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Learn how to address your mother in Chinese

May. 10, 2012

Key Learning Point (Preview):

母亲 (mǔqīn)/妈妈 (māma)/娘 (niáng)/老妈 (lǎomā): mother/mummy/mum


"母亲节 (Mǔqīnjié) Mother's Day" is coming soon, have you decided what present to give to your mother? Wouldn't learning to address your mother in Chinese be a big surprise and a sweet gift?

In oral Chinese, there are many ways to say mother, for example, 妈 (), 妈妈 (māma), 阿妈 (āmā) and 娘亲 (niángqīn). The most frequently used addresses are: 母亲 (mǔqīn), 娘 (niáng) and 妈(妈)  (mā (ma)).

To call your mother "母亲 (mǔqīn)" is considered very formal in Chinese. It's most commonly seen in various types of media; in literature for example there is the book "母亲 (Mǔqīn)" by Gorky, and in fact, there is a TV series that's actually named "母亲(Mǔqīn)."

"娘 (niáng)" was used in ancient times and is now used in areas with rich culture and tradition, such as northwest China and the Central Plains. In Henan, Hebei and Shandong Province, and especially in some remote districts in the countryside, children will still call their mothers "娘 (niáng)."

"妈妈 (māma)" is the most used variant of mother. When children are young, they'll call their mother "妈妈 (māma)," then as adults, it shortens to "妈 ()" much like the switch from "mommy" to "mom/mum" in English. Nowadays, many children also call their mother "老妈 (lǎomā)."

In many minority groups, the ways to say mother are drastically different from each other. For example, in the Miao nationality, people call their mothers "阿妈 (ā mā)." In the time of the Qing Dynasty, they would call their mothers "额娘 (é niáng)." With so many words to address one's mother, we are reminded of how important the person that we honor on Mother's Day is.

Key Learning Point (Preview):

母亲 (mǔqīn)/妈妈 (māma)/娘 (niáng)/老妈 (lǎomā): mother/mummy/mum



Zhè shì yì piān gēsòng mǔqīn de wénzhāng.
这     是  一篇     歌颂      母亲  的   文章。
This article praises mothers.


Māma, wǒ yào chī bīngqílín.
妈妈, 我  要   吃  冰淇淋。


Mommy, I want to eat ice cream.

Niáng, érzi yídìng huì hǎohao nǔlì, ràng nǐ guò shàng hǎo rìzi.
娘,    儿子 一定  会    好好   努力,让  你  过     上      好日子。


Mother, I'll be sure to work hard to let you live an enjoyable life.

Wǒ lǎomā zuò cài de shǒuyi méi de shuō.
我    老妈    做  菜  的  手艺    没   得   说。


My mother cooks very well.

         Mā, wǒ huílai le. Fàn zuò hǎo le ma? È sǐ wǒ le.
   Son: 妈,我回来 了。饭  做    好  了 吗?饿死我了。


          Mom, I'm back. Is dinner ready? I’m so hungry.

          Mǎshàng jiù hǎo le.
Mother: 马上      就  好 了。


           Dinner will be ok soon.

Got questions? Take a Free 1-on-1 live online lesson with our professional teachers from China.


What is ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ in Chinese?

“Happy Mother’s day” is “母亲节快乐 (Mǔqīn jiē kuàilè)” in Chinese.

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