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Useful Chinese greetings for Chinese learners

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1. 你好!  (nǐ hǎo) / 您好!(nín hǎo) "Hello"

Just in case you're just getting started with Chinese, let's cover our bases. "Nǐ hǎo" is basically the first phrase that you learn in Chinese class. People tend not to use it so much with people who they're at all familiar with. It is kind of awkwardly formal.

假设你只是刚刚开始学中文,那我们就从基础开始吧。"你好"基本上是你在中文课上学到的第一个词。对于自己非常熟悉的人,人们很少用到这个词,它有些正式但略显笨拙。

"Nín hǎo" is the respectful form of "nǐ hǎo" – it's used with people whom you want to express respect towards (a teacher, perhaps). "Nín hǎo" is actually used and appropriate in such situations.

"您好"和"你好"都是一种问候语,但"您好"有尊重的含义。当你想向一个人表达尊重的时候,比如老师,在这种情况下一般使用"您好"。

2. 早!(zǎo) – "Morning!" 

This is short for 早上好 (zǎo shang hǎo), which means "good morning." It's pretty much used the exact same way as it is in English. You can't go wrong with this on, unless if it's the evening.

"早"是"早上好"的缩略语,意思是"good morning",用法跟英语里的"good morning"一样,它的使用频率很高。说这个不会错,除非是在晚上。

3. 你吃了吗?(nǐ chī le ma) – "Have you eaten?"

I remember the first time someone greeted me with "nǐ chī le ma?" I responded that I unfortunately had already eaten, but I would be happy to eat with them some other time. They burst out laughing.

我记得当别人第一次对我说"你吃了吗"的时候,我回答说,不好意思,我已经吃完了,但我很乐意另外找个时间和他们一起吃饭。他们大笑起来。

When someone says "nǐ chī le ma?", they're not asking you out to lunch. You can just say "chī le, nǐ ne?" (I've eaten, how about you?). That pretty much suffices. It's a way to lightly express that you care about the other person. But like the expression "how are you" in English, don't come back with a long description of the sandwich you just had – they're just being polite. 🙂

当有人对你说"你吃了吗"的时候,他并不是在约你出去吃饭。你只要回答"吃了,你呢?"就够了,这是对他人表达关心的一种方式。但就像英语里的"how are you"一样,不要啰嗦地描述你刚吃过的三明治来回应(他们这样问这个只是出于礼貌)。

4. 最近好吗?(zuì jìn hào mǎ) "How are you these days?"

This is basically equivalent to "how are you" in English. The length of your response can be similar to what you'd say in English. You can just grunt with an "en", which would be similar to "yep." Or you can reply with a few lines about how things are going.

"最近好吗"基本等同于英语的"how are you",回答的长短可以像你用英语回答一样。你可以简单地回答"嗯",跟英语里的"yep"类似,或者你可以用几句话来回答事情的进展。

5. 去哪儿?(qù  nǎ er) – "Where are you going?"

This is an Chinese greeting that's commonly used when you run into someone.

遇到别人的时候,问"去哪儿"在中国很常见。

This one might seem quite nosy by non-Chinese standards, but don't be bothered by that – this is another way that people express that they care by showing interest.

对外国人来说,这种问题听起来可能相当八卦。没关系,这是他们表达兴趣、表示对别人关心的另一种方式。

It's common to use a variation of this expression by putting in a location. For example, if you run into a student, you might say "qù shàng kè le?" ("going to class?").

"去哪儿"这种问候很常见,其表达方式取决于具体场合。例如,如果你碰到一位学生,你可能会说"去上课了?",或者"去上课吗?

6. 喂 (wèi) – "Hello?"

This is the first thing that Chinese people say when they pick up the phone. It's just like when English speakers say "hello?" on the phone. The person is saying hello, but also expecting that the person on the other end identify themselves.

中国人一接起电话就说"喂",就像说英语的人在电话上说"hello?"一样。接电话的这个人一边问好的同时,也在期望打电话的人确认身份。

7. 好久不见!(hǎo jiǔ bú jiàn) – "Long time no see!"

This is the expression that is used between old friends. It's a very positive greeting.

这种表达(好久不见!)在老朋友之间使用,是一种非常积极的问候。

2016-06-22

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