Four Must-Know Phrases for Surfing the Internet

Nowadays, everyone is using the internet for something, whether it be for shopping online or just surfing the web, the internet has become an important tool for daily life. This means in your journey to become fluent in Chinese, it is important to learn some words related to using the internet. This way you can stay connected and keep your Chinese vocabulary updated. In this lesson, the main word we will focus on is “线(xiàn).” Keep in mind that although this character literally means wire or thread, it is used to mean “network” when talking about using the internet.

1. 上线(shàngxiàn)   v.  to log in/to get online

The first step in this journey, and to get in touch with friends, is to log in or “上线(shàngxiàn).” You have to be online to know what’s going on!  Let’s take a closer look at the meanings of these words so they are easier to remember. First is the character “上(shàng)” which means “up” but is also used to mean “to get on.” For example, it is used to say get on the bus or “上车(shàngchē).” So, you can use the term “上线(shàngxiàn)” when you log in to platforms like Skype or Facebook. Keep in mind, there is another word that also means log in in Chinese, “登录(dēnglù).” When you want to log in to an email account or something similar and you are using a Chinese website, it is likely the button you click to log in will be “登录(dēnglù).”


Nǐ de wēixìn shàngxiàn le ma?
你 的   微信   上线         了 吗?
Have you logged in to your WeChat?

Dēnglù nǐde yóuxiāng, gěi tā fā yìfēng yóujiàn.
登录    你的  邮箱,     给  他 发 一封    邮件。
Log in to your mailbox and send an E-mail to him.

2. 在线(zàixiàn)   adj.  be online

Once you have completed this first step you are online or “在线(zàixiàn).” Now anything is possible and you have learned two of the Chinese words you need to talk about using the internet! The character “在(zài)” has many different meanings, one of which is “on” as it is used in this phrase to mean on-line.


Wǒ de wēixìn zàixiàn, wǒmen zài wēixìn shàng liáo ba.
我   的  微信   在线,  我们     在   微信    上      聊   吧。
My WeChat is online, we can chat with each other by WeChat.

3. 掉线(diàoxiàn)   v.  get disconnectd

And as the internet connection may not always work perfectly, much to many people’s displeasure, you can get disconnected or “掉线(diàoxiàn).” The character “掉(diào)” has many meanings including to fall, drop, or lose. So “掉线(diàoxiàn)” means to lose the network. This is definitely one of the frustrating parts of using technology as you can’t talk to your friends when Skype disconnects!


Wǎngluò bùhǎo, wǒde yóuxiāng diàoxiàn le.
网络        不好, 我的    邮箱        掉线     了。
The network is not good, my mailbox disconnected.

4. 下线(xiàxiàn)  v.  to log out

The last step in this short journey is to log out when you are finished. The Chinese word for this is quite intuitive. As the opposite of the word “上(shàng)” is “下(xià),” so the opposite of “上线(shàngxiàn)” is “下线(xiàxiàn),” here“下(xià)” means “down” or “to get off.” When you log out of Skype or a similar platform you can use this word. If you can remember the meanings of the four characters in front of “线(xiàn)” then you can easily remember these four useful phrases!


Nǐ búyòng gěitā fā xiāoxi le,   tā yǐjīng xiàxiàn le.
你  不用     给他 发 消息  了,他 已经   下线    了。
You don’t need to send him a message, he has already logged out.

HSK 3 quiz

1. Which phrase has the same meaning as“上线(shàngxiàn)”?
A. 掉线(diàoxiàn)
B. 登陆(dēnglù)
C. 上网(shàngwǎng)
D. 下线(xiàxiàn)

2. What is the meaning of “掉线(diàoxiàn)”?
A. Disconnected
B. Error
C. Network
D. Connect

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