Learn Chinese (Mandarin) reading, Chinese (Mandarin) writing and Chinese (Mandarin) speaking with these free words and sentences about greetings, saying Hello and common phrases. All words and sentences are spoken by real Chinese (Mandarin) natives and this helps you in learning the correct pronunciation.
Our ten Chinese (Mandarin) lessons teach you some of the most important Chinese (Mandarin) words and phrases. We will try to make your learning Chinese (Mandarin) as easy as possible and give you a lot of resources about Chinese (Mandarin).
If you like the lessons, you can subscribe to our free seven days email course which will give you Chinese (Mandarin) grammar notes, top 1000 Chinese (Mandarin) words and much more!
Lesson 1: Introduction
nǐ hǎo ma
How are you?
wǒ hěn hǎo，xiè xiè
I'm fine, thank you.
wǒ jiào tán yǎ
My name is Tanja.
hěn gāo xìng rèn shí nǐ
Nice to meet you.
nǐ huì shuō yīng yǔ ma
Do you speak English?
huì，wǒ huì shuō yīng yǔ
Yes, I speak English.
bú huì, wǒ bú huì shuō yīng yǔ
No, I don't speak English.
How to learn Chinese Mandarin?
- Get a Chinese Mandarin Phrasebook and write simple phrases and words on Flashcards and memorize them
- Study the Chinese fundamentals, e.g. how to construct questions, pronunciation etc.
- Try and find a good Mandarin teacher and enroll in a Chinese language class or visit China for more immersion
- Learning the Chinese characters is hard. Decide if you want to learn them or just focus on spoken Mandarin
- Use a spaced repetition vocabulary builder to learn words and phrases
- Focus on learning the four tones correctly early on as the wrong tones can change the meaning of words completely
Check out our comprehensive Chinese Mandarin learning App L-Lingo which contains 105 lessons with grammar notes, thousands of words and high quality audio.
Chinese Mandarin Grammar
The Chinese you are learning here is the official language of China, which is also called Mandarin Chinese. It is different from another popular Chinese language, Cantonese, which is mainly spoken in Guangdong province and Hong Kong. Mandarin Chinese consists of characters/ standard script (你), phonetic script (ni), and tone marks, e.g. (ˇ) 你 (nǐ).
Characters are used everywhere in daily life, such as books, newspapers, signs, etc… Phonetic scripts and tones, together called Pīnyīn, are used in dictionaries and textbooks to guide learners to learn the pronunciation of the characters.
When compared to other Languages, on a fundamental level the Mandarin grammar is actually very simple.
Each word normally stays the same; thus there are no conjugations, no plural forms, no genders and no articles. Whereas the English verb “to know somebody” might have different forms like “knows”, “knew”, “known” etc., the equivalent Chinese verb 认识 (rèn shí) itself always stays the same, regardless of the context.
However there are also elements in the Chinese language that we do not have in many Western Languages.
One of the most difficult element for the learner of the Chinese language is the correct pronunciation of the four phonemic tones: the first tone (ˉ), the second tone (′), the third tone (ˇ), and the forth tone (‵); because the concept of Tones is not existing in many European Languages including English. The best way to practice the tones is to listen carefully and to repeat the words and sentences.
Nouns are pretty simple in the Chinese language. They do not have articles or genders, and there is no distinction between singular or plural.
As for countable nouns, to express or to emphasize plural or numeral, various measure words, such as 辆 (liàng/measure word for vehicle), 个 (gè/measure word for general use), and 艘 (sōu/ measure word for ship]), need to be added in front of a noun:
numeral + measure word + noun.
For example, 女人 (nǚ rén) can be understood as 'a/one woman' or 'women (female)'. 个 (gè/ measure word for vehicle) is a measure word for general use. Since Chinese doesn't have articles, ‘a woman’ is equal to ‘one woman’, in Chinese it is 一个女人; ‘three women' is 三个女人.
Now that we already learned how to use nouns, in order to make complete sentences, we need to know about verbs.
I have some good news here too. Verbs are also pretty straight forward in Chinese! They do not change with person, tense, number and there are no participles.
Chinese words (whether nouns or verbs) never change their form. Additional information (e.g. tenses, plural etc.) is conveyed by adding additional words (e.g. tense makers and measure words).
We will see how this works in the next section about verb tenses
Present Progressive Tense
In the present progressive tense we just need to use the basic form. To emphasize the present progressive tense, the word 着 (zhe/ particle) is put behind the verb.
nà gè nǚ rén zhàn zhe
The woman is standing.
Now that we have learned our first sentence, let me explain a little about the standard word order.
In Chinese, the word order is Subject-Verb-Object. This is the same as the word order in English (e.g. Tom goes home).
Past tense is indicated by 了 (le) – (article for past tense) which is placed after the verb.
nà pǐ mǎ tiào le.
The horse jumped.
Future tense is indicated by 将要/要 (jiāng yào/yào) – (will/be going to do) which is placed in front of the verb.
nà pǐ mǎ jiāng yào tiào.
The horse is going to jump.
If you like to describe certain things, the adjective normally follows the noun.
zhè jiàn lán sè de chèn shān shì xīn de.
The blue shirt is new.
Here we have actually two adjectives following the noun shirt ‘衬衫 (chèn shān)’:
1) 蓝色的 (lán sè de) indicates the color blue (note that 蓝色的 (lán sè de) acts as an adjective).
2) 新的 (xīn de) indicates that the shirt is new.
Please note that 这 (zhè) refers to the place of the shirt (like the English word 'this'). 件 (jiàn) is the measure word for cloths (like the English word 'a piece of').
In this lesson, we will learn our first prepositions such as on 上面 (shàng miàn), in 里面 (lǐ miàn), or under 下面 (xià miàn).
One important concept in Chinese Grammar is the use of the prepositional verb 在 (zài) to indicate ‘to be (in, at, on under + a place/location)'.
So 在 (zài) is positioned in front of prepositions, together to form a predicate, such as ‘在 + a place/location +上面 (shàng miàn / on)'， ‘在 + a place/location +里面 (lǐ miàn / in)'， and ‘在 + a place/location +下面 (xià miàn / under)'.
一个 婴 儿 在 车 里面
yī gè yīng ér zài chē lǐ miàn
A baby is in a car.
In the above sentence you notice that ‘is in a car' is translated as ‘在车里面 (zài chē lǐ miàn)’. ‘在… 里面’ means ‘is in ...', therefore, the verb ‘is’ doesn't need to be translated additionally.
There are a few different ways to make questions in the Chinese language.
General Question Words
You can use the general question words 吗 (ma), in a question expecting yes or no answer.
This question words is just added at the end of the sentence.
nǐ hǎo ma?
Are you well? /How are you?
Specific Question Words
You can also make questions by using specific question words like what 什么 (shén me), where 哪里 (nǎ lǐ), who 谁 (shuí) or why 为什么 (wèi shén me).
These question words are positioned at where the answer word/words are to be placed in the sentence.
nà gè nǚ rén zài zuò shén me?
What is the woman doing?
To answer this question, we just need to remove the question word, which is 做什么 and replace with the answer: 那个女人在烹饪 (nà gè nǚ rén zài pēng rèn/[That woman is cooking]). As you noticed, the order of the rest of the words in the sentence remain the same.
Since being able to ask questions is really important, here is another example with the question word where 哪里 (nǎ lǐ / where)
nà gè yīng ér zài nǎ lǐ?
Where is the boy?
Just remember that the word 在 (zài) is also used since the question asks for a specific location.
This example shows you how to construct a what 什么 (shén me / what) question.
nà liàng qì chē shì shén me yán sè de?
What color is the car?
Words of colors can be used both as a noun, for example 白色 (bái sè/[white]), and 黑色 (hēi sè/[black]); and as an adjective.
When these words are used as an adjective, they are played in front of the noun to be modified and 的 (de/ [possessive particle]) need to be added behind these words of color.
bái sè de wū zi
hēi sè de qì chē
Have a look at the following a bit different example of a What question.
nà gè nǚ rén zài chī shén me?
What is the woman eating?
You will notice that in this example a particular reference is made, ‘the woman’. In Chinese, a particular referred figure, ‘the man’ is equal to ‘that woman’, ‘the’ is translated as ‘那 (nà)’; measure word is needed in front of the noun.
Okay so let's repeat that again. If a sentence does not refer to anyone in particular and it is a singular sentence, a woman is ‘一个女人 (yí gè nǚ rén)’. If a sentence refers to someone in particular, definite article ‘the' is translated as ‘that', ‘the woman’ is ‘那个女人 (nà gè nǚ rén)’.
To give a sentence a negative meaning, just put the word (不/bù/ [no, not]) in front of verbs /adjective. When (bù) is followed by a last tone word, e.g. 是 (shì/ [yes]),
(bù) need to be changed to second tone—(bú).不是 is read as ‘bùshì / [be not]’, instead of ‘bùshì’.
zhè gè diàn huà bú shì hóng sè de, tā shì hēi sè de.
This telephone is not red, it's black.
Asking for Something or Making a Request
In this section we will learn how to ask for something or make a request. This is very common, such as in restaurants wherein we ask for a plate or a drink.
qǐng bǎ tāng chí gěi wǒ!
Please pass me the spoon!
To make a polite request, there is a word used in the above example:
请 (qǐng) which starts the sentence and corresponds to the English 'please'. 把 [adverb] sentence is quite complicated.
Right now, you just need to remember 请把汤匙给我! (qǐng bǎ tāng chí gěi wǒ!/[ Please pass me the spoon!]) is the same with 请给我汤匙! (qǐng gěi wǒ tāng chí!/[ Please pass me the spoon!]). 把 [adverb] sentence in this lesson is used to emphasize on the obj. that presents the object you request for.
'Because' sentences are pretty easy, so I need to give you only a short explanation here.
“Because” means 因为... 所以... (yīn wéi... suǒ yǐ… ). In Chinese, 因为 (yīn wéi) is to give the reason of the occurrence of something, and 所以 (suǒ yǐ) is to lead the result of the event or a conclusion of a state. Sometimes, either 因为 (yīn wéi) or 所以 (suǒ yǐ) can be omitted in a sentence.
This is just a short introduction to Chinese Mandarin. If you like to get a free comprehensive Chinese Mandarin Grammar, subscribe to our Seven Day Email Course which includes a 20 page Grammar Book!
You love these Free Lessons – so check out the Free Trial of Online Learning App L-Lingo Chinese (Mandarin) – with Full-Featured Audi-Visual Goodness and Progress Quizzes!
L-Lingo follows a similar approach like the L-Ceps Personaltrainer but is a full online web application - it just runs in your browser! Give it a try and head over to Language Learning Software L-Lingo Chinese (Mandarin) for some free lessons.