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The Most Common Mandarin Words

A - B


There are many Mandarin frequency lists which show the relative frequency of Chinese characters. For example, the Chinese Text Computing web page has several lists of Chinese characters compiled from various sources.

However, Chinese words are often composed of more than one character, so lists of single characters can be deceiving.

The list below shows the most common Mandarin words, as opposed to individual characters. Some of the entries are indivudual characters, but the majority are character compounds which form Mandarin words. Adapted from the Steering Committee of the Test of Proficiency - Huayu


Traditional: 啊
Simplified: 啊
Pinyin: a

Meaning: Interjection showing surprise, doubt, approval, or consent. Can be pronounced in any of the four tones.

ā yí

Traditional: 阿姨
Simplified: 阿姨
Pinyin: ā yí

Meaning: Auntie


Traditional: 愛
Simplified: 爱
Pinyin: ài

Meaning: to love; affection; to be fond of; to like


Traditional: 哎
Simplified: 哎
Pinyin: āi

Meaning: an interjection; hey


Traditional: 矮
Simplified: 矮
Pinyin: ăi

Meaning: short (not tall)

ān jìng

Traditional: 安靜
Simplified: 安静
Pinyin: ān jìng

Meaning: quiet; peaceful; calm

ān pái

Traditional: 安排
Simplified: 安排
Pinyin: ān pái

Meaning: to arrange; to plan; to set up

ān quán

Traditional: 安全
Simplified: 安全
Pinyin: ān quán

Meaning: safe; secure; safety; security


Traditional: 吧
Simplified: 吧
Pinyin: ba

Meaning: (modal particle indicating polite suggestion); ...right?; ...OK?

bà ba

Traditional: 爸爸
Simplified: 爸爸
Pinyin: bà ba

Meaning: (informal) father

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