Mother’s Day is approaching. Mother, the most important character in a household, a child can’t live without. On this special day, let’s learn how to say Happy Mother’s Day, and other must-know related vocabulary in Mandarin Chinese.
Do you know when Mother’s Day is? Many countries celebrate this day on the second Sunday of May, while some countries have different days. Some countries celebrate “international Women’s Day, 国际妇女节 guójì fùnǚ jié” instead, or celebrate both of them on the same day.
In both China and Taiwan, Mother’s Day is the second Sunday of May.
Most of you may know how to say “mom” in Chinese, which is 妈妈/媽媽 māma. But we do use another word for “mother” in Chinese, which is 母亲/母親 mǔqīn. 母亲 mǔqīn is the formal way to say mother in Chinese. 母 mǔ means female.
Mother's Day Vocabulary
妈妈/媽媽 māma, mom, mama, mother
I found this interesting, in many languages around the world, we all have a similar way to call a mother! In Chinese, we say “妈妈/媽媽 māma.”
In the most of the textbooks, they usually simply introduce mother as “妈妈/媽媽 māma.” But the funny thing is, you rarely hear anyone really call their mom “māma.” You may hear some say “妈/媽 mā,” while some saying as second tone, like “má~~~.” Little kids may call their mom “mǎmá” (third and second tone.) But no matter what that may be, they all still have the same pinyin “ma.”
母亲/母親 mǔqīn, mother
This is a formal way to call a mother. We rarely call our mom as “母亲/母親 mǔqīn” nowadays. But you can still find the term in the written form and other formal settings.
母亲节快乐/母親節快樂 mǔqīn jié kuàilè, Happy Mother’s Day
When we say happy Mother’s Day, we use “母亲/母親 mǔqīn.” We don’t say 妈妈节快乐/媽媽節快樂 Māmā jié kuàilè. When wishing someone happy Mother’s Day, we say 母亲节快乐/母親節快樂 mǔqīn jié kuàilè.
孩子 háizi, 小孩 xiǎohái, child, children
This phrase is often used in formal settings, like in books, documents etc…
When you like to introduce how many kids you have, we usually use the phrase “小孩 xiǎohái” which literally means little child, little kid.
I have three kids.
Wǒ yǒusān gè xiǎohái.
If you want to be specific, here are the words for sons and daughters:
儿子/兒子 érzi, son
女儿/女兒 nǚ ér, daughter
So, you can say
I have three kids. One son and two daughters.
Wǒ yǒusān gè xiǎohái. Yīgè er zi, liǎng gè nǚ’ér.
Or you can also use these two words to describe gender
男生 nánshēng, boy
女生 nǚshēng, girl
I have three kids. One boy, two girls.
Wǒ yǒusān gè xiǎohái. Yīgè nánshēng, liǎng gè nǚshēng.
礼物/禮物 lǐwù, present, gift
I personally don’t really care if I receive gifts on this day (or any day, lol). Since many people may do so to express their love for the moms, it’s good to learn this vocabulary.
The phrase for giving a gift is 送礼物 sòng lǐwù.
- 花 huā, flower
- 巧克力 qiǎokèlì, chocolate
Flowers and chocolates are probably the most common gifts! Try to pronounce chocolate in Chinese! “巧克力 qiǎokèlì,” did you find them similar? Chocolate did not origin from Chinese culture, that’s why we took the sound and named it as such.
Below are the sentences we can say to our mother (at least on this day) at any time of the year.
我爱您！/ 我愛您！wǒ ài nín! I love you!
In many of our culture posts, we talk about this word “您 nín, you” which is a polite and honorable way to say “你 or 妳 nǐ, you.” Your parents are definitely one of the people you respect. Therefore, we say 我爱您. However, there is nothing wrong to simply say 妈妈，我爱你 nowadays.
辛苦了！xīnkǔle! Thank you for the hard work!
I can’t really find an equivalent phrase for this. The phrase 辛苦 is used to describe someone who has given their hard work, it could be labor work, time consuming work etc… For instance, a manager could tell an employee after he finishes a challenging project, “辛苦了！xīnkǔle! ”
A mother is usually the one spending her time for her family, raising children, making meals, taking care of house work, and for some mothers, even working at the same time. No matter what kind, they usually work hard to keep their family safe, happy, and satisfied. So, not only on this day, but whenever you get the chance, tell your mom: 辛苦了！xīnkǔle!
谢谢您！ / 謝謝您！Xièxiè nín! Thank you!
Don’t be shy to express your gratitude!
We often say:
Mom, thank you! Thank you for your hard work!
Māmā, xièxiè nín! Xīnkǔle!
As I grew up in Taiwan and moved to the US a while ago, I definitely can tell how different cultures form people to express their love. Most Chinese or in Asian culture, we are too shy to express our love verbally and even with obvious actions, like hugs and kisses. I am learning to express my love toward my family since you never know if you will have another chance.
- 抱 bào, hug
- 亲 / 親 qīn, kiss
美丽 / 美麗 měilì, beautiful
There are two words that we often use to describe a female, 漂亮 pretty and 美麗 beautiful. While 漂亮 pretty focus on the outward appearance, 美麗 beautiful can be used for someone who is good looking, or/and beautiful on the inside.
Not all moms are good looking, but most of them have a very beautiful inner personality. They are willing to sacrifice their time, sleep, money, even themselves, to take care of their family.
照顾 / 照顧 zhàogù, to take care of…
In many families, mothers are often the one taking care of the whole family, in the sense of making meals, doing chores, and other physical needs. This phrase can also be used to describe someone taking care of animals and plants.
The sentence will look like “subject + 照顾 + object.”
The subject is the caregiver, and the object is the one that receives care. For instance,
Mom, thank you for taking care of us.
Māmā, xièxiè nǎi zhàogù wǒmen.
Mother's Day Vocabulary Infographic
The Songs You Can Sing to Mom
- This one is a classic. The song was made by a poem, is called 遊子吟 (Yóuzǐ Yín), ‘Song of the Wanderer’, by the Tang Dynasty Chinese poet 孟郊 (Mèng Jiāo)
The lyric talks about a mom sewing clothes for her child who is departing home soon. Even though nowadays the scene is harder to see, people rarely wear hand-sewed clothes, this song is still well-known in Chinese culture whenever we think about mothers.
Other Holiday Infographics
When is Mother’s Day in your country? And how do you celebrate it? Share with us!