Chinese words you need to know to build your Chinese vocabulary

Chinese words to help you communicate

The 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.

The most common Chinese verbs

  • • 做 (Zuò): to do
  • • 說 (Shuō): to say
  • • 想 (Xiǎng): to want
  • • 知道 (Zhīdào): to know
  • • 等待 (Děngdài): to wait
  • • 停留 (Tíngliú): to stay
  • • 拿 (Ná): to take
  • • 喜欢 (Xǐ huan): to like
  • • 知道 (Zhī dao): to know
  • • 问 (Wèn): to ask
  • • 去 (Qù): to go
  • • 来 (Lái): to come
  • • 製作 (Zhìzuò): to make
  • • 吃 (Chī): to eat
  • • 喝 (Hē): to drink

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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 fluent 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:


Basic Chinese nouns for beginners

Speaking Chinese

    Chinese nouns for people

  • •女士 (Nǚshì): Woman
  • •男人 (Nánrén): Man
  • •朋友 (Péngyǒu): Friend
  • •孩子 (Háizi): Child
  • •女孩 (Nǚhái): Girl
  • •男生 (Nánshēng): Boy

  • Chinese nouns for places

  • •城市 (Chéngshì): City
  • •海灘 (Hǎitān): Beach
  • •森林 (Sēnlín): Forest
  • •穆澤 (Mù zé): Museum
  • •教會 (Jiàohuì): Church
  • •警察局 (Jǐngchá jú): Police station
  • •醫院 (Yīyuàn): Hospital

    Chinese nouns for transportation

  • • 公共汽車 (Gōnggòng qìchē): Bus
  • • 塔克西 (Tǎ kè xī): Taxi
  • • 火車 (Huǒchē): Train
  • • 飛機場 (Fēijī chǎng): Airport
  • • 票 (Piào): Ticket
  • • 街道 (Jiēdào): Street
  • • 路 (Lù): Road
  • • 橋 (Qiáo): Bridge
  • • 隧道 (Suìdào): Tunnel

  • Chinese nouns for time

  • • 明天 (Míngtiān): Tomorrow
  • • 昨天 (Zuótiān): Yesterday
  • • 今天 (Jīntiān): Today
  • • 現在 (Xiànzài): Now
  • • 晚上 (Wǎnshàng): Evening
  • • 早晨 (Zǎochén): Morning

Speaking Chinese

Chinese question words with examples

People speaking Chinese

(Shuí): Who Example: 那是誰? (Nà shì shuí?): Who is next?
什麼 (Shén me): What Example: 這是什麼?(Zhè shì shénme?): What is this?
在哪裡 (Zài nǎlǐ): Where Example: 你住在哪裡? (Nǐ zhù zài nǎlǐ?): Where do you live?
哪個 (Nǎge): Which Example: 哪一個是最好的? (Nǎ yīgè shì zuì hǎo de?): Which one is the best?
什麼時候 (shénme shíhou): When Example: 我們什麼時候降落? (Wǒmen shénme shíhòu jiàngluò?): When do we land?
為什麼 (Wèishéme): Why Example: 你為什麼不留下? (Nǐ wèishéme bù liú xià?): Why don't you stay?
如何 (Rúhé): How Example: 你感覺如何? (Nǐ gǎnjué rúhé?): How do you feel?
多少 (Duōshǎo): How many Example: 多少人? (Duōshǎo rén?): How many people?

People speaking Chinese

Chinese food terms used in English

Top Chinese words

Chinese appetizers have also become famous and widely-eaten all around the world. So how about learning Chinese food names that are widely used in English?
白后 (bái hòu): pekoe
白菜 (bái cài): bok choy
杂碎 (zá suì): chop suey
点心 (diǎn xīn): dim sum
人参 (rén shēn): ginseng
(hún tún): won ton
(guō): wok
豆腐 (dòu fǔ): tofu
番茄酱 (fān qié jiàng): ketchup
海鲜酱 (hǎi xiān jiàng): hoisin sauce

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.

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