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Phone Number in Chinese: A Comprehensive Guide [2024]

Understanding the phone number in Chinese is more than just a linguistic exercise; it’s a dive into a unique numbering system and cultural nuances. In this article, we’re going to explore the structure of Chinese phone numbers, their cultural significance, and the linguistic aspects of conveying numbers in Mandarin. This guide serves as a practical tool for anyone engaging with Chinese phone numbers, whether for personal or business purposes.

Phone number in Chinese

Image 1 (A complete guide on phone number in chinese)

Understanding the Basic Structure of Chinese Phone Numbers

The basics of Chinese phone numbers are intriguing yet straightforward. Each number typically consists of 11 digits: a three-digit area code for landlines, followed by an eight-digit personal number.

Landline Numbers

  • Landlines in China are identified by a three-digit area code followed by an eight-digit personal number.
  • For example, a Beijing landline number would be formatted as 010-XXXXXXX.
  • When dialing within China, the area code must be included, even for local calls. For example, calling a Beijing landline from Beijing requires dialing 010-XXXX-XXXX.

Mobile Numbers

  • Unlike landlines, mobile numbers in China are not tied to specific geographic areas and start with specific prefixes like 13, 15, or 18.
  • A typical mobile number format is 13X-XXXX-XXXX.
  • These numbers can be dialed without an area code and are valid throughout the country.

International Calls

  • To call a Chinese landline from abroad, start with your country’s exit code, followed by China’s country code (86), the area code (minus the zero), and the local number.
  • For example, calling a Shanghai number from the USA would be dialed as 011-86-21-XXXXXXX.

This breakdown of Chinese phone number formats demonstrates the unique and systematic approach to telecommunication in China, essential for both personal and professional interactions.

Area Codes and Their Significance

In the realm of Chinese phone numbers, area codes hold more than just a functional value; they carry a cultural and economic significance. Each code, typically three digits, is associated with a specific geographic region, and some codes are perceived as more prestigious due to their connection to major cities. For instance, 010 signifies Beijing, the capital, while 021 represents Shanghai, China’s economic powerhouse. Understanding these area codes is not just a matter of navigation but also offers insights into the socio-economic landscape of China. Recognizing an area code can instantly tell you about the region’s prominence, be it in business, politics, or culture.

How Do You Say Phone Number in Chinese?

When it comes to saying phone numbers in Mandarin Chinese, there’s a specific and straightforward approach. Here’s how it’s typically done:

  • Pronouncing Each Digit:
    • Each digit in the phone number is pronounced individually. For example, the number ‘5’ is pronounced as ‘wǔ,’ and ‘2’ is pronounced as ‘èr.’
    • Let’s take the phone number 135-7890-2468.It is said as: yī (1) sān (3) wǔ (5) – qī (7) bā (8) jiǔ (9) líng (0) – èr (2) sì (4) liù (6) bā (8).
  • Grouping in Pairs:
    • Sometimes, for ease of understanding, numbers are grouped in pairs while speaking.
    • For instance, ‘2468’ could be said as ‘èr sì (24), liù bā (68)’.
  • Using the Word ‘Hàomǎ’ (号码):
    • To specify that you are talking about a phone number, you can use the word ‘hàomǎ’ (号码), which means ‘number.’
    • For example, you might say: “Wǒ de shǒujī hàomǎ shì…” (我的手机号码是…), which means “My phone number is…”

This method of conveying phone numbers is efficient and avoids confusion, especially in a language where tones can change the meaning of numbers.

How to Say “What is Your Phone Number” in Chinese? 

Phone number in Chinese

Image 2 : (Learn how to pronounce phone number in chinese )

In Mandarin Chinese, asking someone for their phone number is a common and simple inquiry. The phrase to use is: “你的电话号码是多少?” (Nǐ de diànhuà hàomǎ shì duōshao?), which translates to “What is your phone number?” Here’s a breakdown:

  • 你的 (Nǐ de): “Your”
  • 电话 (Diànhuà): “Telephone”
  • 号码 (Hàomǎ): “Number”
  • 是 (Shì): “Is”
  • 多少 (Duōshao): “What” or “How much”

When asking this question, the tone is important to convey politeness and friendliness. For example, if you’re asking a new acquaintance for their number, you might say, “你好,可以告诉我你的电话号码是多少吗?” (Nǐ hǎo, kěyǐ gàosù wǒ nǐ de diànhuà hàomǎ shì duōshao ma?), meaning “Hello, can you tell me what your phone number is?” This approach is polite and commonly used in both formal and casual settings.

Linguistic Aspect of Chinese Numbers

In Mandarin, the tonal nature of numbers presents a unique challenge, as each tone can change the meaning of a number. This aspect is crucial for effective communication, especially in contexts involving numerical information. For example, the number 1 is pronounced as “yī” in the first tone, but altering the tone can transform it into a completely different word. Mastering these tones requires regular practice. Engaging in listening exercises and repeating numbers in various tones helps develop an understanding of these subtle differences. Phonetic practice is not just about getting the sound right; it’s about recognizing how tonal variations impact meaning.

A notable example is the number 4, pronounced: “sì”. It’s essential to pronounce it with the correct falling tone to distinguish it from the word for death, also “sì”, but in a different tone. This similarity requires careful pronunciation to avoid misunderstandings.

Cultural Nuances in Numbers

Numbers in Chinese culture carry significant symbolic meanings. The number 8, “bā”, is considered extremely lucky, sounding similar to the word for wealth. Conversely, the number 4 is often avoided due to its phonetic similarity to the word for death. These superstitions can influence various aspects of daily life, including phone numbers and building floor numbers.

Understanding the cultural connotations of numbers is vital in business. A phone number with multiple 8s is seen as lucky while using the number 4 might be considered inauspicious. Being aware of these nuances can aid in negotiations and establish respect in business relationships. For instance, prices or quantities might be adjusted to include lucky numbers like 8. A price of 1888 yuan would be more appealing than 1404 yuan, reflecting the integration of cultural beliefs in everyday practices in Chinese-speaking communities.

Practical Tips for Handling Phone Number in Chinese

Handling Chinese phone numbers efficiently requires a blend of cultural understanding and practical know-how. Here are a few practical tips:

  • Learn Basic Numbers: Familiarize yourself with Mandarin numerals and their correct pronunciation, especially the tones.
  • Understand Area Codes: Recognize key area codes, like 010 for Beijing, to quickly identify the region.
  • Remember Format Differences: Mobile numbers don’t need area codes, unlike landlines.
  • Note Cultural Nuances: Be aware of auspicious and inauspicious numbers, as they are significant in Chinese culture.
  • Practice Regularly: Regularly practice saying phone numbers in Mandarin to build confidence and fluency.


Q1: What is an example of a Chinese phone number?

Answer: An example of a Chinese phone number is 010-12345678 for a Beijing landline or 139-1234-5678 for a mobile phone, where 010 and 139 are area and mobile codes, respectively.

Q2: What is the phone number of China?

Answer: The phone number of China refers to the country’s international dialing code, which is +86. This code is used when calling a Chinese phone number from another country.

Q3: Which country code is 86 186?

Answer: The country code 86 is for China. Therefore, a number starting with +86 186 indicates it is a mobile number from China.


The phone number in Chinese is more than a string of digits; they represent a blend of cultural, linguistic, and practical elements. Understanding their structure, significance, and the correct way to convey them in Mandarin is essential for anyone navigating Chinese culture, be it for personal connections or business dealings. This knowledge not only facilitates communication but also deepens one’s appreciation of the intricate relationship between language and culture in China.

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