Hello in Chinese: 20 Ways To Greet Someone in Mandarin
So you think you know how to say hello in Chinese, it’s easy, isn’t it? Just do your best 你好 “NI HAO!” and half the job is done.
You might even know 您好 “nin hao” or 你吃了吗 “ni chile ma?” as greetings.
But did you know that except those three, there are at least 17 other ways to greet someone in Mandarin? That’s right, we’re not even counting Cantonese or Shanghainese greetings.
How to Say Hello in Chinese
1. 你好 – Nǐ hǎo
The standard, well-known greeting which is one of the first things anyone learning Mandarin will learn. Literary means “you good” and can be used in a variety of situations.
2. 您好 – Nín hǎo
Similar to the above, but with the difference that this version of “you” is polite, 您.
To hear all the greetings check out this video!
3. 你好吗? – Nǐ hǎo ma?
While most often used as a follow-up to a greeting, it can also be used in a “how are you?” manner
4. 您好吗? – Nín hǎo ma?
Same as above, but with the polite 您
5. 你怎么样? – Nǐ zěnmeyàng?
An informal greeting most often used when meeting friends or people you’re familiar with.
Means “how are you doing?” or “what’s up?”
6. 幸会 – Xìnghuì
A traditional way to say “nice to meet you”, often used by the older generations, although some younger people have taken to use 幸会 in a joking, or ironic way.
7. 久仰 – Jiǔyǎng
Very, very formal way of greeting.
This is not used between friends, but rather in professional settings when meeting for the first time. The literal meaning is something akin to “long lasting”
8. 久闻大名 – Jiǔwéndàmíng
Even more formal than the previous greeting.
This one should only be used when greeting someone you have a tremendous amount of respect for, and who is at least somewhat famous..
The literal meaning is “your name is famous”, which means “I have heard much about you”.
“Morning!”, short for 早上好 (zǎo shang hǎo), meaning “good morning.”
Use it as you would use the English equivalent, and you’ll be safe… as long as it’s in the morning.
10. 你吃了吗？ Nǐ chī le ma
“Have you eaten?” probably the single greeting which has caused the most amount of confusion.
If you’re not familiar with Chinese culture you might interpret it as a question and not a greeting!
This a greeting which shows in a that somebody cares about you, you should not describe in detail what you’ve eaten, or how hungry you are.
Rather, you should answer “chī le, nǐ ne?” which means “I’ve eaten, how about you?”
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11. 最近好吗？Zuì jìn hào mǎ
“How are you these days?” similar to “how are you” in English, you can answer with a quick approval, or a short explanation on how you are recently 最近过得怎样呀？Zuìjìnguò dé zěnyàng ya? – How has life been recently? Similar to the one above, but put in a different way.
12. 去哪儿？Qù nǎ er
“Where are you going?” similar to 你吃了吗 previously, it’s a way to show you care, and not meant to be nosy.
As this greeting often depends on location, for example, if you meet someone on the subway in the morning you might ask:
你去上班吗？- Nǐ qù shàngbān ma? Meaning “are you going to work?”
“Hello?” speaking of subways, if you’ve ever been to China you’ve most certainly heard someone shout 喂! Wèi into their phone.
This is used when picking up the phone, like the English “hello”.
Like in English, if the connection is poor, or the line drops, you’d shout “hello!” people in China will shout 喂 wèi!
14. 好久不见！Hǎo jiǔ bú jiàn
“Long time no see!”
Used when old friends meet, this is a very positive, happy greeting.
The literal translation “long time, no see” has also started to make its way into the English language.
15. 大家好 – Dàjiā hǎo
Hello everyone: used when addressing a crowd.
大家 simply means everyone.
16. 下午好。 Xiàwǔ hǎo
Good afternoon: pretty self explanatory, goes well with tea.
17. 晚上好。 Wǎnshàng hǎo
Good evening: for those staying up late meeting someone.
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18. 哈罗！ Hā luō
Phonetic adaptation of “hello”, mostly used by young, urban people.
19. 嗨！ Hāi, and 20. 嘿！ – Hēi！
A phonetic adaptation of “hi” and “hey”, like 哈罗 before, this is used mainly by young, urban types.
So there you have it!
20 ways to greet someone in Mandarin Chinese, now go out there and practice!
Got anymore that we may have missed?
Leave a comment below and add your favourites!
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Hello in Chinese – FAQ’s
Rather than using 你好 Nǐ hǎo Chinese tend to use 喂 Wèi when answering the phone to greet someone.
Yes, whereas in Mandarin you would say 你好 – Nǐ hǎo, in Cantonese the pronunciation is slightly different, Neih hou.
Thank you in Chinese is 谢谢 Xiè Xiè.
Hello in Chinese is 你好 – Nǐ hǎo. This quite literally translates to “you good”.
Similarly to the informal version of hello (你好 – Nǐ hǎo), the formal version just includes an extra N making 您好 “Nin hao”.
This is best used in formal situations in China.
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