How Do Chinese People Greet Each Other in Daily Life?

Learning Chinese, I bet the first word you are taught in class or textbook is “你好(nǐ hǎo)”, which is the standard “Hello”. I acknowledge that Chinese people use “你好(nǐ hǎo)” a lot, but it is often used to greet strangers, you can't use it to greet your friends or other people you already know well because it's too distant and polite. In another word, to greet different people, you should use different words. Here we sort out the Chinese basic greetings (both formal and informal are included), hope it helps you with learning Chinese.

Formal Greetings

hǎo
.
Hello.
nín
hǎo
.
Hello.
zǎo
shang
hǎo
.
Good morning.
xià
hǎo
.
Good afternoon.
wǎn
shang
hǎo
.
Good evening.
jiā
hǎo
.
.
Hello, everyone.
Rèn
shi
nín
hěn
gāo
xìng
.
Nice to meet you.

These above greetings are normally used in formal occasions, such as to have a business meeting, an interview or meeting a stranger. To greet acquaintances, like family members, friends, colleagues, and classmates, we often use the following informal greetings.

1.Say hello to a friend in a very casual way.

ài
hi
hài
hi
hèi
hey
hā lóu
哈 喽
hello

2.Call someone's name, surname, or “surname + title”, such as:

Li Na
Xiǎo
Zhāng
Xiao Zhang
Wáng
lǎo
shī
Teacher Wang
Zhāng
shī
fu
Mr. Zhang
Zhào
shēng
Doctor Zhao

3.When you run into someone you know, you can say the following greetings.

nǎr
哪儿
a
?
Where are you going?
Chī
le
ma
?
?
 
(around meal time)
Have you had your meal?

4. When you meet or telephone someone whom you haven't met or contacted for a period, you can greet by saying:

Máng
shén
me
ne
?
What are you busy with?
Zuì
jìn
zěn
me
yàng
?
How is everything going recently?
Jiā
li
dōu
hǎo
ma
?
How is your family?

5. Greet someone by asking an obvious behavior, the greeted people will give a smile or say “嗯(ňg)” to acknowledge and agree.

Chū
ya
?
Going out?(You saw someone was going out.)
Huí
lái
le
?
You're back?(You saw someone coming back.)
Mǎi
cài
le
?
You bought groceries?(You saw someone bringing some groceries.)
Shàng
bān
ya
?
Going to work?(You saw someone is going to work around working time.)

6. Say “早(zǎo)” to someone you are familiar with.

When you meet someone you know well in the morning, you can just say “早(zǎo)” instead of “你好(nǐ hǎo)” or “早上好 (zǎo shang hǎo)” because the two phrases are a little bit formal.

7.Say “喂(wéi)” when you answer a phone.

Say “喂(wéi)+address” when you answer a phone from someone you know, which means “Hello, XXX?” (Informal greeting)

However, if you answer a phone from a customer at work, you should politely say “你好(Nǐ hǎo)” or “喂,你好(Wéi, nǐ hǎo)”. (Informal greeting)

More Greetings in Chinese

Rèn
shi
nín
hěn
gāo
xìng
.
 
(Formal)
Glad to see you.
jiā
hǎo
.
 
(Formal)
Hi, everyone.
Hài
,
.
 
(Informal)
Hi, Jim.
Hài
,
jiā
hǎo
.
 
(Informal)
Hello, everyone.
qiè
dōu
hǎo
ma
?
 
(Informal)
Is everything going on well?
Jiā
rén
dōu
hǎo
ma
?
 
(Informal)
How's your family?
Zuì
jìn
máng
bu
máng
?
 
(Informal)
Are you busy recently?
Jìn
lái
?
 
(Informal)
How is everything going recently?
Tǐng
hǎo
de
.
ne
?
?
 
(Informal)
I'm pretty good. And you?
tǐng
hǎo
de
.
 
(Informal)
I'm fine, too.

Address Someone in China

How to properly address someone in China? It depends on your level of familiarity with the person and the formality of the occasion. Here we list the common ways of address for different people in Chinese with several examples.

1.Full Name

Míng
Li Ming
Wáng
Ān
Wang Anna
wěi
Li Dawei

2.Surname + Title

Zhāng
lǎo
shī
Teacher Zhang
Wáng
shī
fu
Mr.Wang
shēng
Doctor Li

3.小/老 + Surname

Xiǎo
Wáng
Xiao Wang
Lǎo
Lao Li

4.Nickname

Xiǎo
Pàng
Little fatty
Ān
Anna
Míng
ming
Mingming