Hello in chinese – 13 Ways To Say Hello In Chinese


13 Ways To Say Hello In Chinese

How do you say hello in Chinese? You may answer 你好 which is the most common way to greet someone in Chinese. But did you know there were many other ways to say hello in Chinese? With this list of all the expressions to say hello in Chinese, from when you want to be polite to when you’re on the phone, you’ll have a 你好 nǐ hǎo Hello for every situation.

Did you know that 你好 nǐ hǎo was not the only way to say hi in Chinese? Get to know how to use these 13 expressions in Mandarin hello, in different situations and you’ll be soon saying hello in Chinese like a native. You can also head to Ninchanese to practice your hello and speak like a native.

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Most used word to say hello in Chinese

#1 你好- Hello: the perfect start

It would be inconceivable to not mention 你好 nǐ hǎo which is the most common and most used expression to say hello in Mandarin. If you want to learn Chinese, you definitely need to learn this useful word and if you are, this was most likely one of the first things you learned. As 你 nǐ is the informal form of “you”, Chinese people use 你好 when they want to greet friends or acquaintances. But watch out, this expression is used to greet one person at a time!

For example if you run across a classmate of yours you can say:

tóngxué nǐ hǎo

In Chinese, it doesn’t matter if you put the name/subject before or after the greeting rexpression.
You can also shorten the greeting session by just putting the name/subject before 好 hǎo good.

For example:

lǎoshī hǎo
Hello teacher!.

#2 您好 – Hello: to be the most polite Chinese learner

As we’ve just talked about the informal version of “you”, let me introduce to you the polite form of 你 nǐ you: 您 nín you. Imagine you want to say hello in Chinese to someone that is higher-ranked than you, let’s say your boss for instance, but also to elders, you’ll need to say 您好 nín hǎo hello to show your respect.

For example, when you meet someone’s grandfather, you have to say:

jīnglǐ nín hǎo

, plus, they’ll be very pleased to hear you greeting them that way.

Note: The Taiwanese tend to use more 你好 nǐ hǎo than 您好 nín hǎo to greet people, even those they don’t know well.

#3 大家好 – Hello everyone: to greet a crowd

You saw in the first way to say hello in Mandarin, that 你好 nǐ hǎo can only be used to greet one person at a time. But what if you’re with many people and you want to say hi in Chinese to everyone of them at the same time? It’s the right time to use the Chinese expression 大家好 dàjiā hǎo Hello everyone. ( 大家 dàjiā means everyone)

Let’s set the background, if you go to the bakery and there are many sellers and people inside, you can definitely say:

dàjiā hǎo
Hello everyone

When greeting many people at a time, you can also say

nǐmen hǎo
hello everyone

你们 nǐmen is the plural form of you so that works too.

How to greet people in Chinese at different times of a day

You know now how to greet people depending on how many they are with the most used and common expressions. Let’s see now how to say hello in Chinese based on what time of day it is. These following expressions are used as often as their equivalents in English. So don’t be surprised if someone greets you that way, it’ll happen.

#1 早上好 / 上午好 –  To start the day the right way

How do to say hello in Chinese in the morning? Easy! You can use the word 早上 zǎoshang early morning and add the Chinese character 好 hǎo good. What you get in the end is the word 早上好 zǎoshang hǎo Good morning.

But be careful, 早上好 is only used if you meet someone early in the morning, specifically from 6am to 9am. After that, from 9am to 12am, you must say 上午好 shàngwǔ hǎo Good morning which also means good morning. 上午 shàngwǔ means morning.

#2 下午好 – Good afternoon: the greeting for the tea lovers

Let’s pretend it’s the afternoon and you’re going over a friend’s house for tea time. When arriving, you can say

péngyǒu xiàwǔ hǎo
Good afternoon my friend

下午 xiàwǔ means afternoon and it’s added to the character 好 hǎo good, to create good afternoon. The Chinese language is really easy, don’t you think?

#3 晚上好 – Good evening: the greeting for the night owls

When it’s late, and you’re supposed to meet people in the evening you can greet them by saying 晚上好 wǎnshàng hǎo Good evening. As you have probably easily guessed, 晚上 wǎnshàng means evening.

Short and cool expressions to say hello in Chinese

Nowadays, Chinese people have added more expressions to say hi in Mandarin. Young people, especially, have created their own expressions inspired by the Western greeting expressions. See how and when you can get rid of 你好.

#1 喂 – Hello: to pick up the phone like a pro

The expression 喂 wèi Hello is only used in one situation: when answering your phone. If you’ve heard a Chinese person on the phone, then you have to have heard that 喂 before! For instance, if someone calls you on your phone, when you answer,you can say 喂 wèi Hello to greet them and indicate you’ve picked up This is a very cute and yet simple word to say hello in Chinese. 喂 is used by everyone, age doesn’t matter here.

#2 哈罗 – Hello: the one that sounds familiar

If you go to China, you’ll most likely hear young people say 哈罗 hā luō Hello. If you pay attention to the pronunciation of 哈罗 you’ll notice it sounds like hello. In fact, 哈罗 hā luō is a loanword the Chinese borrowed from English. Really easy to remember, don’t you think? You can use this expression when speaking with young people.

#3 嗨 – Hi: to sound cool in Chinese

Young people are very creative, here’s another expression to say hello in Chinese you can use when talking to young people, or people of your age to show how cool you are. 嗨 hāi Hi is also a loanword the Chinese borrowed from English, if you say it out loud you’ll hear it sounds just like the English word Hi.

Current expressions to greet people in Chinese

When sometimes, you think a 你好 is not enough to greet someone, you can use these following expressions that will help you to be friendly with people and greet others in Chinese.

#1 好久不见 !- Long time no see!: the greeting sentence for old friends

Old friends can be separated by life’s duties, their jobs, their family, or hobbies, but once they gather together, it’s like they’ve never been away from each other that long. If that happens to you with a Chinese friendn, you can tell them 好久不见 ! hǎojiǔ bújiàn! Long time no see!. It’s a nice greeting for a very good friend. And yes, some suspect the English expression Long Time No see was borrowed from Chinese.

#2 最近过得怎样呀?- How has been life recently?

The expression 最近过得怎样呀? zuìjìn guò dé zěnyàng ya? How has been life recently? can also be translated by “How are you?” in English, as the same kind of answers are expected. For example when you meet one of your friends you haven’t seen in a little while, they can ask you 最近过得怎样呀? zuìjìn guò dé zěnyàng ya? How has been life recently? you can answer several things:

tǐng hǎo de.
Quite good.
hái búcuò.
Not bad.
yì bān bān.
Just so so.
bù tài hǎo.
Not good..

#3 吃了吗?- Have you eaten ?: how food got involved in the greetings

Asking someone if they have eaten can seem like a weird question but it’s actually, a well known and popular expression to say hello in Chinese. Wait. To say hello? Absolutely. In China, eating is extremely important and therefore inquiring whether someone has eaten or not 吃了吗? chīle ma? Have you eaten ? gradually became a perfectly normal way of asking “How are you?” in Chinese. Whenever someone asks you
吃了吗? chīle ma? Have you eaten ?, just say 吃了 chīle I’m fine (literally I’ve eaten) and ask them back 你呢? nǐ ne? And you? They’ll be glad to be asked so.

Final words:

你好 may be the most used expression to say hello in Chinese but they are plenty of other ways to greet someone like a native Chinese. Learn the 13 expressions offered in this list and you’ll be able to change your lingo and adapt in different situations just like a real language chameleon. You can learn all these expressions and practice them on Ninchanese so you’ll never forget about them.

Did you know all these Chinese sayings for hello? Were you surprised by the loanwords? Let us know in the comments.

Pauline and 

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6 Ways to Say Hello in Chinese Like A Native

Do you know that awkward moment that every Chinese learner experiences?

When you realize that “nǐ hǎo” is actually not how Chinese people say hello?

If you don’t, then this post is for you: now you can say hello in Chinese like a local.

And if you do, then this post is also for you: now you have some extra options in your Mandarin Chinese greeting toolkit.

So without further ado…

6 Ways to Say Hello in Mandarin Chinese Like a Native

To gain valuable practice with Chinese greetings in context, check out FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—like movie trailers, music videos, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language lessons.

Bonus. 你好!  (nǐ hǎo) / 您好!(nín hǎo) “Hello”

Just in case you’re just getting started with Chinese, let’s cover our bases. “Nǐ hǎo” is basically the first phrase that you learn in Chinese class. People tend not to use it so much with people who they’re at all familiar with. It is kind of awkwardly formal.

“Nín hǎo” is the respectful form of “nǐ hǎo” – it’s used with people whom you want to express respect towards (a teacher, perhaps). “Nín hǎo” is actually used and appropriate in such situations.

1. 早!(zǎo) – “Morning!”

This is short for 早上好 (zǎo shang hǎo), which means “good morning.” It’s pretty much used the exact same way as it is in English. You can’t go wrong with this on, unless if it’s the evening.

2. 你吃了吗?(nǐ chī le ma) – “Have you eaten?”

I remember the first time someone greeted me with “nǐ chī le ma?” I responded that I unfortunately had already eaten, but I would be happy to eat with them some other time. They burst out laughing.

When someone says “nǐ chī le ma?”, they’re not asking you out to lunch. You can just say “chī le, nǐ ne?” (I’ve eaten, how about you?). That pretty much suffices. It’s a way to lightly express that you care about the other person. But like the expression “how are you” in English, don’t come back with a long description of the sandwich you just had – they’re just being polite. 🙂

3. 最近好吗?(zuì jìn hào mǎ) “How are you these days?”

This is basically equivalent to “how are you” in English. The length of your response can be similar to what you’d say in English. You can just grunt with an “en”, which would be similar to “yep.” Or you can reply with a few lines about how things are going.

4. 去哪儿?(qù  nǎ er) – “Where are you going?”

This is an Chinese greeting that’s commonly used when you run into someone.

This one might seem quite nosy by non-Chinese standards, but don’t be bothered by that – this is another way that people express that they care by showing interest.

It’s common to use a variation of this expression by putting in a location. For example, if you run into a student, you might say “qù shàng kè le?” (“going to class?”).

5. 喂 (wèi) – “Hello?”

This is the first thing that Chinese people say when they pick up the phone. It’s just like when English speakers say “hello?” on the phone. The person is saying hello, but also expecting that the person on the other end identify themselves.

6. 好久不见!(hǎo jiǔ bú jiàn) – “Long time no see!”

This is the expression that is used between old friends. It’s a very positive greeting.

Other Resources on How to Say Hello in Chinese

In case you want more, here are a few other posts about saying hello in Chinese.

  1. Nǐ hǎo 你好: A Very Fake Greeting: penetrating blog post and lots of useful comments about this topic.
  2. Do native Chinese speakers really find Nǐ hǎo 你好 to be a fake or insincere greeting? A great Quora thread also about this topic. 

And One More Thing…

If you like learning Chinese as people actually speak it, then I would be remiss not to tell you more about FluentU.

FluentU takes real-world videos like music videos, commercials, news, and inspiring talks and turns them into Chinese learning experiences. It naturally eases you into learning Chinese language. You’ll learn Chinese as it’s spoken in real life.

FluentU has a wide variety of contemporary videos –  like music videos (check out below the song “Let It Go” from the hit movie “Frozen”), dramas, TV shows, and TV commercials:

FluentU App Browse Screen

FluentU brings these native Chinese videos within reach. How? Interactive captions. Tap on any Chinese word to instantly look it up. All definitions have carefully written examples that will help you understand how a word is used. Tap to add words you’d like to review to a vocab list.

Interactive Transcripts on FluentU

FluentU turns every video into a language learning lesson with its Learn Mode. At any time, you can swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.

FluentU Has Quizzes for Every Video

The coolest part is that FluentU is always keeping track of your vocabulary. It suggests content and examples based on the words you’re learning. You have a 100% personalized experience. 

Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU App from the iTunes store.

If you liked this post, something tells me that you’ll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.

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Top 8 Ways to Say Hello in Chinese | How to Say Hello in Chinese

If you’ve ever read or been a part of a forum on the subject, you know that it has been decided that using 你好| nǐ hǎo isn’t a very native way to greet someone in Chinese. But relaaaaax —  if you have been strictly using Ni Hao, it’s no big deal. But if you really want to sound more native, read more for our list of useful greetings that are great to have in your arsenal.

1. 早! | Zǎo!

The first greeting of the day is 早上好!| zǎoshang hǎo! But, you’ll probably use it more with your teachers and/or bosses. If you want to greet your friends and family members, simply throw out a 早!and that should be good enough.

2. 你好! | Ní hǎo!

你好吗?| ní hǎo ma? or 你好!| ní hǎo! Are rumored to only be used occasionally by Chinese people when they speak to non-Chinese people…because the locals know that’s what textbooks teach us. If you reply back with a 你好, you’ll still be understood so it is no worries… you just are going like a foreigner.

3. 怎么样?| Zěnme yàng?

One way to sound natural is to throw out a 你最近好吗?| nǐ zuìjìn hǎo ma? or a 你最近怎么样? | nǐ zuìjìn zěnme yàng? You are actually asking “How have you been lately?” but it also serves as a “Hello!”. It’s a good way to get a conversation started with your  friend or even with someone you’d like to get to know a little better!

4. 你吃饭了吗?| Nǐ chīfànle ma?

This one confuses a lot of people. Most people don’t expect to be greeted out of nowhere with “Have you eaten yet?”, but this phrase is also considered a greeting. 你吃饭了没有? | Nǐ chīfànle méiyǒu? or 你吃了没? | nǐ chīle méi? is more casual than 你最近怎么样 | Nǐ zuìjìn zěnme yàng? and would probably be heard from your host family, a teacher of a class you’ve been in for a while, or a really good friend. It is a sort of status check like “How are you doing?” Just for kicks, try answering with 还没吃饭 | hái méi chīfàn (I haven’t eaten yet) and see what happens.

5. 你还好吗? | Nǐ hái hǎo ma?

Another useful expression is 你今天还好吗? | Nǐ jīntiān hái hǎo ma? Some may translate this as “How are you today?” but it is more of a follow up question. Maybe you were sick a few days ago, you took a nerve-racking test, or something of the sort. In this case, a close friend would use this phrase, and it would mean something along the lines of “How are you holding up?” For example, you might ask this question to a friend who is calling in sick for work. 

6. 去哪儿? | Nǐ qù nǎ’er?

This translates to “Where are you going?”… can you say nosy! Umm…I mean, I’m just going to the store, why?It has been rumored that 你去哪儿? | Nǐ qù nǎ’er? is used as a type of greeting in some parts of China. It seems more like a conversation starter, maybe with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile. Or maybe it’s a hint that they need something to do and want to tag along with you? One way you might find yourself using this greeting is if you ran into someone on the elevator and want to ask them why they are going. Just try it out and see where it takes you. 

7. 好久不见! | Hǎojiǔ bùjiàn!

“Long time no see” Is a frequently used phrase in many languages.. This phrase is obviously used when you haven’t seen someone in a long time. If you want to keep the convo going, add the previous phrase with it:  好久不见!你去哪儿? | Hǎojiǔ bùjiàn! Nǐ qù nǎ’er?

8. 哈喽! | Hālóu!

So you’ve spent years learning how to say hello only to arrive in China and hear HELLO! And yes, you will definitely hear it. The pinyin pronunciation for hello is becoming increasingly popular, especially in areas frequented by tourists. You may even hear some of the younger generation throw out a hi! | 嗨 | hāi!

I hope you will be able to use these alternative greetings to your advantage and start sounding more native. Another way to start sounding native is to check out the ChinesePod Say It Right Series to get your pronunciation on point. Sign up for a free account today by clicking on the picture below!

  • Vocabulary Review

    Hello | 你好 | Nǐ hǎo

    Good Morning | 早上好! | Zǎoshang hǎo!

    Morning! | 早! | Zǎo!

    How have you been? | 你最近好吗?| Nǐ zuìjìn hǎo ma?

    How have you been? | 你最近怎么样?| Nǐ zuìjìn zěnme yàng?

    Have you eaten yet? (Hello) | 你吃饭了没有? | Nǐ chīfànle méiyǒu?

    Have you eaten yet? (Hello) | 你吃了没?| Nǐ chīle méi?

    I haven’t eaten yet. | 还没吃饭。 | Hái méi chīfàn.

    How are you holding up? | 你还好吗? | Nǐ hái hǎo ma?

    How are you holding up today? | 你今天还好吗? | Nǐ jīntiān hái hǎo ma?

    Where are you going? | 你去哪儿? | Nǐ qù nǎ’er?

    Long time no see! | 好久不见! | Hǎojiǔ bùjiàn!

    Hello! (Phonetic) | 哈喽! | Hālóu!

    Hi! | 嗨! | hāi!

Natasha Davis

Natasha Davis is an Executive Project Manager with ChinesePod in Tokyo, Japan. She graduated from Florida State University but is originally from New York City. Because of her interest in the Chinese community in Harlem, she was inspired to learn Chinese from a young age. After graduating FSU, she spent two years at Tianjin University of Technology in Tianjin, China, learning Mandarin Chinese. She is most interested in Chinese business, food, language, and is currently at an upper-intermediate level. Her favorite Channel on ChinesePod is Qing Wen, and her favorite lesson is Saying You’re Angry. She is also interested in travel, vegetarian food, and graphic design.

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English translation of 你好 ( ni hao / nĭ hăo )

English translation of 你好 ( ni hao / nĭ hăo ) — hello in Chinese

Phonetic script (Hanyu Pinyin)

Listen to pronunciation
(Mandarin = standard Chinese without accent)

You cannot listen to the pronunciation of ni hao because your browser does not support the audio element.

Note: In this special case, one of the tones is pronounced differently than the (written) Pinyin phonetic script indicates. This phenomenon is called Tone sandhi.

English translations

hi, how do you do, how are you

Chinese characters:

For obtaining stroke order animations, visit the links to the individual characters below.

你好 ( ni hao / nĭ hăo ) is composed of these characters:
你 (ni)
, 好 (hao)

The traditional Chinese characters of nĭ hăo are identical with the modern (simplified) characters displayed above.

Chinese Pinyin example sentence with 你好 ( ni hao / nĭ hăo ) Writing in Pinyin
Before using this Pinyin example sentence, consider that Chinese characters should always be your first choice in written communication.
If you cannot use Chinese characters, it is preferable to use the Pinyin with tones. Only use the Pinyin without tones if there’s no other option (e.g. writing a text message from/to a mobile phone that doesn’t support special characters such as ā, í, ŏ, ù).

Ni hao, lao pengyou!

Nĭ hăo, lăo péngyŏu!
 – English translation: Hello, old friend!

Tags and additional information
(Meaning of individual characters, character components etc.)

you  |  good  |  informal greeting to individuals (not groups)


Chinese words containing the word 你好 ( ni hao / nĭ hăo ) :

More words that mean hello in Chinese

Report missing or erroneous translation of ni hao in English

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Version 5.22 / Last updated: 2018-12-02   


English translation of 你们好 ( nimenhao / nĭménhăo )

English translation of 你们好 ( nimenhao / nĭménhăo ) — hello in Chinese

Phonetic script (Hanyu Pinyin)

Listen to pronunciation
(Mandarin = standard Chinese without accent)

You cannot listen to the pronunciation of nimenhao because your browser does not support the audio element.

You’re listening to the natural voice of a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese.

Chinese characters:

For obtaining stroke order animations, visit the links to the individual characters below.

你们好 ( nimenhao / nĭménhăo ) is composed of these characters:
你 (ni)
, 们 (men)
, 好 (hao)

你们好 ( nimenhao / nĭménhăo ) in traditional characters


Tags and additional information
(Meaning of individual characters, character components etc.)

you  |  good  |  person  |  used when greeting several persons


More words that mean hello in Chinese

Report missing or erroneous translation of nimenhao in English

Contact us! We always appreciate good suggestions and helpful criticism.

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We’re improving and extending this Chinese-English dictionary constantly. More words and more example sentences will be added soon.


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Version 5.22 / Last updated: 2018-12-02   


Say Hello and Goodbye in Chinese Like A Native

How to say / pronounce Hello and Goodbye in mandarin Chinese

Posted by Mollan Mo on 2015-11-06 14:43:17


How do I say Hello in Chinese?

Learning how to greet people in Mandarin Chinese is important and when you are in or planning to be in China because basic greetings are the foundation for relationships.

Say Hello in Mandarin Chinese

The Mandarin phrase that means Hello is Ni hao, pronounced knee how. Nǐ (the third tone) — 你 means «you» and hǎo (the third tone) — 好 means «good». If you were to translate it to English, it would mean «you good?» When you come upon one of your Chinese friends, you can say «Nǐ hǎo«, and your Chinese friends will also reply with «Nǐ hǎo» to express kindness and politeness.

However, this greeting is informal, usually used for friends, peers, and associates. The formal way to say «Hello» is Nín hǎo - 您好, pronounced seen how. Notice that the formal «you» is «Nín» — 您, it is used for strangers, elders, superiors or people in authority. When you encounter someone older or distinguished, you might say Nin hao. And another very casual and common greeting is Nǐ hǎo ma — 你好吗. This is a question asking others’ recent condition, also expressing friendly.

Say Goodbye in Chinese

To say goodbye in Mandarin Chinese you say zài jiàn — 再见, both of these two characters are pronounced in forth tone. Zài means again, once more, and jiàn means see, meet. So a possible translation of zài jiàn — 再见 is «see you again». But it is worth noting that don’t think of zài jiàn — 再见 as two single words, it is one phrase that means Goodbye.

Other common ways to say Goodbye in Chines language are as follows.

  1. míng tiān jiàn — 明天见(see you tomorrow).
  2. yī huĭr jiàn — 一会儿见 (see you later).
  3. huí tóu jiàn — 回头见 (see you later)
  4. xià cì jiàn — 下次见 (see you next time)
  5. zài huì — 再会 (see you later)
  6. gào cí — 告辞 (see you later)

Want to improve your oral communication skills? Hire a professional accent and pronunciation coach or take pronunciation classes. Hanbrige Mandarin is a one-stop Chinese Language school, contact us to schedule a free trial lesson.

Video Tutorial: Learn how to say Goodbye in Chinese with Professional Chinese Teacher


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