Top 10 greetings in Chinese for Beginners
The Chinese language is the world’s oldest written language, dating back at least six thousand years. Inscriptions of Chinese characters dating back to the Shang dynasty1 (1766-1123 BC) have been discovered in turtle shells, proving that the written language has existed for more than 3,000 years. Each word in the Chinese written language is represented by a single distinct symbol or character. The vast majority of characters are written versions of meaningful spoken sounds. A large dictionary typically has 40,000 characters. 2 To read a newspaper, one must be able to recognise 2,000 to 3,000 characters. Although the written system has evolved over time as a result of revolutions and political changes, the principles of the language, as well as the symbols and characters, have remained largely unchanged.
Let me now introduce you to a few Chinese phrases you could use as a beginner!
你好 | Nĭhǎo | Hello!
你好, or “nĭhǎo” in pīnyīn, is the most common greeting taught in beginner Chinese textbooks. It literally means “you good.” It is made up of the characters for “you” (你 nĭ) and “good” (好 hǎo). If you’re a beginner in Chinese, you can’t go wrong with 你好 nĭhǎo for “hello.” As a result, you shouldn’t be concerned if it’s the only greeting you learn at first.
您好 | Nínhǎo | Hello (polite)
Many beginner Chinese students will have learned that the formal way to say hello is 您好 (nínhǎo). If you’re new to Chinese, remember that 您好 is used to show respect by noting that the only difference between 你 and 您 is that the 您 in 您好 has 心 (xīn), the Chinese character for heart, underneath it.
This detail can be interpreted as indicating that 您好is more heartfelt or genuine.
大家好 | Dàjiā hǎo | Hello everybody!
To greet a group of people, Chinese has a “大家好” (dàjiā hǎo). In Chinese, 大家 means “everybody” or “everyone,” so this greeting literally means “everyone good.”
However, it is more accurately translated as “hello everybody.” This is an excellent greeting to use when addressing a group.
老师好 | Lǎoshī hǎo | Hello, teacher!
If you are learning Chinese, you can greet your teacher by saying 老师好 (lǎoshī hǎo). This phrase literally translates to “good teacher,” but it actually means “Hello, teacher.”
早 | Zǎo | Good morning (informal)
If you want to greet someone in the morning, use the morning word 早上, followed by 好. This results in the common greeting 早上好 (zǎoshànghǎo; good morning). It is also possible to say 早 (zǎo), which translates as “good morning.”
Let me now introduce you to a few Chinese phrases you could use as a beginner! contd.
下午好 | Xiàwǔhǎo | Good afternoon!
Another common greeting that includes the time of day when you’re meeting the person you want to greet, say afternoon 下午, is 下午好 (xiàwǔhǎo). in Mandarin.
晚上好 | Wǎnshànghǎo | Good evening!
In keeping with the preceding pattern, if you happen to meet someone late at night, you can make a greeting by beginning with the Chinese word for night, which is 晚上, and adding 好 at the end. As a result, your greeting becomes 晚上好 (wǎnshànghǎo).
喂 | Wéi | Hello (used when answering the phone)
喂, or “wéi” in pīnyīn, is a greeting that is only used to answer the phone in China.
你吃了吗? | Nĭ chī le ma? | Have you eaten?
Beginner Chinese students are sometimes taught that “你吃了吗?” (Nĭ chī le ma?) which is a common greeting in China that means “Have you eaten?”
嗨 | Hāi | Hi!
嗨, or “hāi” in pīnyīn, is a casual greeting used by young people in cities to greet friends and other people their age. It is a loanword from English and is simply the Chinese equivalent of the English greeting “hi.”
Despite the fact that many Chinese dialects exist, written language is the most widely used form of communication. Even though people in different provinces cannot communicate verbally, they can understand each other in writing. The written language, on the other hand, can be divided into three types: simplified, traditional, and informal slang or phonetic. There is also a form known as “pin-yin,” which is the Chinese language transcribed with roman spelling.
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