Learning how to greet people in Mandarin Chinese is important and when you are in or planning to be in China because basic greetings are the foundation for relationships.
The Mandarin phrase that means Hello is Ni hao, pronounced knee how. Nǐ (the third tone) - 你 means "you" and hǎo (the third tone) - 好 means "good". If you were to translate it to English, it would mean "you good?" When you come upon one of your Chinese friends, you can say "Nǐ hǎo", and your Chinese friends will also reply with "Nǐ hǎo" to express kindness and politeness.
However, this greeting is informal, usually used for friends, peers, and associates. The formal way to say "Hello" is Nín hǎo - 您好, pronounced seen how. Notice that the formal "you" is "Nín" - 您, it is used for strangers, elders, superiors or people in authority. When you encounter someone older or distinguished, you might say Nin hao. And another very casual and common greeting is Nǐ hǎo ma - 你好吗. This is a question asking others' recent condition, also expressing friendly.
To say goodbye in Mandarin Chinese you say zài jiàn - 再见, both of these two characters are pronounced in forth tone. Zài means again, once more, and jiàn means see, meet. So a possible translation of zài jiàn - 再见 is "see you again". But it is worth noting that don't think of zài jiàn - 再见 as two single words, it is one phrase that means Goodbye.
Other common ways to say Goodbye in Chines language are as follows.
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