Mandarin useful phrases

Note: Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language. Tone 1 (e.g. ma) is high and level; 2 (e.g., má) is rising; 3 (e.g., ma) is low dipping; 4 (e.g., mà) is falling. For more info, see pinyin. Also note that the first set of characters preceding the slashes are in simplified Chinese characters and the ones following the slashes are in traditional characters. If the simplified- and traditional-character versions of a phrase are identical, only one phrase is shown.

Translation IPA Pronunciation
Mandarin (gwo yu)
Chinese (poo-toong-hwa)
hello (knee-how)
good-bye (dzai-jyen)
please (cheeng)
thank you (shyeh-shyeh)
that one (nay guh)
sorry (dway boo chee)
how much? (dwo shahw)
English (ing wen)
yes (sher as in sherpa)
no (boo)
Where's the toilet? (tsuh swo dzai nah lee?)
generic toast (gahn bay)

1. The second syllable of “nèige” is actually a generic measure word; it is replaced by the appropriate measure word for the noun it refers to. You may therefore hear a number of different syllables after the initial nèi. In many parts of southern China, nèi is also pronounced nà.

2. This actually means “it is” and can only be used in an answer to a question with the verb “to be” (in casual speech, this can be neglected). Languages like Chinese, Irish, Toki Pona, and Welsh do not have words for “yes” or “no”. Instead you repeat the main verb of the question in your answer. Shaking your head in affirmation or negation works as expected, though speakers should ensure they are answering negative questions as literally asked – answering in the negative to “You don't like him?” would indicate that you do like him.