Different Ways to Say “How” in Chinese

Ni hao! When learning Chinese, “How” is one of the most important words that you should learn how to say. “How” has a Chinese translation of 怎么 (zěnme), the most common way to ask how something is done. However, depending on the context, you can also use other expressions.

This blog post will look at different ways to say “how” in Chinese. We will provide a translation and an example sentence for each expression. If you want to acquire more knowledge about the Chinese language, Linda Mandarin offers high-quality Mandarin courses for effective communication skills in speaking Mandarin. Let’s get started!

How to say how in Chinese?

Saying “how” in Chinese can be in three terms (怎么 Zěnme, 怎样 Zěnyàng / 怎么 样 Zěnme Yàng and 如何 Rúhé). You need to be aware that 怎么 Zěnme, 怎样 Zěnyàng and 怎么 样 Zěnme Yàng have a secondary meaning of What and Why in Mandarin.

You can say What and How in two ways using the Chinese phrase, Zěnme ( 怎么 ). For example, “what to do?” is Zěnme bàn?, while “How to do?” is Zěnme zuò? 

Why can also be said as “How come” where you will use 怎么 Zěnme. For example, Zěnme nǐ méi lái? – Why didn’t you come?/ How come you didn’t come?

How (怎么 – Zěnme)

The word “how” in Chinese is Zěnme, in which you can write in characters 怎么. It asks questions to explain the way in which something is done.


  • How do I eat this? – Zěn me chī zhège?
  • How can I learn Chinese? – Zěn me cái néng xuéhuì Zhōngwén?
  • How do I get to the airport? – Zěn me qù jīchǎng?

You can also use 怎么 Zěnme in other ways. In Chinese, the word “how” has the same meaning as “what” when asking questions; that’s why it is considered the secondary word for Zěnme.


  • What should I do? – Wǒ yīnggāi zěnme bàn?
  • What do you think? – Nǐ zěn me rènwéi?
  • What can you do? – Zěn me bàn?

How (怎么 – Zěnme) – Asking Questions

Asking questions is a great conversation skill in Mandarin because it allows for effective communication. and getting the answers you need. The most basic type of question in Mandarin consists of using the word “how” (怎么 – Zěnme), like “How are you?”. There are also interesting ways to ask ‘how are you’ in Chinese.

Asking questions in Mandarin is much easier than in other languages because it requires no conjugation or changing of words to make them fit the question. You just add 怎么 (Zěnme) at the beginning of a sentence, and the question is complete.

When asking questions using 怎么, it’s important to remember that there is no need for a subject; however, you may need to add other words to make the question more specific.


  • How did you do it? – Nǐ zěn me zuò de? (你怎么做的?)
  • How did you buy it? – Nǐ zěn me mài le nàr? (你怎么买了哪儿?)
  • How do you know how to speak Chinese? – Nǐ zěn me dōu huì shuō Zhōngwén de? (你怎么都会说中文的?)
  • How does he love you? – Tā zěn me ài nǐ de? (他怎么爱你的?)

How (怎么 – Zěnme) – Asking in a Polite Way

When asking a question in Mandarin, it is important to be polite. Asking questions using 怎么 (Zěnme) is important when speaking Mandarin. It allows you to express yourself courteously and respectfully and can help you understand what others are saying more clearly.

You can use 怎么 (Zěnme) at the beginning of the sentence, then add a politeness marker such as 请 (Qǐng), 劳驾 (Láojià), or 能 (Néng). These polite markers help to indicate respect and soften the question.


  • How can I help you? – Wǒ zěn me néng gòu bāng zhù nǐ? (我怎么能够帮助你?)
  • How can I get to the park? – Wǒ zěn me láojià qù gōngyuán de? (我怎么劳驾去公园的?)
  • How can I speak Chinese better? – Wǒ zěn me qǐng huì shuō Zhōngwén de? (我怎么请会说中文的?)

How (怎么 – Zěnme) + 的 De / 了 Le

Adding 的 (de) or 了 (le) to the end of a question of 怎么 – Zěnme will change its meaning in English – from How to Why. 的 (de) or 了 (le) is also used in the past tense when using 怎么 – Zěnme. See example sentences in pairs.


• How did you do that? – Nǐ zěn me zuò de? (你怎么做的?)

  • Why did you do that? – Nǐ zěn me zuò le? (你怎么做了?)

• How did you get here? – Nǐ zěn me lái de? (你怎么来的?)

  • Why did you get here? – Nǐ zěn me lái le? (你怎么来了?)

• How do you like it? – Nǐ zěn me xǐhuān de? (你怎么喜欢的?)

  • Why do you like it? – Nǐ zěn me xǐhuān le? (你怎么喜欢了?)

How (怎样 Zěnyàng / 怎么样 Zěnme Yàng)

怎样 (Zěnyàng) and 怎么 样 (Zěnme Yàng) are similar in meaning but have slight differences. Both phrases can ask how something is or how something happened, but there is a subtle difference in their usage.

怎样 (Zěnyàng) is used when asking about the state of something, such as whether it is good or bad. It also asks how someone did something, as in, “How did you do that?”.


  • How was the class? – Kè shì zěn yàng? (课是怎样?)
  • How did you do it? – Nǐ zěn yàng zuò de? (你怎样做的?)

怎么 样 (Zěnme Yàng) is used when asking someone’s opinion or sentiment about something. It can also ask how someone’s doing, such as “How are you?”.


  • How do you like this restaurant? – Zhè ge cānguăn nín zěn me yàng? (这个餐馆您怎么样?)
  • How are you feeling today? – Jīntiān nǐ zěn me yàng? (今天您怎么样?)

How (怎样 Zěnyàng / 怎么 样 Zěnme Yàng) – Showing care or concern

When showing care or concern for someone, the phrases 怎样 (Zěnyàng) and 怎么 样 (Zěnme Yàng) are very useful. However, when asking “how” to show care or concern, 怎么 Zěnme cannot replace these terms.


  • How are you recently? – Jìnwǎn nín zěn me yàng? (近完您怎么样?)
  • How are you doing? – Nǐ zěn yàng? (你怎样?)
  • How can I make you feel better? – Wǒ zěn yàng néng bāng nín gǎnshòu? (我怎样能帮您感受?)
  • How can I comfort you? – Wǒ zěn yàng néng tiáojiā nín? (我怎样能调解您?)

How ( 如何 – Rúhé) – Formal Way of Saying How

In formal conversations or writings, the term 如何 (Rúhé) is used instead of 怎样 / 怎么 样 (Zěnyàng / Zěnme Yàng). It has a more polite and respectful tone to listen and read, implying that you ask for advice or opinions.


  • How can I make a difference? – Wǒ rúhé néng zuò chū biànyì? (我如何能做出变异?)
  • How to make the world more beautiful? – Rúhé zuò hǎo shìjiè gèng měilì? (如何做好世界更美丽?)
  • How to consider a person to be successful? – Rúhé kǎolǜ yígèrén shì chénggōng de? (如何考虑一个人是成功的?)


Understanding how to use the different ways of saying “how” in Chinese will make communicating your needs and wants easier with native speakers. It will help you understand the nuances of the language and sound more natural when speaking.

If you want to learn Mandarin course online, visit Linda Mandarin for the right pronunciation of sentences to become more conversational in Chinese.

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