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Archive for the 'Chinese Phrases' Category

Basics of Chinese Negation Every Beginner Should Know

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There’s certainly a need for sentences of positivity and affirmation in our everyday lives, but what about the negative ones?

Unsurprisingly, they’re actually an essential part of human expression in every language. Knowing how to form negative sentences and answers can improve the effectiveness of our communication with others and help us set healthy boundaries. 

As a beginner, you should definitely start learning about negation in Chinese as early on as possible. I get that it can sometimes be tough to say no, but as long as you find the appropriate way to express your rejection, you have nothing to worry about! As a matter of fact, learning how to say no can actually save time for all parties involved.

Even for something as basic as negation, there’s a lot to map out. But don’t worry—you’ll find all the information and examples you need right here in this guide! We’ll cover not only the basic negative phrases and answers, but also some unique phrases for expressing negation in Chinese like a native.

Let’s get straight to it!

A Woman Holding Her Palms Out in Front of Her to Say No or Stop

We have to learn to say NO to things we don’t want.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. How to Negate a Statement
  2. Giving a Negative Response to a Question
  3. Ten Negative Words You Need to Know
  4. Special Ways to Say No
  5. Double Negatives
  6. Bonus: Polite Ways of Saying No in Chinese
  7. Conclusion

1. How to Negate a Statement

Chinese negation really just boils down to two basic words: 不 () and 没 (méi). While 不 is often used to negate things in the present or future tense, 没 is used to negate things in the past tense.

Learning how to correctly use these two Chinese negation words is half the battle. Once you have this down, you’ll have little difficulty grasping variants based on them. 

There are a few different patterns you can use to convey negation in Chinese: 

1. 不 () + Verb + Object

In Chinese: 我不喜欢吃香蕉。
Pinyin: Wǒ bù xǐ huān chī xiāng jiāo. 
In English: “I don’t like eating bananas.”

2. 不 () + Adjective

In Chinese: 我觉得这件衣服不好看。
Pinyin: Wǒ jué de zhè jiàn yī fú bù hǎo kàn. 
In English: “I think this piece of clothing isn’t good.”

3. 不 () + Proposition

In Chinese: 邻居不在家。
Pinyin: Lín jū bú zài jiā. 
In English: “My neighbor is not at home.”

4. 没 / 没有 (méi / méi yǒu) + Verb

In Chinese: 我没有偷东西。
Pinyin: Wǒ méi yǒu tōu dōng xi.
In English: “I didn’t steal anything.”

2. Giving a Negative Response to a Question

Now that you’re familiar with the basics, let’s cover another topic of interest: How to reply to a question with a negative answer. 

The following patterns and phrases are easy to learn, but you need to be mindful when using them. Depending on the context, they might sound a bit rough in Chinese. If you want to express negation in a more secure and polite way so as not to offend anyone, check out the bonus section at the end of this article for a little treat!

1. The Simplest Way to Deny Something

A Woman Making an X with Her Arms in Order to Reject Something or Someone

It’s not as hard as you think to deny something. Just say it!

Example

Question: 是你把我的芝士蛋糕吃了吗?
Pinyin: Shì nǐ bǎ wǒ de zhī shì dàn gāo chī le ma? 
In English: “Did you eat my cheesecake?”

#1. To say that something did not happen the way it was described: 不是 (bú shì)
#2. To say that something didn’t happen at all: 没有 (méi yǒu)

2. Other Negative Responses

#1

In Chinese: 不是这样的。
Pinyin: Bú shì zhè yàng de. 
In English: “It’s not like that.”

#2

In Chinese: 不行。 
Pinyin: Bù xíng.
In English: “No way.”

#3

In Chinese: 不可以。
Pinyin: Bù kě yǐ. 
In English: “That’s not allowed. ”

3. Ten Negative Words You Need to Know

Do you feel confident with the two basic words described earlier? Then you should go ahead and try to memorize the following words for negation in Mandarin Chinese!

A Man Speaking Out Loud with Letters Coming Out of His Mouth

Sometimes we just have to speak out loud what we truly think.

#1. 不能 / 不可以 (bù néng / bù kě yǐ) – “can’t”

In Chinese: 你不能/不可以 这么做。
Pinyin: Nǐ bù néng / bù kě yǐ zhè me zuò. 
In English: “You can’t do it. ”

#2. 不会 (bú huì) – “won’t”

In Chinese: 我不会离开你的。
Pinyin: Wǒ bú huì lí kāi nǐ de. 
In English: “I won’t leave you.”

#3. 从不 (cóng bù) – “never”

In Chinese: 我从不撒谎。
Pinyin: Wǒ cóng bú sā huǎng.
In English: “I never lie.”

#4. 很少 (hěn shǎo) – “hardly”

In Chinese: 她很少吃甜点。
Pinyin: Tā hěn shǎo chī tián diǎn. 
In English: “She hardly eats dessert.”

#5. 没有人 (méi yǒu rén) – “nobody”

In Chinese: 这里没有人。
Pinyin: Zhè lǐ méi yǒu rén. 
In English: “Nobody is here.”

#6. 别 / 不要 (bié / bú yào) – “don’t”

In Chinese: 不要这样做。
Pinyin: Bú yào zhè yàng zuò
In English: “Don’t do this.”

#7. 不再 (bú zài) – “no longer”

In Chinese: 我终于长大了,不再是那个年幼无知的小女孩了。
Pinyin: Wǒ zhōng yú zhǎng dà le, bú zài shì nà gè nián yòu wú zhī de xiǎo nǚ hái le. 
In English: “I finally grew up and am no longer that naive little girl.”

#8. 无处 (wú chù) – “nowhere”

In Chinese: 从此这架飞机便无处可寻了,哪里都找不到。
Pinyin: Cóng cǐ zhè jià fēi jī biàn wú chù kě xún le, nǎ lǐ dōu zhǎo bú dào.
In English: “Ever since then, the airplane went nowhere and no one ever found it.”

#9. 否则 (fǒu zé) – “otherwise”

In Chinese: 你真该庆幸有我在,否则你就完蛋了。
Pinyin: Nǐ zhēn gāi qìng xìng yǒu wǒ zài, fǒu zé nǐ jiù wán dàn le.
In English: “You should be glad I’m here, otherwise you would be screwed.”

#10. 也不 (yě bù) – “either” / “neither”

In Chinese: 我也不想出去吃饭。
Pinyin: Wǒ yě bù xiǎng chū qù chī fàn. 
In English: “I don’t want to dine out either.”

4. Special Ways to Say No


Restricted Area

We have to stop ourselves from doing the wrong things when needed.

#1. 非 (fēi) – negation for illegal things

In Chinese: 你所做的属于非法行为。
Pinyin: Nǐ suǒ zuò de shǔ yú fēi fǎ xíng wéi. 
In English: “What you did was illegal.”

#2. 无 () – “none of…” [formal]

In Chinese: 我只想在一个无人打扰的地方度过余生。
Pinyin: Wǒ zhǐ xiǎng zài yī gè wú rén dǎ rǎo de dì fang dù guò yú shēng. 
In English: “I just want to spend the rest of my life in a place where no one can disturb me.”

#3. 否 (fǒu) – “not” [formal]

In Chinese: 你是否愿意和我在一起?
Pinyin: Nǐ shì fǒu yuàn yì hé wǒ zài yī qǐ?
In English: “Do you or do you not want to be with me?”

#4. 勿 () – “don’t” [formal]

In Chinese: 请勿践踏草坪。
Pinyin: Qǐng wù jiàn tà cǎo píng. 
In English: “Please do not step on the grass.”

5. Double Negatives

Ready to move on to a more fun topic? Below are some examples of Chinese double negation, where two negators are used in the same sentence and cancel each other out. 

1. Subject + 不是 (bú shì) + 不 () / 没 (méi) + Predicate

#1.

In Chinese: 她不是不知道这件事的严重性。
Pinyin: Tā bú shì bù zhī dào zhè jiàn shì de yán zhòng xìng.
In English: “It’s not like she doesn’t know how serious this is.”

[She knows how serious this is.]

#2.

In Chinese: 我不是没提醒过他。
Pinyin: Wǒ bú shì méi tí xǐng guò tā. 
In English: “It’s not like I didn’t remind him.”

[I reminded him.]

#3.

In Chinese: 你不是不知道他有多喜欢你。
Pinyin: Nǐ bú shì bù zhī dào tā yǒu duō xǐ huān nǐ. 
In English: “It’s not like you don’t know how much he likes you.”

[You know how much he likes you.]

2. Subject + 不 () + 会 (huì) / 能 (néng) / 可能 (kě néng) + 不 () / 没 (méi) + Predicate

#1.

In Chinese: 父母是不会不疼爱孩子的,只是有时候方法不对。
Pinyin: Fù mǔ shì bú huì bù téng ài hái zi de, zhǐ shì yǒu shí hòu fāng fǎ bú duì.
In English: “It’s impossible that parents don’t love their children, it’s just that sometimes they are not doing it in the right way.”

3. (Subject) + 没有 (méi yǒu) + [Singular Noun] + 不 () / 没 (méi) + Predicate + 的

#1

In Chinese: 这里面没有一个人不是单身。
Pinyin: Zhè lǐ miàn méi yǒu yī gè rén bú shì dān shēn. 
In English: “There is no one that is not single.”

[Everyone is single.]

#2.

In Chinese: 这个超市里没有一个东西是不贵的。 
Pinyin: Zhè gè chāo shì lǐ méi yǒu yī gè dōng xi shì bú guì de. 
In English: “There is nothing in this supermarket that is not expensive.”

[Everything in this supermarket is expensive.]

6. Bonus: Polite Ways of Saying No in Chinese

A Couple being Led to a Table by a Waiter in a Suit

Stay polite and reject offers in the proper way.

Unlike in some Western cultures where people are used to being straightforward, there are a lot of expressions in Chinese culture that show one’s opinion in a vague way in order to be polite. This also gives the other party 面子 (miàn zi), meaning “face,” which refers to the “dignity” you’re giving to the other person by not rejecting them outright.

There are certain words used this way that might not indicate a strong will, but you should still heed them. Instead of forcing the answer you want, realize that the other person has probably made up his or her mind despite giving a “soft” rejection. 

#1

In Chinese: 要不算了吧。
Pinyin: Yào bu suàn le ba. 
In English: “Just let it go.”

You can use this phrase if you feel that you can’t help something. For example, imagine your friends ask you to tell the girl you like about your feelings, but she’s just gotten a new boyfriend.

#2

In Chinese: 这个忙我可能帮不了。
Pinyin: Zhè gè máng wǒ kě néng bāng bu liǎo. 
In English: “I probably won’t be able to help you with this.”

You could use this phrase after someone asks a favor of you, assuming you either can’t help them or don’t want to. For example, imagine a friend asks you to take care of his child when he’s gone, but you’re too busy to babysit.

#3

In Chinese: 还是别这样了。
Pinyin: Hái shì bié zhè yàng le. 
In English: “Don’t be like this.”

This phrase is used to warn someone who has done something inappropriate. For example, you could say this if your friend wants to have a party at your house, but your parents need to work quietly at home and cannot be disturbed.

#4

In Chinese: 我不是很想去。
Pinyin: Wǒ bú shì hěn xiǎng qù. 
In English: “I don’t really want to go.”

This is a polite way to reject an invitation. For example, you might use this phrase if your friend asks you to go for a drink at night, but you don’t like the taste of alcohol.

#5

In Chinese: 改天再说吧。
Pinyin: Gǎi tiān zài shuō ba. 
In English: “Let’s talk about it another day.”

This phrase is often used to postpone rejecting an invitation (or to put off giving a specific reason for your rejection). You could say this, for example, if a friend asks you to dine out and you just don’t feel like it. 

7. Conclusion

Chinese negation isn’t as difficult as you thought, right? Learning about negation in Chinese grammar early on can help increase your confidence as a beginner and make the rest of your studies much easier! 

Always keep in mind that Chinese people are very polite in some ways, so you should be careful with your tone and the way you phrase your rejections. 

If you still have any confusion about Chinese negation, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments. Asking questions is the only way to really improve! 

Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced Chinese learner (or are anywhere in between), ChineseClass101 has customized content and convenient tools for efficient learning. 

Can’t wait to see your growth in your Chinese-learning journey? Join ChineseClass101 today to boost your language skills like a pro.

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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

A ChineseClass101 Image

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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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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Chinese Final Particles: Signals for Tone of Voice

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Let’s take a look at these three sentences:

  • 你坐啊。(Nǐ zuò a.)
  • 你坐吧。(Nǐ zuò ba.)
  • 你坐嘛。(Nǐ zuò ma.)

They all have the same “sentence stem,” which is made up of the subject 你 (),  or “you,” and the action verb 坐 (zuò), meaning “to sit.” The last word in each sentence (a/ba/ma) is a particle, which doesn’t carry referential meaning, and therefore has no direct translations. Literally, these three sentences could all translate as: “You sit.” 

However, the Chinese particles at the end of each sentence drastically change the speaker’s mood and attitude. Final particles in Chinese can, for example, express that the speaker is feeling excited, making a polite suggestion, or being a little pushy and forceful.

Particles at the end of a sentence or question in Chinese are called final particles, also known as Chinese modal particles, as they indicate the speaker’s mood. Sentence-final particles can imply one’s attitude and intention in an indirect and subtle way, while at the same time making the speech colloquial. They’re often in a neutral tone, with no tone mark. 

In this article, you’ll learn some of the most commonly used final particles in Chinese and how to use them properly in different contexts. Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE! (Logged-In Member Only)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. Most Common Final Particles Used in Sentences
  2. Most Common Final Particles Used in Questions
  3. Comparison of Chinese Sentence Ending Particles
  4. Conclusion

1. Most Common Final Particles Used in Sentences

Note: Since there are barely any modal particles in English, we’ll provide the translations in the example sentences below with the indicated meanings, instead of the literal meanings. 

1- 啊 (a)

A- Usage 1: indicating excitement, exclamation, or a sense of urgency from the speaker

Kid with Open Mouth

Example:

  • 好香啊!
    Hǎo xiāng a!
    “It smells so good!”

This Chinese particle is used when you’re amazed at how great something smells, whether it’s food, flowers, or anything else with an aroma. Adding the particle 啊 (a) is the equivalent of saying “wow” in this context.

  • 我不知道啊!
    Wǒ bù zhīdào a!
    “I honestly don’t know!”

The 啊 (a) after 我不知道 (Wǒ bù zhīdào), or “I don’t know,” gives more flavor to the sentence. An example situation of when you could say this is if everyone is looking at you, but you honestly have no idea why!

  • 你快说啊!
    Nǐ kuài shuō a!
    “Say it, hurry!”

This could be used to ask someone to tell you something you need to know right now. For example, when a police officer interrogates a suspect, or a teenage girl is eager to find out more about her crush.

B- Usage 2: listing a number of things in colloquial language

啊 (a) is attached after someone has listed a number of things.

  • 动物园里有大象啊,老虎啊,狮子啊等等。
    Dòngwùyuán lǐ yǒu dàxiàng a, lǎohǔ a, shīzi a děngděng.
    “In the zoo, there are elephants, tigers, lions, and so on.”
  • 他擅长各种运动。比如说跑步啊,游泳啊,骑车啊,打篮球什么的。
    Tā shàncháng gèzhǒng yùndòng. Bǐrú shuō pǎobù a, yóuyǒng a, qíchē a, dǎ lánqiú shénme de.
    “He’s good at all kinds of sports, such as running, swimming, biking, playing basketball, and things like these.”

2- 了 (le)

了 (le) is considered one of the most difficult Chinese particle words to use. This is because it’s such a versatile and flexible word that it comes in many different forms and can be used in a variety of situations. 

When put at the end of a sentence (not as part of a sentence pattern), the particle 了 (le) has two major functions:

A- Usage 1: indicating completed actions and past events

Now, Yesterday, Tomorrow Signs
  • 今天早上我喝咖啡了。
    Jīntiān zǎoshang wǒ hē kāfēi le.
    “This morning, I drank coffee.”

Because Chinese verbs don’t conjugate, 了 (le) is often used as a marker for “past tense.” However, you need to be careful with the 就要……了 (jiù yào …le) pattern, meaning “about to….” This pattern is used for future events or actions. 

In order to confirm the time an action took place (or will take place), always check the time phrases and context, which is how the Chinese language works in terms of tenses. 

Like in our example, the time phrase 今天早上 (jīntiān zǎoshang), meaning “this morning,” lets the listener know that this is a completed action.

B- Usage 2: indicating change of status or state

For example, this may not be something you want to tell your friend, even if it’s true:

  • 你胖了。
    Nǐ pàng le.
    “You gained weight.”

The “you”‘ is in a different condition now. “You” were thinner when I last saw “you.” 

  • 下雨了。
    Xiàyǔ le.
    “It’s starting to rain.”

下雨 (xiàyǔ) means “to rain.” With the final particle 了(le), the sentence indicates that the weather is changing. It wasn’t raining, but now it is. 

3- 啦 (la)

A- Usage 1: can be viewed as the combination of 了 (le) and 啊 (a)

When we say the Chinese particles 了 (le) and 啊 (a) together quickly, it sounds like 啦 (la). As a result, it could indicate completed actions and change of state, with a tone of exclamation.

For example:

你胖了 (nǐ pàng le) without any more modal particles is usually a very neutral statement, even though it could hurt someone’s feelings. But when you say it with the particle 啦 (la), you’re making a big deal of it. 

  • 你胖啦! 
    Nǐ pàng la!
Big Belly

It’s almost like saying: “OMG, you gained weight!”

If your friend gets mad, you’re absolutely guilty. 

  • 今天早上我喝咖啡啦!
    Jīntiān zǎoshang wǒ hē kāfēi la!

You could use the sentence above when you haven’t had coffee for years, and finally this morning, you had some coffee. One could definitely feel the excitement, as well as the caffeine in you, when you say: 今天早上我喝咖啡啦!

B- Usage 2: 啦 can also be used as a soft imperative to urge someone to do something 

This usage is very common in Taiwanese Mandarin.

Example:

  • 再吃点啦。
    Zài chī diǎn la.
    “Eat more.”

The sentence above is urging someone to eat more, but with good intentions. It’s typically used by a parent to their child, or a host to guests at a homemade dinner

4- 吧 (ba)

吧 (ba) is one of the few very common, yet easy-to-use, final particles in Chinese. Great for boosting your confidence after wrapping your mind around all the complicated particles.

A- Usage 1: making suggestions

Example:

  • 我们走吧。
    Wǒmen zǒu ba.
    “Let’s go.”

Without 吧 (ba), 我们走 (wǒmen zǒu), which literally translates as “we go,” sounds a bit harsh, like making a command. By adding the 吧 (ba) at the end, the tone of voice gets softened. It still tells the other person to go, but in a more polite way, almost like making a suggestion.

  • 这样吧,我们先取消这个会议。
    Zhèyàng ba, wǒmen xiānqǔ xiāo zhège huìyì.
    “How about this? We’ll cancel this meeting for now.”

The phrase 这样吧 (zhèyàng ba) is often used to bring up a solution in a humble way, without sounding bossy.

B- Usage 2: indicating that the speaker is accepting something half-heartedly

Example: 

  • 那好吧。
    Nā hǎo ba.
    “Alright then.”

If you don’t like someone’s idea, but can’t quite think of a better solution, this is the phrase to use. 

  • 行吧,你想取消就取消。
    Xíng ba, nǐ xiǎng qǔxiāo jiù qǔxiāo.
    “Okay then, if you want to cancel it, cancel it then.”

行吧 (xíng ba) is used to okay something you’re not thrilled about, but don’t mind trying.

5- 哦 (o)

哦 (o) is used more by females than by males as a modal particle, since it adds a tone of softness, friendliness, and sometimes even intimacy to the speech.  

  • 小心哦。
    Xiǎoxīn o.
    “Be careful, okay?”

小心 (xiǎoxīn) means “be careful.” By adding the particle 哦 (o), the tone becomes more gentle and sweet. A strict father may tell you 小心 (xiǎoxīn), while a loving mother may tell you 小心哦 (xiǎoxīn o).

  • 不要忘了给我打电话哦。
    Búyào wàng le gěi wǒ dǎ diànhuà o.
    “Don’t forget to give me a call, alright?”

This is something a girl would tell her boyfriend, or a worrying mother would tell her son who’s going abroad for new adventures. 

6- 呢 (ne)

As a sentence final article, 呢 (ne) can soften the tone while emphasizing a fact, usually when trying to convince someone of something.

  • 还早呢。不用担心。
    Hái zǎo ne. Búyòng dānxīn.
    “It’s still early. Don’t worry.”

“It’s still early” is the fact. “Don’t worry” is what you’re trying to convince the other person to do.  

  • 一百多块呢。还是别买了。
    Yìbǎi duō kuài ne. Háishì bié mǎi le.
    “It’s over a hundred kuai. We’d better not buy it.”

块 (kuài) is the colloquial way to say 元 (yuán), the official unit name for Chinese currency

“It’s over a hundred kuai” is the fact. “Don’t buy it” is what you’re trying to tell the other person to do. 

7- 嘛 (ma)

This final particle is used when the speaker thinks something is obvious. 

Be careful using this particle, because in some situations, it could sound condescending, pushy, and impatient. 

  • 这个很简单嘛。
    Zhège hěn jiǎndān ma.
    “This is so simple.”

Without the particle 嘛 (ma), 这个很简单 (zhège hěn jiǎndān) is a neutral statement meaning “This is simple.” With the 嘛 (ma), it could imply that “This is so simple, you don’t get it?” or “This is so simple, I can solve it in only a few seconds.”

  • 你快点嘛!
    Nǐ kuàidiǎn ma!
    “Hurry up, will you?”

In this context, 嘛 (ma) makes the speaker sound very impatient, like a father yelling at his son to keep him from missing a flight

2. Most Common Final Particles Used in Questions

Chinese final particles are not only used in sentences, but also in questions. Here are some common Chinese question particles:

1- 吗 (ma)

Unlike the 嘛 (ma) we mentioned above, this 吗 (ma) is a question marker that turns a sentence into a yes-or-no question.

Woman Holding a Yes and a No Card

这是一只猫(Zhè shì yī zhī māo.)  is a sentence meaning “This is a cat.” When we attach 吗 (ma) to the end of the sentence, it becomes a question.

  • 这是一只猫吗?
    Zhè shì yī zhī māo ma?
    “Is this a cat?”

By itself, 她会说英语。 (Tā huì shuō Yīngyǔ.) means “She speaks English.” Look at what happens when we add 吗 (ma):

  • 她会说英语吗?
    Tā huì shuō Yīngyǔ ma?
    “Does she speak English?”

2- 啊 (a)

啊 (a) can be used at the end of a sentence, and at the end of a question, to express surprise or excitement in colloquial speech.

  • 你没去啊? 
    Nǐ méi qù a?
    “You didn’t go?”

By adding 啊 (a), it indicates that the speaker is surprised about the fact that “you didn’t go.”

  • 你到底什么意思啊?
    Nǐ dàodǐ shénme yìsi a?
    “What on earth do you mean?”

The speaker is clearly angry here, using the adverb 到底 (dàodǐ) “on earth” and the Chinese exclamation particle 啊 (a) to intensify his tone. 

3- 吧 (ba)

When used in questions, 吧 (ba) softens the tone like it does in sentences. But at the same time, it’s soliciting agreement from the listener, similar to the tag questions in English. An answer is expected from the listener. 

  • 他走了吧?
    Tā zǒu le ba?
    “He left, didn’t he?”

Notice that there are two particles in a row in this sentence. 了 (le) to indicate completed actions, and 吧 (ba) to ask a question that he’s pretty sure he knows the answer to. 

If we switch 吧 with 吗, the question becomes 他走了吗? (Tā zǒu le ma?) In this case, the speaker doesn’t know if “he has left” or not. He’s simply asking a question he’s not sure about. 

  • 今晚不会下雨吧?
    Jīnwǎn búhuì xiàyǔ ba?
    “It won’t rain tonight, right?”

The speaker may be seventy percent sure it won’t rain tonight, but still wants to double-check with the listener. 

4- 呢 (ne) 

When used in questions, 呢 (ne) can be used in a few ways.

A- Usage #1: after a topic is brought up, attach 呢 (ne) to another subject to ask “How about …?” 

  • 我很好。你呢?
    Wǒ hěn hǎo. Nǐ ne?
    “I’m very good. How about you?”
  • 他爸爸去世了。他妈妈呢?
    Tā bàba qùshì le. Tā māma ne?
    “His dad passed away. How about his mom?”

B- Usage  #2: meaning “where”

woman looking over the horizon with hand over forehead

Simply put 呢 (ne) after a subject whose whereabouts you’d like to know. 

  • 小明呢?
    Xiǎo Míng ne?
    “Where is Xiaoming?”
  • 我的手机呢?
    Wǒ de shǒujī ne?
    “Where is my phone?”

C- Usage #3: softening the tone in a question of choices

  • 我要不要去呢?
    Wǒ yào búyào qù ne?
    “Should I go or not go?”

This has the same meaning as 我要去吗?(Wǒ yào qù ma?) in which 吗 is used to indicate that it’s a yes-or-no question, while in 我要不要去呢?the choices have been given: 要 (yào) or 不要 (búyào), and the 呢 at the end softens the tone. 

  • 你有没有考虑过我的感受呢?
    Nǐ yǒu méiyǒu kǎo lǜ guò wǒ de gǎnshòu ne?
    “Have you ever thought about my feelings?”

The literal translation is: “You have or have not thought about my feelings?” 呢 (ne) is untranslatable as it only helps to soften the tone. 

3. Comparison of Chinese Sentence Ending Particles

Now let’s revisit the three sentences at the beginning of this article. Can you tell what tone of voice they could carry and in what situation they may be used?

Chair

1. 你坐啊。(Nǐ zuò a.)
2. 你坐吧。(Nǐ zuò ba.)
3. 你坐嘛。(Nǐ zuò ma.)

Sentence 1 with the final particle 啊 (a) could be used when you’re visiting your friend, and he or she asks you to take a seat and make yourself at home. It’s like saying: “Sit, make yourself comfortable.”

Sentence 2 with the final particle 吧 (ba) could be used by your supervisor who’s inviting you to sit in his office when he needs to speak with you in private. It’s like saying: “Grab a seat. We need to talk.” He’s trying to be nice by making a suggestion with 吧 (ba). 

Sentence 3 with the final particle 嘛 (ma) could be used by your mom urging you to sit after having told you many times. It’s like saying: “Please sit down for me!”

Well done. Now let’s try to put some more Chinese final particles after the sentence stem 你坐 (nǐ zuò).

4. 你坐哦。Nǐ zuò o. 
5. 你坐吗?Nǐ zuò ma? 
6. 你坐了啊?Nǐ zuò le a? 

Sentence 4 with the final particle 哦 (o) could be used by your new girlfriend acting sweet on you, telling you to sit next to her. It’s like saying: “Sit, my dear.” 

Sentence 5 is a question with the final particle 吗 (ma). It’s simply asking: “Are you going to sit?” in a neutral tone. 

In question 6, there are two final particles. The first one is 了(le), possibly indicating that something happened in the past. The next one is 啊 (a), asking a question with strong emotion. In a question, it likely carries a tone of surprise. 

坐 (zuò) as a verb could translate either as “to sit” or “to ride.” So 你坐了啊 could either be saying: “You sat? Really?” or “You’ve ridden in it? Oh wow.” 

4. Conclusion

Understanding Chinese ending particles and knowing how to use them in different settings takes a lot of time and immersion

If you’re a beginner, my advice is to keep your ears open for these particles, but try to stay away from them when you speak. If you use them correctly, your Chinese will sound very native and impressive, for sure. But if you put them in the wrong settings, you could embarrass yourself and your listeners. Think of the particles as the garnishments in cooking. For a great chef who knows his basics, his dish tastes fantastic even without fancy plates or flowers! 

Once you’re more comfortable and confident speaking Chinese, try out some of the particles with your friends who are willing to correct you. Eventually, you’ll be able to add different flavors to your speech with the proper final particles. 

Don’t forget that simulating immersion with our lessons is what ChineseClass101.com strives to do. You can listen to our audio lessons while commuting, before you sleep, after your work, or anytime you want. Download our app or go to our website to enjoy our free lessons!  

How did you like this lesson? Is there anything about Chinese final particles you still need clarification on? Let us know in the comments; we look forward to hearing from you!

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How to Say Goodbye in Chinese in Any Situation

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We come across so many people throughout the course of our human journey, where so many hellos and goodbyes take place. These phrases may seem basic, but they play a significant role in starting and ending things properly. The good news is that, as a language-learner, you’ve probably mastered how to say hello in Chinese by now (if not, check out our article and start learning today)!

But knowing how to say goodbye in Chinese is just as important. Choosing the best Chinese word for goodbye in a given situation will make your communication smoother, make you sound more like a native speaker, and improve the quality of your relationships. In Chinese culture, we have a variety of ways to say goodbye depending on how formal/casual the situation is, and a number of other factors.

If you’re interested in learning how to say goodbye in Chinese and want to enrich your conversations or relationships, keep on reading! Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE!(Logged-In Member Only)

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. The Most Common Ways to Say Goodbye
  2. More Specific Ways to Say Goodbye
  3. Untranslatable Goodbye Phrases in Chinese
  4. Bonus: Sad Ways to Say Goodbye (Breakups, Graduations, and More)
  5. Conclusion

1. The Most Common Ways to Say Goodbye

Most Common Goodbyes

To start, we’re going to show you the most popular Chinese goodbye phrases and how to use them properly.

1 – 

再见 (zài jiàn) is a formal Chinese expression that’s equivalent to the English word “goodbye.” It’s often used during formal occasions and is more preferred by the older generations. In some contexts, it can indicate feelings of sadness. 

  • In Chinese: 再见
  • Pinyin: zài jiàn
  • Literal meaning: See you again.
  • In English: “Goodbye.”

One situation in which you would use this phrase is when you’re leaving school: 

In Chinese: 刘老师再见。
Pinyin: liú lǎo shī zài jiàn 
In English: “Goodbye, Teacher Liu.”

2 –

Interestingly, 拜拜 (bái bái) is a direct translation of the English word “bye-bye,” which explains why its  pronunciation in Chinese is nearly identical to “bye-bye.” However, it’s rather casual and won’t be found in any traditional Chinese dictionaries. This word is often used among people of the younger generations.

  • In Chinese: 拜拜
  • Pinyin: bái bái 
  • In English: “Bye-bye.”

You might use this phrase after a day of hanging out with your friends:

In Chinese: 拜拜,改天再联系。
Pinyin: bái bái, gǎi tiān zài lián xì 
In English: “Bye-bye, I will talk to you another day.”

2. More Specific Ways to Say Goodbye

A College Student Waving Goodbye to Her Friends

Goodbyes can vary depending on the scenario…remember to find out the best option for your particular situation!

1 – 

  • In Chinese: [明天]见。
  • Pinyin: [míng tiān] jiàn 
  • In English: “See you [tomorrow].” 

You might use this phrase after the school day is over, while you’re getting ready to go home:

In Chinese: 那我先回家了,明天见。
Pinyin: nà wǒ xiān huí jiā le, míng tiān jiàn 
In English: “I’m going home now, see you tomorrow.”

2 –

  • In Chinese: 失陪。
  • Pinyin: shī péi 
  • Literal meaning: “You will lose my company.”
  • In English: “Excuse me.”

You would use this phrase if you had to answer an emergency phone call during a business meeting:

In Chinese: 我需要接个紧急电话,失陪了。
Pinyin: wǒ xū yào jiē gè jǐn jí diàn huà, shī péi le 
In English: “Excuse me, I need to answer an emergency call.”

3 –

  • In Chinese: 我得先走一步了。
  • Pinyin: wǒ děi xiān zǒu yī bù le
  • Literal meaning: “I will have to take one step ahead.”
  • In English: “I will have to take a leave now.”

You would use this phrase if you had to leave a party early because of an emergency:

In Chinese: 抱歉,我得先走一步了,家里有急事。
Pinyin: bào qiàn, wǒ děi xiān zǒu yī bù le, jiā lǐ yǒu jí shì 
In English: “Sorry, I will have to leave now, there is an emergency at home.”

A Businesswoman Scratching Her Head in Confusion

Find the right words and don’t let other people think you are being rude during a formal occasion.

4 –

  • In Chinese: 告辞。
  • Pinyin: gào cí 
  • In English: “I have to leave.”

You can use this Chinese goodbye anytime you need to leave somewhere in a hurry. 

In Chinese: 我还有事,就先告辞了。
Pinyin: wǒ hái yǒu shì, jiù xiān gào cí le 
In English: “I have something else to do, I have to leave now.”

Close-up of a Woman Talking on the Telephone

Call your old friends once in a while to show them some warmth.

5 –

  • In Chinese: 常联系。
  • Pinyin: cháng lián xì 
  • In English: “Let’s keep in touch.”

You might use this phrase if you just saw an old friend whom you hadn’t seen in a long time, talked a while, and need to leave now:

In Chinese: 以后常联系,我一直都在。
Pinyin: yǐ hòu cháng lián xì, wǒ yī zhí dōu zài 
In English: “Let’s keep in touch later, I will always be there.”

6 –

  • In Chinese: 有空再聊。
  • Pinyin: yǒu kōng zài liáo 
  • Literal meaning: “Let’s talk again when I’m free.”

This is a handy phrase to use if your friend is talking nonstop, but you have to go do something:

In Chinese: 抱歉,我现在有点忙,咱们有空再聊。
Pinyin: bào qiàn, wǒ xiàn zài yǒu diǎn máng, zán men yǒu kòng zài liáo 
In English: “Sorry, I am a bit busy right now. Let’s talk again when I’m free.”

7 –

  • In Chinese: 祝你以后一切顺利。
  • Pinyin: zhù nǐ yǐ hòu yī qiē shùn lì 
  • In English: “I wish you all the best in the future.”

Your friend got a great job offer abroad, and will leave soon:

In Chinese: 祝你以后在英国一切顺利。
Pinyin: zhù nǐ yǐ hòu zài yīng guó yī qiē shùn lì 
In English: “I wish you all the best in the future in England.”

8 – 

  • In Chinese: 一会儿见。
  • Pinyin: yī huìr jiàn 
  • In English: “See you later.” 

Imagine you ran into a friend while doing errands, and you know you’ll see them later at a party that night. You might say: 

In Chinese: 一会儿派对见。
Pinyin: yī huìr pài duì jiàn 
In English: “I will see you later at the party.”

3. Untranslatable Goodbye Phrases in Chinese

Every language is really a form of art, and as such, each one has its own unique elements. Unsurprisingly, there are multiple ways to say goodbye in Chinese that are hard to translate. As unique as they are, learning them will definitely help you sound more like a native!

1 –

  • In Chinese: 一路顺风。
  • Pinyin: yī lù shùn fēng 
  • Literal meaning: May you travel in the same direction with the wind.
  • In English: “Have a safe trip on the way home.”

Some family members who traveled far to visit you will be leaving soon to go home, so you might say:

In Chinese: 路上注意安全,一路顺风啊。
Pinyin: lù shàng zhù yì ān quán, yī lù shùn fēng a
In English: “Watch out on the way back and have a safe trip.”

2 –

  • In Chinese: 后会有期。
  • Pinyin: hoù huì yǒu qī
  • In English: “We will be able to see each other again someday.” 

You would use this phrase if your friend was moving abroad:

In Chinese: 有机会我去国外找你,后会有期哦。
Pinyin: yǒu jī huì wǒ qù guó wài zhǎo nǐ, hòu huì yǒu qī o
In English: “I will go visit you abroad if there is a chance. We will be able to see each other again someday.”

3 –

  • In Chinese: 回头见。
  • Pinyin: huí tóu jiàn
  • Literal meaning: “See you again when I turn my head around.”
  • In English: “I will see you again another day.” 

You would use this phrase if you just met a classmate during summer break, and you’ll be seeing each other in school soon:

In Chinese: 回头学校见。
Pinyin: huí tóu xué xiào jiàn 
In English: “I will see you again another day at school.”

4 –

  • In Chinese: 保重。
  • Pinyin: bǎo zhòng
  • Literal meaning: “Keep your weight.”
  • In English: “Take care.” 

A parent might say this to their child who’s leaving for college:

In Chinese: 你在大学照顾好自己,多保重。
Pinyin: nǐ zài dà xué zhào gù hǎo zì jǐ, duō bǎo zhòng 
In English: “You need to take care of yourself in college.”

5 –

  • In Chinese: 辛苦了。
  • Pinyin: xīn kǔ le
  • In English: “Thank you for your hard work.” 

You might say this to your coworkers after a long day of work:

In Chinese: 谢谢大家今天的付出,你们辛苦了。
Pinyin: xiè xie dà jiā jīn tiān de fù chū, nǐ men xīn kǔ le
In English: “Thank you for everyone’s hard work today.”

4. Bonus: Sad Ways to Say Goodbye (Breakups, Graduations, and More)

Soon-to-be High School Graduates Running Down the Stairs in Excitement

We should never forget the beautiful memories with our friends even after graduation.

1 – 

  • In Chinese: 祝你前途似锦,一切珍重。 
  • Pinyin: zhù nǐ qián tú sì jǐn, yī qiè zhēn zhòng 
  • In English: “I wish you a bright future and take care.” 

This is something you would say to your friends and other classmates after graduation: 

In Chinese: 祝你前途似锦,一切珍重,毕业后常联系。
Pinyin: zhù nǐ qián tú sì jǐn, yī qiè zhēn zhòng, bì yè hòu cháng lián xì 
In English: “I wish you a bright future and take care, let’s keep in touch after graduation.”

2 –

  • In Chinese: 是时候画上一个圆满的句号了。
  • Pinyin: shì shí hou huà shàng yī gè yuán mǎn de jù hào le 
  • Literal meaning: “It is time to write a period for it.”
  • In English: “It is time to say goodbye.”

You would say this to someone if you thought it was time to end your relationship:

In Chinese: 是时候给我们的感情画上一个圆满的句号了。
Pinyin: shì shí hou gěi wǒ men de gǎn qíng huà shàng yī gè yuán mǎn de jù hào le 
In English: “It is time to write a period for our relationship.”

3 –

  • In Chinese: 希望我们有缘再见。
  • Pinyin: xī wàng wǒ men yǒu yuán zài jiàn 
  • In English: “We will meet each other again as destiny leads us.”

You would use this phrase when parting ways with someone you befriended on a road trip:

In Chinese: 世界这么大,希望我们有缘再见。
Pinyin: shì jiè zhè me dà, xī wàng wǒ men yǒu yuán zài jiàn 
In English: “Hopefully we will meet each other again as destiny leads us in this big world.”

5. Conclusion

How do you say goodbye in Chinese? 

You should have many possible answers now, but always remember to customize your answer based on your situation. You never know when it will be your last chance to say goodbye to someone, so cherish every opportunity you have and make sure to say your Chinese goodbyes in the most appropriate way. Try your best to express how much you cherish your loved ones any time you’re apart, and let these goodbyes reach their full potential!

Anyway, it’s not time to say goodbye to ChineseClass101 yet! Don’t forget that there is still so much more to learn about the Chinese language. ChineseClass101.com can make you a conversation master through our unique lessons for learners at every level—trust me, it will be the experience of a lifetime. Embark on this fun language-learning journey with us, and I’m sure you’ll never want to say goodbye!

Before you go, let us know in the comments how you say goodbye in your language! We look forward to hearing from you.

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Is Chinese Hard to Learn? (And How to Love it Anyway)

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You’re interested in learning Mandarin Chinese, but rumor has it that it’s the most difficult language in the world. You start to have second thoughts. 

You’re not alone. To a lot of people, especially those who speak a Romance language, the Chinese language not only “sounds Greek,” but worse. The mysterious symbols, the absence of an alphabet, the hard-to-pronounce sounds, the Yin and Yang, and the ancient philosophies behind the language…the list goes on. 

Is Chinese hard to learn? Maybe. But should it keep you from moving forward? 

Definitely not! 

Chinese is a beautiful language. Imagine if the Chinese language were a woman—stunning, exotic, seemingly distant. You want to pursue her, but there’s a voice whispering in your ear that she’s out of your league. Would you give up right away, without even trying? 

Never! 

With the proper motivation, strategies, perseverance, and a few tips (which I’ll provide you with in this article), you can have a wonderful relationship with Chinese that will make everybody else jealous!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Chinese Table of Contents
  1. Getting to Know Chinese: The Easy Parts and the Difficult Parts
  2. Getting Serious: Start Off on the Right Foot
  3. A Little Professional Help Goes a Long Way

1. Getting to Know Chinese: The Easy Parts and the Difficult Parts

Now you’re officially on a date with Chinese. Here are some things you should know about her.

A- What’s the easy part of Chinese?

Grammar.

That’s right. Grammar is the easiest thing about Chinese. Here’s why:

i. Distinctions between tenses and moods are vague, with no verb conjugations. 

Chinese is a highly contextual language. Whether an action has happened, is happening, or will happen is usually indicated by time phrases and particles. 

For example, 爱 (ài) is a verb that means “to love.”

Book Pages Making a Heart Shape
    ➢ 我爱中文。(Wǒ ài Zhōngwén.)
    “I love Chinese.”

Basic simple tense.

    ➢ 我曾经爱过中文。(Wǒ céngjīng àiguò Zhōngwén.)
    “I used to love Chinese.”

Key words: 曾经 (céngjīng), meaning “at one time,” and the particle (guò), which marks an action that has been completed.

Together, they suggest that this is an event that happened in the past. The literal translation is: “I at one time loved Chinese.”

    ➢ 我一直爱着中文。(Wǒ yìzhí àizhe Zhōngwén.)
    “I’ve been in love with Chinese the whole time.”

Key words: 一直 (yìzhí), meaning “always,” and the particle (zhe), which marks an ongoing action or a continuous state. 

Together, they make this sentence equivalent to one in the present perfect continuous tense. The literal translation is: “I always have been loving Chinese.” 

Learning Chinese saves you the pain of reciting patterns of different tenses and the verb conjugation chart (which I have been through, miserably). All you need to know is a handful of time phrases and particles. A lot simpler than English, by comparison.

ii. Nouns don’t have gender or plural forms. 

There’s no need to memorize the gender of every new noun you learn. And there are no plural forms, either. To express plurality in Chinese, simply use adjectives or a number plus measure words, before nouns.

For example, 苹果 (píngguǒ) means “apple.”

One and a Half Apples
    ➢ 你有一个苹果。(Nǐ yǒu yí ge píngguǒ.)
    “You have one apple.”

Key word: 一个 (yí ge), meaning “one count.”

    ➢ 我有很多苹果。(Wǒ yǒu hěn duō píngguǒ.)
    “I have many apples.”

Key word: 很多 (hěn duō), meaning “many.” 

The Chinese language doesn’t care if an apple is a girl or a boy, or whether you have one apple or many. 苹果(píngguǒ), “apple,” is just 苹果 (píngguǒ).

iii. The word order is the same as that in English. 

The sentence structure in Chinese is the same Subject + Verb + Object pattern that’s used in English. 

For example, to say “I love apples” in Chinese, simply translate it word-for-word, in the same order.

我 () + 爱 (ài) + 苹果 (píngguǒ)。
Subject + Verb + Object
“I” + “love” + “apples.”

2- What’s the difficult part of learning Chinese? 

To build a relationship that’s going to last, you’ll also need to be ready to face some hardships. What makes Chinese so hard to learn? To give you a heads-up, here are two major challenges you may encounter when learning Chinese:

i. Chinese Characters

At first glance, Chinese writing looks breathtaking. But get ready for this attraction to mellow down once you sit down and get serious about studying 汉字, or “Chinese characters.” Mastering these enchanting symbols will take commitment and time:

  • One, you need to memorize the pronunciation of a character. 
  • Two, you need to memorize the meanings of that character. 
  • Three, you need to match the pronunciation, the meaning, and how the character looks. 
  • And four, you need to know which stroke comes first when writing it. 

Many learners find Chinese characters hard to learn, and so they only learn Pinyin. You may get away with knowing only Pinyin in everyday conversations, which we’ll talk more about later in this article, but if your goal is to be able to read and write—and eventually work and live in China—you have to learn Chinese characters.

Snack on Shelves

Do you know what you’re getting at a grocery store in China?

Don’t get me wrong. Chinese characters are by no means impossible to learn. All I’m trying to do is get you mentally prepared. Hopefully, when the time comes, you’ll go: Hey, learning Chinese characters is not that hard after all!  

ii. Tones

Let’s move on to the speaking and listening part, which shouldn’t be underestimated either. 

A quick way to tell if someone is a native Chinese-speaker or not is to listen and find out if he or she hit the tones right. Even people who have lived in China and have studied Chinese for a while are vulnerable to making tonal mistakes

Some quick facts about Chinese tones:

Every Chinese word comes with tones. There are five tones in total:

  • The first tone is high and flat, like a robot talking in a high pitch. 
  • The second tone is a rising tone, as if you were asking a question. 
  • The third tone starts low, and dips down even lower before it goes up. 
  • The fourth tone drops sharply from a high pitch. 
  • The fifth tone is light and fast. 

Don’t worry, it’ll take some time to identify the five tones of various pitches, duration, and contour. And that’s not even taking into account the immersion and practice it’ll take to say every single word with accuracy in conversations.

The second “unfair” fact about Chinese tones is that one syllable often has multiple tones. With each tone, that syllable becomes a different word with totally different meanings.

For example:

    ➢ 吻 (wěn) with the third tone means “to kiss.”
    问 (wèn) with the fourth tone means “to ask.”

Make sure you say it with the fourth falling tone when you want to ask someone a question: 我可以问你一下吗?(Wǒ kěyǐ wèn nǐ yīxià ma?) Otherwise, you’d end up asking: “May I kiss you?” or 我可以吻你一下吗 (Wǒ kěyǐ wěn nǐ yīxià ma?

Here’s another:

    ➢ 熊猫 (xióngmāo) means “panda,” with the first syllable in the second tone. 
    胸毛 (xiōngmáo) means “chest hair,” with the first syllable in the first tone.

Make sure you say “Chinese pandas are cute” with the correct tones: 中国的熊猫很可爱。(Zhōngguó de xióngmāo hěn kěài.) This way, you won’t get a bunch of eye rolls from saying: “Chinese chest hair is cute.” or 中国的胸毛很可爱。(Zhōngguó de xiōngmáo hěn kěài.)

Guy Scratching Head Looking Baffled

You’d probably be like: “What did I say?”

2. Getting Serious: Start Off on the Right Foot

So glad you’re still reading! That means you’re serious about learning Chinese, which is the attitude we want. 

It’s important to look in the right places when you first start. Depending on how much time you have, start gathering the following learning materials and tools and go through them either simultaneously, or one at a time. 

A- Pinyin Chart ᠆ Your Secret Pronunciation Weapon

We briefly mentioned 拼音, or “Pinyin,” earlier in this article. Pinyin is the romanization system for Chinese characters. It literally means “spell sound.” Pinyin wasn’t developed until the 1950s, and was created to help learners identify Chinese characters and remember how to pronounce them. It’s primarily used by school-aged children in China and non-native language-learners. 

This is how Pinyin works in a nutshell: One Chinese character has one syllable. One syllable spelled by Pinyin is usually made of a consonant, a vowel, and a tone mark. 

Many of the consonant and vowel sounds in Pinyin are close to, or even the same as, the ones in English, but some are different. All Pinyin letters and sounds can be found in our Pinyin chart, which is a great learning tool that you’ll be using frequently, especially as a beginner. Getting familiar with the Pinyin chart is something you should do when you first start learning Chinese. 

B- Common Core Words – Your Daily Love Notes

You should also start building your vocabulary from Day 1. Start with the most common everyday words in Chinese, and memorize a few every day, or every week, at your own pace. 

Not sure where to find the common core words? Here’s a page on which you’ll find the most frequently used Chinese words.  

You should start with something easy, such as memorizing the numbers from 1 to 10. As your vocabulary expands, you may find yourself slowing down, only being able to learn five a day instead of ten. This is totally fine and normal. The number of words you learn every day doesn’t matter. What matters is that you know how to use them in context and in real-life situations. Luckily, all the words on the page we recommended above come with sample sentences, so you can better understand each word and how to use them properly. 

With these common words, you can create your own vocabulary lists, make flashcards, and learn at any time, anywhere. Don’t forget to review them periodically. 

C- Study Plans and Motivation – Show How Much You Care

Roses, Sweets in a Box and a Note

i. How to Make Study Plans

There’s a saying in Chinese that goes: 磨刀不误砍柴工 (módāo bú wù kǎncháigōng). It means that sharpening your axe before chopping wood will save you time and effort. Making study plans is like taking the time to sharpen your axe. 

When making study plans, take two factors into consideration: #1, how much time you would like to contribute to learning Chinese, and #2, what level you’d like to achieve. 

Once you’ve squared these two questions away, the next step is to make day-to-day plans. For instance, study for ten minutes every day on your commute, memorize words about colors by next week, find time over the weekend to chat with your Chinese friends or language partner in Chinese only. For your study to really work, it needs to be specific and tangible. 

ii. How to Keep Yourself Going

A goal without a plan is just a wish. A plan without motivation is doomed to fail. 

As another popular Chinese saying goes: 不忘初心,方得始终 (bú wàng chūxīn, fāng dé shǐzhōng). It means that one should not forget why they started. Their goals can only be met with this in mind.

When feeling frustrated or defeated, think about what brought you here. Do you still remember why you started learning Chinese? What motivated you in the first place? 

In the meantime, take a moment to review what you’ve achieved. Sometimes we’re so busy moving forward, and forget to look back. Think about why you started and how far you’ve come along. This will help you refresh your weary heart and pump up your motivation again.  

3. A Little Professional Help Goes a Long Way

Even with the easiest language in the world, studying it on your own is challenging. When you feel aimless and frustrated, all you need is a map, or someone who knows the way, to point you in the right direction.

Blind-folded Man Walking on an Imaginary Bridge

ChineseClass101.com has been designed to fulfill that guiding role. 

    ★ We have FREE lessons and resources in various forms: podcasts, videos, PDFs, flashcards, and more. You can pick the way to learn that works best for you.
    ★ Our lessons cover all levels, from absolute beginner to advanced. With weekly updated lessons, you’ll never run out of learning materials.
    ★ Whenever you have a question, post it in the comment section; our teachers will explain it until you understand, without judgement.
    ★ If you’re determined to reach a certain level of proficiency in a relatively short amount of time, try out a Premium PLUS account. You’ll have a learning path designed only for you, as well as your own personal tutor!

Have you started learning Chinese already, or already mastered another language? What tips would you offer brand-new learners of Chinese? 

All in all, falling in love with Chinese is easy. Maintaining this relationship requires effort, though. How far down the road you get really depends on you and how you learn. 

Whenever you feel like giving up, remind yourself that everything you do to learn Chinese will be worth it. One day, you’ll be able to chat with locals with ease. And one day, when people ask you if Chinese is hard to learn, you’ll tell them: “No, it’s not that hard. I did it. You can too!” 

Wedding Bouquet with a Couple in the Background

恭喜! (Gōngxǐ!) – “Congratulations!”

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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