by Nicholas MacKenzie
Coming to China can be a little daunting, as the language system is so different from what many people have ever experienced before.
However, fear not!
Most people in China are very patient with foreigners and happy to help in whatever way they can to understand and communicate.
What’s more, most Chinese people are thrilled if foreigners can speak even a little Mandarin, and this will get you a huge amount of kudos with your newfound Chinese friends.
Below is a basic phrase guide to get you started, the Chinese characters are on top with the Romanized pinyin / phonetics in brackets below and finally the English meaning at the very bottom.
Enjoy, and Zhu Ni Hao Yun (jew nee how yoon), or Good Luck!
Ni hao (nee how)
Ni hao ma? (nee how ma?)
How are you?
Wo hen hao (woa hen how)
I’m good, thanks!
Wo jiao____ (woa jiow___)
My name is ____
Ni jiao shenme mingzi? (nee jiow shenme mingzi?)
What is your name?
Shi de (shi di)
Bu shi (boo shi)
Wo dong le! (woa dong li!)
Wo bu dong (woa boo dong)
I don’t understand
Ni shuo shenme? (nee shuo shenme?)
What did you say?
Qing shuo man yidianr (ching shuo man yee deer)
Say it slowly, please
Xie xie (shay shay)
Bu ke qi (boo ke chee)
Dui bu qi (dooey boo chee)
Xia wu hao (sha woo how)
Wan an (wan an)
Hao chi (how chi)
Gan bei! (gan bey!)
Let’s drink (toast)
Wo chi su (woa chi sue)
I’m a vegetarian
Ni hui shuo yingyu ma? (nee hwui shwo ying yew ma?)
Can you speak English?
Bangzhu yixia! (bangjew yeesha)
Wo yao (woa yaow)
Wo yao jingcha (woa yaow jingcha)
I need a policeman
Wo yao yisheng (woa yaow yeesheng)
I need a doctor
Wo yao qu yinhang (woa yaow choo yinhang)
I need to go to the bank
Wo yao qu feiji zhan (woa yaow choo fayjee jan)
I need to go to the airport
Wo yao qu jiudian (woa yaow chuu jewdian)
I need to go to the hotel
Wo yao qu yiyuan (woa yaow choo yeeyouwan)
I need to the hospital
Wo yao qu jingcha ju (woa yaow choo jingcha joo)
I need to go to the police station