It’ll take quite a long time for you to learn Chinese Singapore, especially if you want to learn how to speak and write fluently. However, you can make do with a few basic words and phrases that you can learn in a few days or weeks that should make your next trip to China a lot more memorable.
Nǐhǎo (Nee how): Hello
When visiting another foreign country, it’s always best to learn how to say Hello in it. Don’t be afraid to use it liberally either. You’re a tourist, after all. Say “Hello”, in Chinese, to everyone you meet, from total strangers to the taxi drivers and the hotel staff.
Zǎo (Zhow) : Good morning and Wǎn’ān (One-un): Goodnight
Don’t just say hello, though. Say good morning and goodnight to people you meet when it’s appropriate. Also, don’t forget, do it with a smile!
Hĕn piàoliang (Hen peow-liung): Extremely beautiful
What kind of person doesn’t like being complimented? You love being complimented, your friends love being complimented, so it’s only natural that people in foreign countries also love being complimented as well. Use this phrase to give praise to the people you meet, especially when you’re being toured and want to marvel at the views of the places you’ve been going to. Of course, if you meet a beautiful lady, don’t be afraid to say this to her as well. Just don’t always expect the outcome to be positive, though.
Hào chī (How chir): Delicious or Hěn hào chī (Hen how chir): Really
The Chinese love their food and they love it even more when you compliment them for the taste, and it’s not like you’re going to say their food is very beautiful, right? So, use this phrase as often as you can when you’re eating, regardless of whether it’s at a restaurant or at a street hand. The locals will appreciate it.
Wǒ bù dǒng (Wuh boo dong): I do not understand
You don’t know the language, so you might as well be honest about it. Most locals probably won’t understand if you say “I don’t understand” in English, so you might want to say it in their language so they can adjust. If both of you can’t find a common tongue, there’s always the universal language of hand gestures.
Zàijiàn (Zhai-jian): Goodbye
This is pretty self-explanatory. Whether you’re going away from the restaurant you just ate at or getting off from the taxi, do say goodbye. The Chinese like it when you greet them up front and tell them that you’re going away, and since you’re a tourist, it’s best that you adjust to what they’re used to instead of the other way around.
It doesn’t take learning the mandarin language for years at home to have a functional understanding of its phrases so you can go to any Chinese-speaking country. You can learn these few phrases and wing it and have a much better time than when you didn’t.