Hǎojiǔ bújiàn, zuìjìn zǎ yàng?
好久 不见，最近 咋 样？
Long time no see. How are you doing these days?
Nǐ jīntiān zhōngwǔ chī le shá?
你 今天 中午 吃 了 啥？
What did you eat for lunch today?
If you spend some time in China, then you may find that “咋(zǎ)” and “啥(shá)” are often used in spoken Chinese. You will regularly overhear people using these words, but what do they mean? And how can you use them correctly?
“咋(zǎ)”, typically meaning “how” or “why”, is a Chinese dialectal word that is equivalent to “怎么(zěnme)”. It is often used to ask about situations or reasons.
Zhège zǎyàng? Zhège zěnmeyàng?
这个 咋样？ = 这个 怎么样？
How about this one?
Nǐ zǎ búqù? Nǐ zěnme búqù?
你 咋 不去? = 你 怎么 不去？
Why don’t you go there?
Nǐ zǎ yòu chídào le? Nǐ zěnme yòu chídào le?
你 咋 又 迟到 了？ = 你怎么 又 迟到 了？
Why are you late again?
“啥(shá)”, another frequently used colloquial Chinese word, means “what” and is equivalent to “什么(shénme)”.
Tā zài gàn shá? Tā zài gàn shénme？
她 在 干 啥？= 她 在 干 什么？
What is she doing?
Zhè shì shá dìfang? Zhè shì shénme dìfang?
这 是 啥 地方？ = 这 是 什么 地方？
What’s this place?
Do you know any other colloquialisms in Chinese? Are there any other spoken words that you find confusing? You’re welcomed to leave your ideas or suggestions for topics you would like us to cover in the future!