Feb 18, 2020

Country Names in #Chinese (I)

Do you know any country names in Chinese? Country names don’t seem to be a trendy topic. However, they are super useful when it comes to self-introduction. After all, when introducing oneself, most people also tell others which “country” they are from. So, let’s start with those five common country names – USA, China, UK, France and Japan!

美國/美国 pinyin: měi guó; USA

美 (beautiful) + 国 (country) = 美国 (USA) [literally] (beautiful country)

The character 美 (měi) is chosen because it sounds like the syllable “me” in “America.” And when people use the singular term America, they’re almost always referring to the USA. The traditional form is 美國.

中國/中国 pinyin: zhōng guó; China

中 (middle) + 国 (country) = 中国 (China) [literally] (middle country)

Historically, 中国 referred to the states on the Central Plain in China. It was not the country name until the 19th century. The traditional form is 中國.

英國/英国 pinyin: yīng guó; UK; England

英 (hero) + 国 (country) = 英国 (UK) [literally] (hero country)

Say 英 (yīng) as if you were saying “En” in “England.” Besides “UK,” 英国 is often used to mean England as well. The traditional form is 英國.

法國/法国 pinyin: fǎ guó; France

法 (law) + 国 (country) = 法国 (France) [literally] (law country)

法 (fǎ) is pronounced like “fa” in “sofa.” Make sure you say it in a  low tone to sound like a native speaker. The traditional form is 法國.

日本 pinyin: rì běn; Japan

日 (sun) + 本 (origin) = 日本 (Japan) [literally] (sun origin)

Do you know that the Japanese national flag contains a symbol of the rising “sun”?

The pronunciation of 日本 in Chinese and Japanese are similar. Often, when translating a country name into Chinese, we choose sounds similar to that country’s name for itself. “

日本 pinyin: rì běn; Japan

If you prefer to learn by listening, you can tune in to the Talk Chineasy lessons below to learn more!

Enjoy and have fun!


By Chineasy | A Super Chineasian

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