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These 99 Chinese Expressions Are All You Need to Go From Zero to Hero

These 99 Chinese Expressions Are All You Need to Go From Zero to Hero

We are introducing these 99 Chinese expressions are you need to go from zero to hero. We have “Chinese Expressions for Greetings and Goodbyes,” “Emotion-Related Chinese Expressions,” “Manner Expressions in Chinese,” “Learning Chinese expressions, proverbs, and idioms,” “Chinese Classroom Expressions,” “Chinese Expressions for Travelers,” “Chinese restaurant expressions,” and “Popular Chinese Internet slang” these 8 categories in this article with four fun infographics!

 

Chinese Expressions for Greetings and Goodbyes 

Chinese expression greetings

 

你好 / 你好 nǐ hǎo Hello

hello in Chinese

In all of the Chinese textbooks, this is the one that will be used most. Hello in Chinese, 你好 nǐ hǎo. In a real life setting, we do use this Chinese expression to greet people, but usually to people that are not our close friends and family members. You can use 你好 nǐ hǎo to greet your colleagues, someone you just meet, or whoever does not have a close relationship with you. 

For instance, you are having a job interview..

Interviewee: 你好 Nǐ hǎo

Interviewee: Hello.

Interviewer: 你好,请你自我介绍一下。Nǐ hǎo, qǐng nǐ zìwǒ jièshào yīxià.

Interviewer: Hello. Please introduce yourself.

 

您好 / 您好 nín hǎo Hello

hello in Chinese

This has similar usage with the one above. The difference is “您好 nín hǎo” is a more polite way to greet. You usually greet someone with “您好 nín hǎo” who is older than your generation, or someone that you would respect, regardless of whether they are older or younger than you. 

I would like to express a cultural difference here. Not too long after I came to the States, I became a high school Chinese teacher. Teaching students Chinese was not my biggest challenge, communicating with my colleagues and the parents were. In Chinese culture, we highly prioritize social status. When we address other people, we most likely address them with their family name and title if they have one. 

For instance,

If someone is a lawyer and his last name is 王 wáng, then we call him 王律师 Wáng lǜshī.

If someone owns a business (she is the boss) and her last name is 林 lín, then we call her 林老板 Lín lǎobǎn.

If someone is a teacher and his last name is 张 zhāng, then we call him 张老师 Zhāng lǎoshī.

How is this cultural aspect related to this Chinese expression? Well, as mentioned before, we use “您好 nín hǎo” to greet someone who is older than you and someone you respect. But who do we respect in Chinese culture? Well, a very general way to explain it, is that someone who may have a higher social status, is someone for you to show your respect to. 

 

您贵姓?/ 您貴姓? Nín guìxìng? What is your surname?

what is your surname in Chinese

Literally this means “What is your honorable surname?” Use “您” and “贵” to be polite when asking people for their surnames.

 

最近怎么样? / 最近怎麼樣? zuìjìn zěnme yàng? How have you been lately?

how have you been in Chinese

This Chinese expression is translated as “how have you been lately?” “最近 zuìjìn” means lately, recently. And “怎么样 zěnme yàng” can be translated to “how about…” or “how is/are…” So, when you combine both together, you get the meaning.

People usually use this phrase to greet someone they know and haven’t seen them for a while. For instance,

好久不见,你最近怎么样?Hǎojiǔ bùjiàn, nǐ zuìjìn zěnme yàng?

Hey, long time no see! How have you been lately?

你知道他最近怎么样吗?Nǐ zhīdào tā zuìjìn zěnme yàng ma?

Do you know how he has been doing recently?

 

早上好(晚上好) / 早上好(晚上好) Zǎoshang hǎo (wǎnshàng hǎo) Good morning (Good evening)

good morning in Chinese

They usually are used in a general setting. You can use them to greet your friends, your co-workers, your boss, even someone you may not know. They also can be used as an opening to a speech when timing is appropriate. 

For instance,

各位先生女士,晚上好。Gèwèi xiānshēng nǚshì, wǎnshàng hǎo.

Good evening, Ladies and gentlemen!

 

喂 / 喂 wéi Hello (on the phone)

hello on the phone in Chinese

This Chinese expression is kind of vague since we only use it on the phone. It can be translated to “hello.” When answering the phone in Chinese, we usually say,

喂 wéi, (你好 nǐ hǎo / 您好 nín hǎo), (请问找哪位?qǐngwèn zhǎo nǎ wèi?)

Hello, (how are you?) (Who are you looking for?)

Since everyone is not exact the same when answering the phone, you can simply just say “喂 wéi,” or add a few more words like in the example above.

 

干嘛呢?/ 幹嘛呢? gàn ma ne? What are you doing?

what are you doing in Chinese

This Chinese expression is often in mainland China rather than in Taiwan. As I grew up in Taiwan, I was not used to this way of greeting. It sounded rude. It sounds like “Hey, what the heck are you doing!?” to me. But later on, I realized that in mainland China, especially in the north of China, people like to greet their friends or colleagues with this greeting. They are not really curious as to what you are really doing, it is just a way to start the conversation. I found it pretty neat!

 

再见 / 再見 zàijiàn Goodbye, See you

goodbye in chineses

This is the general way to say goodbye. It can be used in both formal and informal settings. 

 

拜拜 / 拜拜 bàibài Goodbye, see you!

goodbye in chineses

Even though 再见 is the one that all the textbooks used for goodbye in Chinese, I have to admit, I use 拜拜 bàibài much more often than 再见 zàijiàn when I say goodbye. 

As you can see from the pronunciation, 拜拜 comes from “bye bye.”

 

明天见 / 明天見 míngtiān jiàn See you tomorrow!

see you tomorrow in Chinese

This means to see you tomorrow! 

(End of school today, you are saying goodbye to your friend…)

A: 拜拜!Bàibài!

See you!

B: 再见!明天见!Zàijiàn! Míngtiān jiàn!

See you tomorrow!

You also can replace “明天 míng tiān” with other different time words if you have set an appointment to see each other again. For instance,  

星期五 xīngqīwǔ Firday 

我们星期五见!Wǒmen xīngqīwǔ jiàn!

See you Friday!

 

Or a time with more details

星期五晚上八点 8 pm Friday

Xīngqíwǔ wǎnshàng bā diǎn

那我们星期五晚上八点在电影院见吧!

Nà wǒmen xīngqíwǔ wǎnshàng bā diǎn zài diànyǐngyuàn jiàn ba!

Let’s meet at the theater at 8 pm on Friday! 

 

回头见 / 回頭見 huítóu jiàn See you later! Bye! 

see you later in Chinese

This is a more informal way to say bye. 

return, turn around

head

见 to see

If you combine those three words’ meanings together, it literally means “to see each other when you turn around the head.” You can think of it this way: when saying goodbye, that also means you are heading in a different direction. When you turn your head around, you are heading in the same direction, that’s when you will see each other again. 

 

再联络 / 再聯絡 zài liánluò Keep in touch

keep in touch in Chinese

再 again

联络 to get in touch with, to contact

Example,

那我们再联络喔!Nà wǒmen zài liánluò ō!

Let’s keep in touch!

 

告辞 / 告辭 gàocí To say goodbye, to take one’s leave

goodbye in chineses

This is a formal and polite way to say goodbye. You can use this Chinese expression this way,

我先告辞了!Wǒ xiān gàocíle!

I will take my leave.

 

对不起,他还有点事,所以我们先告辞了。

Duìbùqǐ, tā hái yǒudiǎn shì, suǒyǐ wǒmen xiān gàocíle.

Sorry! He has some business to attend to later, so we will take our leave.

 

好久不见 / 好久不見 hǎojiǔ bùjiàn Long time no see

long time no see in Chinese

The first two words “好久” mean “long time,” and “不” means “no, not.” The last word “見” means to meet, to see. If you have not seen a friend for a while, when you finally meet him, you can simply greet him with “好久不見.”

 

后会有期 / 後會有期 hòuhuìyǒuqī Hope to see you again

hope to see you soon in Chinese

This idiom is used when saying goodbye. It means hope to see you again. The literal meanings of each word are:

后 means after.

会 means to see, to meet.

有 means to have, to exist.

期 means date.

So, it is not hard to understand the meaning when you put them together. When you say goodbye, you hope there is a date in the future, you will meet again.

 

一路顺风 / 一路順風 Yīlù shùnfēng Have a pleasant journey

have a pleasant trip in cheese

If you would like to wish your friend to have a safe and good trip.

For instance,

听说你下周要去美国读书了,祝你一路顺风!

Tīng shuō nǐ xià zhōu yào qù měiguó dúshūle, zhù nǐ yīlù shùnfēng!

I heard that you are going to study abroad in the United States, I wish you have a safe and good trip! 

 

Chinese Expressions for Greetings and Goodbyes Video

Music: Bensound.com

 

 

Emotion-Related Chinese Expressions

The Chinese expressions are listed in this section that can be used to express emotions. You can simply use the format: 

Subject + (觉得) + 很 + emotion Chinese expression if it is a adjective.

Chinese expression emotion

 

高兴 / 高興 gāoxìng happy, glad, willing (to do something), in a cheerful mood

happy, glad

我很高兴能帮到你!

Wǒ hěn gāoxìng néng bāng dào nǐ!

I am glad that I can help!

 

开心 / 開心 kāixīn to feel happy, to rejoice, to have a great time

rejoice

我今天玩得很开心!谢谢你请我来你家。

Wǒ jīntiān wán dé hěn kāixīn! Xièxiè nǐ qǐng wǒ lái nǐ jiā.

I had a great time today. Thank you for inviting me to your house.

Both 高兴 and 开心 mean “happy,” but they are not complete interchangeable. You can tell the difference from their translation. 

 

难过 / 難過 nánguò to feel sad, to feel unwell

feel sad

我很难过我没有拿到冠军。

Wǒ hěn nánguò wǒ méiyǒu ná dào guànjūn.

I am sad that I did not get to the championship. 

 

生气 / 生氣 shēngqì to get angry, to take offense, be angry

to get angry

我很生气,他居然没有问我就拿了我的书。

Wǒ hěn shēngqì, tā jūrán méiyǒu wèn wǒ jiù nále wǒ de shū.

I am angry because he did not ask me first and he just took my book.

 

紧张 / 緊張 jǐnzhāng nervous

nervous

明天的辩论比赛让我很紧张。

Míngtiān de biànlùn bǐsài ràng wǒ hěn jǐnzhāng.

Tomorrow’s debating contest is making me nervous.

 

兴奋 / 興奮 xīngfèn excited, excitement, (physiology) excitation

excited

我很兴奋因为我明天要去迪士尼啦!

Wǒ hěn xīngfèn yīnwèi wǒ míngtiān yào qù díshìní la!

I am excited that we are going to Disney tomorrow!

 

尴尬 / 尷尬 gāngà awkward, embarrassed

awkward

今天碰到了我的前男友,好尴尬啊!

Jīntiān pèng dàole wǒ de qián nányǒu, hǎo gāngà a!

I bumped into my ex-boyfriend today. It was awkward.

 

害怕 / 害怕 hàipà afraid, to be afraid, to be scared

afraid

这个新冠状病毒让民众非常害怕。

Zhège xīn guānzhuàng bìngdú ràng mínzhòng fēicháng hàipà.

This Covid-19 makes people really scared.

 

冷静 / 冷靜 lěngjìng calm, cool-headed

calm

保持冷静!

Bǎochí lěngjìng!

Keep calm!

 

惊讶 / 驚訝 jīngyà amazed, astonished, to surprise, amazing

amazed

我很惊讶看到他恢复得很好!

Wǒ hěn jīngyà kàn dào tā huīfù dé hěn hǎo!

I am amazed to see he has recovered really well.

 

累 / 累 lèi tired, weary, to wear out

tired

工作了一整天,爸爸妈妈都很累了。

Gōngzuòle yī zhěng tiān, bàba māmā dōu hěn lèile.

Dad and mom worked all day. They are really tired.

 

伤心 / 傷心 shāngxīn to grieve, to be broken-hearted, to feel deeply hurt

grieve

The literal meaning of this expression is “hurt heart.”

听到爷爷过世的消息,他伤心极了。

Tīng dào yéyé guòshì de xiāoxī, tā shāngxīn jíle.

He heard the news that his grandpa had passed away, it broke his heart.

 

不好意思 / 不好意思 bù hǎoyìsi to feel embarrassed, to find it embarrassing, to be sorry (for inconveniencing someone)

to feel embarrassed

From the meanings of 不好意思 bù hǎoyìsi, you should understand that this phrase can be used in a few different settings. See the examples below:

不好意思,我迟到了。

Bù hǎoyìsi, wǒ chídàole.

I am sorry (I feel embarrassed) that I am running late.

不好意思,可以麻烦你帮我拿那本书吗?太高了,我拿不到。

Bù hǎoyìsi, kěyǐ máfan nǐ bāng wǒ ná nà běn shū ma? Tài gāole, wǒ ná bù dào.

Sorry to trouble you, can you get that book for me? It is too high. I am not able to reach it.

 

好笑 / 好笑 hǎoxiào laughable, funny, ridiculous

laughable

他这个人很幽默,说话很好笑!

Tā zhège rén hěn yōumò, shuōhuà hěn hǎoxiào!

He has a really good sense of humor. The way he talks is funny!

 

担心 / 擔心 dānxīn anxious, worried, to worry, to be anxious

anxious

我们担心新冠状病毒疫情的扩散。

Wǒmen dānxīn xīn guānzhuàng bìngdú yìqíng de kuòsàn.

We worry that the outbreak of Covid-19 will spread.

 

火大 / 火大 huǒ dà angry, annoyed, pissed

pissed

This Chinese expression is more like slang. It literally means fire and big, big fire. If you describe a person who is in a “big fire,” that means he is pissed at the moment.

我现在很火大,不要跟我说话!

Wǒ xiànzài hěn huǒ dà, bùyào gēn wǒ shuōhuà!

I am pissed!  Don’t talk to me!

For emotion-related Chinese idioms, you can visit one of our trending posts, Emotion related Chinese idioms. There are five types of emotion, joy and happiness, smile and laugh, fear and dread, cry and weep, and anger and rage, with three frequently-used idioms for each type, totaling 15 idioms.

 

Emotion-Related Chinese Expressions Video


Music: Bensound.com

 

Manner Expressions in Chinese

manners in Chinese

请 / 請 qǐng Please

请帮忙!

Qǐng bāngmáng!

Please help!

 

谢谢 / 謝謝 xièxie Thanks, thank you

谢谢你的帮忙!

Xièxiè nǐ de bāngmáng!

Thank you for your help!

 

对不起 / 對不起 duìbùqǐ Sorry

对不起,我没看到!

Duìbùqǐ, wǒ méi kàn dào!

Sorry I did not see it!

 

抱歉 / 抱歉 bàoqiàn To be sorry, to feel apologetic, sorry!

我很抱歉我来晚了。

Wǒ hěn bàoqiàn wǒ lái wǎnle.

I am late. My apologies. 

 

请问 / 請問 qǐngwèn May I ask…

This is the term you should add when you would like to ask politely. You place this term at the beginning of the sentence. For instance,

请问,最近的星巴克怎么走?

Qǐngwèn, zuìjìn de xīngbākè zěnme zǒu?

May I ask (Excuse me), how to get to the closest Starbucks?

 

不用谢 / 不用謝 bùyòng xiè You are welcome

不客气 / 不客氣 bù kèqì You are welcome

Both “不用谢” and “不客气” mean “you are welcome”, they are just used in different regions. 

A: 谢谢你的帮忙!Xièxiè nǐ de bāngmáng!

Thank you for your help!

B: 不客气!Bù kèqì!

You are welcome!

 

没关系 / 沒關係 méiguānxì It is ok. It doesn’t matter.

学生: 老师,对不起,我忘了带作业。Xuéshēng: Lǎoshī, duìbùqǐ, wǒ wàngle dài zuòyè.

Student: I am sorry, teacher. I forgot to bring my homework.

老师: 没关系,请你明天带来。Lǎoshī: Méiguānxì, qǐng nǐ míngtiān dài lái.

Teacher: It is ok. Please bring it tomorrow.

 

没问题 / 沒問題 méi wèntí No problem

A: 我可以跟你借一下那本书吗?谢谢!Wǒ kěyǐ gēn nǐ jiè yīxià nà běn shū ma? Xièxiè!

May I borrow that book from you? Thank you!

B: 好的,没问题!Hǎo de, méi wèntí!

Sure! No problem!

 

借过 / 借過 jièguò Excuse me (i.e. let me through, please)

We use “excuse me” in different settings. “借过 / 借過 jièguò” is translated as “excuse me” but is only used when you would like to pass through somewhere.

对不起,借过一下!谢谢!

Duìbùqǐ, jièguò yīxià! Xièxiè!

Excuse me, just passing through. Thank you!

 

祝 / 祝 zhù to wish To wish, to express good wishes

We use this word quite often. Whenever we would like to wish others. For instance:

祝你生日快乐!Zhù nǐ shēngrì kuàilè!

Wish you happy birthday!

 

祝你新年快乐!Zhù nǐ xīnnián kuàilè!

Wish you happy New Year!

 

祝你一路顺风!Zhù nǐ yīlù shùnfēng!

Wish you have a smooth trip!

 

祝你早日康复!Zhù nǐ zǎorì kāngfù!

Wish you get well soon!

 

辛苦 / 辛苦 xīnkǔ Exhausting, arduous, to work hard, hardship

谢谢妳很辛苦地照顾我们!

Xièxie nǎi hěn xīnkǔ de zhàogù wǒmen!

Thank you for your hard work in taking care of us.

 

久仰大名 / 久仰大名 jiǔyǎng dàmíng I have been looking forward to meeting you for a long time

久 long time

仰 raise the head to look; look up to

大 big, great

名 name

If you put all of the separate meanings together, you get the meaning. We use this idiom when we first meet a person that we have heard about (from others.) You already had a good impression about them. Then when you meet them, you can say,

 

您好,久仰大名!

Nín hǎo, jiǔyǎng dàmíng!

Hello! I have been looking forward to meeting you for a long time.

(I know it sounds weird when translating into English. No one will say that in English!! But in Chinese, we use a simple idiom to express our respect.)

 

目中无人 / 目中無人 mùzhōngwúrén To consider everyone else is beneath you, you’re so arrogant that no-one else matters

目 eye

中 center, middle

无 negative, no, not

人 people, mankind

It literally means there is no one in your eyes. You think you are above everyone else. 

For instance,

他目中无人的态度,让人很火大!

Tā mùzhōngwúrén de tàidù, ràng rén hěn huǒ dà!

His arrogant attitude really makes people pissed!!

 

Learning Chinese expressions, proverbs, and idioms

太…了 / 太…了 tài…le too…

This is the expression used when you would like to express something is too…. You can add an adjective in the blank. Below are some adjective examples:

 

难 / 難 nán hard, difficult 

今天的考试太难了!

Jīntiān de kǎoshì tài nánle!

Today’s test is too hard!

 

简单 / 簡單 jiǎndān simple, not complicated

这个问题很简单,别想复杂了!

Zhège wèntí hěn jiǎndān, bié xiǎng fùzále!

This problem is simple. Don’t complicate it!

 

容易 / 容易 róngyì easy

昨天的考试满容易的。

Zuótiān de kǎoshì mǎn róngyì de.

The exam yesterday was pretty easy.

 

多 / 多 duō many, much, often, a lot of, numerous

这个星期的作业很多。

Zhège xīngqí de zuòyè hěnduō.

There is a lot of homework this week.

 

少 / 少 shǎo few, less, to lack

我中文課上的同學很少,只有五個學生。

Wǒ zhōngwén kè shàng de tóngxué hěn shǎo, zhǐyǒu wǔ gè xuéshēng.

There are not many students in my Chinese class. Only five.

 

作业 / 作業 zuòyè school assignment, homework

功课 / 功課 gōngkè homework  / assignment

Both “作业 zuòyè” and “功课 gōngkè” can refer to homework. They are interchangeable.

 

学如逆水行舟,不进则退。 / 學如逆水行舟,不進則退。Xué rú nì shuǐ xíng zhōu, bù jìn zé tuì.

Study is like rowing upstream: not advancing is to drop back.

We use this proverb to encourage students that learning is a nonstop process. It is not only a motto for students, but also for everyone. If you do not learn something every day, that means you are worse off than yesterday.

 

三人行,必有我师。Sānrén xíng, bìyǒu wǒ shī.

In a group of three people, there will always be one person I can learn from.

This means you always can learn something from others. 

 

青出于蓝,而胜于蓝 Qīngchūyúlán, ér shèng yú lán

Indigo blue is extracted from the indigo plant but is bluer than the plant it comes from.

It means the students surpass their teachers.

 

一分耕耘, 一分收获 / 一分耕耘, 一分收穫 Yī fēn gēngyún, yī fēn shōuhuò

No pain, no gain

耕耘 means plowing and weeding. But it also means to work or study diligently

收获 means to harvest, to reap, to gain

We usually use this proverb to encourage students that there are no freebies when it comes to learning and studying. You have to work hard first then you will gain. 

Example

一分耕耘, 一分收获,你的努力會有回報的。

Yī fēn gēngyún, yī fēn shōuhuò. Nǐ de nǔlì huì yǒu huíbào de.

No pain, no gain. Your hard work will pay off.

 

熟能生巧,勤能补拙 / 熟能生巧,勤能補拙 Shúnéngshēngqiǎo, qínnéngbǔzhuō

Practice makes perfect, diligence makes up for one’s dullness

熟能生巧 literally means with familiarity you learn the trick.

It is all about practicing. How can you become familiar with something new? Practice. If you think you are lacking some skills, you can make up by practicing over and over!

 

好学不倦 / 好學不倦 hàoxué bù juàn

好学 eager to study

不倦 tireless

This idiom is used to describe a learner that is eager to learn and does not get tired of learning. 

Example

他是一個好學不倦的學生,他覺得學習是件有趣的事。

Tā shì yīgè hào xué bù juàn de xuéshēng, tā juédé xuéxí shì jiàn yǒuqù de shì.

He is a student who is diligent in learning. He has found learning is quite interesting. 

 

学海无边 / 學海無邊 xué hǎi wúbiān

No limits to what one still has to learn

学海 Sea of learning

无边 no horizon, no limit 

Example,

学海无边,人可以一生都在学习。

Xué hǎi wúbiān, rén kěyǐ yīshēng dōu zài xuéxí.

There is no end to learning. You can be learning your whole life.

 

不耻下问 / 不恥下問 bùchǐxiàwèn

Not to feel ashamed to ask and learn from one’s subordinates

Example,

奶奶虽然退休了,她仍不耻下问,想跟年轻人学习如何使用智慧型手机。

Nǎinai suīrán tuìxiūle, tā réng bùchǐxiàwèn, xiǎng gēn niánqīng rén xuéxí rúhé shǐyòng zhìhuì xíng shǒujī.

Even though my grandma is retired, she does not feel ashamed to ask and learn from young people how to use smart phones.

 

因材施教 / 因材施教 yīn cái shī jiào

to teach in line with the student’s ability

This idiom means a teacher that teaches each student according to their individual ability. 

Example,

一个班级如果人数太多,只有一位老师是很难因材施教的。

Yīgè bānjí rúguǒ rénshù tài duō, zhǐyǒu yī wèi lǎoshī shì hěn nán yīncáishījiào de.

If there are too many students in a class with only one teacher, it is hard to teach each student according to their ability.

 

Chinese Classroom Expressions

Below are some Chinese expressions that can help you survive in a Chinese classroom.

请再说一次 / 請再說一次 qǐng zàishuō yīcì Please say it one more time!

懂了 / 懂了 dǒngle Understood

不懂 / 不懂 bù dǒng No, I don’t understand

“…” 中文怎么说?/ “…” 中文怎麼說? “…” Zhōngwén zěnme shuō? How do you say “…” in Chinese?

“…” 是什么意思?/ “…” 是什麼意思? “…” Shì shénme yìsi? What does “…” mean?

这是什么?/ 這是什麼? zhè shì shénme? What is this?

请跟我说 / 請跟我說 qǐng gēn wǒ shuō Please repeat after me.

 

Chinese Expressions for Travelers

有没有…? / 有沒有…? Yǒu méiyǒu…?  Do you have…?

When you would like to ask if someone has something, use this Chinese expression,

(你) 有没有….? Place the object in the blank. For instance,

你有没有地图?

Nǐ yǒu méiyǒu dìtú?

Do you have a map?

 

… 多少钱? / … 多少錢?… Duōshǎo qián? How much is …?

When traveling, we often want to buy some souvenirs or something we may not get in our own country. To know how to ask how much a product costs is an important skill!

这个多少钱?

Zhège duōshǎo qián?

How much is this? 

 

我想去… / 我想去… Wǒ xiǎng qù…  I would like to go to …

我想去东方明珠。

Wǒ xiǎng qù dōngfāngmíngzhū.

I want to go to The Oriental Pearl Tower.

 

… 在哪里?/ … 在哪裡?… Zài nǎlǐ? Where is …?

请问,这家饭馆在哪里?

Qǐngwèn, zhè jiā fànguǎn zài nǎlǐ?

Excuse me, where is this restaurant?

 

厕所 / 廁所 Cèsuǒ Restroom

If you are in a hurry to go to a restroom, use this word or with the sentence structures above!

For instance,

请问,厕所在哪里?

Qǐngwèn, cèsuǒ zài nǎlǐ?

Excuse me, where is the restroom?

 

你会说英文吗?/ 你會說英文嗎?Nǐ huì shuō yīngwén ma? Can you speak English?

You can’t deny that English is the universal language. When you travel to a country that does not speak your native language, English probably is the one you may have in common with others. If you travel to China, Taiwan, or other areas that speaks Chinese, try this, 你会说英文吗?Nǐ huì shuō yīngwén ma?

 

Chinese Restaurant Expressions

Chinese Restaurant Expressions

Arriving at a Chinese restaurant expression

订位 / 訂位 dìng wèi  Making a reservation

Here are a few examples of how you can use this phrase in a Chinese expression.

请问有订位吗?/ 請問有訂位嗎?qǐngwèn yǒu dìng wèi ma? 

Do you have a reservation?

我有订位 / 我有訂位 Wǒ yǒu dìng wèi

I have a reservation. 

我没有订位 / 我沒有訂位 Wǒ méiyǒu dìng wèi 

I do not have a reservation. 

 

几位? / 幾位?jǐ wèi? How many people?

The waiter or waitress may ask you how many people when they greet you. This is usually how they ask and how you should respond.

服务员:几位? Fúwùyuán: Jǐ wèi?

Waiter: How many?

客人:四位。 Kèrén: Sì wèi.

Customer: Four.

服务员:好的,三加一。 Fúwùyuán: Hǎo de, sān jiā yī.

Waiter: Ok. Three plus one.

The reason I use “four” people here is because I would also like to talk about Chinese culture. Since four is an unlucky number in Chinese culture, service people are trained to avoid saying this number in front of their customers. They are not sure if their customers would mind. If they need to say the number 4, they usually use 3+1 instead. Isn’t that cool?

 

Ordering and eating food, Chinese expressions

菜单 / 菜單 càidān menu

这是我们的菜单,您先看一下 zhè shì wǒmen de càidān, nín xiān kàn yīxià.

This is our menu, you can take a look first.

 

今日特餐 / 今日特餐 jīnrì tè cān Today’s special

你们的今日特餐是什么?nǐmen de jīnrì tè cān shì shénme?

What is today’s special?

 

点,点餐 / 點,點餐 diǎn, diǎn cān order, order meal

A: 您要点餐了吗?

Nín yàodiǎn cānle ma?

Are you ready to order?

B: 好,我要点一份猪肉炒饭。

Hǎo, wǒ yàodiǎn yī fèn zhūròu chǎofàn.

Yes. I would like to order a pork fried rice.

甜点 / 甜點 tiándiǎn dessert

饮料 / 飲料 yǐnliào drink

 

我可以有…? / 我可以有…? wǒ kěyǐ yǒu…?  May I have…?

可以(请你)给我…吗?/ 可以(請你)給我…嗎?Kěyǐ (qǐng nǐ) gěi wǒ… Ma? Could you give me…?

If you need something, here are the sentence structures you can use. Below is some vocabulary that you may need in a restaurant.

 

餐具 / 餐具 cānjù tableware

可以再给我一套餐具吗?

Kěyǐ zài gěi wǒ yī tào cānjù ma?

Could you give me another set of tableware?

 

筷子 / 筷子 kuàizi chopsticks

汤匙 / 湯匙 tāngchí spoon

叉子 / 叉子 chāzi fork

酱油 / 醬油 jiàngyóu soy sauce

盐 / 鹽 yán salt

辣椒酱 / 辣椒醬 làjiāo jiàng spicy sauce, spicy paste

醋 / 醋 cù vinegar

茶 / 茶 chá tea

 

对不起,我没有点这道菜。Duìbùqǐ, wǒ méiyǒu diǎn zhè dào cài.

Sorry, I did not order this dish.

 

对不起,可以再给我一双筷子吗? Duìbùqǐ, kěyǐ zài gěi wǒ yīshuāng kuàizi ma?

Excuse me, could you give me another pair of chopsticks?

 

买单 / 買單 mǎidān or 结帐 / 結帳 jié zhàng Bill please?

服务员,我要买单。

Fúwùyuán, wǒ yāo mǎidān.

Waiter, can I have the bill please?

 

信用卡 / 信用卡 xìnyòngkǎ Credit card

你们收信用卡吗?Nǐmen shōu xìnyòngkǎ ma?

Do you take credit cards?  (Can I pay with a credit card?)

 

付现 / 付現 fù xiàn pay with cash

我付现。

Wǒ fù xiàn.

I will pay with cash.

 

谢谢光临,欢迎再来!/ 謝謝光臨,歡迎再來!Xièxiè guānglín, huānyíng zàilái!

Thank you for coming! We are looking forward to seeing you again!

 

Popular Chinese Internet Slang

剩女 / 剩女 shèngnǚ 

This Chinese expression is literally translated as “Left-Over Women.” It is used to describe a woman who is  passing the age that most women would get married at, which is around the mid 30s. 

 

留守儿童 / 留守兒童 liúshǒu értóng Left-Behind Children

This phrase is used to describe children that are not living with their parents. It is becoming a big social problem that young couples go to work in the city to have a better income. Their children have to stay in the country for many reasons. One of the main reasons is both parents are working, and no one can take care of the young kids. Sending them to daycare is another expense. Another reason is if the parents are not residents of the city, they and their kids are not qualified to receive some benefits and even education. So, the children will stay in the country with their grandparents. We call this kind of children, “left-behind” children. 

 

学霸 / 學霸 xué bà top student

学 studying, learning, knowledge

hegemon, tyrant , feudal chief, to rule by force, (in modern advertising) master

We combine these two words to a phrase to describe a person that is good at studying. He or she is the top student in the class. But this phrase only applies to those people that are good at academic subjects. They are not necessarily good at other skills.   

Example,

他从小在学校里就是个学霸,什么考试都难不倒他。

Tā cóngxiǎo zài xuéxiào lǐ jiùshì gè xué bà, shénme kǎoshì dōu nàn bù dǎo tā.

He has been the top student since he was little. None of the exams or tests can defeat him. 

 

网红 wǎng hóng Internet celebrity

网 means Internet, net.

红 means red, hot

This phrase has become quite popular in recent years in China and Taiwan. Since everyone (or almost everyone!) has a smartphone and Internet, people start making their own videos. Some videos go viral and the person becomes famous. We call this kind of people “网红 wǎng hóng.” It is like our YouTubers here, but there is no YouTube in China. 

 

友谊的小船说翻就翻 / 友誼的小船說翻就翻 yǒuyì de xiǎochuán shuō fān jiù fān

Let’s talk about the literal meaning of this Chinese expression below..

友谊 friendship

小船 little boat

翻 capsize, overturn

说 + action + 就 + action… It literally means as soon as you say something then you immediately do it. The sentence structure means that a specific action is made without serious consideration. 

This literally translates to “Friendship is like a little boat, it easily capsizes”. The Chinese expression is used to express when someone feels let down by their friend. 

 

富二代 / 富二代 fù èr dài Rich second generation

The actual meaning is also the literal meaning. This phrase is used to describe the children of entrepreneurs who became wealthy under Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms in the 1980s. This phrase has a negative meaning. It implies that a child that does not have his or her own ability to make money. They are used to living a wealthy life. They just rely on their parents’ wealth. 

But if people would like to describe a person who has that background, but yet still works hard, they can still use this phrase but add more details after. For instance,

他虽然是个富二代,但是还是从公司的基层员工做起。

Tā suīrán shìgè fù èr dài, dànshì háishì cóng gōngsī de jīcéng yuángōng zuò qǐ.

Even though he is from a wealthy family, he still works as a basic level worker in a company.

 

官二代 / 官二代 guān èr dài children of officials

In China, being an official means you hold some power in your hands. Having this power and relationships sometimes is even more powerful than having money. With that being said, a child of officials may have more privileges than other kids.

 

官宣 guān xuān Official announcement

This term is short for “官方宣布.” 

官方 means Official

宣布 means to announce, announcement

官宣 guān xuān is originally used as a noun, but now we sometime use it as a verb. This new phrase was first used in 2018 on China social media saying that a famous Chinese actress “官宣 guān xuān” her marriage news on Webo. Soon this phrase was being used everywhere. 

他还没承认他们的关系,等官宣吧!

Tā hái méi chéngrèn tāmen de guānxì, děng guān xuān ba!

He has not admitted their relationship yet. Let’s wait for the official announcement.

 

佛系 fó xì Buddhist style

This phrase is used to describe a ‘Zen’ attitude. It can be used in both positive and negative ways. For example, Coronavirus is a big thing in 2019 and 2020. Some people are being sarcastic when they say their government uses “佛系 fó xì” attitude to prevent the outbreak. It means they think their government is not as proactive as they would like. 

 

补刀 bǔ dāo

补 to add on, to make up for

刀 knife

This slang means to attack someone who is already under fire.

There is another saying that has a similar meaning, 伤口上撒盐 Shāngkǒu shàng sā yán, which literally means pouring salt on the wound.

 

吃货 chī huò foodie

吃 to eat

货 the goods

This Chinese expression is used to describe a person that can really eat a lot, or a person that puts eating above all other interests. 

He is really a foodie! He finished two bowls of rice and he is only three!

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