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More Mandarin Chinese Greetings

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Zǎo ān - 早安 - Good Morning

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zǎo ān - Saying "Good Morning" in Mandarin Chinese

In the previous lesson we learned how to say "hello" in Mandarin Chinese. Here are some other common greetings.

The Chinese character zǎo 早 is a composite of two characters - 日 (meaning sun) and 十. The character 十 is an old form of jiǎ 甲, which means “first” or “armor.” A literal interpretation of the character zǎo 早, therefore, is “first sun.”

Zǎo means “morning.” It is a noun and can also be used by itself as a greeting meaning "good morning".

Another way to say "good morning" is zǎo ān - 早安. The second character - ān - 安 means "peace", so the literal translation of zǎo ān - 早安 is "morning peace".

A more formal way to say "good morning" is zǎo shàng hǎo - 早上好. We know hǎo - 好 from our first lesson. It means "good". Shàng means "upon", but in this case zǎo shàng - 早上 is a compound meaning "early morning". So the literal translation of zǎo shàng hǎo - 早上好 is "early morning good".

So there are three ways to say "good morning" in Mandarin Chinese:

Wǎn shàng hǎo - 晚上好 - Good Evening

In the same pattern as zǎo shàng hǎo - 早上好, we can say "good evening" with wǎn shàng hǎo - 晚上好. In this greeting, wǎn shàng means "evening" and hǎo - 好 means "good". The literal translation of wǎn shàng hǎo - 晚上好 is "evening good".

Appropriate Times

These greetings should be said at the appropriate time of the day. Zǎo or zǎo shàng refer to early morning, so the morning greetings should only be said up to about 10 a.m.

Wǎn shàng hǎo is usually said between about 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. The standard greeting nǐ hǎo - 你好 can be used at any time of the day or night.

Tones

The Pinyin Romanization used in these lessons use tone marks. Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language, which means that the meanings of words depend on which tone they use. There are four tones in Mandarin:

  • high and level
  • rising
  • falling and rising
  • falling

Next Lesson: Mandarin Chinese Tones

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