What if you landed in China and had to survive and communicate? What are some of the most spoken phrases in Mandarin- the standardized language in China today? Here are 5 everyday phrases that are not only commonly spoken, but will also be useful when you travel to China.
“Na Li, Na Li’ is a common phrase which means “not at all” in everyday Mandarin. It is sometimes used with “Xie Xie” (thank you) when you responds to a compliment from a senior. Humility and modesty are some of the important traits rooted in Chinese culture since Confucianism in ancient times. Because of that, Chinese people generally deflect compliments in a way to show that they are humble and modest, particularly to their seniors.
“Sorry” is a vital element in everyday Mandarin as well. “Dui Bu Qi”, which means “sorry” can be applied to all circumstances just as “sorry” in English.
Price bargaining is a big part of the Chinese lifestyle. “Tai Gui Le” , which means “too expensive” will be a useful phrase when you wish to get a discount.
There is a rumour that if you are consistent enough, the store owner will eventually give you a bigger discount. So try it out next time when you are in China!
“Zhen de Ma” is a common phrase where the person uses it to address shock, surprise, suspicion but more so to get a reassurance from the speaker. Imagine if your friend tells you an interesting story and you reply with “for real?”, that is “Zhen de Ma” in Mandarin.
After learning how to be humble, apologetic, to bargain and react to others’ conversations in Mandarin, how can we not learn how to say “yes”?
“Hao Ba” is a colloquial term to express “Sure/sounds good/that’s great” other than the normal “Hao” (good). It is generally used when the person agrees/ compromises with the terms another person has addressed.
“Hao De” is the formal tone of “Hao Ba”, it is usually used with people you are not very close with or met at a professional setting.
Let’s work on an example to distinguish them:
If your friend asks you “Can you make it to rock climbing at 8.30 instead of 6.30?”
If your co-worker at coffee shop asks you, “Can you take over my shift tomorrow instead of next week?.”
Now you know 5 useful Mandarin phrases, keep on practising!