If you are planning on traveling to China anytime soon, I would strongly advise you learn a few common phrases which could be very helpful. (Notice I didn't bother to add tones to the pingyin, even without the exact tones Chinese will understand you.)
1. xiexie (Thank you): Probably the most important word in the Chinese language, if you want to be polite in China it is best to say thanks. (Thank you is definitely more important than please).
2. nihao (Hello): When you meet someone, say nihao. They will most likely reply with nihao!
3. bukeqi (You're welcome): another important Chinese courtesy and one you will hear very often.
4. wobuyao (I do not want) In China you will often be approached by hawkers trying to sell you anything from Maozedong t-shirts to Buddha statues. Sometimes these hawkers can be quite pushy and so it is best to say a frank and firm "wobuyao".
5. wotingbudong (I do not understand): Many Chinese don't speak more than a word or two of English and so it is vital that you can also make clear that you don't speak more than a word or two of Chinese.
6. wojiao.... (My name is...): No matter where you are in the world, it is always great if you can tell people your name.
7. wobuhuichila (I can't eat spicy): For those of us who can't stomach spicy food, it is best to be equipped with this phrase at all times. Chinese food ranges from mild to extremely spicy. By telling them you can't eat spicy food you can avoid much hassle.
8. woyaoqu.. (I want to go to...): If you get in a taxi, it is always best to have the name written in Chinese of the place you want to go. By saying 'woyaoqu' and then showing the name or saying it out loud, you should have a smoother journey.
9. geiwopianyi (Give me cheaper): In China, markets are a great place to bargain and if want the cheapest prices it is best you learn to say geiwopianyi!
10. zhongguohenhao (China is very good): Chinese are very proud of their country, history and culture. A great way to tell them that you enjoyed your visit is to praise their country. With that, you can't go wrong.
Author: Michael Cowan
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