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List of Common Chinese Characters, Phrases & Words

Frequently Used Chinese Characters and Phrases

Have you ever wondered about common Chinese characters and phrases? The Chinese language contains approximately 50,000 characters, but it can help you in a long way to sound like a native if you know common characters and phrases. Learning basic Mandarin Chinese characters, words, and phrases are not as daunting as people thought. Is the idea of learning Chinese characters strike fears in your heart? But if you know how to respond to common Chinese sentences, you can effectively interact with the native Chinese people. When you master these chunks of sentences, you may then consider studying Chinese in China

Chinese Words and Characters

Chinese characters are made up of different strokes, and each character has its specific pronunciation. Even a specific change in the pronunciation alters the meaning of the character. If you are aiming to learn mandarin, learn 2500 basic characters of Chinese. You can combine those characters to create thousands of words. There are interesting Chinese Language apps that will help you keep up with the progress

Learning Chinese is a continuous process of memorization.  

Even if you plan to visit China, a basic understanding of Chinese characters and phrases can help you communicate with Chinese folks. But I am here to tell you that it will not take years to sound like a native if you know common characters and phrases.

I’m not writing this article to teach you hanzi (Chinese Characters), but I will tell you how to pronounce specific words. If you know 100 common characters and phrases, you can understand half of the words without getting confused. Exciting? Let us suppose if you know 1000 words, and you can understand 75% of Chinese text. Doesn’t it seem that difficult now? Right? Our curated list of common Chinese characters and phrases is your guide

Chinese Language Tones: Common Chinese Words Pronunciation

Chinese is a tonal language that means a word can have different pronunciations, and meaning is based upon the pronunciation. For example, if you say “ma,” depending upon the pronunciation, it can mean a horse or mother.

There are five primary tones in Chinese. Each one has a different accent and meaning. Let us take the example to understand how each tone sounds for the word “ma.”

: Flat Tone, means mother

: Rising Tone, means numb

: Falling-Raising Tone, means horse

: Falling Tone, means to scold

Ma : Neutral Tone, (go for the questions to answer yes or no)

Can you observe each inflection has a different tone? If you can know the logical understand of these primary tones, you can easily learn several innovative words. A slight change in the pronunciation represents a different meaning of a particular word.

Another important thing:

I will teach Mandarin Chinese characters and phrases because mandarin is the common language spoken all over china. People living in Taiwan and Singapore speak Mandarin, but there are many other places where Mandarin is not spoken. For example, if you are planning to visit a major travel destination in Hong Kong, they speak a different language entirely.

To resolve the complexity:

Chinese characters are so complex, and it is tedious to learn all of them. Chinese linguists developed pinyin that converts the Chinese characters into readable form. Using the English alphabets, it converts the Chinese character to be readable by western leaners. In fact, you are already interacted with the Pinyin above by reading the various pronunciation and tones of the word “ma.”

You can never mater another language without practicing. Without serious study, you may not be able to master the Chinese language. The best way to gather the command on the language basics is to listen to the words and phrases’ pronunciation.

If you have command in the English language, you can use Google translator to input the words in English and listen to the word pronunciation in Chinese, Amazing?

Learning Chinese in Shanghai

List of the Common Chinese Characters:

我 (wǒ)

It is a commonly used word that means “I.” It also appears in the phrase where “us” and we are used.  Let’s take the example to understand it clearly 我回家了(wǒ huí jiā le) that means, I went home. Another example, 我们一起去的 (wǒ men yī qǐ qù de) that means we.

是 (shì)

In English translation, it means “to be.” It is used where we need to combine two nouns. For instance, 我是中国人(wǒ shì zhōng guó rén) means, I’m a Chinese person. Another example, 她的鞋是红色的(tā de xié shì hóng sè de) means, her shoes are in red.

不 (bù)

In English translation, it means ‘not.’ It is commonly used where we mean isn’t. For example, 我不想去(wǒ bù xiǎng qù) means, I do not want to go. 他不是美国人(tā bú shì měi guó rén) means He is not American.

在 (zài)

The literal meaning 在 (zài) is shown in the specified location. In English translation, it means ‘at.’ For instance, 我在机场(wǒ zài jī chǎng) means I’m at the Airport.

人 (rén)

It is the most commonly used Chinese character that means people. It is used for the people, person, or man. For example, 人生的目的是什么? (rén shēng de mù dì shì shén me) means what the meaning of human life is. (Here it indicates a person).

了 (le)

It is used to show the usage of past tense. It can also be used in the intensify adjective. For instance, 我来到美国两年了(wǒ lái dào měi guó liǎng nián le) means I have been in America for two years. Let us take another example, 我吃晚饭了(wǒ chī wǎn fàn le) means I ate dinner.

 们 (mén)

It is used as the plural for the human pronoun or human nouns. For example, 女士们,先生们,大家晚上好! (nǚ shì men ,xiān sheng men ,dà jiā wǎn shàng hǎo) means, Ladies and gentlemen, Good evening.

Basic Chinese Greeting Phrases:

Let us get started by learning simple, chinses greeting phrases. In case you are planning to visit China, this will help you to interact with the native people of China.

How to say “Hello” in Chinese?

We can say hello in Chinese by using the simple words nǐ hǎo (你好). Pay close attention to the pronunciation of words. The words “a” and “i” have the same falling and raising pronunciation. You can improve your pronunciation by listing to audios and practice properly. Explore more on how to say Hello in Chinese

If you are meeting a native Chinese, you can start your conservation with the nǐ hǎo (你好). It is a great way to greet someone, either a hotel receptionist or a taxi driver.

Now, if you want to carry on your conservation, your next question should be, “How are you?” Right?

common Chinese characters and Phrases

How are you? – In Chinese

It is still so simple. Will you say Nǐ hǎo ma?


吗, this represents the question mark.

If you are an English speaker, it will not difficult for you to learn these simple and short phrases. I hope you are enjoying learning these small phrases. Are you?

Hey, wait!

What would be the answer of Nǐ hǎo ma?

“I’m Good” – In Chinese

To answer the Nǐ hǎo ma, you will reply with hěn hǎo (很好). Don’t forget to listen to the pronunciation so that you will sound like a native Chinese speaker.

If we break both words, hěn 很 mean I am, and hǎo好 mean good. You can use the “good” in another sentence, too, where it is required.

How to say “Please” in Chinese?

Now, this one is a bit tricky if you have to idea about pinyin consonants’ pronunciation. You will say Qǐng (请) (Please). In Chinese, the pronunciation of ‘Q’ sounds like “ch,” so it will pronounce as “ching.”

Learning a new language is challenging, but you are consistent in learning, you can easily make your way.

If you want to reply “Thank You” in Chinese:

Xièxie (谢谢) means Thank You in Chinese. In thankyou pronunciation, the X will sound like “sh” in English. In English, it will pronounce as shi-eh shi-eh. Read an extensive article on how to translate thank you to Chinese

Now, you want to respond, “You are Welcome,” Right?

You are Welcome in Chinese:

The response of the Xièxie (谢谢) is Bùyòng xiè! (不用谢) that means you are welcome. If we check the literal meaning of 不用谢, it means there is no need to say thanks. The 不 means NO, which is considered the negative prefix, but the used tone changes the meaning.

Now let us Learn some other common Chinese phrases:

Good Morning – Chinese Translation

Suppose it is the morning time in China, and you are meet a native Chinese; I know you want to say Good Morning but confused because you do not know how to pronounce. Do not worry, and I will teach everything. Keep reading!

It is not at all tricky; you will simply say politely, zǎo shang hǎo (早上好).

There are diverse ways to say Good Morning Chinese. But you can also respond with just zǎo (早) or zǎo ān (早安) (use this if you are casually speaking to someone).

Good Night in Chinese:

In mandarin, a good night is translated as wǎn’ān (晚安)). The literal meaning of wǎn’ān means “safe night.”

Goodbye in Chinese:

A formal way to say Goodbye in Chinese is zàijiàn (再见). There are diverse ways to say Goodbye in Chinese; you can also say huítóu jiàn (回头见), which means to see you later.

Yes – Chinese Translation:

There is no exact transition for the word ‘Yes.’ You can just simply say Shì de (是的).

No- Chinese Translation:

Same for the ‘no,’ there is no exact translation for the ‘no.’ There are two formats way to say no,  (不) or bùshì (不是).

Excuse Me – Chinese Translation:

To apologize or to get someone’s attention, you can say, Bù hǎoyìsi (不好意思) that means excuse me.

I am Sorry – Chinese Translation:

The phrase Duìbùqǐ (对不起) is used to say I am sorry. It is used when you made a mistake. Another word Bù hǎoyìsi to say sorry.

Chek this article on how to say I am sorry in Chinese

Asking Questions in Chinese:

If you want to ask someone Do you speak English, you can say, Nǐ huì shuō yīngyǔ ma?


But what if someone speaks Chinese?

You can say, Nǐ huì shuō zhōngwén ma? (你会说中文吗?)

  • Nǐ néng shuō màn yīdiǎn ma?(你能说慢一点吗?) means, can you say it slowly?
  • Bù, wǒ bù huì shuō. (不,我不会说) means, No, I cannot speak it
  • Wǒ zhǐ huì shuō yīdiǎn zhōngwén.(我只会说一点中文) means I only speak little Chinese.
  • Néng zàishuō yībiàn ma?(能再说一遍吗?) means, No, I cannot repeat it.
  • How to say I love you in Chinese? Click here

“What’s your name?” Translation in Chinese

If you are meeting someone for the first time, you want to know their name, Right? But how to ask in Chinese. A simple phrase is used to ask someone’s name, “Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì? (你叫什么名字?

But if someone asks your name, you can simply say, Wǒ jiào… (我叫…) by ending your name in the last.

  • Nǐ cóng nǎlǐ lái?(你从哪里来?) means, where are you from?
  • Nǐ zuò shénme gōngzuò?(你做什么工作?) means, what do you do for work?
  • Hěn gāoxìng jiàndào nǐ(很高兴见到你) means, nice to meet you.

Most Common Chinese Characters and List of Chinese Words

There are hundreds of most common Chinese Words and Phrases but to help you gain momentum, we have below 100 most used words for your perusal. Our Online Chinese Language Program allows you to learn Chinese online

 de grammatical particle, of
one, a little
shìto be
leverb particle marking a new situation or a completed action
I, me, my
zàiat, located at
yǒuhave, there is
he, him,
zhōngin the middle of
shàngabove, on, over, top, (go) up, last
guócountry, state, nation,
measure word
dàoto, towards, until, arrive, reach
shuō speak, say (=说话 shuōhuà)
men(ex. 我们 | wǒmen | we)
wèifor, for the sake of, in order to
child, son
and, together, with
you, your
earth, ground, soil, place, position, distance
chūgo out, come out, in direction out from something
dàoway, path, channel, way, say, a streak (of light), doctrine,
also, as well
shíperiod, season
de(ex. 走得快 | zǒude kuài | walk quickly)
jiùjust, simply, right away 就要 jiùyào about to (do something)
yàowant, will, shall, need, important, essential
xiàbelow, under, (go) down, next (as opposed to previous/last)
use, take, according to, because of, in order to
shēnggive birth, life
huìcan, able, meet, meeting, society, union, party
from, since
zheverb particle marking a continuing progress/state
go, leave, depart
zhīsubordinator similar to 的 de
guòpass, cross, go by, exceed,
jiāhome, house, family
xuéstudy, learn
duìcorrect, answer, treat, agree, mutual, pair
~able, (=可以 kěyǐ) may, can
she, her
neighbourhood, half kilometer,
hòubehind, back
me(interrogative suffix) 什么? shénme? / What?
duōmany, much, more
tiānsky, heaven, day
érand, furthermore
néngcan, be able
hǎogood, good to…, easy to…
ránright, correct, so, like that
méi(=没有 méiyǒu) haven’t, there isn’t
in, at, for, to, from, by, than
rise, start
háistill, yet
deliver, utter, express, shoot, emit, develop, expand
chéng(=成为 chéngwéi) become, ; 成功 chénggōng succeed; 完成 wánchéng accomplish, complete,
shìmatter, affair, thing, event, accident, job, responsibility
zhǐonly, just, merely
zuòdo, make
dāngserve as
xiǎngthink, feel, consider, want, remember
kànsee, look at, think
wénlanguage, literature
without, nothingness, have not
shǒuhand, a person skilled in something
zhǔlord, master, host, god,
xínggo, OK
fāngside, square
yòuagain, both… and…
like, as, as if
qiánin front, previous, ago, former, first
běnbasis, origin, edition classifier for books, periodicals, files, etc.
jiànappear to be, meet with, call on
jīnglongitude (both geographic and in Chinese medecin), scripture, constant, regular, , deal with
tóuhead, top, first
miànface, surface,
gōngpublic, official
tóngsame, with
lǎoold, venerable, outdated
cóngfrom, through, join, follower, secondary
dòngmove, change, arouse
liǎngtwo (before classifier), 50 grams
chánglong, lasting length

History of Chinese Characters

Traditional Characters

Simplified Chinese Characters

Traditional Vs. Simplified Chinese Characters


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