10 Essential Phrases for Tourists in China

Tourists in China usually speak Chinese for three things: being cordial, buying something, and asking directions. So here are 10 essential expressions that will allow you do these essential things.

1) How are you?

Chinese: Nǐ hǎo ma? (Nee-haoww-mah?) 你好吗
Wèi (/way/ 喂), mostly used on the 'phone, is the closest Chinese to "hello" or "hi " Nowadays most Chinese speakers know the English word "hello" and might use it even when meeting Chinese people. It has become an English loanword in the Chinese language, written 哈啰, and pronounced hāluo (haa-lwor), so it may sound odd when Chinese-speakers try to say "hello".
"Nǐ hǎo ma?" literally means "You good?" ( = you, hǎo = good, ma = ?). Similar to "How are you?", it can mean "Are you ok?"
"Nǐhǎo" is said frequently. It might mean "Nǐ hǎo ma?", but it typically means something like 'It's you — good." or "Nice to see you." It's the most basic and standard Chinese greeting.

2) Good or bad?

Chinese: Hǎobùhǎo? (haoww-boo-haoww) 好不好?
Hǎo means 'good'. Hǎo also means "ok".
Bùhǎo means 'not good'. ("Bu" means 'no' or 'not'.) Chinese speakers use "hǎo" and "buhao" to say something is good or bad, and to signal agreement or disagreement.
Combining "hǎo" and "bùhǎo" gives "Hǎobùhǎo?", which is a question. It means 'Good or not good?' or 'Is it ok?' After this or "Nǐ hǎo ma?" you can reply "hǎo" or "bùhǎo".

3) Thank you

Chinese: Xièxie. (sshyeah-sshyeah) 谢 谢
This is the basic and simple way to say thank you.

4) I'm sorry.

Chinese: Duìbuqǐ. (dway-boo-chee) 对不起
This phrase can be used both to apologize and to ask for repetition. It literally means "I didn't begin correctly." or "You're right, that isn't upright."
"Duì" means 'correct'. It is often repeated two or three times to indicate agreement (Duì duì duì).

5) Asking What Something Is

Chinese: Zhè shì shénme? (Jer shrr shnn-muh?) 这是什么?
Here is a good way to both indicate your interest in an item and to learn a lot of new words.
The three important words are: Zhè (this), shì (is), and shénme (what). Combined with pointing, "Zhè shì shénme?" can be used to find out what things are called.
Shì (all forms of the verb "to be") is also used to mean "yes", like "duì" and "hǎo", and can also be combined with bù for "it's not" (bùshì).

6) Do you have …? 

Chinese: Yǒuméiyǒu …? (Yoh-may-yoh ...?) 有没有 …?
Yǒu means 'have', and méiyǒu means "to not have". The word méi means lack. So the phrase "yǒuméiyǒu …" literally means "have or not have …?"
e.g.
Chinese: 有没有叉子?
English: Do you have fork?

7) How much money?

Chinese: Duōshao qián? 多少钱 (Dwor-sshaoww chyen?)
The phrase "duōshao?" is composed of the words duō (much) and shǎo (few), and means "how much?" or "how many?" Qián means 'money'.

8) Where is ...?

Chinese: ... zài nǎlǐ? (... dzeye naa-lee?) …在哪里
The three words are: zài (on or in), nǎ (where or which), and lǐ (inside or very roughly the word "place"). Put the name of the place or object you want to find before zài nǎlǐ.
e.g.
Chinese: 火车站在哪里?
English: Where is the train station?

9) I want to go to ...

Chinese: Wǒ xiǎng qù... (Wor sshyang chyoo …) 我想去 …
The three words are: (I), xiǎng (want), and (to go). Then add the name of the place. This is useful for buying train tickets, taking a taxi, etc.
e.g.
Chinese: 我想去机场.
English: I want to go to the airport.

10) Rest-room.

Chinese: Cèsuǒ. (tser-swor) 厕所
As in English, there are several words and phrases used to mean bathroom. The most common word for public toilets, or a room with a toilet in, is "cèsuǒ." "Cè" means 'toilet'. "Suǒ" means 'place'.
e.g.
Chinese: 我想去厕所, or 厕所在哪里?
English: I want to go to the bathroom, or where is the bathroom?

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❤Hi everyone!I am Lily. A Master degree qualified with teaching Chinese as a second language,Welcome to book a trial lesson with me , let me help you improving Chinese in a short time.不管初级高级,想提高口语还是综合能力,我都能够帮助你高效地达成学习目标+Free materials ❤ ❤I’m currently teaching Chinese in international institute of Guangzhou University.I have more than three years teaching experience in large class and i have received much praise for my clear explanations on liguistic nuances. ❤As a professional Chinese teacher,i know what is the responsiblity that a teacher should have,my lessons are well prepared and efficient.The most important part of Learning lauguage is speak it out! So during my class,i usually push my students to speak more!The more you speak, the greater progress you make ♫Learning Chinese can be easy if you make it fun. I am experienced and innovative, you will feel very enjoyble while learning with me .With the scientific teaching methods ,I will help you get a great improvement in a short term. ♬I LOVE MY JOB.I enjoy teaching students from all over the world, and I take great satisfaction in seeing their improvement in speaking Mandarin! ❤Advantages of my lessons 1.Get customized, interactive and practical content 2.Have instant and clear explanations in Chinese/English without wasting time 3.Offer you plentiful materials 4.Offer homework with guidance or correction outside of the lesson ❤Before booking my lesson: Everyone is unique and everyone brings different needs, skills, personalities and goals. So before booking the lesson, send me a message with your Chinese level and learning goals in order to help me to build a personalized study plan based on your own individual needs. ▲▲▲ E-book ,flashcard ,PPTs and free materials available All kinds of sessions .I will send it to you before the class ❤The Electronic textbooks we may use 1、汉语口语速成Short term spoken Chinese 2、快乐汉语 Have Fun with Chinese 3、新实用汉语课本 New Practical Chinese 4、博雅汉语 Boya Chinese 5、HSK标准教程 ······ More learning materials on my wechat channel↓ Wechat official account : LilyChinese
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