Essential Chinese Phrases You Should Know Before Visiting China

If you want to visit China, things you usually would do are meeting up people, going shopping, or asking for directions. Here are some most frequently used Chinese phrases if you want to visit China. Let’s have a look!

1) Hello / How are you?

Hello: Nǐ hǎo 你好

How are you: Nǐ hǎo ma? 你好吗/Nǐ zěn me yàng?你怎么样

Nǐ hǎo is the most commonly used phrase to greet someone. If you want to ask if the other person’s condition, you can use Nǐ hǎo ma? or Nǐ zěn me yàng?

“Nǐ hǎo ma?” means “Are you ok?”. Similar to “How are you?”. You can also ask Nǐ zěnme yàng?which means “how’s you being doing?”.

2) Thank you / You are Welcome

Thank you: Xiè xie. 谢谢

You are welcome: Bù kèqì 不客气/ bùyòng xiè 不用谢

Xiè xie is used when you want to show appreciation and thanks to someone. To reply for it, you can either say Bù kèqì, which means no need to be polite, or say bùyòng xiè, which means no need for thank.

3) Sorry / Excuse me

Sorry: Duì bu qǐ. 对不起

Excuse Me: Bù hǎo yì si 不好意思

If you want to apologize to someone, Duì bu qǐ is the most commonly used phrase to say “I’m sorry”. If you want to express “Excuse me”, you can use Bù hǎo yì si when you may make a very tiny trouble to someone.

4) May I Ask…

May I ask: Qǐng wèn 请问

If you want to ask for something politely, you can use Qǐng wèn in front of your sentence to show politeness. This phrase literally means “please ask”.

5) How much money?

How much money: Duōshao qián? 多少钱?

By combing the bigger end “duō (much)” and and smaller end “shǎo (few)”, the phrase “duōshao?” means “how much?”. qián means money. So together, Duōshao qián? is the way to ask for “how much money?” You can add Qǐng wèn (may I ask…) to make this question more polite.

6) Bathroom

Toilet: Cè suǒ厕所 / Wèi shēng jiān 卫生间 / 洗手间 Xǐ shǒu jiān

As in English, there are several words and phrases used to mean bathroom. Cè suǒ is the most direct one. If you want to be more indirect and polite, you can use Wèi shēng jiān (hygiene room) or Xǐ shǒu jiān (wash hand room) to refer to bathroom.

7) Where?

Where: nǎ lǐ?  哪里

nǎ lǐ in Chinese means where. If you want to ask where is something, you can add the preposition Zài, which means in/at, in front of nǎ lǐ. For example:

Chinese: 厕所在哪里? Cè suǒ zài nǎ lǐ?

English: Where is the toilet?