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Basic Sentences to Help Tourists Get Around China

Mar. 2, 2016

travel in China

If you are just starting to learn Chinese, but already preparing a trip to China, you might find these basic sentences very useful to getting around. They are so basic, that as your Chinese improves, you’ll find that you never stop using these phrases!

Xǐshǒujiān zài nǎr?
洗手间      在  哪儿?
Where is the bathroom?

Nature calls no matter where you are, and you won’t always be nearby a toilet. This sentence can be your back up, especially since some restaurants don’t have a toilet you can use. Even if you don’t understand the directions, a finger can point at least to the general direction of one. If you really are in a tight spot and can’t find one, just look for a McDonald’s or KFC, they always have a public restroom. Just remember to bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer as the majority of places don’t provide either in bathrooms.

…zěnme zǒu?
……怎么   走?
How do I get to…?

Very similar to the first point, this phrase is very simple and easy to remember. It is just a more direct way of asking for directions for something that might be far away. All you have to do is put the place you want to go at the front of the sentence. Even if you say the word in English, someone might understand where it is you are wanting to go. Below, you can learn some words to put here in Chinese.

Example

Mǎ Kè : Nǐhǎo, qǐngwèn yínháng zěnme zǒu?
马  克:你好, 请问       银行      怎么    走?
Mark: Excuse me, how do I get to the bank?

Mòshēngrén : Qiánmiàn lùkǒu yòuguǎi jiù dàole.
陌生人 :        前面        路口   右拐      就  到了。
Stranger: Turn right at the intersection up ahead and you are there.

yīyuàn, jiǔdiàn, cāntīng, chāoshì, xǐshǒujiān
医院,  酒店,  餐厅,  超市,   洗手间
hospital, hotel, restaurant, supermarket, bathroom

Okay so technically this isn’t a sentence but its useful words! When visiting another country, these five words cover the basic places you may need to visit. Although, hopefully you won’t have to go to a hospital! In Chinese, there are many words to describe hotels and restaurants, the two terms provided should work fine in any scenario though.

Example

Zhèjiā cāntīng de shíwù hěn búcuò.
这家    餐厅    的  食物  很    不错。
The food in this restaurant is pretty good.

Jiǔdiàn dìng hǎo le ma?
酒店     订    好  了 吗?
Have you booked the hotel yet?

Yīyuàn fùjìn yǒu yì jiā chāoshì.
医院    附近  有  一 家 超市。
There is a supermarket near the hospital.

qǐngwèn, xièxie, duìbùqǐ, ràngyíxià
请问,    谢谢,对不起,让一下
Please(Excuse me), thank you, I’m sorry, Let me by

The common courtesies in any language, even if you can’t say much else its always good to know these. The first word, 请问(qǐngwèn), is usually said at the front of the sentence, and in English would go something like, “Excuse me, where is the restroom?” The other two words “谢谢(xièxie)” and “对不起(duìbùqǐ) are pretty straightforward, and you would use them as you would in English.

Foreigners often find that there is a phrase lacking from their vocabulary and none of the first three fit the scenario. You might be on a crowded subway, wishing to get off but there is too many people in your way. Or you are trying to get past someone on the street and there is no way around them. In this case, you might find the phrase “让一下(ràng yí xià)” very useful. It means something like “let me go by you.”

Duōshǎo qián?
多少         钱?
How much does it cost?

A necessary phrase for anyone wanting to go shopping or buy something. If the shopkeeper sees the item you are referring to, you can very simply ask, “How much does it cost?” If you want to ask about a specific item, you just add the name of the item to the front of the sentence. For example, “苹果多少钱?(Píngguǒ duōshǎo qián?)” If you know the numbers in Chinese, then great! If not, don’t sweat it, very often when the shopkeeper sees that you are foreign, they will show you a calculator with the amount typed out on it.

Example

Zhèlǐ de ménpiào duōshǎo qián?
这里 的  门票            多少       钱?
How much is the ticket here?

Zhè tái xiàngjī duōshǎo qián?
这   台  相机    多少       钱?
How much is this camera?

These basic sentences can get you started on learning some simple Chinese. They also can make travel in China just a little smoother. You never know if the person you are speaking to can speak English or not, and it is always useful to have a little language knowledge in your pocket as backup.

Related Post:

How to Buy Train Tickets in Chinese (Part I)

Chinese Conversation

Quiz

1. Wich of the following is not a word for a public building?

A.  医院(yīyuàn)
B.  酒店(jiǔdiàn)
C.  超市(chāoshì)
D.  家(jiā)

2. Which of the following is not a Chinese word for a restaurant?

A. 餐厅(cāntīng)
B. 餐馆(cānguǎn)
C. 食物(shíwù)
D. 饭店(fàndiàn)

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