Top Ten Chinese (Mandarin) Phrases

Chinese Pagoda

Chinese Pagoda

Whether you are traveling to China or interacting with people, here is a list of extremely useful basic Mandarin Chinese phrases.  Whenever I travel or my coworkers/friends travel I prepare this very same list for them.  I have found that these are the top phrases that can handle 90% of any native conversation you would need to have.  Even with a travel phrase book, this list printed out can be a quick life saver.

1)         Hi / Bye
            Nǐ hǎo (Nee How) / Zàijiàn (Tsy-jee-En)

2)         Yes / No
            Shi (Shur) / Méiyǒu (May-Yoh)

3)         Please / Thank you
            Qǐng (Ching) / Xièxiè (shyay-Shyay)

4)         Excuse me
            Duìbùqǐ (doy-Boo-chee)

5)         Where is . . .?  (Where is the bathroom?)
            …zài nǎlǐ? (Zī nah-Lee)  (TIP: …zai nar? (Zī nahr) in Beijing)
            Cèsuǒ zài nǎlǐ? (Say-swoh Zī nah-Lee)
            Train station              Huǒchē zhàn              (ho-Cha Jahn)
            Bus station                 Qìchē zhàn                 (chee-Cha Jahn)
            Police station              Jǐng shǔ                      (Jing Shoo)
            Embassy                     Shǐguǎn                      (Shur-Gwan)
            Hospital                      Yīyuàn                        (ee-Yoo-ahn)

6)         Take me to …
            Dài wǒ qù … (Die Woh Choo)

For this one, I have found it most helpful to have a business card (especially from your hotel), or a written name of the location you wish to go to, and point to it as you say “” (Choo).  It gives the driver/person a chance to study the location without asking you to repeat anything or to get into a lengthy conversation.

7)         Do you speak English? / I don’t speak Mandarin.
            Nǐ huì shuō yīngwén ma? (Nee Hway Shwoh Yeeng-wen Mah)
            Wǒ bù huì shuō pǔtōnghuà. (Woh Boo Hway Shwoh Poo-tohng-Hwah)

8)         How much is this?
            Duōshǎo qián? (Dwah-shaow Chee-an)

9)         My name is… / What is your name?
            Wo jiao… (Woh jeeYow)
            Ni jiao shenme mingzi?  (Nee jeeYow shan-Muh ming-Zuh)

10)       I need a doctor!
            Wǒ xūyào yīgè yīshēng! (Who Shoo-yaow ee-Guh yee-Shung)

Now that you have the basics . . . get out there and meet some people!

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China


The Cheat Sheet
:

  • Hi / Bye                                   Nǐ hǎo / Zàijiàn
  • Yes / No                                  Shi / Méiyǒu
  • Please / Thank you                  Qǐng / Xièxiè
  • Excuse me                               Duìbùqǐ
  • Where is…?                            …zài nǎlǐ?
  • Take me to…                          Dài wǒ qù …
  • Do you speak English?           Nǐ huì shuō yīngwén ma?
  • I don’t speak Mandarin.         Wǒ bù huì shuō pǔtōnghuà.
  • How much is this?                  Duōshǎo qián?
  • My name is…                          Wo jiao…
  • What is your name?                Ni jiao shenme mingzi?
  • I need a doctor!                      Wǒ xūyào yīgè yīshēng!

 
Author:                  Robert J. Gorman, Jr.
Date:                      9/12/2013

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