How to Start a Conversation in Chinese

You will not be surprised if someone is asking whether or not you've eaten (你吃了吗? nǐ chī le mɑ ?), because you learned from your skype Chinese classes or from a Chinese friend that it is a Chinese way to start a conversation.

You can always start a conversation with 你吃了吗?, but this phrase is more commonly used among people who are familiar with each other. How do you start conversations with Chinese people on initial stage?

This article will teach you how to start a conversation with Chinese people on initial stage, on topics of common greeting, asking about names, ages, nationalities, jobs, hobbies, etc. After knowing these phrases, you will also be able to make a nice self-introduction in mandarin Chinese!

How to Start a Conversation in Chinese

你好 means "Hello" in Chinese


Questions Answers

Nǐ hǎo!



Nǐ hǎo!



Nǐ hǎo mɑ?


How are you?

wǒ hěn hǎo, nǐ ne?


I am good. What about you?

Asking and Replying Names

Questions Answers

Nín ɡuì xìnɡ?

您贵姓? (“贵ɡuì” means honorable here )

What’s your honorable last name?

Miǎn ɡuì xìnɡ Lǐ.


My last name is Li.

Nǐ jiào shénme mínɡzi?


What’s your name?

Wǒ jiào Lǐ fēi.


I am Li fei.

Asking and Replying Ages

Questions Answers

Nǐ duō dà le?


How old are you?

Wǒ sānshí suì.


I’m thirty years old.

Nǐ jǐ suì le?

你几岁了?(When asking children under 10 years old.)

How old are you?

wǒ liù suì le.


I am six years old.

Asking and Replying Nationalities

Questions Answers

Nǐ shì nǎ ɡuó rén?


What’s your nationality?

Wǒ shì Měiɡuó rén.


I am an American.

Nǐ láizì nǎlǐ?


Where are you from?

Wǒ lái zì Yīnɡɡuó.


I’m from UK.

Asking and Replying Jobs

Questions Answers

Nǐ de ɡōnɡzuò shì shénme?


What’s your job?

Wǒ de ɡōnɡzuò shì lǎoshī.


My job is a teacher.

Nǐ shì zuò shénme de?


What do you do?

Wǒ shì yīshenɡ


I am doctor.

Asking and Replying Hobbies

Questions Answers

Nǐ xǐhuɑn zuò shénme?


What do you like to do?

Wǒ xǐhuɑn chànɡɡē.


I like singing.

Nǐ de àihào shì shénme?


What’s your hobby?

Wǒ de àihào shì tán jíta.


My hobby is playing the guitar.

There should be many more topics in your conversation. The easiest way to learn Chinese for a foreigner is to learn lots of themed Chinese vocabulary lists about a topic you are interested in. It will likely be easier for you to pick up the conversation if you have these words stored in your mind.

Always bear in mind, however, when having small talks with Chinese, it's better to avoid personal or sensitive topics such as salary, weight (especially a girl), and whether or not having a house or car, etc, unless you have a very close relationship with the person you are speaking with!


Can you make a self-introduction like the following example?

Nǐhǎo! Wǒ shì Martha. Wǒ 25 suì. Wǒ shì Yìdàlì rén. Wǒ shì yīshenɡ. Wǒ xǐhuɑn tán ɡānɡqín.


Hello! I am Martha. I am 25 years old. I am an Italian. I am a doctor. I like playing the piano.

(Let us know you in the comment section!)

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