6 Popular Chinese Greetings

6 Popular Chinese Greetings

Today, we’ll teach you how to make Chinese friends! Or, at least the very first step: greetings. You’ll learn how to greet people in Mandarin Chinese, ask them how they are doing, and reply when they ask you. Sit back, listen, and you’ll be able to show off with a few sentences yourself in no time.

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1. “你好!/您好!(Nǐhǎo!/Nínhǎo!)”

This is the simplest way to say hello, equal to “Hello/Hi” in English. Using “您好(nínhǎo)” instead of “你好(nǐhǎo)” is more formal and is used to show respect to strangers, elders, and superiors.

Examples:

Nǐhǎo, qǐngwèn túshūguǎn zěnmezǒu?
你好, 请问       图书馆       怎么走?
Hello, could you please tell me how to get to the library?

Lǐ xiānsheng, nínhǎo.
李 先生,      您好。
Hi, Mr. Li.

2. “早上好!(Zǎoshanghǎo!)”

“早上好(zǎoshanghǎo)” means “Good morning.” What if you want to greet someone later in the day? Use “下午好(Xiàwǔhǎo)” for ‘Good afternoon” and “晚上好(Wǎnshanghǎo)” to say “Good evening.”

Example:

Zhāng lǎoshī, zǎoshanghǎo.
张        老师,早上好。
Good morning, Miss Zhang.

3. “好久不见!(Hǎojiǔbújiàn!)”

“Long time no see” is the literal English translation of “好久不见(Hǎojiǔbújiàn).” Usually this phrase is used when reuniting with someone after not having seen each other for a long time.

4. “最近怎么样?(Zuìjìn zěnmeyàng?)”/“最近还好吗?(Zuìjìn hái hǎo ma?)”

These two sentences are equal to “How’s it going?” in English and are also basic greetings for reunions, which can be used to follow “好久不见(hǎojiǔ bújiàn).” As for how to reply, you can say “挺好的(Tǐnghǎode) Quite good,” “还不错(Háibúcuò) Not bad,” or “还行(Háixíng) Not too bad.”

5. “最近在忙什么?(Zuìjìn zài máng shénme?)”

This sentence, meaning “What are you busy with these days?” is similar to the last two in that it is also good to use with “好久不见(Hǎojiǔ bújiàn).”

Examples:

Zhāng Qiàn: Wáng xiǎojiě, hǎojiǔ bújiàn. Zuìjìn zěnmeyàng?
张        茜:   王     小姐, 好久   不见。 最近  怎么样?
Zhang Xi: Long time no see, Miss Wang. How’s it going?

Wáng Lì: Hǎojiǔ bújiàn. Tǐnghǎode, nǐ ne?
王      丽:好久  不见。 挺好的,  你 呢?
Wang Li: Long time no see. Not bad, and you?

Lǐ Huá: Ān nà, hǎojiǔ bújiàn. Zuìjìn zài máng shénme?
李 华:安  娜,好久  不见。 最近  在  忙      什么?
Li Hua: Anna, long time no see. What are you busy with these days?

Ān nà: Hǎojiǔ bújiàn. Wǒ zài zhǔnbèi hànyǔ kǎoshì.
安  娜:好久   不见。 我  在  准备      汉语   考试。
Anna: Long time no see. I am busy preparing for my Chinese exam.

6. “你去哪儿?(Nǐ qù nǎr?)”/“你干什么去?(Nǐ gàn shénme qù?)”

Chinese people often ask “你去哪儿(nǐ qù nǎr) Where are you going?” or “你干什么去(nǐ gàn shénme qù) What are you up to?” when coming across acquaintances in public. The thing is, they don’t really want to know where the other person is going or what they doing. These two sentences are just a kind of simple greeting, and when it’s your turn to reply you don’t actually need to share too many details. A simple answer is enough.

Examples:

(Li Mei meets Wang Dong on the road.)

Lǐ Méi: Wáng Dōng, zhème qiǎo, nǐ qù nǎr?
李 梅: 王      冬,   这么    巧,你 去 哪儿?
Li Mei: Wang Dong, what a coincidence! Where are you going?

Wáng Dōng: Wǒ gāng xiàbān ne.
王       冬:   我   刚     下班    呢。
Wang Dong: I just got off work.

(Hu Qian bumps into her colleague Zhang Ling on the bus.)

Hú Qiàn: Zhāng Líng, shì nǐ ya, nǐ gànshénme qù?
胡   倩:   张      玲,是 你 呀,你 干什么        去?
Hu Qian: Zhang Ling, it’s you! What are you up to?

Zhāng Líng: Wǒ yuē le péngyou qù chīfàn.
张        玲: 我   约  了 朋友       去  吃饭。
Zhang Ling: Going out to dinner with some friends.

Quiz:

1. Which is the correct greeting if you meet a Chinese friend in the afternoon?
A. “早上好(Zǎoshanghǎo)”
B. “下午好(Xiàwǔhǎo)”
C. “晚上好(Wǎnshanghǎo)”

2. How can you reply if someone greets you with “最近还好吗? (zuìjìn hái hǎo ma?)”
A. “最近还好吗?(Zuìjìn hái hǎo ma?)”
B. “好久不见!(Hǎojiǔ bújiàn!)”
C. “还不错!(Háibúcuò!)”

Further Reading

寒暄 (Hán xuān) Chinese Greetings
10 Essential Chinese Sentences for Traveling in China (Part 1)
Conversation-乘公交 (chéng gōngjiāo) Take a Bus
17 Topics of Basic Chinese Conversation

8 thoughts on “6 Popular Chinese Greetings”

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