Wednesday, February 3, 2010



The following examples of conversation are standard and polite greetings mostly used to greet elders or acquaintances.

Casual Version ~


 你    好    嗎?
Ní   Hăo   Ma?
(How are you?)

 我    很    好,    謝    謝.
Wŏ  Hén  Hăo,  Xiè  Xie.
(I am fine. Thanks.)

Respectable Version ~


 您    好    嗎?
Nín  Hăo  Ma?
(How are you?)

 我    很    好,    謝    謝    您.
Wŏ  Hén  Hăo, Xiè   Xie  Nín.
(I am fine. Thank you.)

(Nĭ) = You

(Nín) = You (in a respectable way)

(Hăo) = Good

(Ma) = a phrase-final particle used in questions
(Wŏ) = I

(Hěn) = Very

(Hăo) = Good

(Xiè) = appreciate, gratitude

The question "你好嗎?" (Ní Hăo Ma), which literally means "you good?", can be changed into an affirmative sentence as "你好" (Ní Hăo), meaning "you good." This is also a common greeting to wish others well. So when someone greets you with "你好" (Ní Hăo), you may simply reply "你好" (Ní Hăo) in return.

In addition to wishing others well, the Chinese would also greet each other with different phrases based on the time of day they meet.

In the morning, you may say "早安" (Zăo Ān) or "早上好" (Zăo Shàng Hăo) , which means good morning. "早" (Zăo) or "早上" (Zăo Shàng) means morning, and 安 (Ān) means peaceful or safe.

 早    安
Zăo  Ān

 早      上      好
Zăo Shàng Hăo

In the afternoon, you may say "午安" (Wŭ Ān). You may also be more specific and say "下午好" (Xià Wú Hăo), meaning good afternoon or "中午好" (Zhōng Wú Hăo), meaning good noon. Please note that the word, "午" (Wŭ), means noon. So "下午" (Xià Wŭ) means afternoon, and "中午" (Zhōng Wŭ) means mid noon.

 午    安
Wŭ  Ān

 下   午   好
Xià  Wú Hăo

 中       午       好
Zhōng  Wú    Hăo

In the evening or at night time, the Chinese would greet each other with "晚安" (Wăn Ān) or "晚上好" (Wăn Shàng Hăo), which both mean good evening. However, the term "晚安" (Wăn Ān) may also be used to say "good night". As you might have guessed, "晚" (Wăn) and "晚上" (Wăn Shàng) means night or evening.

 晚    安
Wăn  Ān

 晚       上      好
Wăn Shàng Hăo

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. At least I learn something sociable in a short conversation.