Survival Chinese Phrases

Here below we listed the survival Chinese phases, words and expressions, which are most frequently-used, easy to remember, yet very useful when you are travelling in China. With the survival Chinese, you’ll find it is much easier to make friends with local Chinese, have an in-depth experience of local life, and most importantly, you may be able to overcome the communication difficulties and solve the common troubles encountered in China.   
 

There are Chinese phases and sentences to use for greeting, asking direction, dinner, shopping, taking a taxi, and so forth. So you are suggested to print out the list as a survival guide for your China tour.   

Greetings and Social Language for Daily Use

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Chinese Phrases / Sentences
Pinyin / How to Pronounce
Corresponding English Phrases / Sentences
你好
Nǐ hǎo
Hello / Hi
你好吗?
Nǐ hǎo ma?
How Are You?/ How do you do?
早上好
Zǎo shàng hǎo
Good morning
下午好
Xià wǔ hǎo
Good afternoon
晚上好
Wǎn shang hǎo
Good night
我很好,谢谢
Wǒ hěn hǎo, xiè xie
I m fine, thanks.
对不起,打扰一下
Duì bu qǐ, dǎ rǎo yī xià
Excuse me
很高兴认识你
Hěn gāo xìng rèn shi nǐ
Nice to meet you
你会说英文吗

Nǐ huì shuōyīng wén ma?

Do you speak English?
对不起,我听不懂
Duì bu qǐ, wǒ tīng bù dǒng
Sorry, I don’t understand.
是的,我明白
Shì de,wǒ míng bai
Yes, I understand
请说慢一点
Qǐng shuō màn yī diǎn
Please speak more slowly
欢迎来中国
Huān yíng lái zhōng guó
Welcome to China
你叫什么名字

Nǐ jiào shén me míng zi?

What’s your name?
我叫亨利
Wǒ jiào hēnglì
My name is Henry
你来自哪里?
Nǐ lái zì nǎ li?
Where are you from?
我来自美国
Nǐ lái zì měi guó
I m from United States
对不起
Duì bu qǐ
I m sorry
非常感谢
Fēi cháng gǎn xiè / xiè xie
Thank you very much
请进来
Qǐng jìn lái
Please come in
请坐
Qǐng zuò
Please be seated
好的
Hǎo de
Ok
很好
Hěn hǎo
Very good
再见
Zài jiàn
Goodbye / See you
明天见
Míng tiān jiàn
See you tomorrow
 

♦ How to break the ice in China?

 

Many Chinese people would like to ask the classic question, “Hello, have you eaten” (nǐ chī le ma?). This is a common greeting in China and a common way to break the ice, but mostly between the friends.

 

For strangers, you may talk about the weather, news, food, and something like these to break the ice.

 
More expressions of greeting in Chinese 

Asking for Directions in China

Chinese Phrases / Sentences

Pinyin / How to Pronounce

Corresponding English Phrases / Sentences

你能帮助我吗?

Nǐ néng  bāng zhù néng wǒ ma?

Could you help me?
你能告诉我火车站怎么走吗?

Nǐnéng gào sù wǒ Huǒ chē zhàn zěn me zǒu ma?

Could you tell me the way to the train station?

最近的银行在哪里?
Zuì jìn de yín háng zài nǎ li?
Where is the nearest bank?
最近的公安局在哪里?
Zuì jìn de gōng ān jú zài nǎ li?

Where is the nearest Public Security Bureau?

洗手间在哪里?
Xǐ shǒu jiān zài nǎ li?
Where is the washroom?
我们酒店距离机场多远?
Wǒ men jiǔ diàn jù lí  jī chǎng duōyuǎn?
How far is our hotel to the airport?
附近有商场吗?
Fù jìn yǒu shāng chǎng ma?
Is there any shopping mall nearby?

附近有餐厅吗?

Fù jìn yǒu cān tīng ma?
Are there any restaurants nearby?

怎么去天安门广场?

Zěn me qù tiān ān mén guǎng chǎng?
How to get to Tian’anmen Square?

怎么去地铁站?

Zěn me qù dì tiě zhàn?
How can I get to the subway station?

Dining: Ordering at a Chinese Restaurant

Chinese Phrases / Sentences
Pinyin / How to Pronounce
Corresponding English Phrases / Sentences
请给我菜单
Qǐng gěi wǒcài dān
May I have a menu, please?
你想喝点什么?
Nǐ xiǎng hē diǎn shén me?
Would you like something to drink?
我要一杯水
Wǒ yào yī bēi shuǐ
I would like a glass of water.
我要一杯冰啤酒
Wǒ yào yī bēi bīng pí jiǔ
I would like a glass of cold beer.
不要辣椒
Bù yào là jiāo
No chili pepper, please.
这个菜辣吗?
zhè ge cài là ma?
Is this dish spicy?
有刀叉吗?
Yǒu dāo chā
Do you have a knife and fork?
好吃吗?
Hǎo  chī ma?
Is it tasty?
非常好吃
Fēi cháng Hǎo  chī
It tastes very good.
干杯
Gān  bēi
Cheers
买单
Mǎi  dān
Check please
可以打包吗?
Kě yǐ dǎ bāo ma?
Can I have a doggie bag for this?

Shopping: How to Buy

Chinese Phrases / Sentences

Pinyin / How to Pronounce

Corresponding English Phrases / Sentences

我想买这个
Wǒ xiǎng mǎi zhè ge
I want to buy this.
多少钱?
Duō shǎo qián?
How much is it?
打折吗?
Dǎ zhé ma?
Any discounts?
太贵了
Tài guì le
It is too expensive!
可以便宜点吗?
Kě yǐ biàn yí diǎn ma?
May I have a cheaper price?
我可以用信用卡吗?

Wǒ kě yǐ yòng xìn yòng kǎ ma?

Can I use credit card?
我们只收现金
Wǒ men zhǐ shōu xiàn jīn
We accept cash only.

Taking a Taxi, Bus or Subway in China

Chinese Phrases / Sentences
Pinyin / How to Pronounce
Corresponding English Phrases / Sentences
我要去故宫
Wǒ yào qù gù gōng

Please drive me to the Forbidden City.

需要多长时间?
Xū yào duō cháng shí jiān?
How much  time do we need?     
大概需要20分钟
Dà gài xū yào èr shí fēn zhōng
It takes about 20 minutes.
这是你的小费
Zhè shì nǐ de xiǎo fèi
Here is your tip.
这趟车去机场吗?
Zhè tang chē qù jī chǎng ma?
Is this bus going go the airport?
 

Noted: passengers need not worry about communication difficulties when taking a Chinese subway train. As the road signs, station names and voice automatic train-stop broadcasting system are in both Chinese and English. 

Buying Train Tickets, Have Tickets Changed or Refunded

Chinese Phrases / Sentences

Pinyin / How to Pronounce

Corresponding English Phrases / Sentences

去西安,最近的一趟火车
Qù xī ān, zuì jìn de yī liàng huǒ chē
What's the next train from Beijing to Xian?
几点到
Jǐ diǎn dào?
What time does it arrive?
动车/高铁
dòng chē / gāo tiě
Bullet train / High speed train
二等座
èr děng zuò
Second class seat
一等座
yī děng zuò
First class seat
软卧
Ruǎn wò
Soft sleeper (cushioned berth)
硬卧
yìng wò
Hard sleeper
我想改签 (火车票)
Wǒ xiǎng gǎi qiān (huǒ chē piào)
I want to change my train reservation.
我想改签 (火车票)
Wǒ xiǎng tuì piào
I’d like to refund my ticket

>> Further reading: brief introduction of Chinese languages and characters

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