢当。
    • Pinyin: Bú gǎn dāng.
    • In English: “I can’t take that.”

It’ll sound even more humble in Chinese if you say this two times in a row, for example: 不敢当不敢当。

  • In Chinese: 您过奖了。
    • Pinyin: Nín guò jiǎng le.
    • In English: “You are flattering me.”

您 means “you” in a respectful form. If the other person is almost the same age as you, you may remove it from the sentence or replace it with 你, meaning “you” without the respectful form.

2- Private Inquiries that should be Avoided (Income; Age for Mid-aged People)

There are some questions that should be avoided during a Chinese introduction, mainly subjects like income and age. Especially people who appear to be mid-aged, asking about age may be viewed as disrespectful towards them, which may cause some discomfort; Chinese people see getting old in a negative light.

6. Bonus Questions

Here are a couple of questions you may want to discuss while introducing yourself in Chinese with local Chinese people, These Chinese introductory phrases/questions may help you to get better acquainted during your meeting.

  • In Chinese: 我的名字用中文怎么说呢?
    • Pinyin: Wǒ de míng zì yòng zhōng wén zěn me shuō ne?
    • In English: “How do you say my name in Chinese?”
  • In Chinese: 你能用中文把我的名字写下来吗?
    • In Pinyin: Nǐ néng yòng zhōng wén bǎ wǒ de míng zi xiě xià lái ma?
    • In English: “Can you write my name in Chinese?”

7. Conclusion

Now you must have absorbed a great deal of knowledge regarding how to introduce yourself in Chinese. The Chinese introductory phrases that were incorporated in this article are just a basic guide for beginners, and if you wish to explore more Chinese culture and learn Chinese in more depth, be sure to check out our website at You’ll certainly harvest much more fruit in studying Chinese from our Wonderland!


How to Celebrate the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival

One of China’s most popular holidays around the world is the Dragon Boat Festival. The Dragon Boat Festival seeks to commemorate the suicide of Qu Yuan, a heroic poet. While a bit dark, the Dragon Boat Festival history is a unique facet of Chinese culture as a whole.

At, we hope to make learning Chinese both fun and informative, especially when it comes to the culture and the history behind it. Any successful language learner can tell you that this is a vital step in mastering a language.

That said, we hope you enjoy learning about the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival with us!

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1. What is the Dragon Boat Festival?

The Dragon Boat Festival is a Chinese traditional festival to commemorate a hero named Qu Yuan.

Qu Yuan was a politician and poet who lived two thousand years ago. He had been a court official in the State of Chu. He was very loyal, but the King believed the words of the treacherous instead and exiled him. Feeling humiliated, he jumped into a river on May 5 to end his life. It is said that people missed him greatly after his death. They began boating on the same river and this activity gradually evolved into Dragon Boat racing.

2. When is Dragon Boat Festival?

A Dragon Boat

So, when is the Dragon Boat Festival?

Each year, China celebrates the Dragon Boat Festival on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date on the Gregorian calendar for the next ten years.

  • 2019: June 7
  • 2020: June 25
  • 2021: June 14
  • 2022: June 3
  • 2023: June 22
  • 2024: June 10
  • 2025: May 31
  • 2026: June 19
  • 2027: June 9
  • 2028: May 28

3. Reading Practice: Chinese Dragon Boat Festival Traditions

How do the Chinese celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival? Read the Simplified Chinese below to learn about Chinese Dragon Boat Festival traditions (including Dragon Boat Festival food!), and find the English translation directly below it.




The dragon boat race is a very popular tradition. Dragon boats are small boats, and the dragon boat race is a boating race. There are twenty-five members on each boat: one in command, two playing the drums, and the rest making rigorous efforts to be the fastest to reach the finish line. What attracts people most is the atmosphere of the race. On the dragon boat, the drums sound like thunder, and the crew members’ shouts are never-ending. On both sides of the river bank is an endless stream of spectators.

During the Dragon Boat Festival, you must not miss out on eating rice dumplings. Legend says that after Qu Yuan jumped into the river, people didn’t want his body to be eaten by river fish; they made many dumplings with fillings and threw them into the river to feed the fish. This is the origin of the rice dumpling. So, what does a rice dumpling look like? Fillings such as jujube, red bean paste, or others are put inside soaked glutinous rice, and the rice is wrapped in bamboo leaves. After boiling, you can peel off the leaves and dip the rice dumplings in sugar to eat them.

In ancient times, people believed that hanging wormwood leaves on the door of their home could keep evil away. Modern science has found that wormwood leaves can sterilize and prevent plague infection.

4. How Traditions Relate to Qu Yuan

Sweet Rice Dumplings

Which customs in the Dragon Boat Festival (China) commemorate Qu Yuan?

The Dragon Boat Festival itself is a festival to commemorate Qu Yuan. The customs related to Qu Yuan include the dragon boat race and eating rice dumplings.

5. Useful Vocabulary for the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival

Playing on Gongs and Drums

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival!

  • 端午节 (Duānwǔ Jié) — Dragon Boat Festival
  • 屈原 (Qū Yuán) — Qu Yuan
  • 龙舟赛 (lóngzhōu sài) — dragon boat race
  • 龙舟 (lóngzhōu) — dragon boat
  • 糯米 (nuòmǐ) — glutinous rice
  • 锣鼓 (luó gǔ) — gongs and drums
  • 雄黄酒 (xiónghuáng jiǔ) — realgar wine
  • 粽 (zòng) — rice dumpling stuffed with meat
  • 划龙舟 (huá lóngzhōu) — row a dragon boat
  • 甜粽 (tiánzòng) — sweet rice dumpling

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Chinese Dragon Boat Festival vocabulary list. Here, each word is accompanied by an audio file of its pronunciation.


What do you think of the Dragon Boat Festival in China? Does your country have a similar holiday or festival? Let us know in the comments!

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We hope you took away something valuable from this lesson, and that you feel more knowledgeable about this facet of Chinese culture. Know that your hard work will pay off, and you’ll be speaking Chinese like a native before you know it!

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