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What does “你吃了吗(Nǐ chī le ma)” Actually Mean in Mandarin?

Jul. 9, 2015
Basic Greetings In Mandarin Chinese - 你吃了吗(Nǐ chīle mɑ)?

There is a saying (Learn a popular Chinese saying!)among Chinese people that goes “民以食为天(mín yǐ shí wéi tiān).” This means “people regard food as their heaven,” which shows that they view eating to be of utmost importance. Along these same lines, many Chinese people like to ask each other “你吃了吗 (nǐ chī le ma)?” However, there’s another meaning behind this phrase. Do you know what it really means? Take the following test to see!

What does your Chinese friend mean when he asks you, “你吃了吗? (nǐ chī le ma) Have you eaten yet?”

A. He is inviting you to have dinner.
B. He is greeting you.
C. He is just curious if you’ve had dinner or not.

See Answer Analysis

Have you eaten yet? No? Taste the 10 most popular Chinese dishes.

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It simply means how are you today.


Your answer is not correct. Please see the answer analysis.

In my case, I’ve often been asked 你吃饭了吗, but it was clearly in the “greetings” context.

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