Basic Chinese phrases

with pronunciations


Mandarin Chinese
phrase sheet

China has many languages and dialects. Mandarin is the most widely used and is considered the national spoken language.

Tone pronunciation

Mandarin Chinese uses 4 tones to differentiate words (see key below). Using them is essential for avoiding misunderstandings. For example, the world "ma" has four distinct meanings, depending on the tone you use.

Ma =  Mother
Ma =  Linen/hemp
Ma =  Horse
Ma = To curse

You wouldn't want to call someone's
mother a horse.

ni hao  kneehow

zaijian  zyejeeahn

Thank you
xie xie ni  shehshehknee

You're welcome
bu ke qi  bookehchee

qing  cheeng

Excuse me
dui bu qi  dwayboochee

My name is...
wo jiao  wahjao("a" as in "father")

How much?
duo shao  dahshao (rhymes with "cow")

I don't understand
wo bu dong  wahboodohng

shi  she

bu shi  booshe

yi  yee

er  ehr

san  sahn

List and phonetics ©2013 HQP /

Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin is the spoken language of Beijing and surrounding areas.

It is difficult for foreigners to speak because it is a tonal language.

The words in black non-bold type in the glossary above are the Pinyin spelling ("ni hao" for instance). It converts Chinese characters into Roman letters. The system was created for the benefit of non-Chinese speaking foreigners.

Some of the street and other signs in big cities use Pinyin in small type under the Chinese characters.

Print this page to take with you on your next trip to China.

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Basic Chinese phrases with pronunciations



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