Chinese Conversation: Words You Need To Know

There will come a time when you need to have your first Chinese conversation. During the course of my Mandarin learning project, I put it off repeatedly. The truth is, Chinese conversation, or any language, is a trial by fire. You have to practice with native speakers for the first time. Once you do, it becomes easier. You’ll learn exponentially. Chinese conversation is counter-intuitively the best way to learn Chinese.

You might think, “I don’t know enough Chinese to have a conversation.” Well, you will do by the end of this article. I’m going to give you the words (in Pinyin, nonetheless.) They are the exact words that made up the majority of my five sentence or so introduction to Mandarin.

Chinese Conversation: The First Words You Need To Know

wǒ – This one is simple. It means “I” or “My.” You’re going to start most sentences with this. (Unless I’m a raging narcissist, which is a possibility.)

Nǐ – (My redemption.) Probably the other half of your sentences are going to start with Nǐ. It means “you” or “your.”

shì – “Am”, or “is”. wǒ shì is the first thing that really stuck with me. “I am learning,” “I am James.” So on and so forth. wǒ and Ni are both used with shì. You are and I am both use shì.

Zhōngwén – Chinese language. “I am learning Chinese.” How do you write this in Chinese?” “Why are you learning Chinese?”

Yīngwén – English language. For the same reason above.

hěn – very. This could be exchanged with another word which emphasises. It happens to be the one I use. “I am not very good.” “You are very helpful.” “I am very happy.”

hǎo – Good. Everything is good. “How are you? Good” “Do you like Chinese? It’s good.” In the same way that English people use “ok” and “fine,” we can use “Good.” It’s also something that makes us seem very positive!

ma – it goes on the end of a sentences, and denotes a yes/no question. Use it in conjunction with:

míngbái – it means understand. When you get blank stares, use Nǐ míngbái ma? And you’ll get either a confirmation or denial. Also, “wǒ bu míngbái” means “I don’t understand.”

bù – as said above. “bù” is a catch-all term for “not.” So, in the example above, “I don’t understand” is simply “I not understand.” This sentence structure works. “I not speak.” “I not Chinese.” So on and so forth.

Speak is Shuō .

Can is huì . “wǒ huì Shuō” Is “I can speak.” Add bù, or replace the verb, and you have a lot of sentences to build your first Chinese conversation from.

Language Bug

  • […] written an article previously on Mandarin words you’ll actually use, I decided to continue on a theme and write about Chinese verbs that get regular use. After all, it […]

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