Mastering the Art of Communicating Your Needs in Mandarin Chinese

Do you intend to visit China, or are you studying the language? For a smooth experience, you must be able to communicate your needs in Chinese. You can use the advice in this article to help you deal with various scenarios, including polite requests, urgency, and setting preferences. After reading this article, you’ll feel more at ease expressing your demands in Chinese!

Essential Vocabulary for Expressing Needs

Learn some essential Chinese words so you can communicate your demands in the language:

  • Common verbs: These include 吃 (chī) – to eat, 喝 (hē) – to drink, 看 (kàn) – to see, and 买 (mǎi) – to buy.
  • Useful adjectives: Adjectives like 多 (duō) – much, 少 (shǎo) – few, 大 (dà) – big, and 小 (xiǎo) – small help describe the quantity or size of items you need.

Everyday phrases: Learn phrases like 谢谢 (xièxie) – thank you, 不客气 (bú kèqì) – you’re welcome, 对不起 (duìbuqǐ) – sorry, and 再见 (zàijiàn) – goodbye to navigate social interactions.

Making Polite Requests

Being polite is vital when stating your wants. These are two crucial expressions for polite requests:

  • How to use “请 (qǐng)” to ask for help: “请” means “please” in Chinese. Use it before a verb to make your request more polite. 

请帮我。 (Qǐng bāng wǒ) – “please help me.”

  • Incorporating “可以 (kěyǐ)” to seek permission: “可以” means “can” or “may” in Chinese. Use it to ask if something is allowed.

我可以使用这个吗?(Wǒ kěyǐ shǐyòng zhège ma?) -“May I use this?”

Expressing Urgency

It’s crucial to express the significance of your needs in time-sensitive circumstances.

  • Using “急 (jí)” for urgent situations: “急” means “urgent” or “emergency.”

我很急。 (Wǒ hěn jí.)-“I’m in a hurry.”

  • Other phrases to convey urgency: Use phrases like 马上 (mǎshàng) – immediately, or 快点 (kuài diǎn) – quickly, to emphasize the urgency of your request.

Saying “No” or Expressing Dislike

You must occasionally refuse requests or voice your displeasure.

  • The art of saying “不 (bù)”: “不” means “no” or “not” in Chinese. Use it before a verb to negate it, like 不要 (bú yào), which means “do not want.”
  • Alternative phrases for expressing disagreement or dissatisfaction: You can also use phrases like 不同意 (bù tóngyì) – disagree, or 不喜欢 (bù xǐhuan) – dislike, to express dissatisfaction or disagreement.

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Asking for Help or Assistance

Use these expressions when you require support or assistance:

  • “帮忙 (bāngmáng)” for help: “帮忙” means “to help” or “assist.” Use it with 请 (qǐng) to politely ask for help, like 请帮忙 (qǐng bāngmáng).
  • Seeking clarification with “请问 (qǐngwèn)”: “请问” is a polite way to ask a question. Use it to seek clarification.

请问,怎么去地铁站? (Qǐngwèn, zěnme qù dìtiězhàn?) – Excuse me, how do I get to the subway station?

Talking about Preferences

To make sure your demands are satisfied, you must express your choices.

  • Expressing likes and dislikes: Use 喜欢 (xǐhuan) – like, or 不喜欢 (bù xǐhuan) – dislike, to share your preferences, such as 我喜欢吃苹果 (wǒ xǐhuan chī píngguǒ) – I like to eat apples.

Sharing opinions with “觉得 (juédé) “**: “觉得” means “to think” or “feel” in Chinese. 

我觉得这部电影很好看。 (Wǒ juédé zhè bù diànyǐng hěn hǎokàn.) – I think this movie is very good.

Discussing Health and Wellbeing

Use the following words and phrases when discussing your health or well-being:

  • Describing how you feel: Use 我觉得 (wǒ juédé) – I feel, followed by adjectives like 好 (hǎo) – good, or 不舒服 (bù shūfú) – uncomfortable

我觉得很累。 (Wǒ juédé hěn lèi.) – I feel very tired.

  • Seeking medical attention:

我需要看医生。 (Wǒ xūyào kàn yīshēng.) – I need to see a doctor

我需要去医院。 (Wǒ xūyào qù yīyuàn.) – I need to go to the hospital.


Having learned how to express yourself in Mandarin, you can better handle different situations and get closer to people who speak Mandarin as their first language. Practice these words and expressions to make learning Chinese more successful and entertaining.

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