Common Phrases: Chinese for Beginners | Learn Chinese HSK 1

Being fluent in the most frequently used words and phrases is the first step to learning a new language, which is an exciting trip. This article will provide you a primer on some of the most often used Chinese expressions so that you may build a solid basic understanding of the language if you’re starting out on the path of learning Chinese.

Pinyin and Tones

It’s crucial to understand that Chinese is a tonal language with four tones that can alter the meaning of a word before moving on to the sentences. The romanization of Chinese letters, known as pinyin, helps students acquire the pronunciation.

  • High level tone: pronounced steadily high (e.g., mā).
  • Rising tone: starts from a middle pitch and rises (e.g., má).
  • Low dipping tone: starts mid, dips down, then rises (e.g., mǎ).
  • Sharp and falling tone: starts high and falls sharply (e.g., mà).

Understanding the tonal nature of the language is crucial for learning Chinese. Now, let’s move on to some common phrases.

Greetings and Salutations

  1. 你好 (Nǐ hǎo) – Hello
  2. 早上好 (Zǎoshang hǎo) – Good morning
  3. 晚上好 (Wǎnshang hǎo) – Good evening

Being able to greet people is the basic foundation in any language. These phrases will help you get started in initiating conversations in Chinese.

Basic Questions and Responses

  1. 你叫什么名字?(Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì?) – What is your name?
  2. 你多大了?(Nǐ duō dà le?) – How old are you?
  3. 你来自哪里?(Nǐ láizì nǎlǐ?) – Where are you from?

Learn to ask basic questions and you will be able to start simple dialogues with Chinese speakers.

Expressing Gratitude and Politeness

  1. 谢谢 (Xièxiè) – Thank you
  2. 对不起 (Duìbùqǐ) – Sorry
  3. 请 (Qǐng) – Please

Politeness goes a long way in any culture. Use these phrases to be polite and respectful in your interactions.

Dining and Shopping

  1. 我要这个 (Wǒ yào zhège) – I want this
  2. 多少钱?(Duōshǎo qián?) – How much is it?
  3. 账单 (Zhàngdān) – Bill

Whether you’re dining or shopping, these phrases will be handy in numerous situations.

Asking for Help and Directions

  1. 帮助 (Bāngzhù) – Help
  2. 厕所在哪里?(Cèsuǒ zài nǎlǐ?) – Where is the restroom?
  3. 我迷路了 (Wǒ mílù le) – I am lost

Knowing how to ask for help and directions is essential, especially when traveling in a Chinese-speaking region.

Common Responses

  1. 好的 (Hǎo de) – Okay
  2. 不要 (Bù yào) – No
  3. 可以 (Kěyǐ) – Yes

Learn these common responses to answer questions and to express your agreement or disagreement.

In Closing

Learning Chinese for the first time can be difficult but rewarding. Simple and frequently used, the aforementioned words can serve as stepping stones for you as you work to grasp this complex tongue. 

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