Answering the Phone? Make Sure You Greet Them the Right Way!

HSK 3 quiz
When the phone starts to ring, what do you say when you answer? Hi? Hello? What’s up? In China, the most common telephone opener is “喂 (wéi),” which is similar to  “Hi!” or “Hello!” It’s a quick way to respond, and it’s easy to remember because it rhymes with “hey.”


Wéi, nín hǎo! Wǒ shì Jennifer.
喂,您好! 我是Jennifer。
Hello. This is Jennifer speaking.

Wéi, nǐ hǎo, qǐng wèn Jié Kè zài ma?
Hello, can I speak to Jack, please?

Actually, when telephones first appeared in China, “喂 (wéi)” wasn’t a greeting at all; it was a way of  finding out whether the other end could hear you. Even our ancestors knew the pain of a weak signal! Many people extend “喂 (wéi)” to “喂,您好 (wéi, nín hǎo).” It’s up to you which format you choose!


Wéi, nǐ néng tīngjiàn wǒ shuōhuà ma?
喂, 你能听见我说话吗?
Hello, can you hear me?

Wéi, nǐ hái zài ma? Xìnhào bù hǎo, tīng bú jiàn.
喂,你还在吗? 信号不好,听不见。
Hello, are you still there? The signal is weak , I can’t hear you.

But you don’t want to use “喂 (wéi)” every time you start a conversation with someone. It’s strictly reserved for talking on the phone. If you say “喂 (wéi)” to someone you meet in person, don’t be surprised if they look at you a little bit funny. Don’t use it for texting either. If you’re texting a friend, you can say “在吗 (zài ma)? Are you there?” or “嗨 (hāi) Hi” is also commonly used among trendy urbanites. And, of course, you can always simply say “你好 (nǐ hǎo)” to open a conversation via text, but it’s a bit formal.

The Best Ways to Answer the Phone Politely.
HSK 3 quiz
1. How do you say “make a phone call” in Chinese?
A. 打电话 (Dǎ diànhuà)
B. 接电话 (Jiē diànhuà)
C. 挂电话 (Guà diànhuà)

2. What’s a formal way to answer the phone?
A. 在吗?(Zài ma?)
B. 喂,你好。(Wéi, nǐ hǎo.)
C. 吃了吗?(Chī le ma?)

2 thoughts on “Answering the Phone? Make Sure You Greet Them the Right Way!”

    1. jennifer.zhu

      Wow, great, you got the right answers. We will keep updating the interesting posts, please feel free to check.

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