Common Mandarin Chinese Phrases For Beginners

12 January 2023
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House

Unsplash: Ewan Yap

If you think that Chinese is the spoken language of China, then you are partially correct. However, the term "Chinese" simply refers to the linguistic family that covers the hundreds of spoken dialects that are used throughout this vast nation. In fact, according to some estimates, China is home to 302 live languages, but the exact number may vary depending on what you consider a language and dialect. ”

The Chinese language family consists of ten primary dialects, and within each dialect group includes a number of sub-dialects. One of the groups is Mandarin Chinese. With over 955 million speakers in China alone, this dialect is the most widely spoken form of Chinese. Mandarin Chinese is the foundation for Modern Standard Chinese, aka National Chinese, and it has four subgroups: Northern Mandarin, Northwestern Mandarin, Southwestern Mandarin, and Southern Mandarin.

Now, many people say that learning Mandarin is not easy, especially with its many subgroups. And that is true, but learning Mandarin Chinese is also not impossible. So if you want to learn more about Mandarin Chinese and immerse yourself in the language, here’s a list of some useful, basic phrases that you can easily pick up.

Basic Greetings

  • Good morning – 早上好 (Pin-yin: Zǎoshang hǎo, Pronunciation: Dzow shung how)
  • Good evening – 晚上好 (Pin-yin: Wǎn shàng hǎo, Pronunciation: Wun shung how)
  • Good night – 晚安 (Pin-yin: Wǎn'ān, Pronunciation: Wun uhn)
  • Nice to meet you – 幸会 (Pin-yin: Xìng huì, Pronunciation: Xing hwey)

Simple Phrases

  • How are you? – 你好吗? (Pin-yin: Nǐ hǎo ma, Pronunciation: Nee how mah)
  • Can you help me? – 你能帮帮我吗?(Pin-yin: Nǐ néng bāng bāng wǒ ma, Pronunciation: Nee nung bung bung wo ma)
  • How’s the weather? – 天气怎么样?(Pin-yin: Tiānqì zěnme yàng, Pronunciation: Tiantye zen meh yang)
  • How much does that cost? – 它的价格是多少 (Pin-yin: Tā de jiàgé shì duōshǎo, Pronunciation: Ta duh djageh sheh dwo shaow)
  • Do you speak English? – 你 会说英文吗?(Pin-yin: Nǐ huì shuō yīngwén ma, Pronunciation: Nee hway shwo yeeng wuhn ma)
  • Do you speak Chinese? – 你 会说中文吗?(Pin-yin: Nǐ huì shuō zhōngwén ma, Pronunciation: Nee hway shwo jong wuhn ma)
  • Yes – 是 (Pin-yin: Shì, Pronunciation: Sheh)
  • No – 不 (Pin-yin: Bù, Pronunciation: Bu)
  • Okay – 好 (Pin-yin: Hǎo, Pronunciation: How)
  • Thank you – 谢谢 (Pin-yin: Xiè xiè, Pronunciation: Shie shie)
  • Bye – 再见 (Pin-yin: Zàijiàn, Pronunciation: Dzye jian)
  • Please – 请 (Pin-yin: Qǐng, Pronunciation: Tching)
  • Sorry – 对不起 (Pin-yin: Duìbùqǐ, Pronunciation: Duy bu tchi)

At the Restaurant

  • I would like to look at the menu – 我想看一下菜单 (Pin-yin: Wǒ xiǎng kàn yīxià càidān, Pronunciation: Woh shung kun yee xia tsay dun)
  • (We are / I am) ready to order – 点菜 (Pin-yin: Diǎn cài, Pronunciation: Dyen tsay)
  • Waiter – 服务员 (Pin-yin: Fúwùyuán, Pronunciation: Foo woo yu an)
  • The bill, please – 买单 (Pin-yin: Mǎidān, Pronunciation: My dan)
  • I want this one – 我要这个 (Pin-yin: Wǒ yào zhège, Pronunciation: Wo yaw ju guh)
  • Please give me a pair of chopsticks – 请给我一双筷子 (Pin-yin: Qǐng gěi wǒ yīshuāng kuàizi , Pronunciation: Tching gey wo yee shuang kwai tzuh)
  • Delicious – 好吃 (Pin-yin: Hào chī, Pronunciation: How tchi)
  • Cheers – 干杯 (Pin-yin: Gānbēi, Pronunciation: Gan bey)

Special Phrases

  • Good luck – 祝你好运 (Pin-yin: Zhù nǐ hǎo yùn, Pronunciation: Tju nee how yun)
  • May you be prosperous – 恭喜发财 (Pin-yin: Gōngxǐ fācái, Pronunciation: Gong tsi fa tsay)
  • Happy birthday – 生日快乐 (Pin-yin: Shēngrì kuàilè, Pronunciation: Sheng ruh kway luh)
  • Congratulations – 恭喜恭喜 (Pin-yin: Gōngxǐ gōngxǐ, Pronunciation: Gong tsi gong tsi)
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