About Beijing

Language

The main language in Beijing is Mandarin (Putonghua). There are many different dialects; the people of Beijing usually speak the northern dialect of Mandarin. Most of the staff at the main attractions speak English as well as hotel and car rental staff but street vendors and small restaurants do not often speak English. Ask your hotel clerk to write down directions of where you are going (and back again!) Maps can be of great help, there are many well marked street signs that make it easy to follow a map.

Here are some phrases to help you get around Beijing:

(Written Mandarin Chinese learning materials) Written Mandarin Chinese learning materials.
  • hello- ni hao
  • thank you - xiexie
  • yes – shi
  • no – bu shi
  • please – qing
  • sorry – dui bu qi
  • how are you? – ni hao ma?
  • good morning – zao chen an
  • good afternoon – wu an
  • good evening – wan shang hao
  • good night – wan an
  • good bye – zai jian
  • I am (your name) – wo shi (your name)
  • What is your name – ni gui xing?
  • left - zuo
  • right - y’ou
  • I don’t understand Chinsese - wo bu dong
  • I don’t want – bu yao

When addressing people in China, remember that Chinese people’s surnames come first; names are usually two or three parts. Women often keep their surname after marriage. If you are addressing someone called Wang Ming, it would be Mr. Wang. Children usually take their father’s surname. Chinese parents often give their baby a nickname where two characters are repeated like Ming Ming.