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20 Popular Ways to Say Hello in Mandarin Chinese: Characters, Formality, Pinyin Pronunciation and English translation

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 20 best 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, Pinyin Pronunciation, formality and the English translation.

say hello in Chinese

1. Hello – “你好” (nǐ hǎo)

你好 (nǐ hǎo) is a common greeting in Chinese. It literally translates to “you good” in English. And Its Chinese Pinyin pronunciation is nee hao. It is a semi-formal greeting that used in various settings, and is suitable for greeting friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike. The phrase is polite and carries a neutral formality, making it appropriate for most social interactions. It conveys a friendly and welcoming tone, setting the foundation for a positive and respectful conversation.

2. Hello – “您好” (nín hǎo)

Chinese Pinyin pronunciation of ”nín hǎo“ is neen hao. While 您好 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.

3. Hello Everybody – “你们好” (nǐ men hǎo)

你们好 (nǐ men hǎo) is a greeting commonly used in Chinese to address a group of people. The pronunciation is “nee mun hao” and it translates to “hello, everyone” in English. This greeting is suitable for both formal and informal occasions, such as meetings, gatherings, or when addressing a group of friends or colleagues. It maintains a polite and inclusive tone, acknowledging the presence of multiple individuals and expressing goodwill towards the entire group.

4. Hello Everybody – “大家好” (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. 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.

5. Hi – “嗨” (hāi)

嗨 in English is commonly translated as “hi.” It is a greeting used to say hello or to greet someone. “嗨” is typically used in informal settings, such as when communicating with friends, colleagues, or acquaintances. It conveys a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, being less formal but still polite. The word expresses warmth and enthusiasm, making it suitable for everyday interactions.

6. Hey – “喂” (wèi)

hello in Chinese

喂 in English is commonly translated as “hello” or “hey.” It is used as a greeting in Chinese when answering a phone call or to get someone’s attention. It is suitable for informal situations, such as when communicating with friends, family, or acquaintances. The level of formality and politeness may vary based on the relationship and familiarity with the person. This word conveys a direct and casual feeling, serving as a way to grab someone’s attention or initiate a conversation.

7. Good Moring – “早安” (zǎo ān)

早安 (zǎo ān) is a common greeting in Chinese for “good morning.”It is used to greet someone in the morning and is suitable for both formal and informal settings. This greeting is considered polite and carries a neutral formality, making it appropriate for various social interactions. It conveys a friendly and positive tone, wishing the recipient a good start to the day.

8. Good Moring – “早上好” (zǎo shang hǎo)

You can use “Good morning 早上好 (zǎo shang hǎo) in the morning to greet people. The pronunciation is “zaow shung how.” This expression is used to greet people in the morning for both formal and informal situation. It has no restrictions on people to use it with and is quite a flexible term intended for a variety of different people.

9. Good Afternoon – “午安” (wǔ ān)

午安 in English is commonly translated as “good afternoon.” It is a greeting used during the afternoon hours. The pronunciation is “woo an. 午安 is suitable for both formal and informal occasions when you want to greet someone or wish them a pleasant afternoon. This greeting conveys a friendly and gentle atmosphere, and it is considered a polite and moderately formal expression. Whether you are interacting with friends, colleagues, or strangers, good afternoon is a courteous and appropriate way to acknowledge the time of day.

10. Good Afternoon – “中午好” (zhōng wǔ hǎo)

中午好 (zhōng wǔ hǎo) is a Chinese greeting used during the noon hours. The pronunciation is “zhong woo how.” It translates to “good noon” in English. This greeting is appropriate for both formal and informal situations when you want to wish someone a good day during the midday. It carries a polite and moderately formal tone, making it suitable for various social interactions. By using “good noon,” you convey a friendly and respectful attitude, acknowledging the specific time of day and extending well wishes.

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11. Good Evening – “晚安” (wǎn ān)

晚安 in English is commonly translated as “goodnight.” It is a farewell greeting used in the evening hours. The pronunciation is “wahn an.” 晚安 is suitable for both formal and informal situations when you want to bid someone goodnight or wish them a peaceful evening and a restful sleep. This farewell conveys a friendly and caring attitude and is considered moderately formal. Whether you are saying goodbye to friends, family, or colleagues, using “goodnight” expresses your concern and wishes for a calm night and pleasant dreams.

12. Good Evening – “晚上好” (wǎn shàng hǎo)

晚上好 in English can be translated as “good evening.” It is a common greeting used in the evening hours. The pronunciation is “wahn shahng how.” This greeting is suitable for both formal and informal occasions when you want to greet someone or wish them a pleasant evening. It carries a polite and moderately formal tone, making it appropriate for various social interactions.

13. Excuse Me – “请问” (qǐng wèn)

请问 in English can be translated as “excuse me” or “may I ask.” It is a polite phrase commonly used in Chinese to ask a question, seek assistance, or get someone’s attention. The pronunciation is “ching wun.” 请问 can be used in both formal and informal situations. It carries a polite and respectful tone, making it appropriate for various social interactions. By using “excuse me” or “may I ask,” you convey a courteous attitude while seeking information or engaging in a conversation.

14. Please Come In – “请进” (qǐng jìn)

请进 in English can be translated as “please come in.” It is a polite invitation commonly used in Chinese when welcoming someone into a room, office, or place. The pronunciation is “ching jin.” 请进 is suitable for formal occasions and conveys a courteous and welcoming attitude, showing respect to the person being invited. By using “please come in,” you express your willingness to have the person enter and make them feel comfortable and valued. This phrase is commonly used when receiving guests, visitors, or colleagues.

15. Please Take a Seat – “请坐” (qǐng zuò)

你好

请坐 in English can be translated as “please have a seat” or “please take a seat.” It is a polite phrase commonly used in Chinese to invite someone to sit down. The pronunciation is “ching tsoh.” 请坐 is suitable for both formal and informal occasions, and it conveys a polite and respectful tone. By using “please have a seat,” you express your willingness to provide comfort and hospitality to the person you are addressing. This phrase is commonly used when hosting guests, conducting meetings, or in any situation where you want to offer someone a seat.

16.You Can Do It – “加油” (jiā yóu)

加油 in English can be translated as “keep it up” or “you can do it.” It is a common phrase used in Chinese to encourage and support others. The pronunciation is “jyah yo.” 加油 can be used in various situations to motivate someone to work hard, whether it’s in studying, working, or competing. This phrase conveys a positive attitude and serves as a source of encouragement. By using “keep it up” or “you can do it,” you express support for someone’s efforts and encourage them to persevere and overcome challenges to achieve success. This is a commonly used phrase seen in sports competitions, schools, workplaces, and other contexts.

17. Long Time No See – “好久不见” (hǎo jiǔ bú jiàn)

好久不见 in English can be translated as “long time no see.” It is a common greeting used in Chinese to express that it has been a while since the last meeting or encounter. The pronunciation is “how jyoh boo jee-ehn.” 好久不见 can be used in both formal and informal situations when greeting someone you haven’t seen for a long time. This phrase conveys a friendly and warm attitude, expressing joy and delight at the reunion after a long separation. By using “long time no see,” you acknowledge the length of time since the last meeting and express anticipation and welcome for the reunion. This is a common greeting used among friends, colleagues, or even family members.

18. May I Have your last name? – “您贵姓?” (nín guì xìng?)

“您贵姓” in English can be translated as “May I ask for your surname?” It is a polite phrase commonly used in Chinese when inquiring about someone’s last name. The pronunciation is “neen gway shing.” “您贵姓” is used in formal situations to ask a stranger or a person of high status for their surname. This phrase conveys a sense of respect and politeness, showing interest in the person’s identity. By using “May I ask for your surname?” you express politeness and humility, demonstrating respect for the person’s privacy and status. This is a commonly used phrase in business settings, formal introductions, or initial social encounters.

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

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.

20. How have you been lately? – “最近怎么样啊?” (zuìjìn zěnme yàng a?)

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. Another phrase that you can use in these scenarios is 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!”

FAQs about How do You Say Hello in Chinese

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

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: How do I respond to “你怎么样”?

To respond, you can say “很好” (very well) or “不错” (not bad). It’s common to reciprocate the inquiry with a positive response.

Summary

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 20 Chinese greetings as your linguistic passport to China. Start your journey into the captivating world of Chinese ways of saying “hello” today.

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