For anyone learning Chinese as a beginner, the first thing they’ll learn is basic greetings, things like, how to say hello in Chinese? Today’s lesson will walk you through three simple ways of saying Hello in Mandarin Chinese.

You’ve probably watched a few other videos that also teach you some basic phrases to greet people in Chinese, but did you know that different phrases need to be used in different scenarios? 

Let’s dive in to see how to use them appropriately!

1. Nǐ hǎo

The first phrase is, Nǐ hǎo (你好), both are in third tone. It literally means You Good in Chinese, meaning How do you do, or how are you in English. This is usually a formal phrase you use when you meet your colleague or client at work. 

For example, if you met your client whose name is Jessica for the first time, you can say:

Nǐ hǎo Jessica, Hěn gāoxìng jiàn dào nǐ, (Hello Jessica, very nice to meet you) as a formal way of greeting.

2. Hā lóu

The second phrase is actually a transformed term from English “Hello”, but is now commonly used among young people in China, it’s Hā lóu(哈喽). For example, if you meet a new friend, or add someone new on your WeChat, you can say “哈喽”, as a way to greet and start a conversation. 

3. Nǐ chīle ma

The Third phrase is Nǐ chīle ma(你吃了吗?), this phrase literally means “have you eaten”, it’s one of the mostly commonly used greeting phrases. When you ask someone Nǐ chīle ma, it’s generally considered as a polite greeting rather than a specific question. To answer that, you can say, Shì de wǒ chīguòle. Yes i have, how about you? Exactly like the English phrase, how are you? I’m good, and you? 

Now you know how to say Hello in Chinese in three different ways, start practicing with your Chinese friends!