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The 30+ Most Helpful Phone Phrases in Chinese

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For beginners with limited speaking and listening skills, answering the phone in Chinese can be a scary thing

While phones allow us to communicate across great distances, they do have their drawbacks. For example, you cannot read body language or see changes in facial expression when talking on the phone with someone. 

These inconveniences can make it even more difficult for you to come up with the right Chinese phone conversation phrases when you need them. 

If this is something you’re worried about, this guide will be your savior. 

There’s a very limited number of Chinese phone phrases you’ll need to learn. As long as you put in the effort, you’ll start seeing improvements before you know it. 

In this perfect collection of phone phrases in Chinese, we’ll teach you how to answer the phone, how to properly end a phone conversation, and everything in between.

Once you pick up these formulas, you’ll be prepared to pick up your phone with great confidence whenever a ringtone strikes. 😉

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. Picking up the Phone
  2. Communicating in Business Contexts
  3. Explaining Your Reason for the Call
  4. Asking to Speak to Someone
  5. Asking Someone to Wait
  6. Leaving a Message
  7. Asking for Clarification
  8. Ending the Phone Call
  9. Other Occasions
  10. Sample Phone Conversations
  11. Conclusion

1. Picking up the Phone

There are a few different ways you could answer the phone in Chinese, each with its own nuance. Take a look: 

#1

In Chinese: 喂?
Pinyin: Wéi?
In English: “Hello?”

This is a special phrase that Chinese people say when picking up the phone, though some people think it’s disrespectful. It sounds more respectful when we use it together with other expressions. For example, we can say: 

喂?您哪位?
(Wéi? Nín nǎ wèi?
“Hello? Who is this?”

Or: 

喂?您好。
(Wéi? Nín hǎo.)
 “Hello.” 

#2

In Chinese: 你好。(Informal) / 您好。(Formal)
Pinyin: Nǐ hǎo. / Nín hǎo.
In English: “Hi.”

您 is for elders or people you want to show respect to; 你 is typically used toward friends and younger people.

#3

In Chinese: 请问您哪位?
Pinyin: Qǐng wèn nín nǎ wèi?
In English: “Who is this?”

#4

In Chinese: 你/您打错电话了。
Pinyin: Nǐ/Nín dǎ cuò diàn huà le. 
In English: “You’ve got the wrong number.”

2. Communicating in Business Contexts

A Woman Sitting at Her Work Desk Late at Night Talking on the Phone

Show your professionalism next time you answer the phone.

#5

In Chinese: 这里是[公司名字], 很高兴为您服务。
Pinyin: Zhè lǐ shì [gōng sī míng zì], hěn gāo xìng wéi nín fú wù. 
In English: “It’s [Company Name], I’m very happy to assist you.”

#6

In Chinese: 希望能尽快听到您的回复。
Pinyin: Xī wàng néng jìn kuài tīng dào nín de huí fù. 
In English: “I hope to hear from you soon.”

3. Explaining Your Reason for the Call

When making a phone call in Chinese, you should know how to explain your reason for calling. Here are a few sentence patterns you could use: 

#7

In Chinese: 我想跟[名字]讲一下关于……的事。
Pinyin: Wǒ xiǎng gēn [míng zì] jiǎng yī xià guān yú …de shì.
In English: “I’d like to speak to someone about…”

#8

In Chinese: 抱歉,刚才没来得及接你电话。
Pinyin: Bào qiàn, gāng cái méi lái de jí jiē nǐ diàn huà. 
In English: “Sorry, I wasn’t able to answer your call.”

#9

In Chinese: 我是打电话来预约……的。
Pinyin: Wǒ shì dǎ diàn huà lái yù yuē …de. 
In English: “I’m calling to make a reservation for…”

4. Asking to Speak to Someone

A Woman Lying on Her Stomach and Chatting on the Phone with Someone

Phone calls are a great way to connect.

#10

In Chinese: 请问[名字]在吗?
Pinyin: Qǐng wèn [míng zì] zài ma? 
In English: “Is [name] there to answer the phone?”

#11

In Chinese: 可以让[名字]来接一下电话吗?
Pinyin: Kě yǐ ràng [míng zì] lái jiē yī xià diàn huà ma? 
In English: “May I speak to [name]?”

5. Asking Someone to Wait

Especially in formal or business contexts, it’s common to keep someone on the line while you transfer them or find out information. Here are some useful Chinese phone call phrases you can use to politely ask the other party to wait: 

#12

In Chinese: 稍等,我去看一下。
Pinyin: Shāo děng, wǒ qù kàn yī xià. 
In English: “Wait a moment, let me check.”

#13

In Chinese: 请您在线稍候。
Pinyin: Qǐng nín zài xiàn shāo hòu. 
In English: “I will put you on hold for a second.”

#14

In Chinese: 我会为您连线他的办公室电话,请在线等候。
Pinyin: Wǒ huì wéi nín lián xiàn tā de bàn gōng shì diàn huà, qǐng zài xiàn děng hòu. 
In English: “Let me transfer you to his office. Stay on the line, please.”

6. Leaving a Message

Sometimes, the person we’re trying to reach is not available. In situations like this, the person we’re speaking to may offer to relay a message for us. Here are some key phrases: 

#15

In Chinese: 请转告他
Pinyin: Qǐng zhuǎn gào tā
In English: “Please let him know that…”

#16

In Chinese: 我可以留言吗?
Pinyin: Wǒ kě yǐ liú yán ma? 
In English: “Can I leave a message?”

#17

In Chinese: 可以麻烦你告诉他给这个号码回个电话吗?
Pinyin: Kě yǐ má fán nǐ gào sù tā gěi zhè gè hào mǎ huí gè diàn huà ma? 
In English: “Can you tell him to call me back at this number?”

7. Asking for Clarification

A Guy in a Business Suit Holding a Card with a Question Mark in Front of His Head

Sometimes, asking for clarification is necessary during a phone call. Never feel embarrassed to ask!

As a non-native speaker of the language, every time you make a phone call in Chinese you run the risk of not understanding everything you hear. But this is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about! Below are some phrases you can use to ask for clarification when needed. 

#18

In Chinese: 抱歉,能麻烦你再说一遍吗?
Pinyin: Bào qiàn, néng má fán nǐ zài shuō yī biàn ma? 
In English: “Sorry, could you say that again?”

#19

In Chinese: 您的名字怎么写?
Pinyin: Nín de míng zì zěn me xiě? 
In English: “Could you spell your name for me, please?”

#20

In Chinese: 我想再确认一下
Pinyin: Wǒ xiǎng zài què rèn yī xià 
In English: “Just to double check…”

#21

In Chinese: 抱歉,我网络信号不太好。这边听不太清。
Pinyin: Bào qiàn, wǒ wǎng luò xìn hào bú tài hǎo, zhè biān tīng bú tài qīng. 
In English: “I’m sorry, I’m having a hard time hearing you. I think my connection is bad.”

#22

In Chinese: 可以麻烦你说慢一点吗?
Pinyin: Kě yǐ má fán nǐ shuō màn yī diǎn ma? 
In English: “Can you please speak slower?”

8. Ending the Phone Call

A Smiling Woman Holding a Blue Phone to Her Ear

Hope you can always end the phone call with a smile!

When learning how to make Chinese phone calls, you can’t forget to study the appropriate ending phrases. Here are a few examples for you: 

#23

In Chinese: 请问您有其他需要帮助的吗?
Pinyin: Qǐng wèn nín yǒu qí tā xū yào bāng zhù de ma? 
In English: “Anything else I can help you with?”

#24

In Chinese: 谢谢你的帮助。
Pinyin: Xiè xie nǐ de bāng zhù.
In English: “Thank you for your help.”

#25

In Chinese: 回头聊。
Pinyin: Huí tóu liáo. 
In English: “Talk to you later.”

#26

In Chinese: 祝您拥有愉快的一天。
Pinyin: Zhù nín yōng yǒu yú kuài de yī tiān.
In English: “Have a great day.”

#27

In Chinese: 回头有时间再聊。
Pinyin: Huí tóu yǒu shí jiān zài liáo. 
In English: “Talk to you later when you are free.”

#28

In Chinese: 感谢你的致电,再见。
Pinyin: Gǎn xiè nǐ de zhì diàn, zài jiàn. 
In English: “Thank you for calling, goodbye.”

#29

In Chinese: 那我挂电话了,拜拜。
Pinyin: Nà wǒ guà diàn huà le, bái bái. 
In English: “Then I will hang up, bye-bye.”

9. Other Occasions

#30

In Chinese: 这个电话号码打不通。
Pinyin: Zhè gè diàn huà hào mǎ dǎ bu tōng. 
In English: “This phone number doesn’t work.”

#31

In Chinese: 他不接电话。
Pinyin: Tā bù jiē diàn huà.
In English: “He’s not picking it up.”

#32

In Chinese: 请问能借用一下电话吗?
Pinyin: Qǐng wèn néng jiè yòng yī xià diàn huà ma?
In English: “Can I please borrow your phone for a second?”

10. Sample Phone Conversations

Four Friends Chatting and Laughing with Coffee Drinks

It’s good to call your old friends to ask for a reunion once in a while.

Finally, let’s look at two sample Chinese phone call conversations. Below, you’ll find one informal dialogue and one formal dialogue. 

Scenario #1: 

Informal phone conversation: Two friends are setting up a time to meet for dinner on a weekend.

A: “Hey, how are you?”
嘿,最近怎么样啊 ?(Hei, zuì jìn zěn me yàng a?)

B:”Same old. How about you?”
还是老样子。你呢?(Hái shì lǎo yàng zi. Nǐ ne?)

A: “I’m pretty good. Are you free any day soon? Let’s dine out.”
我挺好的。最近有时间吗,咱们一起吃个饭吧?(Wǒ tǐng hǎo de. Zuì jìn yǒu shí jiān ma, zán men yī qǐ chī gè fàn ba?)

B: “Sure. But I’m a bit busy this week, I have a test coming up.”
好啊。不过我这周有点忙,有个考试。 (Hǎo a. Bú guò wǒ zhè zhōu yǒu diǎn máng, yǒu gè kǎo shì.)

A: “How about next week?”
下周怎么样?(Xià zhōu zěn me yàng?)

B: “No problem. I’m pretty free next week.”
没问题。我下周有空。(Méi wèn tí. Wǒ xià zhōu yǒu kōng.)

A: “How about lunch?”
一起吃午饭怎么样?(Yī qǐ chī wǔ fàn zěn me yàng?)

B: “Dinner is better for me.”
晚餐时间可能更好一些。(Wǎn cān shí jiān kě néng gèng hǎo yī xiē.)

A: “Sounds good. What date and time?”
那好。什么时候?(Nà hǎo. Shén me shí hòu?)

B: “How about Saturday at six p.m.?”
下午六点可以吗?(Xià wǔ liù diǎn kě yǐ ma?)

A: “That works for me. I will see you at the old place where we always ate then?”
我可以。那咱们老地方见?(Wǒ kě yǐ. Nà zán men lǎo dì fang jiàn?)

B: “Deal. See you there at six p.m. next Saturday.”
成。那就下周六下午六点老地方见。(Chéng. nà jiù xià zhōu liù xià wǔ liù diǎn lǎo dì fang jiàn.)

Scenario #2:

Formal phone conversation: After they’ve set the time and place, one of the friends calls the restaurant to reserve a table. 

A: “Hi, is this Restaurant C?”
你好。请问这里是餐馆C吗?(Nǐ hǎo. Qǐng wèn zhè lǐ shì cān guǎn C ma?)

Restaurant Employee: “Yes. Is there anything I can help you with?”
是的。请问您有什么需要帮助的吗?(Shì de. qǐng wèn nín yǒu shén me xū yào bāng zhù de ma?)

A: “I would like to make a reservation next Saturday at six p.m.”
我想订一下下周六下午六点的餐位。(Wǒ xiǎng dìng yī xià xià zhōu liù xià wǔ liù diǎn de cān wèi.)

Restaurant Employee: “May I know how many people are attending, please?”
请问会有多少人到场呢?(Qǐng wèn huì yǒu duō shǎo rén dào chǎng ne?)

A: “Just two people.”
就两个人。(Jiù liǎng gè rén.)

Restaurant Employee: “Next Saturday at six p.m. for two people. You got it.”
下周六下午六点两个人的餐位预订。没问题。(Xià zhōu liù xià wǔ liù diǎn liǎng gè rén de cān wèi yù dìng. Méi wèn tí. )

A: “Thank you so much.”
非常感谢。(Fēi cháng gǎn xiè.)

Restaurant Employee: “You are welcome. We look forward to seeing you here at Restaurant C then. Goodbye.”
客气了。期待在餐厅C见到您。再见。(Kè qì le. Qī dài zài cān tīng Cjiàn dào nín. Zài jiàn.)

A: “Sure. Bye.”
好的。再见。(Hǎo de. Zài jiàn.)

11. Conclusion

See? Talking on the phone in Chinese wouldn’t be so hard, would it? If you ever plan to actually go to China, save this guide and it will save you some valuable time. 

Chinese phone conversation phrases are one of the basic things you need to learn as a beginner. Once you master this skill—congratulations! You’re one step closer to mastering the language as a whole. 

If there are any other phone phrases in Chinese you would like to know, please share them with us in the comments below. A curious mind is always more likely to succeed!

ChineseClass101 has a rich variety of learning resources and study materials. Anything you need, we have it in store for you: everything from vocabulary and grammar lessons to those covering advanced conversations and idioms. In addition, our lessons combine language studies with practical information about Chinese culture. You’ll be amazed by how much real-life Chinese you can acquire! 

Visit us today and create your free lifetime account to explore more entertaining and useful Chinese learning resources.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese

200+ Commonly Used Chinese Words for Beginners

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If you’ve just started learning Chinese from scratch, you’re probably still adjusting to the learning curve. At this point in your studies, memorizing basic vocabulary should be one of your top priorities. 

You may have already sniffed out some basic Chinese words for beginners from other sources, but some of the words you’ve come across may not be that helpful in real life.

In this guide, we’ve collected over 200 important Chinese words for beginners tailored for your needs. Look no further, and start mastering these basic Chinese words right away!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. Pronouns
  2. Numbers 1-10
  3. Nouns
  4. Verbs
  5. Adjectives
  6. Conjunctions
  7. Classifier
  8. Conclusion

1. Pronouns

Pronouns are an essential component of Chinese vocabulary, so learning them early on is a great idea. Here are the personal, interrogative, and demonstrative Chinese pronouns you should know: 

1 – Personal Subject Pronouns

In ChineseRomanizationIn English
1st person singular“I”
2nd person singular你 / 您 (casual / formal)nǐ / nín“You”
3rd person singular¹他 / 她 / 它“He” / “She” / “It”
1st person plural²我们 / 咱们wǒ men / zán men“We”
2nd person plural你们nǐ men“You”
3rd person plural他们 / 她们 / 它们tā men“They” (He / She / It)

¹ Note that the third person singular pronouns all have the same pronunciation.
² 咱们 is a little different from 我们 as it specifies that the listener is a part of “we” as well.

2 – Interrogative Pronouns

A Woman Thinking with Question Marks above Her Head

If you have a question, you gotta ask!

In Chinese: 哪个
Pinyin: nǎ gè 
In English: “Which”

In Chinese: 谁的
Pinyin: shuí de 
In English: “Whose”

In Chinese: 什么时候 / 何时 (casual / formal)
Pinyin: shén me shí hòu / hé shí
In English: “When”

In Chinese: 怎样 / 如何 (casual / formal)
Pinyin: zěn yàng / rú hé
In English: “How”

In Chinese: 哪里
Pinyin: nǎ lǐ 
In English: “Where”

In Chinese: 谁
Pinyin: shuí 
In English: “Who”

In Chinese: 什么
Pinyin: shén me 
In English: “What”

3 – Demonstrative Pronouns

In Chinese: 这个
Pinyin: zhè gè 
In English: “This”

In Chinese: 那个
Pinyin: nèi gè / nà gè (casual / formal)
In English: “That”
Additional notes: The official pronunciation in dictionaries is nà gè, but for easier pronunciation in daily life, native Chinese speakers tend to pronounce it as nèi gè.

In Chinese: 这些
Pinyin: zhè xiē 
In English: “These”

In Chinese: 那些
Pinyin: nèi xiē / nà xiē (casual / formal)
In English: “Those”

2. Numbers 1-10

Painted Wooden Blocks Representing Numbers and Mathematical Signs

Numbers are essential in many daily-life conversations.

In Chinese: 一
Pinyin: yī 
In English: “One”

In Chinese: 二 / 两
Pinyin: èr / liǎng 
In English: “Two”
Additional notes: 二 is used more for numbers, while 两 is generally used for specifying quantities (such as “two of something”).

In Chinese: 三
Pinyin: sān 
In English: “Three”

In Chinese: 四
Pinyin: sì 
In English: “Four”

In Chinese: 五
Pinyin: wǔ 
In English: “Five”

In Chinese: 六
Pinyin: liù 
In English: “Six”

In Chinese: 七
Pinyin: qī 
In English: “Seven”

In Chinese: 八
Pinyin: bā 
In English: “Eight”

In Chinese: 九
Pinyin: jiǔ 
In English: “Nine”

In Chinese: 十
Pinyin: shí 
In English: “Ten”

3. Nouns

Nouns are perhaps the most important part of speech to learn as a beginner. A noun can represent a person, a place, a thing, or even an idea. You need nouns in order to make a complete sentence, and in a pinch, you can communicate an immediate need using nouns alone! Following are several simple Chinese nouns in different categories.

A Clock Using Roman Numerals and a Calendar

Time is precious.

1 – Time

In Chinese: 时间
Pinyin: shí jiān 
In English: “Time”

In Chinese: 小时
Pinyin: xiǎo shí 
In English: “Hour”

In Chinese: 分钟
Pinyin: fēn zhōng 
In English: “Minute”

In Chinese: 早晨 / 上午
Pinyin: zǎo chén / shàng wǔ 
In English: “Morning”

In Chinese: 中午
Pinyin: zhōng wǔ 
In English: “Noon”

In Chinese: 下午
Pinyin: xià wǔ 
In English: “Afternoon”

In Chinese: 天
Pinyin: tiān 
In English: “Day”

In Chinese: 月
Pinyin: yuè 
In English: “Month”

In Chinese: 年
Pinyin: nián
In English: “Year”

In Chinese: 周一 / 星期一 (formal / casual)
Pinyin: zhōu yī / xīng qī yī 
In English: “Monday”

In Chinese: 周二 / 星期二
Pinyin: zhōu èr / xīng qī èr
In English: “Tuesday”

In Chinese: 周三 / 星期三
Pinyin: zhōu sān / xīng qī sān 
In English: “Wednesday”

In Chinese: 周四 / 星期四
Pinyin: zhōu sì / xīng qī sì 
In English: “Thursday”

In Chinese: 周五 / 星期五
Pinyin: zhōu wǔ / xīng qī wǔ
In English: “Friday”

In Chinese: 周六 / 星期六
Pinyin: zhōu liù / xīng qī liù
In English: “Saturday”

In Chinese: 周日 / 星期日
Pinyin: zhōu rì / xīng qī rì 
In English: “Sunday”

In Chinese: 周末
Pinyin: zhōu mò 
In English: “Weekend”

In Chinese: 工作日
Pinyin: gōng zuò rì 
In English: “Workday”

2 – People 

In Chinese: 先生
Pinyin: xiān sheng 
In English: “Mr.”

In Chinese: 女士
Pinyin: nǚ shì 
In English: “Ms.”

In Chinese: 爸爸 / 父亲
Pinyin: bà ba / fù qin 
In English: “Dad” / “Father”

In Chinese: 妈妈 / 母亲
Pinyin: mā ma / mǔ qin 
In English: “Mom” / “Mother”

In Chinese: 阿姨
Pinyin: ā yí
In English: “Aunt”
Additional notes: In China, young people often have to call their elders “Aunt” / “Uncle” even if they’re not related. Thus, these are important people-related words to learn.

In Chinese: 叔叔
Pinyin: shū shu
In English: “Uncle”

In Chinese: 家人
Pinyin: jiā rén 
In English: “Family”

3 – Places

Several Locations Pinpointed on a Map

What is your destination in life?

In Chinese: 地点
Pinyin: dì diǎn 
In English: “Place”

In Chinese: 医院
Pinyin: yī yuàn 
In English: “Hospital”

In Chinese: 学校
Pinyin: xué xiào 
In English: “School”

In Chinese: 市中心
Pinyin: shì zhōng xīn 
In English: “Downtown”

In Chinese: 厕所
Pinyin: cè suǒ 
In English: “Bathroom”

In Chinese: 餐厅
Pinyin: cān tīng 
In English: “Restaurant”

In Chinese: 宾馆
Pinyin: bīn guǎn 
In English: “Hotel”

4 – School/Office Essentials

In Chinese: 办公室
Pinyin: bàn gōng shì
In English: “Office”

In Chinese: 钢笔
Pinyin: gāng bǐ 
In English: “Pen”

In Chinese: 笔记本
Pinyin: bǐ jì běn 
In English: “Notebook”

In Chinese: 电脑
Pinyin: diàn nǎo 
In English: “Computer”

In Chinese: 书桌
Pinyin: shū zhuō 
In English: “Desk”

5 – Body Parts

In Chinese: 身体
Pinyin: shēn tǐ 
In English: “Body”

In Chinese: 眼睛
Pinyin: yǎn jīng 
In English: “Eyes”

In Chinese: 鼻子
Pinyin: bí zi
In English: “Nose”

In Chinese: 脸
Pinyin: liǎn 
In English: “Face”

In Chinese: 手臂
Pinyin: shǒu bì 
In English: “Arm”

In Chinese: 耳朵
Pinyin: ěr duo 
In English: “Ear”

In Chinese: 手
Pinyin: shǒu
In English: “Hand”

In Chinese: 腿
Pinyin: tuǐ 
In English: “Leg”

In Chinese: 脚
Pinyin: jiǎo
In English: “Foot”

In Chinese: 手指
Pinyin: shǒu zhǐ 
In English: “Finger”

6 – Food

In Chinese: 食物
Pinyin: shí wù 
In English: “Food”

In Chinese: 果汁
Pinyin: guǒ zhī 
In English: “Juice”

In Chinese: 鸡蛋
Pinyin: jī dàn 
In English: “Egg”

In Chinese: 牛奶
Pinyin: niú nǎi 
In English: “Milk”

In Chinese: 肉
Pinyin: ròu 
In English: “Meat”

In Chinese: 水果
Pinyin: shuǐ guǒ 
In English: “Fruit”

In Chinese: 蔬菜
Pinyin: shū cài
In English: “Vegetable”

In Chinese: 米饭
Pinyin: mǐ fàn 
In English: “Rice”

In Chinese: 面条
Pinyin: miàn tiáo 
In English: “Noodles”

In Chinese: 蛋糕
Pinyin: dàn gāo 
In English: “Cake”

In Chinese: 超市
Pinyin: chāo shì
In English: “Supermarket”

In Chinese: 快餐
Pinyin: kuài cān 
In English: “Fast food”

In Chinese: 汉堡
Pinyin: hàn bǎo 
In English: “Hamburger”

In Chinese: 薯条
Pinyin: shǔ tiáo 
In English: “French fries”

In Chinese: 勺子
Pinyin: sháo zi
In English: “Spoon”

In Chinese: 筷子
Pinyin: kuài zi
In English: “Chopstick”

In Chinese: 碗
Pinyin: wǎn
In English: “Bowl”

In Chinese: 盘子
Pinyin: pán zi
In English: “Plate”

In Chinese: 零食
Pinyin: líng shí 
In English: “Snack”

In Chinese: 海鮮
Pinyin: hǎi xiān 
In English: “Seafood”

In Chinese: 面包
Pinyin: miàn bāo
In English: “Bread”

4. Verbs

Another set of essential beginner words in Chinese are verbs. Used together with nouns, they allow you to form complete sentences and better express yourself. To give you a headstart, here are the most commonly used verbs in Chinese

1 – Daily Routine Verbs:

In Chinese: 起床
Pinyin: qǐ chuáng 
In English: “Get up”

In Chinese: 吃
Pinyin: chī 
In English: “Eat”

In Chinese: 喝
Pinyin: hē 
In English: “Drink”

In Chinese: 去
Pinyin: qù 
In English: “Go”

In Chinese: 工作
Pinyin: gōng zuò 
In English: “Work”

In Chinese: 学习
Pinyin: xué xí 
In English: “Study”

In Chinese: 驾驶
Pinyin: jià shǐ 
In English: “Drive”

In Chinese: 骑
Pinyin: qí 
In English: “Ride”

In Chinese: 睡觉
Pinyin: shuì jiào 
In English: “Sleep”

In Chinese: 休息
Pinyin: xiū xī
In English: “Rest”

In Chinese: 做饭
Pinyin: zuò fàn 
In English: “Cook”

2 – Other Commonly Used Verbs

In Chinese: 给
Pinyin: gěi 
In English: “Give”

In Chinese: 获得
Pinyin: huò dé 
In English: “Get”

In Chinese: 制作
Pinyin: zhì zuò 
In English: “Make”

In Chinese: 做
Pinyin: zuò 
In English: “Do”

In Chinese: 让
Pinyin: ràng 
In English: “Let”

In Chinese: 问
Pinyin: wèn 
In English: “Ask”

In Chinese: 笑
Pinyin: xiào 
In English: “Smile”

In Chinese: 找
Pinyin: zhǎo
In English: “Find”

In Chinese: 哭
Pinyin: kū 
In English: “Cry”

In Chinese: 坐
Pinyin: zuò
In English: “Sit”

In Chinese: 站
Pinyin: zhàn 
In English: “Stand”

In Chinese: 喜欢
Pinyin: xǐ huān 
In English: “Like”

In Chinese: 爱
Pinyin: ài 
In English: “Love”

In Chinese: 告诉
Pinyin: gào sù 
In English: “Tell”

In Chinese: 希望
Pinyin: xī wàng 
In English: “Hope”

In Chinese: 看
Pinyin: kàn 
In English: “Look”

In Chinese: 忘记
Pinyin: wàng jì 
In English: “Forget”

In Chinese: 失去 / 丢失 (something / someone)
Pinyin: shī qù / diū shī 
In English: “Lose” / “Lost”

In Chinese: 记住
Pinyin: jì zhù 
In English: “Remember”

In Chinese: 离开
Pinyin: lí kāi 
In English: “Leave”

In Chinese: 发生
Pinyin: fā shēng 
In English: “Happen”

In Chinese: 认为 / 思考
Pinyin: fā shēng 
In English: “Think”

In Chinese: 完成
Pinyin: wán chéng 
In English: “Finish”

In Chinese: 变化
Pinyin: biàn huà 
In English: “Change”

In Chinese: 感激
Pinyin: gǎn jī 
In English: “Thank”

In Chinese: 走
Pinyin: zǒu 
In English: “Walk”

In Chinese: 跳舞
Pinyin: tiào wǔ 
In English: “Dance”

In Chinese: 唱歌
Pinyin: chàng gē 
In English: “Sing”

In Chinese: 走
Pinyin: zǒu 
In English: “Walk”

In Chinese: 跑
Pinyin: pǎo 
In English: “Run”

In Chinese: 读
Pinyin: dú 
In English: “Read”

In Chinese: 听
Pinyin: tīng 
In English: “Listen”

In Chinese: 写
Pinyin: xiě 
In English: “Write”

In Chinese: 回答
Pinyin: huí dá 
In English: “Answer”

In Chinese: 问
Pinyin: wèn 
In English: “Ask”

In Chinese: 说
Pinyin: shuō 
In English: “Speak”

In Chinese: 买
Pinyin: mǎi 
In English: “Buy”

In Chinese: 卖
Pinyin: mài
In English: “Sell”

In Chinese: 观察
Pinyin: guān chá 
In English: “Observe”

5. Adjectives

Our list below is a great place to start, but make sure to visit our list of 100 Chinese adjectives for even more vocabulary! 

1 – Describing Objects

In Chinese: 大的
Pinyin: dà de 
In English: “Big”

In Chinese: 小的
Pinyin: xiǎo de 
In English: “Small”

In Chinese: 长的
Pinyin: cháng de
In English: “Long”

In Chinese: 短的
Pinyin: duǎn de 
In English: “Short”

In Chinese: 苗条的
Pinyin: miáo tiáo de
In English: “Skinny”

In Chinese: 强壮的
Pinyin: qiáng zhuàng de 
In English: “Strong”

2 – Describing People

In Chinese: 好看的
Pinyin: hǎo kàn de 
In English: “Pretty”

In Chinese: 英俊的
Pinyin: yīng jùn de
In English: “Handsome”

In Chinese: 高的
Pinyin: gāo de 
In English: “Tall”

In Chinese: 矮的
Pinyin: ǎi de 
In English: “Short”

In Chinese: 疑惑的
Pinyin: yí huò de
In English: “Confused”

3 – Describing Emotions

In Chinese: 开心的
Pinyin: kāi xīn de
In English: “Happy”

In Chinese: 难过的
Pinyin: nán guò de
In English: “Sad”

In Chinese: 害怕的
Pinyin: hài pà de
In English: “Scared”

In Chinese: 感动的
Pinyin: gǎn dòng de
In English: “Touched”

In Chinese: 惊喜的
Pinyin: jīng xǐ de
In English: “Surprised”

In Chinese: 激动的
Pinyin: jī dòng de
In English: “Excited”

In Chinese: 失望的
Pinyin: shī wàng de
In English: “Disappointed”

In Chinese: 骄傲的
Pinyin: jiāo ào de
In English: “Proud”

In Chinese: 轻松的
Pinyin: qīng sōng de
In English: “Relaxed”

In Chinese: 生气的
Pinyin: shēng qì de
In English: “Angry”

In Chinese: 沮丧的
Pinyin: jǔ sàng de
In English: “Upset”

In Chinese: 忧伤的
Pinyin: yōu shāng de
In English: “Depressed”

In Chinese: 冷静的
Pinyin: lěng jìng de
In English: “Calm”

In Chinese: 释然的
Pinyin: shì rán de
In English: “Relieved”

In Chinese: 乐观的
Pinyin: lè guān de
In English: “Optimistic”

In Chinese: 悲观的
Pinyin: bēi guān de
In English: “Pessimistic”

4 – Describing the Weather

1.
In Chinese: 下雨的
Pinyin: xià yǔ de
In English: “Rainy”

2.
In Chinese: 多云的
Pinyin: duō yún de
In English: “Cloudy”

3.
In Chinese: 多风的
Pinyin: duō fēng de
In English: “Windy”

4.
In Chinese: 晴朗的
Pinyin: qíng lǎng de
In English: “Sunny”

5.
In Chinese: 下雪的
Pinyin: xià xuě de
In English: “Snowy”

6. Conjunctions

In Chinese: 并且
Pinyin: bìng qiě
In English: “And”

In Chinese: 但是
Pinyin: dàn shì
In English: “But”

In Chinese: 然后
Pinyin: rán hòu
In English: “Then”

In Chinese: 因为
Pinyin: yīn wèi
In English: “Because”

In Chinese: 所以
Pinyin: suǒ yǐ
In English: “So”

In Chinese: 因此
Pinyin: yīn cǐ
In English: “Thus”

In Chinese: 还有
Pinyin: hái yǒu
In English: “Also”

In Chinese: 之前
Pinyin: zhī qián
In English: “Before”

In Chinese: 之后
Pinyin: zhī hòu
In English: “After”

In Chinese: 从此
Pinyin: cóng cǐ
In English: “Since”

7. Classifier

In Chinese: 只
Pinyin: zhī
Example objects to use for: Cats

In Chinese: 头
Pinyin: tóu
Example objects to use for: Cows

In Chinese: 个
Pinyin:
Example objects to use for: People

In Chinese: 条
Pinyin: tiáo
Example objects to use for: Fish

In Chinese: 支
Pinyin: zhī
Example objects to use for: Pens

8. Conclusion

Now that you’ve learned over 200 Chinese words for beginners, the vocabulary may seem overwhelming at first. However, as long as you keep practicing them every day, everything will fall into place. Using these basic Chinese words will eventually become second nature. 

You’ll soon find yourself passing the beginner stage and moving forward to the intermediate and advanced stages. If you feel like there aren’t enough learning resources available to you, ChineseClass101 is always here to be your greatest helper.

ChineseClass101 has professional, entertaining materials for Chinese learners at every stage of their language learning journey, and you’ll definitely find what you’re looking for here. Become a member today and experience all that our website has to offer! 

What other basic Chinese words do you want to know? Are there any you’re confused about? Comment below to let us know!

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The Top 10 Chinese Filler Words to Flavor Your Speech

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As dedicated a language learner as you are, there are probably still situations where you don’t have your next sentence prepared during a conversation. 

The question is: What should you do? 

On the one hand, you don’t want to pause for so long that the conversation becomes awkward. But on the other hand, it’s only natural to pause and think sometimes, even in your mother tongue. 

Chinese filler words are a magical set of tools that will empower your conversations and help you sound more like a native speaker. Using them will definitely make it feel easier to organize and share your thoughts. 

Today, we’re going to introduce you to the top 10 most useful Chinese filler words. However, remember not to overwhelm your conversation partner with too many of them—after all, they’re used to smoothen a conversation, not to abuse one. 

Now without further ado, let’s dive straight into it!

A Woman Trying to Comprehend What a Man Is Saying

Sometimes, taking a proper pause to organize your thoughts is the right thing to do.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. What are filler words and why do we use them?
  2. Top 10 Common Chinese Filler Words
  3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words
  4. Conclusion

1. What are filler words and why do we use them?

Hmmm…let me think about it… What exactly is a filler word and how do we use it? 

Well, that’s a pretty difficult question to answer, but I believe you’re smart enough to have guessed after reading this far. 😉 

At one point or another, we all use filler words in our conversations. They can be used to buy us some time as we search for the right expression or figure out what to say next. Even in your native language, it’s likely that you sprinkle your daily convos with the occasional filler word. It’s just natural. 

Although filler words might not sound important, they indeed play a major role in the Chinese language. We use them in several different contexts and for a variety of reasons, such as adding emphasis or showing that we’re embarrassed or hesitant to say something out loud. 

If you’re familiar with Chinese culture, you may have heard that Chinese people greatly value the concept of “face.” Well, having filler words at your disposal can encourage you to speak up and help you do so with grace.

2. Top 10 Common Chinese Filler Words

A Group of Four Friends Chatting with Drinks

Use your words properly and make everyone happy during a conversation!

#1 

In Chinese: 那个…
Pinyin: nà gè…
Literal meaning in English: “That…”

You can use this Chinese filler word when you’re speaking about something difficult or awkward, or when you’re thinking about what to say next. 

Keep in mind that although the official pronunciation is nà gè, native Chinese speakers prefer to pronounce it nèi gè in their everyday conversations because it’s easier to say.

Example

A: “那个……我想跟你说个秘密,你能不能不要告诉别人?”
B: “当然了,放心吧。”

A: “Nà gè …wǒ xiǎng gēn nǐ shuō gè mì mì, nǐ néng bu néng bú yào gào sù bié rén.” 
B: “Dāng rán le, fàng xīn ba.” 

A: “Uh… I want to let you in on a secret, can you please not tell anyone else?”
B: “Of course, just rest assured.”

#2 

In Chinese: 然后…
Pinyin: rán hòu…
Literal meaning in English: “Then…”

This filler can be used to connect a series of events that happened in a more natural way.  然后 is actually a pet phrase for many Chinese people, especially when it comes to describing a long sequence of events, so feel free to use it as needed.

Example

“我没想到事情发生的这么突然,然后我就一下子愣住了, 再然后我就晕过去了。”
“Wǒ méi xiǎng dào shì qíng fā shēng de zhè me tū rán, rán hòu wǒ jiù yī xià zi lèng zhù le, zài rán hòu wǒ jiù yūn guò qù le.”
“I didn’t expect it to happen so fast, then I just froze from the shock, and then I passed out.”

#3

In Chinese: 就是…
Pinyin: jiù shì…
In English: “It’s like…” / “Actually…”

This is a great filler to use if you’re talking about something difficult or awkward, especially if you need to make your point clear. 

Example

A: “你到底想和我说什么?”
B: “就是吧……我其实一直都很喜欢你,你愿意和我在一起吗?”

A: “Nǐ dào dǐ xiǎng hé wǒ shuō shén me?” 
B: “Jiù shì ba …wǒ qí shí yī zhí dōu hěn xǐ huān nǐ, nǐ yuàn yì hé wǒ zài yī qǐ ma?”

A: “What do you exactly want to tell me?”
B: “Actually… I have always had a crush on you. Do you want to be with me?”

#4 

In Chinese: 对了…
Pinyin: duì le… 
In English: “By the way…”

Like its English equivalent, you would use this filler in case you wanted to add something to a previous conversation or if you wanted to say something that just came to mind. 

Example

A: “早上好。”
B: “早上好。对了,今天要不要一起吃午饭?”

A: “Zǎo shàng hǎo.” 
B: “Zǎo shàng hǎo. Duì le, jīn tiān yào bú yào yī qǐ chī wǔ fàn?”

A: “Good morning.”
B: “Good morning. By the way, do you want to have lunch with me today?”

#5 

In Chinese: 呃…
Pinyin: e…
In English: “Hm…”

You can use this Chinese filler when you’re hesitant or unsure about what to say.

Example

A: “你想和我结婚吗?”
B: “呃……我觉得我们应该再考虑一段时间。”

A: “Nǐ xiǎng hé wǒ jié hūn ma?” 
B: “E …wǒ jué de wǒ men yīng gāi zài kǎo lǜ yī duàn shí jiān.”

A: “Do you want to get married?”
B: “Hmm… I think we should take a little bit more time.”

#6

In Chinese: 另外…
Pinyin: lìng wài…
In English: “Also…”

This filler is most often used when you’re thinking of something to add to a conversation you’ve just had. 

Example

A: “今天和我出去逛街怎么样?”
B: “我今天不想出去逛街。另外……我肚子有些不舒服。”

A: “Jīn tiān hé wǒ chū qù guàng jiē zěn me yàng?” 
B: “Wǒ jīn tiān bù xiǎng chū qù guàng jiē. Lìng wài …wǒ dù zi yǒu xiē bù shū fú.”

A: “How about going shopping today?”
B: “I don’t really want to go shopping. Also…my stomach is a little upset.”

#7

In Chinese: 还有就是…
Pinyin: hái yǒu jiù shì…
In English: “What’s more…”

This is another filler you can use when you’re thinking of something to add to the conversation. 

Example

“我有点不好意思告诉你,还有就是……我爸妈不想邀请你来我的生日派对。”
“Wǒ yǒu diǎn bù hǎo yì sī gào sù nǐ, hái yǒu jiù shì …wǒ bà mā bù xiǎng yāo qǐng nǐ lái wǒ de shēng rì pài duì.”
“I feel a little embarrassed to tell you, what’s more is that…my parents don’t want you to come to my birthday party.”

A Woman Making a Phone Call while Holding a Hand to Her Head

Certain topics are embarrassing to talk about, which is where filler words come into play!

#8

In Chinese: 那什么…
Pinyin: nà shén me…
Literal meaning in English: “About that…”

You can use this filler to ease into a topic that may be awkward to speak about, or when you need time to think of what to say next. 

Example

A: “你可以把欠我的钱还给我吗?”
B: “那什么……我最近手头有点紧,下星期可以吗?”

A: “Nǐ kě yǐ bǎ qiàn wǒ de qián huán gěi wǒ ma?” 
B: “Nà shén me …wǒ zuì jìn shǒu tóu yǒu diǎn jǐn, xià xīng qī kě yǐ ma?”

A: “Can you give me back the money you owed me?”
B: “Talking about that… My pocket has been a little empty recently, can we please do it next week?”

#9

In Chinese: 这个…
Pinyin: zhè gè…
In English: “Well…”

This filler is used in much the same way as the previous one. 

Example

A: “你可以把这本书借我吗?”
B: “这个……可能不行。我已经答应借给另一个朋友了。”

A: “Nǐ kě yǐ bǎ zhè běn shū jiè wǒ ma?”  
B: “Zhè gè …kě néng bù xíng. Wǒ yǐ jīng dā yìng jiè gěi lìng yī gè péng yǒu le.”

A: “Can you lend this book to me?”
B: “Well…probably not. I already agreed to lend it to another friend.”

#10 

In Chinese: 怎么说呢…
Pinyin: zěn me shuō ne…
In English: “How do I put this…”

This phrase is best used in situations where you’re talking about something awkward or you aren’t sure of the proper way to say something. 

Example

A: “你喜欢我吗?”
B: “怎么说呢……我只当你是朋友。”

A: “Nǐ xǐ huān wǒ ma?” 
B: “Zěn me shuō ne …wǒ zhī dāng nǐ shì péng yǒu.”

A: “Do you like me?”
B: “How do I put this… I only see you as a friend.”

3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words

7 People Standing Side-by-side with Speech and Thought Bubbles in Their Hands

Speak to people in your unique way with sincerity.

Just as a coin has two sides, so do words. Filler words can only be effective when used properly. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of using these words, and think about how we can use this information to maximize their effectiveness. 

1 – Pro: Filler words will make your conversations smoother and more natural. 

Each language has its own filler words that only native speakers or advanced learners would know. For this reason, using filler words appropriately will help you sound more fluent and make locals who talk to you feel more comfortable.

In addition, just imagine having a conversation without filler words before you’re completely fluent in a language…wouldn’t a long pause seem a bit awkward? These little words buy us time to think and organize our thoughts before speaking, and they also help the listener understand that we aren’t done talking yet. 

All in all, using filler words in Chinese correctly can help make your conversations flow.

2 – Con: It can become overwhelming if not used properly.

Now it’s time to talk about the disadvantages. 

Hold on, don’t get upset too fast! Chinese fillers can still be your best friends, as long as you use them in the right contexts without overdoing it.

Although filler words in Chinese can help you better structure your conversation, you should avoid using them in formal or professional contexts. If you have a job interview or business presentation coming up, you may want to consider preparing everything in advance in order to avoid overusing Chinese filler words. Otherwise, you may appear to be unprepared and lacking in confidence, which your listeners may also find disrespectful. 

To avoid situations like this, simply practice your speech before the occasion at hand. Remember: Success always comes for those who are prepared! 

Of course, using a couple of filler words in your speech shouldn’t be too much of a problem. So just relax and be confident!

Two Students Chatting Beside a Blackboard that Has Sticky Notes on It

Happy learning with ChineseClass101!

4. Conclusion

How are you handling these filler words in Chinese? They’re not as difficult as you thought, are they? Just remember to practice them often and to start using them naturally as you think of what to say. They can come in very handy in your conversations. 

Keep in mind that each filler word is unique, so try your best to use them properly. If you have any trouble implementing them into your daily conversations, don’t hesitate to ask the ChineseClass101 team for some help! 

We provide advanced learning tools and entertaining educational materials to keep you motivated on this language learning journey. Here, you’ll be a happy Chinese learner with access to up-to-date info on grammar, culture, slang, and so much more…all in one place! 

What are you waiting for? Register your free account today and start learning with us!

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Say “I Love You” in Chinese: 30+ Powerful Love Phrases

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Love: a beautiful topic that many people enjoy talking about. It seems to be a never-ending subject of discussion among philosophers, and indeed, it’s one of the most important purposes of human life. Most of us can’t live without it. 

But having love is not enough. We also have to express it to those who truly deserve it. 

“Love” in Chinese is 爱 (ài), and 爱 never comes easy. If you happen to fall for a Chinese girl or guy, the phrases and cultural information in this article will be your trump card. 

Today, we’ll be delving into the topic of how to say “I love you,” in Chinese. We’ll introduce you to several romantic Mandarin phrases to use with your sweetheart at every stage of your relationship, from first contact to a second date and even proposing marriage! Near the end of this article, we’ll show you some sweet Chinese words for love and go over a few popular love quotes as well. 

These are some of the sweetest love phrases in Chinese you’ll ever hear. They cannot wait to be mastered and said out loud to the person of your dreams!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Chinese Table of Contents
  1. Confess Your Affection: Pick-Up Lines and More
  2. Fall in Deeper: “I Love You,” and More
  3. Take it One Step Further: “Will You Marry Me?” and More
  4. Endearment Terms
  5. Must-Know Love Quotes
  6. Conclusion

1. Confess Your Affection: Pick-Up Lines and More

I know you’re rushing to learn how to say “I love you,” in Chinese, but let’s wait a second. Before you spit that out, make sure you don’t frighten the other person by being too forward right away. It’s probably better to take it slowly at this point.

In this section, we’ll first go over how to express your feelings before officially starting a relationship. This is usually done by asking the person out, showing your interest, or simply telling them your feelings, so we’ll give you useful phrases for these different scenarios. This is an important stage that will pave the way for your future relationship, so trust me, you don’t want to mess this up.

A Man and Woman on a Date at a Nice Restaurant

Maybe start pursuing your love by taking them on a date!

1.
In Chinese: 我可以约你出去吗?
Pinyin: Wǒ kě yǐ yuē nǐ chū qù ma? 
In English: “Can I ask you out?”

2.
In Chinese: 我暗恋你很久了。
Pinyin: Wǒ àn liàn nǐ hěn jiǔ le. 
In English: “I have been secretly in love with you for a long time.”

3. 
In Chinese: 你有男朋友/女朋友了吗?
Pinyin: Nǐ yǒu nán péng yǒu / nǚ péng yǒu le ma? 
In English: “Do you have a boyfriend / girlfriend?”

4. 
In Chinese: 我想跟你在一起。
Pinyin: Wǒ xiǎng gēn nǐ zài yī qǐ.
In English: “I want to be with you.”

5. 
In Chinese: 我们注定要在一起。
Pinyin: Wǒ men zhù dìng yào zài yī qǐ.
In English: “We are meant to be together.”

6.
In Chinese: 你就是对的那个人。
Pinyin: Nǐ jiù shì duì de nà gè rén. 
In English: “You are the one.”

7. 
In Chinese: 给我一个机会照顾你吧。
Pinyin: Gěi wǒ yī gè jī huì zhào gù nǐ ba. 
In English: “Give me a chance to take care of you.”

8.
In Chinese: 我可以晚上请你吃个饭吗?
Pinyin: Wǒ kě yǐ wǎn shàng qǐng nǐ chī gè fàn ma? 
In English: “Can I buy you dinner tonight?”

9.
In Chinese: 你就是我这辈子一直在等的那个人。
Pinyin: Nǐ jiù shì wǒ zhè bèi zi yī zhí zài děng de nà gè rén. 
In English: “You are the person I have been waiting for my whole life.”

2. Fall in Deeper: “I Love You,” and More

A Man Whispering Something in His Girlfriend’s Ear

Now that you’re together, it’s time to tell the person what he/she wants to hear.

Congratulations! If you find yourself needing to use these sweet Chinese love phrases, you must have successfully captured someone’s heart. Now it’s time to simply express your love each and every day to keep your relationship going smoothly.

10. 
In Chinese: 我爱你。
Pinyin: Wǒ ài nǐ. 
In English: “I love you.”

11.
In Chinese: 我喜欢你。
Pinyin: Wǒ xǐ huān nǐ. 
In English: “I like you.”

12. 
In Chinese: 我很想你。
Pinyin: Wǒ hěn xiǎng nǐ.
In English: “I miss you very much.”

13. 
In Chinese: 情人节快乐。
Pinyin: Qíng rén jié kuài lè. 
In English: “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

14. 
In Chinese: 我就是喜欢这样的你
Pinyin: Wǒ jiù shì xǐ huān zhè yàng de nǐ. 
In English: “I just like the way you are.”

15. 
In Chinese: 我脑海里都是你。
Pinyin: Wǒ nǎo hǎi lǐ dōu shì nǐ. 
In English: “I can’t stop thinking about you.”

16.
In Chinese: 没有你我活不下去。
Pinyin: Méi yǒu nǐ wǒ huó bú xià qù. 
In English: “I can’t live without you.”

3. Take it One Step Further: “Will You Marry Me?” and More

A Mother Holding and Kissing Her Baby on the Cheek

Are you ready to grow your relationship into a family?

Wow! If you’re reading this, then you’re about to take a huge step in your relationship. Here are some useful phrases to help you get ready for this new chapter of your life together.

17. 
In Chinese: 我们结婚吧。
Pinyin: Wǒ men jié hūn ba. 
In English: “Let’s get married.”

18.
In Chinese: 我想和你同居。
Pinyin: Wǒ xiǎng hé nǐ tóng jū. 
In English: “I’d like to move in with you.”

19. 
In Chinese: 余生请多指教。
Pinyin: Yú shēng qǐng duō zhǐ jiào.
In English: “Let’s grow and learn together for the rest of our lives.”

20. 
In Chinese: 你愿意嫁给我吗? / 你愿意娶我吗?
Pinyin: Nǐ yuàn yì jià gěi wǒ ma? / Nǐ yuàn yì qǔ wǒ ma?
In English: “Do you want to marry me?”
Additional notes: In Chinese, the word for “marry” is different depending on the gender. When it’s the male asking the female, 嫁 (jià) is used; 娶() is the correct word to use if the female is asking the male.

21.
In Chinese: 我们是时候要孩子了。
Pinyin: Wǒ men shì shí hòu yào hái zi le. 
In English: “It’s time for us to have a baby.”

22.
In Chinese: 你想见见我父母吗?
Pinyin: Nǐ xiǎng jiàn jiàn wǒ fù mǔ ma? 
In English: “Do you want to meet my parents?”
Additional notes: In a Chinese relationship, it’s a big deal to see each other’s parents.

4. Endearment Terms

A Man with Arms Around His Wife as They Stand in a Park During Autumn

You know a cute nickname is essential for any relationship!

Maybe it’s time to use a fun endearment term for your partner! Here are some cute nicknames you should consider: 

23. 
In Chinese: 亲爱的
Pinyin: qīn ài de
In English: “Darling”

24. 
In Chinese: 老公 / 老婆
Pinyin: lǎo gōng / lǎo pó 
In English: “Husband” / “Wifey”

25.
In Chinese: 宝贝 / 宝宝
Pinyin: bǎo bèi / bǎo bao
In English: “Baby” / “Babe”

26.
In Chinese: 小傻瓜 / 笨蛋
Pinyin: xiǎo shǎ guā / bèn dàn
In English: “Little Fool”

27.
In Chinese: 夫君 / 夫人
Pinyin: fū jūn / fū rén
In English: “Husband” / “Wife”
Additional notes: This is the ancient way of saying “husband” and “wife.” Today, these terms are used as fun expressions of endearment between married couples.

5. Must-Know Love Quotes

An Envelope with a Heart on It

Say something sweet everyday to make the person with you feel that she/he is well-loved!

Now that you’ve settled down with your other half, it’s time to start showing your love in more depth! Even a stable relationship needs to be consistently nurtured, and hopefully these quotes and love phrases in Chinese can help you with that.

28. 
In Chinese: 你让我想成为更好的人。
Pinyin: Nǐ ràng wǒ xiǎng chéng wéi gèng hǎo de rén. 
In English: “I want to be a better person for you.”

29. 
In Chinese: 愿得一人心,白首不相离。
Pinyin: Yuàn dé yī rén xīn, bái shǒu bù xiàng lí. 
In English: “To have one’s heart and never be apart even when the hair turns silver.”

30. 
In Chinese: 和你在一起的每一天都是情人节。
Pinyin: Hé nǐ zài yī qǐ de měi yī tiān dōu shì qíng rén jié.
In English: “Being with you, I think every day is Valentine’s Day.”

31. 
In Chinese: 在我眼里你是最美的。
Pinyin: Zài wǒ yǎn lǐ nǐ shì zuì měi de. 
In English: “You are the most beautiful person to my eyes.”

32. 
In Chinese: 爱你,是我做过的最好的事。
Pinyin: Ài nǐ, shì wǒ zuò guò de zuì hǎo de shì. 
In English: “Loving you is the best thing I’ve done.”

33.
In Chinese: 你就是我的全世界。
Pinyin: Nǐ jiù shì wǒ de quán shì jiè. 
In English: “You are my whole world.”

34. 
In Chinese: 你只属于我。
Pinyin: Nǐ zhǐ shǔ yú wǒ. 
In English: “You only belong to me.”

35. 
In Chinese: 我的心里只有你。
Pinyin: Wǒ de xīn lǐ zhǐ yǒu nǐ. 
In English: “You are the only one in my heart.”

36. 
In Chinese: 我们一起变老吧。
Pinyin: Wǒ men yī qǐ biàn lǎo ba. 
In English: “Let’s grow old together.”

37. 
In Chinese: 执子之手,与子偕老
Pinyin: Zhí zǐ zhī shǒu, yǔ zǐ xié lǎo. 
In English: “I promise to hold your hands and grow old with you.

6. Conclusion

So, what’s your favorite way to say “I love you” in Chinese? Now that you’ve mastered some basic Chinese love phrases, you might consider writing a love letter or something more.

As you may already know, it’s never easy to pursue love, and it can get even more difficult when you’re doing it in another language or with a foreigner who doesn’t speak your native language. But don’t worry yet—ChineseClass101 is here to give you a hand!

ChineseClass101 will guide you to fluency with numerous lessons about the Chinese culture, grammar, vocabulary, and so much more. All of this is customized for different levels and different learning preferences. Create your free lifetime account today in order to gain access to these world-class teaching materials.

Now, get out there and win over that good-looking Chinese guy or gal!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Present

Signs with Now, Tomorrow, and Yesterday on Them

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

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

A- Time Phrases

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

B- Example Sentences

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

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

2. Present Continuous

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

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

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

A- Time Phrases

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

B- Example Sentences

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

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

3. Past 

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

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

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

A- Time Phrases

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

B- Example Sentences

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

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

4. Future

A Road with Forward Arrows Drawn on It

Do you look forward to the future?

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

A- Time Phrases

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

B- Example Sentences

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

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

5. Past / Future Continuous

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

A- Time Phrases

Continuous 

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

Example Past Indicators

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

Example Future Indicators

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

B- Example Sentences

Past Continuous

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

Future Continuous 

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

6. Past / Present Perfect

A Woman Looking Up from Her Homework and Thinking

Are you struggling with the Chinese tenses right now?

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

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

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

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

A- Time Phrases

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

B- Example Sentences

Past Perfect

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

Present Perfect

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

7. Conclusion

A Man Studying in a Library

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

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

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

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

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How Long Does it Take to Learn Chinese?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. The Factors Involved in Your Learning Progress

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

Your Native Language vs. Chinese

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

Your Study Method

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

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

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

From there, it’s all about dedication! 

Your Own Dedication

A Man Studying Late at Night

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

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

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

The Environment Around You

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

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

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

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

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

What a Chinese Beginner Needs to Know

A Man with Steam Coming Out of His Ears in Frustration

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

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

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

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

Required Time to Achieve the Beginner Level

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

Secret Tips for Beginners

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

Tip #1

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

Tip #2

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

Tip #3

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

Sample Lesson from ChineseClass101 – “How are you?”

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

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

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

What an Intermediate Chinese Learner Needs to Know

Two Twin Girls Sitting on the Couch and Raising Their Arms

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

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

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

Required Time to Achieve the Intermediate Level

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

Secret Tips for Intermediate Chinese Learners

Tip #1

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

Tip #2

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

Sample Lesson from ChineseClass101 – “Chinese Study Abroad”

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

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

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

What an Advanced Chinese Learner Needs to Know

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

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

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

Required Time to Achieve the Advanced Level

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

Secret Tips for Advanced Chinese Learners

Tip #1

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

Tip #2

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

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

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

Conclusion

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ChineseClass101 has the ultimate Chinese learning resources for you!

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

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

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

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

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

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The Top 30 Chinese Proverbs

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

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

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

1. Education

A Man Studying on a Library

Learning is a life-long journey.

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

#1

Chinese: 学如逆水行舟,不进则退。

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

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

Meaning: We should never stop learning.

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

#2

Chinese: 世上无难事,只怕有心人。

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

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

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

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

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

#3

Chinese: 活到老,学到老。

Pinyin: Huó dào lǎo, xué dào lǎo. 

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

Close English Proverb: “Live and learn.”

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

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

2. Life & Philosophy

A Man Thinking Something

Philosophy comes from our daily lives.

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

#4

Chinese: 光阴似箭,日月如梭。

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

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

Close English Proverb: “Time flies.”

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

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

#5

Chinese:  强扭的瓜不甜。

Pinyin: Qiáng niǔ de guā bù tián. 

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

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

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

#6

Chinese: 种瓜得瓜,种豆得豆。

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

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

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

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

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

#7

Chinese: 赠人玫瑰,手有余香。

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

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

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

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

#8

Chinese: 饮水思源。

Pinyin: Yǐn shuǐ sī yuán. 

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

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

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

#9

Chinese: 机不可失,失不再来。

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

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

Close English Proverb: “Opportunity seldom knocks twice.”

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

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

#10

Chinese: 不怕一万,就怕万一。

Pinyin: Bú pà yī wàn, jiù pà wàn yī. 

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

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

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

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

#11

Chinese: 吃一堑,长一智。  

Pinyin: Chī yī qiàn, zhǎng yī zhì. 

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

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

Meaning: Learn from your mistakes.

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

#12

Chinese: 姜还是老的辣。

Pinyin: Jiāng hái shì lǎo de là. 

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

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

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

#13

Chinese: 物以类聚,人以群分。

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

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

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

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

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

#14

Chinese: 滴水之恩定当涌泉相报。

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

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

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

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

3. Success

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

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

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

#15

Chinese: 实践出真知。

Pinyin: Shí jiàn chū zhēn zhī. 

Literal Translation: “Knowledge is tested from practice.”

Close English Proverb: “Practice makes perfect.”

Meaning: We can learn from experimenting and practicing.

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

#16

Chinese: 良好的开端是成功的一半。

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

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

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

Meaning: A strong beginning is crucial to later success.

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

#17

Chinese: 失败乃成功之母。

Pinyin: Shī bài nǎi chéng gōng zhī mǔ. 

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

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

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

#18

Chinese: 有志者,事竟成。

Pinyin: Yǒu zhì zhě, shì jìng chéng. 

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

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

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

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

#19

Chinese: 绳锯木断,水滴石穿。

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

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

Meaning: Willpower will make the impossible possible.

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

#20

Chinese: 冰冻三尺,非一日之寒。

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

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

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

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

4. Friends

A Group of Friends

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

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

#21

Chinese: 有缘千里来相会,无缘对面不相逢。

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

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

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

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

#22

Chinese: 千里送鹅毛,礼轻情意重。

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

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

Meaning: Gifts given from the heart are priceless.

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

#23

Chinese: 患难见真情。

Pinyin: Huàn nàn jiàn zhēn qíng. 

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

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

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

#24

Chinese: 有福同享,有难同当。

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

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

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

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

#25

Chinese: 路遥知马力,日久见人心。

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

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

Meaning: Time will reveal the true nature of humans.

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

A Woman Reading Something while Standing on a Train

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

5. Other Chinese Proverbs

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

#26

Chinese: 说曹操曹操到。

Pinyin: Shuō Cáo Cāo Cáo Cāo dào.

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

Close English Proverb: “Speak of the devil.”

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

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

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

#27

Chinese: 你敬我一尺,我敬你一丈。

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

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

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

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

#28

Chinese: 百闻不如一见。

Pinyin: Bǎi wén bù rú yī jiàn. 

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

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

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

#29

Chinese: 恨铁不成钢。

Pinyin: Hèn tiě bù chéng gāng. 

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

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

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

#30

Chinese: 瑞雪兆丰年。

Pinyin: Ruì xuě zhào fēng nián.

Literal Translation: “Snowing indicates a good harvest.”

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

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

6. Conclusion

Now, how many Chinese proverbs can you remember? 

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

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

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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. 

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The Magic of Chinese Culture

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

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

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

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

A Chinese Woman Playing a Traditional Chinese Instrument

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

1. Values

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

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

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

2. Philosophies and Religions

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

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

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


3. Family and Work

A Mother and Her Two Children Walking Down a Hill Together

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

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

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

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

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

4. Art 

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

A- Calligraphy – 书法 (shū fǎ)

Chinese Calligraphy Written with Black Ink

Even our daily writing can be a form of art!

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

B- Chinese Opera – 京剧 (jīng jù)

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

C- Martial Arts – 武术 (wǔ shù)

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

D- Ceramics – 陶瓷 (táo cí)

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

E- Ancient Poetry – 古诗 (gǔ shī)

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

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

5. Chinese Food

Chinese Buns with Red Stamps on Them

Have you ever tried authentic Chinese food?

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

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

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

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

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


6. Traditional Holidays 

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

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

Firecracker Debris after Chinese New Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Conclusion

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

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

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