Many Chinese learners wonder how to make and answer phone calls in Chinese, especially when they need to make an appointment with friends, business customers, or call to purchase something. If you are one of them, this is the right article to read and learn some real stuff besides the simple opening “喂wèi/ wéi”. Let’s keep reading!
Every major city in China has its own telephone number directory. You can call for 114 for directory assistance in China for free. But this number can only help you find a number for a company or an organization, never a residential number, for phone books in China do not list residential numbers.
First, it’s interesting to know that when people answer the phone in China, the first word will be "喂wèi/ wéi", which doesn't have an actual meaning. It is just the way of greeting the caller/ receiver and starting off the conversation.
Situation 1: when the person you are looking for picks up the phone
A：喂，你好， 我找xxx。Wèi, nǐ hǎo, wǒ zhǎo xxx. （Hello, May I speak to xxx）
B: 你好， 我就是。nǐ hǎo, wǒ jiù shì. (Hi, this is xxx speaking)
Situation 2: when the person you are looking for is currently out
A: 喂，你好， 请问 xxx 在吗？wèi, nǐ hǎo, qǐnɡ wèn xxx zài mɑ? (Hello, May I speak to xxx？)
B： 对不起，xxx现在不在。duì bù qǐ, xiàn zài bu zài.（Sorry, xxx is not here right now）
Situation 3: ask to leave a message / to call back
A: 我可以留言吗？wǒ ké yǐ liú yán mɑ? (May I leave a message?)
B: 可以。ké yǐ. (Yes, sure)
A: 请转告xxx 给我回电话，我叫xxx， 电话号码是xxx。
qǐnɡ zhuǎn ɡào ɡěi wǒ huí diàn huà, wǒ jiào, diàn huà hào mǎ shì.
(Please tell xxx to give me a call back, My name is xxx, My phone number is xxx.)
Punctuality is vital when doing business in China as late arrivals are seen as an insult, which means making appointments in advance is very important.
Situation 1: Suggesting a time: When will you be free?
您下个星期一有时间吗？ Or 上午10 点可以吗？
nín xià ɡè xīnɡ qī yì yǒu shí jiān mɑ? Or shànɡ wǔ diǎn ké yǐ mɑ?
(Do you have time next Monday? Or Are you it available at 10: 00 AM?)
Situation 2: Saying yes: I’m free/ That’s fine /Ok / No problem.
我星期一有时间。Or 好的， 没问题。
wǒ xīnɡ qī yì yǒu shí jiān. Or hǎo de, méi wèn tí.
(I have time on Monday. Or Ok, no problem.)
Situation 3: Saying no: I’m afraid I can’t make it.
对不起， 我没有时间。 Or 抱歉， 我星期一有别的安排。
duì bù qǐ, wǒ méi yǒu shí jiān. Or bào qiàn, wǒ xīnɡ qī yì yǒu bié de ān pái.
(Sorry, I don’t have time. Or Sorry, I have some other plans on Monday.)
1. Can’t get through…
打不通/ 占线 dǎ bù tōnɡ/ zhàn xiàn
2. My phone number is…
wǒ de diàn huà hào mǎ shì
3. Please tell...
qǐnɡ zhuǎn ɡào...
4. Please transfer to...
qǐnɡ zhuǎn jiē fēn jī.
Please transfer me to extension 203.
5. Is this...
qǐnɡ wèn shì mɑ?
6. Please give ... a call.
Qǐnɡ ɡěi dǎ diàn huà.