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10 Most Useful Phrases for Foreigner in Beijing [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2006-6-7 15:56:22 |Display all floors
For the real novices...

Top 10 Most Useful Mandarin Phrases for Foreigners

To most foreigners, the Chinese language is overwhelming; there is no doubt about it.  “The Chinese language is impossible!” “Every word sounds the same!” “How can anyone understand it?”  Through traveling with students from the US, I have found phrases like this to be quite common.

Even if you have given up on learning how to speak such a drastically different language, it can be extremely helpful, and even considerate to learn some of the basics.  Here are ten of the most helpful Chinese phrases:

1.        Ni hao: pronounced, “nee how.”  This is the most common way to say Hello in China, and is typically understood regardless of your pronunciation.  This is also a good phrase to begin more complex Chinese conversation, as it preps the listener to hear Chinese rather than the expected English, etc.

2.        Xie xie: pronounced, “shay shay.”  Thank you.  In my opinion, this is the number one phrase to know.  You cannot be thankful enough for the many waiters/waitresses, cab drivers, and citizens for helping you get the things you want without knowing the language they speak.  This phrase typically raises a smile, as it is greatly appreciated, and often unexpected.

3.        Bu yao: pronounced, “boo yow” Literally translates to “no want.”  This phrase is especially useful in the major tourist areas in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, where countless vendors are continuously trying to make a sale.

4.        Wo yao yi ping shui: pronounced, “whoa yow ee peeng shway” Translates into “I would like a bottle of water.”  A little lengthier, but just as useful, as water taken directly from the tap is not drinkable in China.  I have never been to a restaurant or hotel that did not provide bottled water.

5.        Cesuo zai nar: pronounced, “tsuh-swhoh zi (rhyming with eye) nahr” “Where is the restroom?” This phrase is rather self-explanatory.  Even if the person being asked responds in more Chinese than you can handle, they will at least point you in the right direction.

6.        Wo e le: pronounced, “whoa uh luh” This phrase translates into “I am hungry” and is probably the most basic way to get someone to help you find food.

7.        Zai jian: pronounced, “zi jee-ann” The most common way to say “good bye.”

8.        Duo shao qian: pronounced, “dwoh shaow chee-ann.” Here you are asking how much something costs, a phrase especially helpful in the many markets around town.

9.        Wo bu shuo zhongwen: pronounced, “woh boo shwoh jong-wun,” and meaning “I don’t speak Chinese.”

10. The last thing to know are the numbers, one through ten, broken down as follows:
a.        Yi (ee) – 1
b.        Er (ar)        - 2
c.        San (sahn) – 3
d.        Si (suh) – 4
e.        Wu (woo) – 5
f.        Liu (lee-oh) – 6
g.        Qi (chee) – 7
h.        Ba (bah) – 8
i.        Jiu (jee-oh) – 9
j.        Shi (shr) – 10

Although these ten phrases may seem tough to master, it is a good idea to at least try.  From my experience, most Chinese truly appreciate your effort, even if your pronunciation is nearly unintelligible, and often will help you to improve!

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Post time 2006-6-9 18:11:36 |Display all floors

Reply #1 paoburen's post

Thxs, xie xie.
What's on your mind now........ooooooooooooooo la la....Kind Regards

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Post time 2006-6-9 18:55:34 |Display all floors


sye-sye (fast) is how I say it... that ok? The "H" sound builds up on it's own if you say it fast enough...

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Post time 2006-6-15 01:33:11 |Display all floors
shay-shay comes out horribly by most people who don't know Chinese, especially if their SH sounds like pinyin SH rather than X. And the vowels are backwards.
There's really no good way to spell it except to learn to read/pronounce pinyin, but divina's is better than shayshay, I think.

The X is like an S, if you do an English S, but raise the middle (more toward front-middle, but not the tip, leave the tip down on your bottom teeth) of your tongue a bit to block part of the opening in front of your teeth, making it closer to Sh but not quite. Your tongue should go up a bit, but not touch your upper palette otherwise no air could come out. It needs to stay much lighter than an English SH.

And the vowel part (final) is more like -yeh.

你好 Divina! 你的中文说的很好!

PS - PAOBUREN - Good list, but you forgot part of #8:
#8a - After they tell you how much something is, you must say "Tai guile!" and turn away to look at something obviously cheaper.

(tai guile = Too expensive! = tye (rhymes with dye) gway luh)

An alternative to #3 could be "Wo you le" = "I already have it". My Chinese teacher suggested this to me when in China, and it worked better than "Don't want". With Bu yao, they often tried to convince me I did want it, or took it as a bargaining line, offering me lower prices, but with a firm but smiling "Wo youle, xiexie." they often said nothing more, or smiled back and walked away.

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Post time 2006-6-15 04:40:16 |Display all floors


啊哈哈哈哈哈! 现在我的中文说得不太好!不流利!怎么办呢?慢慢来!

P.S: 我觉得你可能写错了。。 你写了“的”应该是“得”。。再看一下那(个)语法。。;-)

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Post time 2006-6-15 04:45:13 |Display all floors
Sorry if I sounded like an ugly American, but near the end of one tiring day in Beijing I couldn't get rid of one especially persistent and obnoxious vendor with "no thanks", "bu yao", or anything else I could think of, speaking no Chinese.  Finally, "f*** off" was immediatly understood and got the desired result.  "Wo you le" probably would have been better, but I didn't know about that then.

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Post time 2006-6-15 04:51:43 |Display all floors


Originally posted by freakyqi at 2006-6-15 01:33
shay-shay comes out horribly by most people who don't know Chinese, especially if their SH sounds like pinyin SH rather than X. And the vowels are backwards.
There's really no good way to spell i ...

Don't forget!!!

"pianyi dian'r ba!" 便宜点儿吧!pye(n)yee- dyar-ba!=make it cheaper!!!

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