First: Happy New Year everyone! Second: It’s New Year in China, recently. Also: Asia’s shoppers are on the rise. Especially Chinese people love to shop and e-shop in Europe and Germany. This is good news to many vendors. On the other hand: You need to know at least some Chinese phrases.
Even if you do not speak Mandarin it is important to understand some phrases and even speak some if you want to attract Chinese customers.
It is polite to at least know some general terms when you talk to a Chinese customer. You can talk to them in English and many will speak or at least understand the native language in your country when they visit for business-related reasons. But don’t expect them to understand their language.
您好 (pinyin: Nín hǎo) – Hello.
This is a formal and polite way of saying Hello. You pronounce the “nín” like a question and the “hǎo” like you suddenly understood something.
You pronounce it like: “ni?n hao!”
你好 (pinyin: Nǐ hǎo) – Hi.
This is an informal Hello or a Hi when you do not want to stress that the other person is of a higher status. “Nǐ” is the Chinese version of “you”.
You pronounce the word like: “nii!-i! hao!”
我怎么帮你？(pinyin: Wǒ zěnme bāng nǐ?) – How can I help you?
It literally translates to “I how can help you?” and is a typical polite question you get asked by vendors.
You pronounce it like: Woo (sh)enme baang ni!-i?
Asking, thanking, and saying sorry
谢谢 (pinyin: xiè xie) – Thank you.
Please pronounce this one right! The first word is stressed, the last one is spoken neutral and a bit timid. Otherwise, if you pronounce both words, you, well, say you have diarrhea. The x is spoken like the sound a snake makes.
Pronounce it like: “chi! chi…”
务请 (pinyin: wù qǐng) – Please/Here you go.
This is a formal way of saying please. Like when you offer someone a chair to sit on or treat the person at dinner.
You pronounce it like: “wu! tchi! -ing?”
对不起 (pinyin: Duì bù qǐ) – I am sorry.
When you did something wrong you say this.
You pronounce it like: “dui! bu! tchi!-i?” but very softly like you are really sorry.
不用谢 (pinyin: bù yòng xiè) – You’re welcome
When someone apologizes to you but it’s okay with you. No need to stand on ceremonies.
You pronounce it like: “bu! yong! chi!” but in a friendly tone like with a friend.
不客气 (pinyin: bù kè qi) – Don’t mention it.
When someone apologizes but you are like: There is no need to thank me. It is no big deal.
You pronounce it like: “bu! ki! chiiii”
再见 (zài jiàn) – Goodbye
When you say goodbye in a formal and polite manner you use this expression.
You pronounce it like this (with a British “a”): “Saei! jian!”
拜拜 (bài bài) – Bye bye!
An informal way of saying goodbye. It’s directly derived from the English “bye bye”.
You pronounce it like in English.
Image credit: CC BY 2.0 via Axel Rouvin/Flickr.com
I have a neverending curiosity how things work. I'm involved with Mailbox Germany since 2014. Let us explore this world and its logistics!
Since 2011, I work as Schrift-Architekt, a freelance consultant for social media and for some time now I am an avid German podcaster with #Onlinegeister, radio about internet culture, social media, and PR.
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