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Getting started with Chinese 1
Getting started with Chinese 1

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1 Say hello

To start this week you will look at the different expressions used to greet people.

Expressions used for greetings

  • Nǐ hăo (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.
  • Nín hăo (lit. ‘you good/well’) is a polite greeting because ‘nín’ is the polite form for ‘you’ (singular), like the French pronoun ‘vous’. It is used to greet someone you meet for the first time, or to who is senior either in terms of age or status. It can be loosely translated as ‘How do you do?’
  • Not too long ago when food was in short supply, the phrase ‘Have you eaten?’ (Nĭ chī le ma?) was actually one of the common greetings amongst neighbours. An appropriate response is to say ‘Chī le’ for ‘Yes’ or ‘Méi chī’ for ‘No’.
  • Zăo ān (lit. morning peace), a common greeting in the morning in Taiwan.

When parting from people, you say:

  • Zàijiàn (lit. again see) Goodbye

Note that although there are expressions in Chinese for ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’, ‘good evening’ and ‘good night’, they are not very often used. Also, in greetings handshaking is appropriate. Chinese people do not feel comfortable being hugged or kissed in public.

Activity 1

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. You can look at the words at the same time, if that is helpful, by clicking on ‘Transcript’.

Listen and then select the English equivalent from the options below.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: lxc001_wk1_act_aud001.mp3
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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 a.

Listen and then select the English equivalent from the options below.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: lxc001_wk1_act_aud002.mp3
Copy this transcript to the clipboard
Print this transcript
Show transcript|Hide transcript
 
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 d.

Listen and then select the English equivalent from the options below.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: lxc001_wk1_act_aud003.mp3
Copy this transcript to the clipboard
Print this transcript
Show transcript|Hide transcript
 
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.

Listen and then select the English equivalent from the options below.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: lxc001_wk1_act_aud004.mp3
Copy this transcript to the clipboard
Print this transcript
Show transcript|Hide transcript
 
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.