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Saying Hello

Mandarin Chinese Greetings

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Nǐ Hǎo - 你好 - Hello

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nǐ hǎo - Saying "Hello" in Mandarin Chinese

Learn how to greet people in Mandarin Chinese.

The literal translation of nǐ hǎo - 你好 is "you good". Nǐ - 你 means "you" and hǎo - 好 means "good".

Nǐ - 你 is the informal form of "you" and is used for greeting friends and associates. The formal form of "hello" is ►nín hǎo - 您好. Notice that the formal "you" is nín - 您.

Use nín hǎo - 您好 when speaking to:

  • Superiors
  • People in authority
  • Elders

Use nǐ hǎo - 你好 when speaking to:

  • Friends
  • Colleagues
  • Children

China & Taiwan

The use of nín hǎo - 您好 is more common in Mainland China than in Taiwan. The informal nǐ hǎo - 你好 is the most common greeting in Taiwan, no matter what the rank of the person you are addressing.

How Are You?

You can extend nǐ hǎo - 你好 by adding the question particle ►ma - 嗎/吗. The question particle ma can be added to the end of sentences and phrases to change them from statements to questions.

The literal translation of nǐ hǎo ma? - 你好嗎?/你好吗? is "you good?" which means "how are you?"

Nǐ hǎo ma? - 你好嗎?/你好吗? should only be said to close friends or family members. It is not a common greeting for associates or strangers.

The answer to nǐ hǎo ma? - 你好嗎?/你好吗? can be:

  • hěn hǎo - 很好 - very good
  • bù hǎo - 不好 - not good
  • hái hǎo - 還好/还好 - so so

Two Sets of Chinese Characters

You may be wondering why there are two Chinese versions of nǐ hǎo ma - 你好嗎/你好吗 and hái hǎo - 還好/还好. The first version is traditional characters which are used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and many overseas Chinese communities. The second version is simplified characters, the official writing system in Mainland China, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Read more about Traditional and Simplified Chinese.

Next Lesson - More Mandarin Chinese Greetings

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