Learn 4 Most Important Phrases for Tourists in China


Learning Chinese before a trip to this beautiful country is recommended but not necessary. Shared in this post are a few phrases that will help you get around China with ease. And in the second part of the post, we will share some tips to help you learn Chinese fast, especially if you are coming for an extended holiday to Mainland China or Singapore.

Let’s look at some important phrases first.

How are you?

In Chinese, you’ll say: Nǐ hǎo ma? 你好吗

Pronunciation: Nee-haow-mah

The literal translation of “Nǐ hǎo ma?” is “You good?”

Let’s break the phrase and see what its individual component literally means. Nǐ means you,  hǎo means good and ma denotes a question. So if you meet someone and want to ask your acquaintance how he is doing, you can say Nǐ hǎo ma?

Thank You

In Chinese, you’ll say: Xièxie.谢 谢

Pronunciation: (sshyeah-sshyeah)

Want to say thanks to someone in Chinese? Well, this is the way to do it.

Good or bad

In Chinese, you’ll say: Hǎobùhǎo?  好不好

Pronunciation: (haow-boo-haow)

This phrase is made of two words. The first word is hǎo and the second is bùhǎo. Hǎo simply means ‘good’ or ‘ok’; whereas, the meaning of bùhǎo is ‘not good’.

So, when they are used together, it is a question: “good or not good?” This phrase is often used interchangeably with “Nǐ hǎo ma?” to inquire how someone is doing.

And when someone asks you “Hǎobùhǎo?”, you can reply “hǎo” (meaning you are good or doing good) or bùhǎo (meaning you are not good or not doing good), depending on which word accurately conveys your condition.

I am sorry

In Chinese, you’ll say Duìbuqǐ. 对不起

Pronunciation: (dway-boo-chee)

If you want to say sorry to someone, use this phrase. However, this phrase can also be used if you want to ask for repetition. The literal meaning of duì is correct.

These were the four most common phrases that you might need to move around in China with ease. However, if you are living for a considerably longer time in Singapore and are interested in learning Mandarin, you should join Mandarin classes Singapore.

A comprehensive language program based on classroom teaching will pave way for a solid foundation in Chinese, which many believe to be a reasonably difficult language to learn in adulthood. You can also opt for a private tutor, but the associated cost can be substantial.

If you’ve decided to learn Chinese in Singapore, remember these following pointers:

  • Be clear about why you want to learn Chinese. Do you want to learn so that you can easily gel with natives or speak with your business clients? Well, in that case, you need to focus on spoken Chinese mainly. On the other hand, if you want to become a translator, you need to achieve mastery in both spoken as well as written Chinese.
  • Learn simplified characters if your plan is to live or do business in Mainland China or Singapore.
  • Practice listening Chinese regularly.
  • Practice pronunciation and tones regularly. You must train your ears to distinguish the difference between tones and cultivate the ability to produce different tones when you speak. Equally important is memorizing the correct tone.
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