How to Greet People in Chinese
Greeting people in Chinese is not as simple as you might think! But it’ll be extremely useful if you can master these few basics. They’ll give you a great head start when you join us at the Omeida Chinese Academy!
The simplest greeting in Chinese
When you’re meeting people in China, you’re always going to start with a “hello” of sorts. So, in Mandarin Chinese, 你好 (nǐ hǎo) is going to be the first thing you’ll learn. Use this expression when you greet just one person.
Greeting someone senior to you
Imagine you’re meeting someone senior to you. Perhaps an elderly person, a teacher, or someone of senior rank to you in the workplace. You will naturally want to be polite and show deference. So, instead of 你好 (nǐ hǎo), the respectful way of greeting such persons in Chinese is to say 您好 (nín hǎo). This is the polite version of hello. Get this right and you’re off to a great start! Chinese people are very polite, especially to their elders and betters. They will notice your manners and it will reflect very well on you.
Greeting a group of people
Imagine you walk into a room and it’s full of people. You want to say hello to everyone. The way to greet a group of people in Chinese is 你们好 (nǐmen hǎo) or 大家好 (dàjiā hǎo), which both mean “hello everyone”.
Greetings for different times of the day
Depending on the time of day, you can use different greetings in Chinese. The way to say “good morning” is 早上好 (zǎoshang hǎo), or more casually, just 早 (zǎo – morning). Good afternoon is 下午好 (xiàwǔ hǎo). And as night follows day, good evening is 晚上好 (wǎnshàng hǎo).
To greet people in Chinese when answering the phone, it’s as simple as: 喂? (wéi?)
In English, we often greet one another with “how’s it going?”. The equivalent expression in Chinese is: 最近怎么样? (zuìjìn zěnme yàng? – how are things lately?)
Another useful one that you can use if you haven’t seen someone in a while is 好久不见 (hǎojiǔ bùjiàn – long time no see).
Use these greetings everyday
These useful tips on how to greet people in Chinese will serve you well when you’re in China. There won’t be a day go by when you don’t use at least one of them. So commit as many of them as you can to memory, and you’ll be off to a flying start!