èr, Two
sān, Three
liù Six
jiǔ Nine
shí Ten
一百 yībǎi One hundred
一千 yīqiān One thousand


西红柿 xīhóngshì tomato
草莓 cǎoméi strawberry
菠萝 bōluó pineapple
橙子 gānjú orange
西瓜 xīguā watermelon
苹果 píngguǒ apple
香蕉 xiāngjiāo banana
椰子 yēzi coconut
黄瓜 huángguā cucumber
火龙果 huǒlóngguǒ dragon fruit
葡萄 pútaó grape
柠檬 níngméng lemon
芒果 mángguǒ mango
荔枝 Lìzhī lychee
柚子 yóuzǐ pomelo
莲雾 liánwù wax apples
山竹 shānzhúguǒ mangosteen


cōng scallion / green onion
红萝卜 hóng luó bó carrot
jiāng ginger
卷心菜 juǎn xīn cài cabbage
辣椒 là jiāo hot pepper
土豆 tǔdòu potato
茄子 qié zi eggplant
生菜 shēng cài lettuce
洋葱 yáng cōng onion
玉米 yù mǐ corn


你好 Nǐ hǎo Hello
你好吗? Nǐ hǎo ma? How are you?
Hǎo good
谢谢 Xièxiè Thank you
对不起 Duìbùqǐ I am sorry
这是什么? Zhè shì shénme? What is this?
多少钱? Duōshǎo qián? How much is it?
厕所 Cèsuǒ Bathroom


礼拜一 Lǐbài yī Monday
礼拜二 Lǐbài èr Tuesday
礼拜三 Lǐbài sān Wednesday
礼拜四 Lǐbài sì Thursday
礼拜五 Lǐbài wǔ Friday
礼拜六 Lǐbài liù Saturday
礼拜天 Lǐbài tiān Sunday
Tiān Day
Zhōu Week
Yuè Month
Nián Year

Click here for the PDF version.


It’s no secret that you’re going to have a tough time communicating when you first get to China. Luckily, there are hand signs for numbers 1-10. If you’re bargaining or ordering something you can say the number of items you want and use the hand signal. They are:













A BRIEF EXPLANATION529315_10151063773090733_200739779_n

Okay, let’s tackle language. I’m sure you know Chinese to be one of the most complex languages in the world, having studied it for a few years, I can confirm your suspicions. I have only studied Chinese for about 5 years (all y’all Chinese experts can keep scrolling 😉) and it still remains a mystery and challenge.


For our convenience, some amazing person created something called Roman Pinyin, which is the romanized spelling of Chinese characters. You may not realize it, but you already know a few Pinyin word such as, Beijing, Shanghai, and kung fu. You’ll be set to travel in China if you can nail pronunciation because most of the street signs and even some menus have Pinyin on them. has a fabulous Pinyin chart that will be invaluable for this learning process. The direct link to it is: The most amazing this about this chart is that it has audio attached. You can click on a word and hear how it is meant to be pronounced in all 4 tones


Speaking of tones, Mandarin Chinese employs 5 tones; they’re kind of like inflections. The fifth tone is a neutral or non-tone, so I’m not going to go over that here. The first four will suffice for our purposes.

Tones aren’t a completely foreign concept for English speakers. We come pretty close to using a first tone when we scream “yay” in excitement. Our voice naturally ascends, like a second tone, when we ask a question. Answering a question with “sure” often sounds like a third tone. Lastly, when we say “no” out of anger, it sounds like a fourth tone. The fourth tone is why many people think Chinese sounds like an angry language.tone-master

Even though my  lips are saying “ma”, each tone I use will give the word a different meaning.

  1. Mā – high and even
  2. Má – ascend from low to high
  3. Mǎ – descend and ascend
  4. Mà – descend rapidly

Learning to recognize tones takes some time, but as you pay attention to the way their inflections change while they’re speaking, you’ll catch on.

A Few Resources:

Don’t Be Scared:

Chinese people are so nice. If you say “ni hao” to someone on the street they will instantly perk up and say a lot of really nice things (that you probably won’t understand). If you make even a little bit of effort to communicate they’ll be super impressed and tell you how hard Chinese is to learn and speak. I always like to see if I can get little kids to teach me a new word or phrase. After hearing me butcher it a couple times, my impromptu teachers will often say “don’t be shy, just try”. Words to live by!