By: Ken Cheong
Each province, each city and even each village speaks their own dialect. There are hundreds of Chinese dialects in China so much so that each dialect speaker is not likely to understand another dialect speaker from another village or city. Fortunately, Mandarin, the official dialect, is understood by all dialect speakers.
Let's learn a few useful basic and common Mandarin words and phrases that will help you break barriers with your Chinese friends.
How are You? -Ni Hao Ma
Also commonly shorten to Ni Hao.
This is likely to be the first Mandarin phrase that you will ever learn. Useful as a greeting or a ice-breaker. Suitable for use with all ages and professions.
Thank You -Xie Xie.
Another polite term that is easy to remember and use.
Very Good -Hen Hao.
This is useful when giving praise for a job or task well done. Also useful as a reply to anyone who says "Ni Hao Ma?' to you.
Ni Hao Ma? (How are you?)
Hen Hao (Very Good)
No Good -Bu Hao.
This is useful when there is a need to comment on a shoddy or incomplete job or task. Can also be used as a reply to Ni Hao Ma? but may not be such a good reply.
Ni Hao Ma? (How are you?)
Bu Hao (No Good)
Very Expensive -Hen Gui.
When bargaining at the shops, this is the best term to use when driving a hard bargain.
Don't want or No -Bu Yao.
This is the best term to use for touts - street hawkers who approach you at every tourist stop to ask you to buy things. Bu Yao....will stop them in their track.
This is beautiful -Hen Piao Liang.
Use this phrase to praise something that is nice or beautiful. May also be used when meeting a pretty girl too!
Taxi -De Shi.
De Shi is the correct term but you should be understood even if you use the English word for Taxi. They sound alike anyway.
Good Bye or See You Again -Zai Jian.
Well, I guess this is another term that will be easily understood even if the English word is used.
Excuse Me -Jie Guo.
There is always a crowd in touristy areas. There are so many Chinese who wants to see the same monuments too. Rather than push your way through the crowd, using the term Jie Guo may just open the path ahead for you!
Receipt -Fa Piao.
Always ask for the receipt or Fa Piao at the shops or from a taxi. This may be useful if you need to complain about a fraud or shoddy product. Also useful if you leave behind your bag or camera in the taxi.
I don't want -Wo Bu Yao.
Useful when refusing a tout or when offered a drink too many at the Dinner table.
About the Author
Ken Cheong lived, worked and traveled in China for the last 7 years. You may find more such articles at his websites. Feel free to distribute these articles as long as you mention his websites at: http://www.chinese-culture.net and http://www.quick-pain-relief.com.