Mar 30, 2020

Basic Chinese Phrases for Complete Beginners

Hi guys, today we’ll cover some basic but super useful phrases for complete beginners of Chinese. No matter if you’re certainly interested in learning the Chinese language or you’re searching for some basic Chinese phrases to help you survive in China, you’re on the right page.

It will take only 9 minutes to read this post but it’ll help you out in unfamiliar situations and avoid some misunderstandings, especially when traveling in China!

Essential Chinese Phrases

With the essential phrases mentioned above, you can easily start a conversation in Chinese. Now, we’d like to provide you more handy phrases for travelling. 

Handy Chinese Phrases for Travelling

迷路 了。(wǒ mílù le): I’m lost.

This is handy when you want to start a conversation in order to find your way. To be more polite, you can start with 不好意思 (bù hǎo yì si).

… (wǒ zài zhǎo…): I’m looking for … 

This structure is just like how you’d say in English. Let’s combine them to get a polite opening.


不好意思,我 迷路 了。我 出口。

bùhǎoyìsi, wǒ mílù le. wǒ zài zhǎo chūkǒu

Excuse me, I’m lost. I’m looking for the exit.

哪里? (…zài nǎlǐ?): Where is …?

This is an important phrase to ask for a location. It’s as simple as in English. We’d like to provide you a list of common places you should know.


请问 洗手间 哪里?

qǐngwèn xǐshǒujiān zài nǎlǐ

Excuse me, where is the bathroom?

什么?(zhè shì shénme): What’s this?/ 什么?(nà shì shénme): What’s that?

Fascinated about your surroundings? Use those phrases to ask “What’s this?” or “What’s that?” and learn about more Chinese nouns.

英语 吗? (nǐ huì shuō yīngyǔ ma?): Do you speak English?

Sometimes you may need to switch to English to make yourself understood and this phrase is very important to help you to know if someone speaks English.

If they do, they’d say (huì), then you’re good to go. However, when you hear

(bú huì), unfortunately you’d probably need to struggle a bit more with your Chinese or ask for help from others. Don’t panic though because you’ll find out that many Chinese speak English!

吗?(qǐng nǐ zài shuō yī biàn hǎo ma?): Could you please repeat that?

This phrase will surely help you a lot.

一点。 (qǐng shuō màn yīdiǎn): Please speak more slowly.

Someone speaks too past? Use this phrase to politely ask someone to speak more slowly.

下来。 (qǐng xiě xiàlái): Please write it down.

When you want to note something down, this is the correct and polite way to ask someone to write down e.g. name, address, etc.

这个 多少 钱? (zhè ge duōshao qián?): How much is it?

It’s not avoidable to not ask for any prices while travelling. You should also get this phrase mastered. It’s fine if you don’t know numbers in Chinese. People will tell you the price by writing them on a piece of paper or by showing them on a calculator.

救命! (jiù mìng): Help!

China is safe, but just in case you need to get the attention of crowds, 救命!(jiù mìng) is the effective word. Hopefully you won’t need to use it anytime.

Not difficult, right? We hope we’ve raised your interest in learning the Chinese language or made you confident about travelling around China. Good luck!

This guest post comes from Emma, passionate about travelling and currently live and work in Paris.


By Emma Cowan | A Super Chineasian

I am passionate about travelling and currently live and work in Paris. I like to spend my time reading, gardening, running, learning languages and exploring new places.

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