Top Mandarin Words Every Beginner Must Learn

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Even though Mandarin is a tonal language, the pitch of a sound can affect its meaning. In Mandarin, there are six tones: high, middle, low, rising, falling, and neutral. Mandarin speakers tally for a sizeable chunk of the world’s population. Apart from China, Mandarin is spoken in a lot of different countries. Even though China is so large and diverse, linguists have divided the Chinese language into four groups: Mandarin (Northern), Wu (Western), Min (Southern), and Yue (Southern) (Southeastern). Each of these dialects is said to have its unique sub-dialects as well. Mandarin, in particular, isn’t supposedly a language as such instead, it is a group of dialects of the Chinese language. These basic mandarin words are said to come in handy for communicating with people in there whenever you find yourself in china or for connecting with the speakers of this language. These are some easy Chinese words, unlike some Chinese words, which are much more challenging to learn or grasp as a beginner.  

To begin with some of the basic Chinese Mandarin words, we have:

  1. Hello (Nǐhǎo): There is no other better word you can learn as an absolute beginner other than this as it is used to start up a conversation with someone or to greet someone, and so it will also be the word you will use the most once you start speaking this language. This is one of the easiest and most common Chinese words. 
  2. How are you? (Nǐ hǎo ma?): Another one of the primary and commonly used Chinese phrases that are necessary to know as a beginner as it would be needed while communicating with someone or while having a conversation with someone of the mandarin language.
  1. Thank you (Xièxiè): If this is not the second top word to learn as one of the basic mandarin words. A word that can be used to be polite to others and to validate or acknowledge what they have done for you, which makes it another one of the common Chinese words. If you plan to run a business or any other service, this word will be helpful for you.                                                                                                                                       
  2. You’re welcome (Bù kèqì): This would be another one of the basic and most necessary Chinese words as it is a polite and formal response to thank you, which pretty much just like thank you would come in hand if you are planning to run a business or any other services in china or just to be polite in general.
  3. My name is (Wǒ jiào): One of the most important among the basic Chinese words and also one of the most useful as it will be needed while introducing yourself to others or while befriending someone who speaks the mandarin language.
  4. Good morning (Zǎo): Yet another one of the simple Chinese phrases which will come in handy in your day-to-day life if you are planning to settle in china. A word to wish someone, thereby being more interactive and social, will help you connect more with the language speakers.
  5. Goodbye (Zàijiàn): A polite way to end a conversation with someone, one of the basic terms to be used while having a conversation. It is also one of the simplest Chinese terms.
  6. Goodnight (Wǎn ān): Contradictory to good morning. It’s a way to wish someone a good night, just like a good morning. It will be used in your daily life if settling in china. 
  7. I am sorry (Duìbuqǐ): This is another mandarin word that will be helpful if you get into any trouble or have made a mistake. This is more like a lifesaver term, yet another important term to learn as an absolute beginner. 
  8. Help (Bằng mạng): Knowing the word help is always a lifesaver. You will never know when you will get into a difficult situation; therefore, knowing how to ask for help is another essential and straightforward word in Chinese. One of the most important words to learn as a beginner who plans to reside in china. 

These are the top basic Mandarin words one should know to live in china or to communicate with people speaking the mandarin language. These are only a few of the Chinese words listed. Further on, many apps provide classes on the mandarin language for beginners, so if you are looking for such apps, here are a few that are definitely worth giving a shot at. These apps are highly recommended if you plan to improve or learn more words and phrases of basic Mandarin words.  

What are Mandarin Words?

Mandarin words are logograms used in Chinese writing, more like an alternative for alphabets like in most languages worldwide; every logogram is different and has its specific meaning. Chinese is the oldest language of all time; it is said to have around 500 thousand words, and only approximately 370 thousand are in the most prominent Chinese dictionary. The Mandarin language logograms are also said to have influenced the making of many other east Asian languages. Japanese, for instance, is said to have many words that are derived from Chinese, making it related to most east Asian languages. Just like in any other language, the tone of your voice adds to the meaning of mandarin words. The only noticeable difference is that the mandarin language tone has names unlike most the languages like English. The Mandarin tones are divided into 5, which are the First tone, Second tone, Third tone, Fourth tone, and Fifth tone.

Top Common Mandarin Words

There are around 500 thousand Mandarin words in total, of which the most commonly used ones are as follows:

  1. Māo 

Meaning: Cat 

  1. Ăi

Meaning: Short

  1. Bā 

Meaning: 8 

Meaning: To wipe or to erase

  1. Cāi

Meaning: To Guess

  1. Bié

Meaning: Leave

  1. Băo

Meaning: To eat until full

  1. Bìng

Meaning: Illness, sickness, disease

  1. Cuò

Meaning: Mistake, Error

  1. Āyí

Meaning: Aunt 

These are just a few common Mandarin words commonly used among the speakers of this language. 

Tips for Learning Basic Mandarin Words

Mandarin Chinese is the world’s most complex language to learn, even though it is also the language with the most significant number of native speakers across the globe. However, there are several tips that you can follow to learn this sophisticated language with ease; few of such recommendations are:

  • Usage of language learning applications: A variety of language learning applications is available on all kinds of platforms that provide a lot of classes and other study materials, which will be helpful for you to get better at the language. Some apps offer specific features such as interactions with native speakers that can help you with your language speaking skills and many more.
  • Practice, practice, practice: Make a daily schedule focusing on some aspects of the language and improve and practice them according to the schedule, as it is the most complex language to learn. Don’t expect it to be an easy task, be consistent and follow a plan and practice to improve the language. 
  • Focus on something other than grammar as a beginner: Chinese grammar is hard to understand. However, it is something that you will gradually have a grasp of once you start focusing less on it. Don’t let the difficulties in grammar part demotivate you; instead, focus less on it and continue striving through your goal to master the language.
  • Be friends with native mandarin speakers: This is one effective tip for you to get better at the language; the more you interact with the people whose primary language is mandarin, the better you will get at it. Other than that, you will also gain more confidence and fluency by talking more in that language. 
  • Take notes: Make your summary in your own words, which will, later on, help you understand the terms more quickly since you have already understood and written about them in your own words.
  • Don’t give up: Last but not least, stay optimistic. Learning a language takes a lot of time; therefore, don’t lose faith and keep working towards mastering the language. With patience and consistency, you will be able to learn the language.

Final Note

Mandarin language is age-old and has its values and beauty. It will always be something you will not regret learning. As it is the most complex language in the world, don’t expect it to be a simple task. Remember the points mentioned above and follow them. Take your time with it, be patient and don’t be hasty. Every language has its beauty. Therefore, it’s all worth the effort. Wish you good luck on your journey to be able to learn the language. Check Curiotory’s page for more info on learning Mandarin, or get in touch with our Experts!


What’s the origin of Mandarin?

During the Qin era, Mandarin first appeared in northern China. Numerous dialects were being used at the time all around the nation. To further bind the nation, the ruler Qin Shi Huangdi sought to standardize the language, and Later, in the 20th century, the Chinese government officially standardized it.

What is the difference between Mandarin and Cantonese?

 Here are a few differences between Mandarin and Cantonese:

  • Mandarin and Cantonese are the two varieties of Chinese. The majority of Chinese people speak Mandarin, which is the nation’s official language. On the other hand, Cantonese is the native tongue of the Guangdong province in southern China.
  • Mandarin is based on the Beijing dialect, whereas Cantonese uses the Cantonese writing system.
  • Mandarin is a tonal language; the meaning of a word might change depending on how it is said. Meanwhile, Cantonese doesn’t use tones.

What are the different classified tones of the Mandarin language?

Primarily, Mandarin Chinese uses four tones:

  • The initial tone quality is Flat or neutral
  • The second tone is ascending 
  • Falling-rising is the third tone
  • The fourth tone is falling

What would I benefit from learning Mandarin?

One of the most widely used languages is Mandarin. You can communicate with more than 1 billion people by studying Mandarin. Additionally, Mandarin is a relatively compact language useful in business and other professional contexts. Overall, studying Mandarin can give you a rare chance to interact with a wide range of people, understand another culture, and develop your professional abilities.