When a person starts to learn Chinese, one of the first things they learn is how to say hello. They always learn that to say “hi” in Chinese, they need to say nĭ hǎo 你好. However, there are many other ways to say Hello in Chinese, and every way has its uniqueness.
In this article, we will teach you how to say Hello in the best way in Chinese, and in what situations the greetings are most common.
1 Nĭ hǎo 你好 Hello!
Nĭ hǎo 你好 is just one of the many ways that Chinese speakers say hello. Most of the time, it’s not even the most frequent! Find out some of the many ways to say “hi” in Chinese by reading on.
Nho is the greeting most commonly taught in beginner Chinese textbooks. Composed of the characters nĭ 你 you and hǎo 好 good, it means “you good.” If you just started learning Chinese, you can’t go wrong with nĭ hǎo 你好 for “hello.” So, don’t worry if that is the only greeting you learn at first.
However, if you pay attention to how Chinese people greet each other, you won’t usually hear them saying nĭ hǎo 你好. This is because nĭ hǎo 你好 is a somewhat formal greeting that can sound stiff to native speakers. Nĭ hǎo 你好 isn’t generally used among friends. Meeting a new person is the most common time for a native Chinese speaker to use this word.
If you bring together two people of about the same age who see each other as equals, they might say, nĭhǎo, nĭhǎo 你好，你好 while shaking each other’s hands. If they already know each other, they are more likely to use a less formal way to say hello.
Nĭ hǎo 你好 is also sometimes used as a written greeting from a boss to an employee under them. Keep in mind, though, that it sounds more formal than many of the other common ways to say hello, as shown below.
2 Nín hǎo 您好 Hello (polite)!
Many people who are just starting to learn Chinese have learned that the proper way to say hello is nín hǎo 您好. If you’re starting to learn Chinese, remember that nín hǎo 您好 respect by pointing out that the only difference between nĭ 你 and nín 您 is that the nín 您 in nín hǎo 您好 has xīn 心 the Chinese character for heart under it.
This detail could be taken as a sign that nín hǎo 您好 is more heartfelt. When you meet someone much older than you, a teacher, a boss, or someone important, this is the best way to say hello. It can also be used to show respect for the first time to someone you don’t know well and use nín hǎo 您好 in written form as a greeting for more formal correspondence.
3 jiǔyǎng 久仰 or jǐu yǎng dà míng 久仰大名 Hello, nice to meet you!
In China, this is a very polite way to say hello. Jiǔyǎng 久仰 means, “I have been waiting a long time to meet you.” Or, “You have impressed me for a long time.”
This is a common way to start a conversation with someone you like or want to be nice to. It’s not a common way for friends to say “hi” or “nice to meet you”, as jiǔyǎng 久仰 is only used the first time you meet someone.
4 Dàjiā hǎo 大家好 Hello everybody!
If you’re looking for a way to say hello to a group, you’ve come to the right place. Dàjiā 大家 means everyone in Chinese, so this greeting literally means “everyone good.” But “hello, everyone” is a better way to translate it. This is a great way to say hello to a group.
You’ll soon see that you can make many Chinese greetings by adding hǎo 好 after characters that stand for the person or people you want to talk to. The same is true of dàjiā hǎo 大家好.
Greetings are often made by putting hǎo 好 after the characters, showing what time of day it is. This is demonstrated by the sentence xiàwǔ hǎo 下午好 Good afternoon.
5 xìng huì 幸会 Nice to meet you!
This is a more casual way that people your age and in the same position as you say things. After meeting someone for the first time and shaking their hand, it is proper to say xìng huì 幸会 Nice to meet you.
This phrase can be used with people of all ages. It wouldn’t be wrong to use xìng huì 幸会 when meeting your friend’s parents or a teacher for the first time.
6 Lǎoshī hǎo 老师好 Hello, teacher!
If you’re learning Chinese, you might want to say to your teacher, lǎoshī hǎo 老师好 which means “teacher good” or “Hello, teacher.”
The pattern of this greeting is similar to nĭ hǎo 你好 and dàjiā hǎo 大家好 above. To make it, first write the letters for the person you want to address, in this case, your teacher or lǎoshī 老师. Then, add hǎo 好.
In many countries, teachers are called by both their titles and last names, just like everyone else. However, in China, teachers are often called lǎoshī 老师. It is also common to greet teachers with lǎoshī hǎo 老师好 even if they’re not their teachers. The Confucian way of life with an emphasis on the importance of learning and education still greatly impacts Chinese society today. Because of this, people hold teachers in high regard, and it is common to call respected people that have a skill in something who don’t work as teachers lǎoshī 老师, for example, a singer, to show respect and that you admire them.
7 Qù nǎ? 去哪? Where are you going?
It is common for Chinese people to say hello by saying Qù nǎ? 去哪? Where are you going? You might say this to a neighbor you know, and it is a way of showing your friendliness.
8 xiàwǔ hǎo下午好. Good afternoon!
Another common way to start a greeting is to say what time of day you’ll be meeting the person you want to greet. If you’re meeting someone in the afternoon, which is xiàwǔ 下午 in Mandarin, then you’d say xiàwǔ hǎo下午好 Good afternoon.
9 wǎnshàng hǎo 晚上好 Good evening!
Following the pattern described above, if you meet someone in the evening, the Chinese word wǎnshàng 晚上 evening can be used as a greeting. You then say wǎnshàng 晚上 evening and add hǎo 好 good at the end. So, your greeting will be wǎnshàng hǎo 晚上好.
You might be tempted to switch the words around and think this is a way to say good evening. However, in Chinese wǎnshàng hǎo 晚上好 means “good evening” and is a greeting, not a way to bid someone goodnight.
If you want to tell someone good night in Chinese, you should say wǎn ān 晚安 Good night. Just like in other languages, in Chinese, there are different greetings for different times of the day.
10 zǎoshàng hǎo 早上好 Good morning!
Use the word for morning to greet someone in the morning, which is zǎoshàng 早上, followed by hǎo 好 good. This produces the standard greeting zǎoshàng hǎo 早上好 good morning.
11 Zǎo 早 Good morning (informal)!
It’s also possible to say zǎo 早, which means good morning. While zǎo 早 and zǎoshàng hǎo 早上好 are both more or less the same, zǎo 早 is slightly less formal.
Zǎo 早 can be used among friends or people you already know. Zǎoshanghǎo 早上好 is more formal and is better for older people, bosses, and people you just met.
12 Wéi 喂 Hello (what to say when you answer the phone)
Wéi 喂 Hello is a greeting that’s only used for answering the phone in China.
If you answer the phone by saying nĭhǎo 你好 Hello, this sounds strange. Instead, most people answer the phone by saying wéi 喂 in a rising second tone as a question, more like “Who is there?”.
If you want to be nicer or think an essential person is on the other end of the line, you can also say nĭ hǎo 你好. It sounds better, though, to say wéi, nĭ hǎo 喂, 你好 than to simply say nĭ hǎo 你好 by itself.
13 Wèi 喂 Hello (answering the phone or as an exclamation to get other people’s attention)
In addition to wéi 喂 with a rising tone (wéi), you can also say wèi 喂 with a falling tone – the fourth tone. Wèi 喂 can sometimes serve as an exclamation used to get other people’s attention, but it is also often used to answer the phone.
It is more common wèi 喂 with the fourth tone on the phone when you know who the other person is or if someone is stressed or in a bad temper. In these situations, it is not like you are really who the other person is. That is why you use the fourth tone and not Wéi 喂 in the second tone.
14 Nĭ chī le ma 你吃了吗 Have you eaten?
Sometimes, people just starting to learn Chinese are taught that Nĭ chī le ma? 你吃了吗? Have you eaten? is a greeting used as an invitation to a meal. However, this is not the case. It’s just something nice to say. So, it’s usually easier to answer even if you haven’t eaten anything: Chī le, nĭ ne? 吃了, 你呢? which means, “I’ve eaten, and you?”
Nĭ chī le ma 你吃了吗 shows how important food is in Chinese culture. However, remember that this greeting is not usually used when people meet for the first time. Most of the time, this question will only come from people you already know.
15 Zuìjìn hǎo ma? 最近好吗? “Have you been good lately?” or “How have you been lately?”
Zuìjìn 最近 means lately. You should only use Zuìjìn hǎo ma? 最近好吗? if you haven’t seen the person in a long time.
16 Hāi 嗨 Hi!
Hāi 嗨 is a casual way for young people in cities to say hello to their friends and other people their age. It is an English word that has been borrowed into Chinese. It is just the Chinese version of the English word “hi.” Hāi 嗨 is a famous greeting online in China and among young Chinese.
17 HĒI 嘿 HEY!
Like hāi 嗨 above, hēi 嘿 is a loanword that comes from English. It sounds like the informal English greeting “hey” and means the same thing.
Like hāi 嗨, hēi 嘿 is a casual way for young people in cities to say hello to friends or other people their age. It can also be written and used on social media sites. You can talk to everyone if you know both the formal and informal ways to say hello in the Chinese language.
18 hā lóu 哈喽 Hello!
Like hāi 嗨 and hēi 嘿, hālóu 哈喽 also comes from the English language. This greeting sounds like the English word “hello”. It’s a casual, kind of playful way to say hello.