Learn Basic Chinese Greetings and Responses

Posted by Julia Song on 18/01/2016 8:04 PM 1621

Basic Chinese Greetings

There are many different ways of doing greetings in Chinese, including Hello and goodbye, Good morning/afternoon/evening, goodnight, happy New Year and so on. In most cases these expressions are quite short, easy, and neatly matched with English equivalents.

nǐ hǎo
你好 hello
nǐ hǎo mɑ
你 好 吗 how are you

hěn ɡāo xìnɡ rèn shí nǐ
很 高兴 认识 你 nice to meet you
wǒ yě hěn ɡāo xìnɡ rèn shí nǐ
我 也 很 高兴 认识 你 I'm also glad to meet you

zǎo shang hǎo
早上 好 good morning
wǎn shɑnɡ hǎo
晚上 好 good evening

háo jiǔ bú jiàn
好久不见 long time no see

xiè xie
谢 谢 thanks
bú kè qi
不 客 气 you're welcome
nǐ tài kè qi le
你太客气了 you're welcome

duì bù qǐ
对 不 起 sorry
méi ɡuān xi
没 关 系 It doesn't matter

zài jiàn
再 见 bye bye
mínɡ tiān jiàn
明 天 见 see you tomorrow

xīn nián kuài lè
新 年 快 乐 happy new year
ɡōnɡ xǐ ɡōnɡ xǐ
恭 喜 恭 喜 congratulations
shēnɡ rì kuài lè
生 日 快乐 happy birthday

At the same time, as the eastern culture behind it, Chinese offers a body of special greeting expressions quite different from those in English. For example, Chinese greetings can be very personal and may sound annoying for English speakers. One may naturally ask whether you had had meal:
chī le mɑ ?
吃 了 吗 ?
or the place you are heading for:
qù nǎ ér ā ?
去哪儿 啊 ?

These factual questions on personal information is seemed quite rude to westerners, but is a symbol of closeness and citizenship for Chinese. So, be bold enough to greet your Chinese friend with chī le mɑ, he will definitely be stunned with joy.

Another interesting thing about greetings is the expected answers to it. Basically, small talks like greetings are not expected with a very specific response. When you ask qù nǎ ér ā, you don't need to report your destinations in detail, but just a very short:
qù chī fàn
去 吃 饭 going for lunch

About The Author

Julia Song

Julia’s cheerful attitude and close attention to her students’ progress make her an excellent Mandarin teacher for students of all levels. Holding a bachelor’s degree in language instruction and several years’ teaching experience, Julia excels at linguistic pedagogy and one-on-one instruction. Learn Chinese online with Julia Song >>