Chinese words you need to know to build your Chinese vocabulary

Common Chinese words: facts and figures

image1_descriptionThe Chinese language is one of the most ancient languages in the world, and its beauty lies in its words.
The Chinese language is estimated to be made out of a total of 500,000 words with the largest Chinese dictionary having over 370,000 words. This can look like a really big and frightening number to someone wanting to start learning Chinese, but here's the good news: you only need to know roughly 5% of the total words to be fluent in Chinese. This means that by focusing your efforts on learning the most common Chinese words, you will be fluent in Chinese in no time.
What’s even more encouraging is that knowing as little as 100 words helps you understand half of the words in an article or book written in Chinese. Learn the most common 1,000 words and you get to a 75% understanding of texts in Chinese. Also, each new word you learn helps you guess the meaning of up to 185 words you have never seen before. This means that knowing only 1,000 words helps you guess up to 185,000 Chinese words. Doesn't seem that frightening now, right?

Common Chinese words

When you know the most common 100 Chinese words

You can understand 50% of the texts written in Chinese

Top 10 most common Chinese words pronounced by native Chinese speakers

  1. 1. 你好。 = Hello

    Let's naturally start with "你好" which means "Hello" in Chinese. This is one of the most known words in Chinese and a great way to start a conversation with someone from China. Click play below to listen to the actual pronunciation:


  2. 2. = Love

    Love is a universal feeling and we definitely had to talk about it here. Chinese people have a lovely way of saying they love someone or something through the word "爱". Hear it in action here:

  3. 3. 幸福 = Happiness

    When there's love, there's definitely happiness. We are all chasing "幸福" as Chinese-speaking people would say. Listen closely and you might just get some “happiness” in your life today:


  4. 4. = Cat

    Let's talk pets. There are two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. We are going to talk about cats first or how people in Hong Kong would say: "猫". Listen to how it sounds like:

  5. 5. = Dog

    But let's not forget our lovely and loyal companions, dogs. A dog in Chinese is "狗", a really useful word for dog lovers worldwide. Here is how you would pronounce it:

  6. 6. 微笑 = Smile

    Now it is time to smile. Or how someone from China would say: "微笑". Smiling makes us happy and helps us stay healthy, so that's why we all need to smile every day. Here's the Chinese pronunciation:


  7. 7. 中国人 = Chinese

    Next, let’s see how people in China call Chinese people. The correct answer is "中国人". Listen to how a Chinese speaker would pronounce it:


  8. 8. 是的。 = Yes

    Yes, we have arrived at number 8 where “yes” is the subject to be discussed. Chinese speakers say “yes” by simply saying "是". Enhance your understanding by listening to how a person from China would pronounce it:


  9. 9. 谢谢你。 = Thank you

    Thank you for reading this far or should I say "谢谢你" as they say in Chinese. Here's a native speaker thanking you in Chinese:


  10. 10. 再见。 = Goodbye

    No polite conversation can end without a good old goodbye or "再见" how Chinese people usually say. Now it's time for a delightful Chinese voice to say "Goodbye" to you:


Improve your Chinese vocabulary online

Speaking Chinese

Online language courses nowadays are fun, effective, affordable, and use the latest technology to teach you a new language. This makes them a great solution to build your vocabulary. Meet Mondly, one of Apple’s Best New Apps of 2016 helping millions of people around the world learn a language. Our expert linguists have selected the most common Chinese words, so you start by learning what’s really important. No more learning random words you will probably never use in real life.
Each Mondly lesson revolves around a certain theme or situation: from family to colors to animals or shopping related lessons. You quickly get immersed in different situations like ordering food in a restaurant, booking a hotel room, or having a casual talk with a native speaker you’ve just met. Organizing the lessons into themes makes learning Chinese words a lot easier by creating powerful memory associations in your brain.

Speaking Chinese

Chinese words spoken by native speakers

People speaking Chinese

It’s been proven that you learn any language faster when you hear natives speak. That’s why our linguists have made listening to natives an essential part of the learning experience. All phrases within the app are recorded by professional Chinese speakers so you can sit back and absorb the correct pronunciation of the most common Chinese words effortlessly.
Now, let’s explore the ultimate goal of learning Chinese: having real conversations. That’s exactly why we’ve made speaking exercises an essential part of our lessons so you can practice the cool Chinese words you just learned. You have to try our Voice Chatbot, a computer program so advanced you can actually have an intelligent conversation with. Just engage in a conversation and you get asked questions, you respond and the Chatbot understands what you're saying and continues the chat. It’s a remarkable technology that made millions of people fall in love with Mondly.

People speaking Chinese

Did you know?

Top Chinese wordsLearning the Mandarin Chinese characters is probably the most difficult part of learning Chinese. This is mostly because there are a whopping 50,000 characters in the Chinese language. The good news is that you only need to know around 2,500 characters to be able to read over 95% of texts in Chinese. By knowing only 2,000 characters you can read a Chinese magazine.
More importantly, learning even your first 10 characters is extremely rewarding. The Chinese characters are visually pleasing, knowing even a few of them makes you feel smart, and using them in writing gives you an insight into the Chinese culture and way of life.
What’s the most complicated Mandarin Chinese character? It’s called “Biang”, has 57 strokes, and describes a type of Shaanxi noodles. Yes, a lot of work for some noodles. This character is so complex that it cannot be used on a computer. That’s why substitutes like “bàng bàng miàn” (棒棒麵) or “bāng bāng miàn” (梆梆麵) have been created to replace the character and make it easier to write with the help of a keyboard.

Top Chinese words

Why learn the most common Chinese words first?

Make Chinese learning fun and easier

Starting with the Chinese basics means you will begin by learning the easiest words first and gradually increase difficulty. This way you will feel great while learning and see how your language knowledge broadens.

Have basic Chinese conversations in no time

You'll be able to speak to someone from Beijing or Shanghai about regular topics like weather, politics or family. This will make you confident in your Chinese skills and eager to learn more.

Become fluent in Chinese faster

By learning the most common Mandarin words first you are learning the smart way. Why learn the most unusual words in Chinese when you might never use them in real life?

You improve your Chinese vocabulary

Each new Chinese word you learn piles up until your vocabulary builds stronger and stronger. Each lesson gets you one step closer to fluency.

Join 100 million people learning a language with Mondly

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