Mar 30, 2019

How to greet in Chinese!

Have you ever wondered why greeting is important? Besides it’s the basis of human relationship, there are several benefits that come along with. For example, you can make a good first impression, set a positive tone for any conversation and even make a good impact on others.

Greetings are also the first few words that people would learn when learning a foreign language. So in this post, you are going to learn how to use the right greeting words throughout a day to make a great first impression.

Let’s start with the basics!

早 pinyin: zǎo; Early; morning; early morning

The compound character 早 combines 日 (sun) and 十 (ten). Doesn’t 早 look like the sun above a flagpole?! When do we hoist a flag? Early morning! In addition to its literal meaning, 早 can be a colloquial way of saying “good morning.” It’s simple but very friendly.  And you could receive an even more amiable reply from your Chinese counterparts, such as 早! 早! 早!

早安 午安 晚安

Choosing to use “good morning” (早安), “good afternoon” (午安), and “good night” (晚安) depends on the time of day. Those three phrases share a common character 安. 安 has several definitions, and when we use it in our greeting phrases, it means “peaceful/good.” Here’s what the greeting phrases look like:

早 (early morning) + 安 (peaceful) = 早安 (Good morning)

午 (noon) + 安 (peaceful) = 午安 (Good afternoon)

晚 (night) + 安 (peaceful) = 晚安 (Good night)

Hang on! What happened to the “good evening” in Chinese? We use another phrase 晚上好 when we wish someone “good evening.” 晚上 means “evening” and 好 means “good.” We are much more likely to say 晚安 when we go to bed.

早安 pinyin: zǎo ān; Good morning

午安 pinyin: wǔ ān; Good afternoon

晚上好 pinyin: wǎn shàng hǎo; Good evening

晚安 pinyin: wǎn ān; Good night

P.S. In Mainland China, 早上好 (zǎo shàng hǎo) is used more often than 早安 and 下午好 (xià wǔ hǎo) is used more frequently than 午安.

大家好

The phrase 大家好 translates to “hello, everyone,” and is composed of three characters. The first two characters “大家” (big + family) translates to “everyone.” It’s pretty nice to think of everyone as a big family! This is a common phrase by itself, so it’s worth remembering. The last character – 好 is very versatile. It can means “good,” “well,” “OK,” “very,” and “yes.”

So, in Chinese, when we say 大家好, literally, we wish “everyone” (大家) is “good” (好)!

大家 (Everyone) + 好 (Good) = 大家好 (Hello everyone) [literally] (Everyone good)

大家好 pinyin: dà jiā hǎo; Hello everyone

By Kelly Chen | A Super Chineasian

Kelly is a dreamer and a traveler, who loves to study of individuals, groups, or organisations and all the activities associated with the purchase behaviour, including the consumer's emotional, mental and behavioural responses.

Instagram @kelly_c_91

Tell your Chineasy stories

Want to write for the Talk Chineasy blog? Share stories about China, its language, or its culture with those who share your passion!

Apply Now