Lesson 2: Greetings


How many times do you say hello to someone on any given day? Unless you’re a hermit, or just plain rude, chances are a few times at the very least, and most likely more often than that. No matter where you are in the world, or what language is being spoken, people are saying hello to each other. They just might have different ways to do it. In the first part of this lesson, I will teach you several common Chinese greetings. Later on in part two you will be reading and listening to a dialogue in Mandarin and learning how to put these greetings into practical use. But first, let me see how much you remember from our last lesson. What is the correct English translation of 你好? A. Goodbye, B. See you later, C. Hello, D. Good luck. Everyone answered A. Goodbye, right?!? I certainly hope not. If you answered anything besides C. Hello, then you should practice lesson one for a few more days before proceeding. Have no fear! Rome wasn’t built in a day (or at least that’s what I hear, anyway) and Taipei 101 wasn’t either!

Now let’s get started!

Five Essential Greetings:

1. 早安 zăo ān = good morning
Note: 早安 is more often than not shorted to just 早, Taiwanese people especially like to cut out a lot of characters that are considered as understood in a sentence, though it’s not a bad idea to practice the full phrases in the beginning.
2. 午安 wŭ ān= good afternoon
3. 吃飽了嗎? chī băo le ma?= Have you eaten?
Note: You can either answer 有, which means “have”, but in this case means “yes”, followed by 吃飽了(to show that you “have” eaten) or 還沒, “not yet”.
4. 好久不見 hăo jiŭ bù jiàn= long time no see
5. 您好 nín hăo(formal version of 你好)= hello (formal)

Listen to the attached audio file and practice repeating each phrase until you feel confident enough to move on to the next part.

Dialogue: Read and listen to the following dialogue, then answer the questions below.

A: Young Chen, hello!
xiăo chén nĭ hăo!

B: Hello Mrs. Wang. Have you eaten yet?
王太太, 你好。你吃飽了嗎?
wáng tài tài, nĭ hăo. nĭ chī băo le ma?

A:Not yet! I am going to buy dinner now.
hái méi a! wŏ xiàn zài qù măi wăn cān

B: Do you mind if I join you?
nà me wŏ gēn nĭ yī qĭ qù chī, hăo ma?

A: Of course!
dāng rán hăo a!

B: Awesome! In that case, what do you want to eat?
tài bàng le! nà me nĭ xiăng yào chī shén me ne?

A: I want to eat beef noodle soup.
wŏ yào chī niú ròu miàn.

B: Me too! Ahh!
wŏ yĕ shì! āi yō!

A: What’s wrong?
zĕn me le?

B: I didn’t bring money!
wŏ méi dài qián!

A: No problem, I’ll treat you.
méi guān xi, wŏ lái qĭng kè.

B: Thank you! Next time it’s my turn to treat!
謝謝你的! 下一次換我來請!
xiè xiè nĭ de! xià yī cì huàn wŏ lái qĭng!

Culture Note: in Chinese, nick names for younger people are often formed by adding 小 in front of a surname, i.e. 小陳 for small(or young) Chen.

Comprehension Questions: I’m not going to give you an English translation for the following questions, I want to see how much you can intuitively figure out from what we have already learned. Take a minute to email me you answers and I will let you know how you did! Consider it “homework”.

1. 誰要去買晚餐?
shéi yào qù măi wăn cān?

2. 王太太吃飽了嗎?
wáng tài tài chī băo le ma?

3. 他們很喜歡吃牛肉麵嗎?
tā men hĕn xĭ huān chī niú ròu miàn ma?

4. 誰沒帶錢?
shéi méi dài qián?

5. 小陳要請客嗎?
xiăo chén yào qĭng kè ma?

Essential Vocabulary: Here’s a list of some of the most useful phrases that we learned in this lesson. Practice them and record yourself and compare your pronunciation to mine.

1. 還沒= not yet
2. 現在= now
3. 那麼= then/in that case
4. 跟你一起…= Do…with you
5. 好嗎?= Okay?
6. 當然= of course
7. 太棒了= Awesome!
8. 想要= want
9. 什麼?= what?
10. 我也是= me too
11. 怎麼了?= What’s wrong?
12. 沒關係= no problem
13. 謝謝= thank you/thanks


7 thoughts on “Lesson 2: Greetings

  1. Pingback: Lesson 3: Saying goodbye | Life as a Foreigner in Taiwan

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