Mandarin Skills 1
Greetings and Thanks


Ni3 hao3 ma?

  How are you?.



Ni3 hao3.   Hi.


... hao3 ma?   How is (it)?


Hen3 hao3   Very well.


Bu2* cuo4   Ok, not bad.


Xie4 Xie4   Thanks


Dialogue Patterns:


Ni3 hao3 ma?


Ni3 hao3

Reply 1:

Wo3 hen3 hao3

Reply 1:

Ni3 hao3

Reply 2:

Bu2* cuo4

Reply 2:







One of the first things to be learned when learning Mandarin is the tones.  Chinese is tonal, which means that a word must not only be pronounced with the right sound, it must also be given the right pitch or tone.  When pronouncing Mandarin, care must be taken to not only pronounce them with the same sound, but also at the same pitch or tone.  Sounds and Tones Lesson 1 gives a simple introduction to the sounds and tones of Mandarin.


The phrase "Ni3 hao3 ma?" has two purposes:  both to say "Hi." and to ask "How are you?"  Note that this is a fairly formal greeting.  People who know each other well do not use this as an everyday way of saying "hi" as you do in English.  Instead, when native speakers use this they would normally be really asking how the person is, and then only on rare occasions.

When a person is just greeting another rather than really asking how they are, the phrase is shortened to "Ni3 hao3." which basically means "Hi".  The general reply to this is to simply say "Ni3 hao3."

"... hao3 ma?" is used to ask how something is.  For greetings, it can be used to refer to someone's day, or how they have been recently.

Learning Helps

There are a few things to keep in mind when learning Mandarin.  First, do not worry overly much about learning the characters in the first few lessons.  Characters are useful to learn, but you may find it more beneficial to begin learning them after mastering the basic oral skills first.

For additional suggestions on learning Mandarin, see the language learning suggestions page.

Lesson 1 | Lesson 2 | Lesson 3 | Lesson 4 | Lesson 5 | Lesson 6 | Lesson 7

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