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Survival and Travel Chinese Part 1: Asking for Directions

So you're traveling to China soon and you need to know some basic phrases in Mandarin to help get you by! We'll go through a quick primer on survival Mandarin to help you on your way!

First, let's start with some basic survival vocabulary (if you aren't familiar with Pinyin, please check out our introductory lesson on Pinyin first). You'll learn how to ask for directions and how to say your name.

PinyinEnglishChinese Character (simplified)Comments
I / me
you
wǒmenwe我们Add "men" after wǒ or nǐ to make it plural
jiàocalled
shìis / are
rénperson
wàiguóforeign country外国
zhōngguóChina中国
xièxiethank you谢谢
qǐngwènexcuse me请问
duìbuqǐsorry对不起
zàiat
zàinǎli / zàinǎrwhere在哪里 / 在哪儿Add "zàinǎli" or "zàinǎr" at the end of the sentence to denote where.
xĭshŏujiānrestroom洗手间
chūzū chētaxi出租车"chē" means vehicle
gōnggòng qìchēbus公共汽车
dìtiěsubway地铁
zhànstation
jīchǎngairport机场
jiǔdiànhotel酒店


Great! Once you have mastered the basic survival vocabulary above, let's start with some simple Mandarin phrases:

EnglishPinyinChinese Characters (simplified)
Excuse me, where is the washroom?Qǐngwèn, xĭshŏujiān zàinǎr?请问, 洗手间在哪儿?
Excuse me, where is the airport?Qǐngwèn, jīchǎng zàinǎr?请问, 机场在哪儿?
Excuse me, where is the subway station?Qǐngwèn, dìtiě zhàn zàinǎr?请问, 地铁站在哪儿?
Excuse me, where is the bus station?Qǐngwèn, gōnggòng qìchē zhàn zàinǎr?请问, 公共汽车站在哪儿?
My name is John (I am called John).Wǒ jiào John.我叫John.
I am a foreigner.Wǒ shì wàiguó rén.我是外国人.
We are foreigners.Wǒmen shì wàiguó rén.我们是外国人.

Please try part 2 of our Chinese survival guide.


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