WuKong Education Blog / WuKong Sharings / Chinese Culture / How Do You Say Hello in Chinese? -A Full Guide

How Do You Say Hello in Chinese? -A Full Guide


Are you curious about the diverse ways to greet someone in Chinese? “How do you say hello in Chinese” is a common question among all of the language enthusiasts. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore six distinct ways to greet in the Chinese language, providing insights into the cultural significance and linguistic nuances. Whether you’re a traveler, language learner, or simply intrigued by diverse customs, this article will unravel the mysteries behind Chinese greetings. You might be surprised to know that there are multiple expressions used to say hello in Chinese.We will go through how to say hello in Chinese both with Mandarin characters, its Pinyin equivalent to aid your pronunciation, and the English translation.

How Do You Say Hello in Chinese? -A Full Guide - WuKong Education Blog

1. Ni Hao (你好)

The most common way to say hello in Mandarin is “Nǐ hǎo.” Explore its literal meaning, usage, and the cultural context behind this widely recognized greeting. Literally translating to “you good,” this greeting, although the most commonly known, is the most generic way to greet and the least used by young native speakers. It is still an acceptable greeting to be used any time though. While 您好 or nǐn hǎo is the way how you say hello in Chinese formally. This is a more formal and polite form of ní hăo and is often used when addressing someone with seniority or someone that you want to extend that extra bit of respect towards. The character 心 means heart underneath the 你, implicitly making it more heartfelt or sincere.

2. “Hello everybody” – 大家好 (Simplified and Traditional) dàjiā hǎo

This kind of greeting is used for a large group of people. This states directly to “everyone good?” The 大 character (dà) means “big” and 好 (hăo) means “good”. These words are used to address a group of three or more people. Besides, there is 喂 (wèi) which means “Hello?” which is only used in one situation – when answering the phone. You can use this expression when you are confused about how do you say hello in Chinese to your friends through the phone. Just like when English speakers say “hello?” when they first pick up the phone, you can say 喂 (wèi) in Chinese expecting that the person on the other end identifies themselves. If you’ve taken a Mandarin class or will start one soon, your teacher will most likely address the entire class with “大家好” (dàjiā hǎo). This is a way to speak to a group and greet them as a whole. It’s a versatile expression that can be used towards friends, classmates, an audience, and more.

How Do You Say Hello in Chinese? -A Full Guide - WuKong Education Blog

3. Greetings For Different Times Of The Day

You can use “Good morning” – 早上好 – zǎo shang hǎo in the morning to greet people. This expression is used to greet people in the morning. It has no restrictions on people to use it with and is quite a flexible term intended for a variety of different people. While “Good afternoon” – 下午好 – xià wǔ hǎo is ideal for greeting people in the afternoon. It is mostly used by the youth and used with their friends or their peers. If the time is past 6 pm, “Good evening” 晚上好 wǎn shàng hǎo  is most likely the greeting of choice.  Then, “Goodnight” – 晚安 – wǎn ān is used to wish someone a good night, either to announce one’s departure at night time in order to leave behind well wishes or when telling someone that you are going to sleep.

4. 你吃了吗?(nǐ chīle ma) – “Have you eaten?”

Similar to when asking “how are you,” asking “have you eaten” is a common greeting used socially with friends and acquaintances. If the response is “not yet,” there is a big possibility that two people will end up having a quick meal/snack. When someone says 你吃了吗?(nǐ chīle ma), they’re not asking if you are feeling hungry. Instead, it is actually a well-known expression to say “hello” in Chinese. To respond, you can say 吃了你呢? (chīle, nǐ ne?), the literal translation of “I’ve eaten and you?.” It is used to express that you do care about the other person and is similar to the expression “how are you?” in English.

5.  最近怎么样啊 zuìjìn zěnme yàng a? – How have you been lately?

This is another way for a friend or acquaintance to say hello. If a person asks you how you have been, it’s not an invitation to dissect on personal details. It’s simply a casual way to say “Hey, how are you?” without using those exact words. Whilst, you can also say 好久不見/好久不见 hǎojiǔ bùjiàn! – Long time no see! Similar to those above, out of context this expression may not make sense. People choose to use this phrase when they have not seen a friend in a while and have random moments encountered. Another phrase that you can use in these scenarios is “你怎麼會在這/你怎么会在这? (nǐ zěnme huì zài zhè?)” which translates to “What are you doing here?” Think of it being said with an endearing voice with a hint of surprise. In English, you can think of it being said like “OMG, what are you doing here!”

6. 去哪? qù nǎ? – Where are you going?

While this may seem weird to non-native speakers, this expression can be used as an expression of concern and care. This expression is a very casual way of asking where someone’s been or has gone. These types of questions are used to pass with family members or friends. It’s a way to be invested in their day without needing an hour long conversation.

FAQs about How do You Say Hello in Chinese

Q: Are there regional variations in saying hello in Chinese?

A: Yes, China’s vastness brings about regional differences in greetings. For instance, in southern China, people might use different phrases compared to those in the north.

Q: Can I use Ni Hao in any situation?

A: Ni Hao is a versatile greeting suitable for most situations. However, for mornings and evenings, Zao Shang Hao and Wan Shang Hao are more appropriate, respectively.

Q: How do I respond to Ni Zenme Yang?

A: To respond, you can say “Hen Hao” (very well) or “Bu Cuo” (not bad). It’s common to reciprocate the inquiry with a positive response.


Learning all those greetings is always a good place to start and with the information laid out before you, you have been given a peek into the vast landscapes of the Chinese language. In conclusion, mastering the art of saying hello in Chinese opens the door to cultural understanding and meaningful connections. From the universally known Ni Hao to the more nuanced regional variations, each greeting reflects the richness of Chinese language and tradition. So, the next time you find yourself wondering, “how do you say hello in Chinese?” remember these six phrases as your linguistic passport to China. Start your journey into the captivating world of Chinese ways of saying “hello” today.

留资卡片:中文(en): Book Now for Free-Online Chinese Language classes for 3 to 18 year-old students