Are you planning your trip to China? Or maybe learning Chinese? Things become quite easy when you know the native language of the country you are visiting. If you are travelling to China, even a little bit of Chinese will go a long way. Besides everyday communication, learning some Chinese can make a big difference in your ability to network and experience Chinese culture.
This article will teach you routine phrases that you’ll hear in real life but might not find in your textbook. If you already have some idea about Mandarin Chinese Pinyin and tones, you can go ahead and skip right to the phrases.
Otherwise, scroll down to learn about Chinese Mandarin pronunciation and 40 Words You Need to Know in Chinese Mandarin When Travelling to China:
Chinese Pronunciation and Tones
Do you know that Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world? Many sounds in the Chinese language, particularly consonants, have no exact equivalent in English. That’s why Pinyin is used to give a reliable pronunciation guide for learners. If you want to become proficient in Chinese, it is recommended familiarizing yourself with Pinyin and the Chinese sounds it represents. It’ll help sound like a native speaker, and is essential if you want to progress past the basics.
In the Romanization of Chinese, you might notice some markings on the vowel sounds in the words, for example, Nǐhǎo. These markings represent the “tone” of each syllable. This means that a change in your voice pitch while pronouncing a vowel sound represents a different meaning of a single word. So, even if two words have similar sounds, but the tone is different, that means they have a different meaning.
There are 5 tones in Mandarin, out of which, 4 are main tones and 1 a de-emphasized “neutral” tone.
The tone markings in Pinyin visually represent the pitch outline that your voice makes while pronouncing the vowel.
Numbers in Chinese Mandarin
Here are the tones and how they are written:
- flat tone mā (or ma1)
- rising tone má (or ma2)
- falling-rising tone mǎ (or ma3)
- falling tone mà (or ma4)
- neutral tone ma (or ma5 or ma0)
Greeting Phrases in Chinese Mandarin
你好！(Nǐhǎo!) (Nee haow)
2. How are you?
你好吗？(Nǐhǎo ma?) (Nee haow ma)
很好 (Hěn hǎo) (Hun haow)
4. Not so good
不太好 (Bù tài hǎo) (Boo tye haow)
5. Good morning
早上好 (Zǎoshang hǎo) (Dzow shung haow)
6. Good evening
晚上好 Wǎnshang hǎo (Wun shung haow)
7. Good night
晚安 Wǎn’ān (Wun-un)
Conversational Phrases in Chinese Mandarin
8. Thank you
谢谢！ Xièxiè! (Shyeah shyeah) The “x” sound in Chinese is somewhere in between “s” and “sh” sound in English.
对不起 Duìbuqǐ (Dway boo chee)
好的！Hǎo de! (Haow duh)
11. You’re welcome
不用谢 (bú yòng xiè) (Boo yong shyeah)
12. Excuse me, sorry
不好意思 Bù hǎoyìsi (Boo haow yee srr)
Help Phrases in Chinese Mandarin
救命 (jiù mìng) (jiuu ming)
14. I don’t know
(我) 不知道 (Wǒ) bù zhīdao (Wor boo jrr daow)
15. Do you speak English?
(你）会说英文吗？(Nǐ) huì shuō yīngwén ma (Nee hway shwor yeeng wun ma)
16. I don’t speak Chinese
(我）不会说中文 (Wǒ) bù huì shuō zhōngwén (Wor boo hway shwor jong wun)
Places and direction in Chinese Mandarin
17. Excuse me, could I ask for some directions?
不好意思，可以问个路玛? Bù hǎoyìsi, kěyǐ wèn ge lù ma? (Boo haow yee srr, kuh yee wun guh loo ma)
18. Where is the __?
__在哪儿？/ __在哪里？__zài nǎr?/__ zài nǎli (__dzye narr/__dzye na lee)
19. It’s Here
在这儿/在这里 Zài zhèr/Zài zhèlǐ (Dzye jurr/Dzye juh lee)
20. Go straight aead
直走 Zhí zǒu (jrr dzoh)
21. Turn right
右转 Yòu zhuǎn (Yoh jwun)
22. Turn left
左转 Zuǒ zhuǎn (Dzwor jwun)
23. I want to go to __
我要去__ Wǒ yào qù__ (Wor yaow choo)
Transportation words in Chinese Mandarin
出租车 Chūzūchē (Choo dzoo chuh)
机场 Jīchǎng (Jee chung)
26. Train Station
火车站 Huǒchēzhàn (Hwor chuh jun)
27. Bus stop/station
公交车站 Gōngjiāochēzhàn (Gong jyaow chuh jun)
28. Metro/subway/underground station
地铁站 Dìtiězhàn (Dee tyeah jun)
29. One ticket to Beijing
张到北京的票 Yī zhāng dào Běijīng de piào (Yee jung daow bay jeeng duh pyaow)
Eating Phrases in Chinese Mandarin
30. I’d like to look at the menu
我想看一下菜单 Wǒ xiǎng kàn yīxià càidān (Wor shyung kun yee shyah tsay dun)
服务员！Fúwùyuán! (Foo woo yoo-an)
32.The bill, please!
买单！Mǎidān! (Mye dun)
Shopping Phrases in Chinese Mandarin
33. This one
这个 Zhège (Jay guh)
34. That one
那个 Nàge (Nay guh)
35. How much is it?
多少钱？Duōshao qián? (Dwor shaow chyen)
36. I’ll take this one
我要这个 Wǒyào zhège (Wor yaow jay guh)
37. Too expensive!
太贵了！Tài guì le! (Tye gway luh)
38. Can I use a card?
可以刷卡吗？Kěyǐ shuākǎ ma? (Kuh-yee shak-a ma?)
39. A bit cheaper! (To ask for a better price)
便宜一点儿！Piányi yīdiǎnr! (Pyen yee yee dyerr)
40. I’m just looking
我看一下 Wǒ kàn yīxià (Wor kun yee shyah)
The above mention guide will surely help you in surviving your trip to China. From finding a place to making a friend, these words and phrases will help you navigate your prosperous journey in China. Practice beforehand and try to catch the tone of each phrase. 一路平安！(safe journey!)