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Chinese phrasebook

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Chinese script in Chinatown, Singapore

Chinese is the official language of China, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan, and is one of the four official languages of Singapore. About one fifth of the people in the world speak some form of Chinese as their native language. It is a tonal language that is related to Burmese and Tibetan. Although Japanese and Korean use Chinese written characters they are not related to Chinese. Also the unrelated Vietnamese language has borrowed many words from Chinese.

Although the Chinese consider that they only have a single language, there are major regional dialectal differences that would be considered to be separate languages in other parts of the world. In many cases the regional dialects are not clearly regionalised but vary gradually across a region. Thus linguists can identify anywhere between seven and seventeen separate Chinese languages where the speakers of different dialects are mutually unintelligible.

Putonghua (???), commonly known in English as Mandarin, is considered the official dialect and is covered by this phrasebook. Putonghua is based on, but not identical to, the Chinese spoken in and around Beijing. However, the Cantonese dialect, for example, is widely spoken, especially in the former British colony of Hong Kong and by the ethnic minorities in other countries. While formally written Mandarin can be read by speakers of both dialects, the spoken languages are, for most purposes, mutually unintelligible and will require translation. Mandarin Chinese is now being uniformly taught in the schools of China.

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chinese phrasebook Travel Guide :

Chinese phrasebook

Pronunciation guide

The pronunciation guide below uses Hanyu pinyin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinyin), the official romanization of the People's Republic of China. Until recently, Taiwan used the Wade-Giles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wade-Giles) system, which is quite different, but has recently officially switched to Tongyong pinyin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tongyong_Pinyin), which is only slightly different.

Chinese phrasebook

Vowels

as in father
as in the hen
as in ping or key; after sh, zh, or r, as in shirr; after s or z, hold the z and make a vowel of it
as in saw or sung
as in soon; but as in ju, qu, yu and xu
 
as in French lune or German grn
Chinese phrasebook

Consonants

Chinese stops distinguish aspirated and unaspirated, not voiceless and voiced as in English. So p, t, and k should be pronounced with a puff of air.

as in ball or spall
as in rats
ch 
as in chore
as in do or stew
as in fun
as in gang
as in her
as in jeer
as in king
as in lease
as in mow
as in none
ng 
as in sing
as in pit
as in cheap
as in genre or fair
as in sag
sh 
as in shoot
as in tongue
as in wing, but silent in wu
as in sheep
as in yet, but silent in yi, yu
as in red zebra
zh 
as in jungle
Chinese phrasebook

Exceptions

There are a fairly large number of niggling exceptions to the basic rules above, based on the position of the sound. Some of the more notable ones include:

-ian 
as -ien, so ??? Tian'anmen is pronounced "Tien'anmen"
wu- 
as u-, so ?? wubai is pronounced "ubai"
yi- 
as i-, so ?? yige is pronounced "ige"
y- 
as -, so ?? Yuyuan is pronounced "-an"
Chinese phrasebook

Tones

There are four tones in Mandarin that must be followed for proper pronunciation.

1. first tone ( ? ) 
flat, high pitch - more sung instead of spoken
2. second tone ( ) 
low to middle, rising - pronounced like the end of a question phrase (Wht?)
3. third tone ( ? ) 
middle to low to high, dipping - if at the end of a sentence or before a pause, it is then followed by a rising pitch
4. fourth tone ( ) 
high to low, falling - Pronounced like a command (Stop!)

5. There is also a fifth tone, the neutral tone, which is used rarely, mostly for phrase particles.

Chinese phrasebook

Phrase list

All phrases shown in here use the simplified characters used in mainland China and Singapore.

Chinese phrasebook

Basics

To be or not to be?

Chinese does not have words for "yes" and "no" as such; instead, questions are typically answered by repeating the verb. Common ones include:

To be or not to be
? sh, ?? b sh
To have or not have / there is or is not
? y?u, ?? mi y?u
To be right or wrong
? du, ?? b du
Hello. 
??? N? h?o.
How are you? 
???? N? h?o ma? ????? Shen1t? h?o ma?
Fine, thank you. 
??, ??? H?n h?o, xixie.
What is your (first) name? 
??????? N? jio shnme mngzi?
My name is ______ . 
?? _____ ? W? jio ______ .
Nice to meet you. 
??????? H?n g?oxng rnsh n?.
Please. 
?? Q?ng.
Thank you. 
??? xixie.
You're welcome. 
???? B kqi.
Excuse me. (getting attention
?? q?ng wn
Excuse me. (begging pardon
????? D?r?o yixi ; ?????, Mfan n? le.
I'm sorry. 
???? Dubq?.
Goodbye 
??? Zijin
Goodbye (informal
??? Bai-bai (Byebye)
I can't speak Chinese. 
??????? W? b hui4 sh?o hny?.
Do you speak English? 
??????? N? hui4 sh?o y?ngy? ma?
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
?????????? Zhli3 y?u rn hi sh?o Y?ngy? ma?
Help! (in emergencies)
?? ju mng!
Good morning. 
??? Z?o ?n.
Good evening. 
???? W?nshng h?o.
Good night. 
??? W?n ?n.
I don't understand. 
????? W? t?ng bu4 d?ng.
Where is the toilet? 
?????? Csuo3 zi n?li?
Chinese phrasebook

Problems

Leave me alone. 
?????? (byo d?r?o w?)
Don't touch me! 
????? (byo png w?!)
I'll call the police. 
??????? (w? yo jio j?ngch le)
Police! 
??? (j?ngch!)
Stop! Thief! 
?????? (zhsh?u! xi?ot?u!)
I need your help. 
???????? (w? x?yo n?de b?ngzh)
It's an emergency. 
??????? (zhsh j?nj qngkung)
I'm lost. 
????? (w? ml le)
I lost my bag. 
??????? (w? di?le sh?utb?o)
I lost my wallet. 
?????? (w? di?le qinb?o)
I'm sick. 
????? (w? sh?ngbng le)
I've been injured. 
????? (w? shush?ng le)
I need a doctor. 
?????? (w? x?yo y?sh?ng)
Can I use your phone? 
????????? (w? k?y? d? ge dinhu ma?)
Chinese phrasebook

Numbers

Chinese numbers are very regular. While Arabic (Western) numerals have become more common, the Chinese numerals shown below are still used, particularly in informal contexts like markets.

0 ?, ? 
lng
1 ? 
y?
2 ? 
r
3 ? 
s?n
4 ? 
s
5 ? 
w?
6 ? 
lu
7 ? 
q?
8 ? 
b?
9 ? 
j?u
10 ? 
sh
11 ?? 
sh-y?
12 ?? 
sh-r
13 ?? 
sh-s?n
14 ?? 
sh-s
15 ?? 
sh-w?
16 ?? 
sh-lu
17 ?? 
sh-q?
18 ?? 
sh-b?
19 ?? 
sh-j?u
20 ?? 
r-sh
21 ??? 
r-sh-y?
22 ??? 
r-sh-r
23 ??? 
r-sh-s?n
30 ?? 
s?n-sh
40 ?? 
s-sh
50 ?? 
w?-sh
60 ?? 
lu-sh
70 ?? 
q?-sh
80 ?? 
b?-sh
90 ?? 
j?u-sh

For numbers above 100, any "gaps" must be filled in with ? lng, as eg. ??? y?b?iy? would otherwise be taken as shorthand for "110". A single unit of tens may be written and pronounced either ?? y?sh or just ? sh.

100 ?? 
y?-b?i
101 ???? 
y?-b?i-lng-y?
110 ???? 
y?-b?i-y?-sh
111 ????? 
y?-b?i-y?-sh-y?
200 ?? 
r-b?i
300 ?? 
s?n-b?i
500 ?? 
w?-b?i
1000 ?? 
y?-qi?n
2000 ?? 
r-qi?n

Numbers above 10,000 are grouped by in units of four digits, starting with ? wn (ten thousand). "One million" in Chinese is thus "hundred tenthousands" (???).

10,000 ?? 
y?-wn
10,001 ???? 
y?-wn-lng-y?
10,002 ???? 
y?-wn-lng-r
20,000 ?? 
r-wn
50,000 ?? 
w?-wn
100,000 ?? 
sh-wn
200,0000 ??? 
r-sh-wn
1,000,000 ??? 
y?-b?i-wn
100,000,000 ?? 
yi1yi4
number _____ (train, bus, etc.
number measure word (lu4 or hao4 etc.) _____ (huo3 che1, gong1 gong4 qi4 chi1, etc. Measure words are used in combination with a number to indicate the count of mass nouns. Check out here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/measure_word) for more details.)
half 
? bn (...)
less 
?? shao3yu1 (...)
more 
?? duo1yu1 (...)
Chinese phrasebook

Time

now 
?? xinzi
later 
??? y?hu or sh?ohu
before 
??, y?qin
morning 
??, z?oshng
afternoon 
??, xiw?
night 
??, w?nshng
Chinese phrasebook

Clock time

What time is it? 
????? Xinzi j? di?n?
It is nine in the morning. 
??9??? Z?oshng j?u di?n zh?ng.
Three-thirty PM. 
??3??. Xiw? s?n di?n bn.
Chinese phrasebook

Duration

_____ minute(s) 
_____ ?? f?nzh?ng
_____ hour(s) 
_____ ?? xi?osh
_____ day(s) 
_____ ? ti?n
_____ week(s) 
_____ ?? x?ngq?
_____ month(s) 
_____ ? ye
_____ year(s) 
_____ ? nin
Chinese phrasebook

Days

today 
?? j?nti?n
yesterday 
?? zuti?n
tomorrow 
?? mngti?n
this week 
???? zhge x?ngq?
last week 
???? shngge x?ngq?
next week 
???? xige x?ngq?

Weekdays in Chinese are easy: starting with 1 for Monday, just add the number after ?? x?ngq?.

Sunday 
??? x?ngq?ti?n or xing1 qi1 ri4 or xing1 qi1 qi1
Monday 
??? x?ngq?y?
Tuesday 
??? x?ngq?r
Wednesday 
??? x?ngq?s?n
Thursday 
??? x?ngq?s
Friday 
??? x?ngq?w?
Saturday 
??? x?ngq?lu
Chinese phrasebook

Months

Months in Chinese are also easy: starting with 1 for January, just add the number after ? yu.

January 
??, y? yu
February 
??, r yu
March 
??, s?n yu
April 
??, s yu
May 
??, w? yu
June 
??, li yu
July 
??, q? yu
August 
??, b? yu
September 
??, ji? yu
October 
??, sh yu
November 
???, sh y? yu
December 
???, sh r yu

Tips: From January to December, you just need to use this pattern: number (1-12) + yu

Chinese phrasebook

Writing Time and Date


Chinese phrasebook

Colors

black 
?? h?i s
white 
?? bi s
gray 
?? hu? s
red 
?? hng s
blue 
?? ln s
yellow 
?? hung s
green 
?? l? s
orange 
?? chng s
purple 
?? z? s
brown 
?? he s, ?? z?ng s,
Do you have it in another color?  
?????????? n?men y?u miy?u lngwi yns ?

Tips: s means 'color', therefore, 'hng s' is 'red color'(literally). More common for brown and easier to remmember is 'coffee color': ??? k? f?i s

Chinese phrasebook

Transportation

Chinese phrasebook

Bus and Train

How much is a ticket to _____? 
?______????? q _____ de pio du? sh?o qin?
Do you go to... (the central station)? 
???... (???) q b q... (hu? ch? zhn)
Chinese phrasebook

Directions

How do I get to _____ ? 
???_____ z?nme q _____?
...the train station? 
...???? ...hu?ch? zhn?
...the bus station? 
...????? ...qch? z?ngzhn?
...the airport? 
...???? ...f?ij? ch?ng?
street 
? ji?; ? l
Turn left. 
???? zu?bi?n zhu?nw?n
Turn right. 
???? yubi?n zhu?nw?n
left 
?? zu?bi?n
right 
?? yubi?n
straight ahead 
??? w?ngqin z?u
north 
? b?i
south 
? nn
east 
? d?ng
west 
? x?
Chinese phrasebook

Taxi

Taxi ??? ch? z? ch?
Take me to _____, please. 
???_____? q?ng k?ido _____?
Chinese phrasebook

Lodging

Common signs


?? 
Entrance
?? 
Exit
Push
Pull
?? / ??? 
Toilet
Men
Women
?? 
Forbidden
?? 
Smoking
Do you have any rooms available? 
??????? N?men y?u fngji?n ma?
Does the room come with... 
???... Y?u miy?u...
...bedsheets? 
...??? ...chungd?n?
...a bathroom? 
...??? ...ysh?
...a telephone? 
...??? ...dinhu?
...a TV? 
...??? ...dinsh ?
I will stay for _____ night(s). 
????_____?? W? d?sun zh _____ y.
Do you have a safe? 
????????? N?men y?u miy?u b?oxi?n xi?ng?
Can you wake me at _____? 
?????_____???? Q?ng mngti?n z?oshang _____ jiox?ng w?.
I want to check out. 
?????? W? xinzi yo z?u.
Chinese phrasebook

Money

pay
? f
cash
?? xin qin
cr card
??? xn yng k?
Chinese phrasebook

Eating

Can I look at the menu, please? 
??????? q?ng g?i w? knkan cid?n?
I'm a vegetarian 
???? w? ch? s de
breakfast 
?? z?ofn
lunch 
?? w?fn or zh?ngfn
supper 
?? w?nfn
beef 
?? niru
pork
?? zh?ru
mutton
?? yngru
chicken
? j?
fish
? y
cheese 
?? n?ilo
eggs 
?? j?dn
bread 
?? minb?o
noodles 
?? mintio
fried rice
?? ch?ofn
dumpling
?? ji?ozi
rice 
?? m?fn
coffee 
?? k?f?i
black coffee: ??? h?i k?f?i
milk
?? nin?i
sugar
? tng
tea (drink
? cha
green tea
?? l? ch
scented tea
?? hu?ch
black tea
?? hngch
juice 
?? shu?gu? fruit; ? zh? juice
water 
? shu?
natural mineral water
??? kungqun shu?
beer 
?? pji?
red/white wine 
?/? ?? ? hng/bi p?to ji?
It was delicious. 
????? (h?och? j le)
The check, please. 
???? (q?ng jizhng)
Chinese phrasebook

Bars

Do you serve alcohol? 
?????? (y?u miy?u mi ji??)
Is there table service? 
???????? (y?u miy?u c?nzhu? fw?)
A beer/two beers, please. 
?????/????? (q?ng g?i w? yb?i/li?ngb?i pji?)
A glass of red/white wine, please. 
??????/????? (q?ng g?i w? yb?i hng/bi ptoji?)
A pint, please. 
??????? (q?ng g?i w? yp?ntu?)
A bottle, please. 
?????? (q?ng g?i w? ypng)
_____ (hard liquor) and _____ (mixer), please. 
???_____?_____? (q?ng g?i w? _____ h _____)
whiskey 
??? (w?ishj)
vodka 
??? (ftji?)
rum 
??? (lnm?ji?)
water 
? (shu?)
club soda 
??? (s?d?shu?)
tonic water 
??? (t?ngnngshu?)
orange juice 
??? (li?chngzh?)
Coke (soda
?? (k?l)
Do you have any bar snacks? 
???????? (y?u miy?u b?ti di?nx?n?)
One more, please. 
??????? (q?ng zi g?i w? yg)
Another round, please. 
?????? (q?ng zili yln)
When is closing time? 
????? (j?di?n d?yng?)
Where is the toilet? 
????? (csu? zi nli?)
Chinese phrasebook

Shopping

Do you have this in my size? 
???????? (y?u miy?u w?de ch?cn?)
How much is this? 
?????? (zhge du?sh?o qin?)
That's too expensive. 
???? (ti gi le)
Would you take _____? 
_____????? (_____ yun k?y? ma?)
expensive 
? (gi)
cheap 
?? (piny)
I can't afford it. 
??????? (w? di de qin bgu)
I don't want it. 
????? (w? bxi?ng yo)
You're cheating me. 
????? (n? q?pin w?) Use with caution!
I'm not interested. 
?????? (w? miy?u xngq)
OK, I'll take it. 
?????? (w? yo m?i zhge)
Can I have a bag? 
?????? (q?ng g?i w? diz?)
Do you ship (overseas)? 
????????? (k?y? yuj do h?iwi ma?)
I need... 
??_____ (w? yo _____)
...toothpaste. 
?? (yg?o)
...a toothbrush. 
?? (yshu?)
...tampons. 
???? (wish?ng mintio)
...soap. 
?? (xi?ngzo)
...shampoo. 
??? (x?f?j?ng)
...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen
??? (zhntngj)
...cold medicine. 
??? (g?nmuyo)
...stomach medicine. 
??? (wichngyo)
...a razor. 
?? (td?o)
...an umbrella. 
?? (yu3s?n)
...sunblock lotion. 
??? (fngshiyu)
...a postcard. 
??? (mngxnpin)
...postage stamps. 
?? (yupio)
...batteries. 
?? (dinch)
...writing paper. 
? (zh?)
...a pen. 
? (b?)
...English-language books. 
??? (y?ngwn sh?)
...English-language magazines. 
???? (y?ngwn zzh)
...an English-language newspaper. 
???? (y?ngwn bozh?)
...a Chinese-English dictionary. 
???? (hny?ng zdi?n)
...an English-Chinese dictionary. 
???? (y?nghn zdi?n)
Chinese phrasebook

Driving

I want to rent a car. 
?????? (w? xi?ngyo z?ch?)
Can I get insurance? 
???????? (w? k?y? m?i b?oxi?n ma?)
stop (on a street sign
? (tng)
one way 
??? (d?nxngdo)
yield 
?? (rngl)
no parking 
???? (jnzh? tngch?)
speed limit 
???? (sd xinzh)
gas (petrol) station 
??? (ji?yuzhn)
petrol 
?? (qyu)
diesel 
?? (chiyu)
Chinese phrasebook

Authority

I haven't done anything wrong. 
??????? (w? miy?u zucu sh)
It was a misunderstanding. 
????? (zh sh whu)
Where are you taking me? 
??????? (n? di w? q n?l??)
Am I under arrest? 
?????? (w? bib?le ma?)
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen. 
?? ??/??/??/??? ??? (w? sh m?igu/ozh?u/y?nggu/ji?nd g?ngmn)
I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate. 
???? ??/??/??/??? ? ???/??? ??? (w? x?wng g?n m?igu/ozh?u/y?nggu/ji?nd de dsh?gu?n/l?ngshgu?n linx)
I want to talk to a lawyer. 
????????? (w? x?wng g?n l?sh? linx)
Can I just pay a fine now? 
????????? (w? k?y? zh? f fku?n ma?)
Chinese phrasebook

Telephone & Internet

Telephone & Internet


In most Chinese cities telephone booths don't exist. Instead, small street shops have telephones which can usually be used for national calls and cost around 0.6RMB for a city-call. Look for signs like

???? Public Telephone

Don't go online in hotels since most common cafes are cheaper. Usually you pay 10RMB in advance for a card. Prices per hour from 1RMB to 4RMB. Those cafes are quite hidden sometimes and you should look for the following chinese characters:

?? Internet Cafe
Can I make international calls here? 
????????? (k?y? d? guj dinhu ma?)
How much is it to America/Australia/Britain/Canada? 
? ??/??/??/??? ????? (do m?igu/ozh?u/y?nggu/ji?nd sh du?sh?o qin?)
Where can I find an Internet cafe? 
?????? (n?l? y?u w?ng ba?)
How much is it per hour? 
???????? (y? xi?osh sh du?sh?o qin?)
Chinese phrasebook

Learning more

Although Chinese is the most spoken language of the world, before English and Spanish, there are still very few learners of Chinese in the Western world and you might get weird looks by other people if you say, you want to start learning. So here a nice quote from the Hindi Phrasebook (the 4th most spoken, yet seldom learnt language): "Instead of anger of frustration, the student should instead feel a smug superiority of being ahead of everyone else...!"

Advise: The first step is to learn to properly read the romanization with tones! There are still many sites with small Chinese phrase chapters which don't use tones for romanization (pinyin tones). Stay away from those, learning that is useless. A good idea for practicing is to make Chinese friends online since millions of young people in China also look for somebody to practice English with.

Chinese phrasebook

Learning sites

  • mandarin123.com (http://mandarin123.com/vocabulary.html): Practice Chinese vocabularies with flash card, match game and mini-quizzes.
  • Chinese-tools.com (http://www.chinese-tools.com/): Learn Chinese Online, Free Mandarin lessons + many tools and dictionaries.
  • Audio Chinese phrasebook (http://www.zapchinese.com): phrasebook and audio vocabulary
  • China West Exchange (http://www.chinawestexchange.com/): Free Cantonese and Mandarin lessons and a discussion board.
  • China West Friends (http://friends.chinawestexchange.com/) : Find language-exchange friends
  • Mandarin Tools (http://www.mandarintools.com/) : Many PC Tools for learning Chinese
Chinese phrasebook

Dictionaries

  • Mandarin Tools (http://www.mandarintools.com/cgi-bin/wordlook.pl/) Dictionary with Trad., Simp., Pinyin, Pronounciation audio clips. Chinese can be text displayed or with graphics.
  • Zhongwen.com (http://www.zhongwen.com/): Chinese to English dictionary and other resources presented in English; searchable by English meanings; Chinese text displayed as graphics (i.e. does not require any Chinese font).
  • Chinese to English Dictionary (http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/Lindict/): searchable by English meanings; Chinese text in Big5 code (i.e. requires Chinese font).
  • Chinese Characters Dictionary (http://www.chineselanguage.org/CCDICT/index.html): supports Japanese, Korean, Cantonese, Hakka etc.
Chinese phrasebook

Others

  • Marjorie Chan's ChinaLinks (http://deall.ohio-state.edu/chan.9/c-links.htm): A large collection of Web resources by a professor of linguistics at Ohio State University

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