Beginners’ Chinese: a taster course
Beginners’ Chinese: a taster course

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Beginners’ Chinese: a taster course

2 Greetings

In this section you will learn how to say some basic greetings in Chinese.

Expressions used for greetings

  • Nǐ hăo 你好 (lit. ‘you good/well’) is the most commonly used greeting in Mandarin Chinese which can be used throughout the day. It is equivalent to ‘hello’ in English.

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Transcript: Audio 3

你好
nǐ hǎo
End transcript: Audio 3
Audio 3
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  • Nín hăo 您好 (lit. ‘you good/well’) is a polite greeting because ‘nín’ is the polite form for ‘you’ (singular), similar to the French pronoun ‘vous’. It is used to greet someone you meet for the first time, or who is senior either in terms of age or status. It can be loosely translated as ‘How do you do?’

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Transcript: Audio 4

您好
nín hǎo
End transcript: Audio 4
Audio 4
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  • Not too long ago when food was in short supply, the phrase ‘Have you eaten?’ (Nĭ chī le ma? 你吃了吗?) was a common greeting amongst neighbours. An appropriate response is to say ‘Chī le吃了 for ‘Yes’ or ‘Méi chī 没吃 for ‘No’.

  • Zăo ān 早安 (lit. morning peace) is a common greeting in the morning in Taiwan.

When parting from people, you say:

  • Zàijiàn 再见 (lit. again see) meaning goodbye.

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Transcript: Audio 5

再见
zàijiàn
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Audio 5
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Note that although there are expressions in Chinese for ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’, ‘good evening’ and ‘good night’, they are not often used. Also, handshaking is seen as appropriate when greeting someone, however Chinese people do not feel comfortable being hugged or kissed in public.

Activity 6 Greetings

Listen to these different short expressions and select their English equivalents. You can listen to them as many times as you need to: just click on each one again to repeat it. If it is helpful, you can also look at the pinyin at the same time by clicking on ‘Transcript’.

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Transcript: Audio 6

你好
nǐ hǎo
End transcript: Audio 6
Audio 6
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a. 

Hello (informal)


b. 

How do you do? (formal)


c. 

Goodbye


d. 

None of the above


The correct answer is a.

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Transcript: Audio 7

谢谢
xièxie
End transcript: Audio 7
Audio 7
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a. 

Goodbye


b. 

Thank you/Thanks


c. 

Not at all


d. 

None of the above


The correct answer is b.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 8
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Transcript: Audio 8

您好
nín hǎo
End transcript: Audio 8
Audio 8
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

a. 

Hello (informal)


b. 

How do you do? (formal)


c. 

Goodbye


d. 

None of the above


The correct answer is b.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 9
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Transcript: Audio 9

再见
zàijiàn
End transcript: Audio 9
Audio 9
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

a. 

Hello (informal)


b. 

How do you do? (formal)


c. 

Goodbye


d. 

None of the above


The correct answer is c.

CHN_1

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