You’ve just started learning Chinese and are ready to talk – this article gives you a basic script (with recordings) as well as suggestions for a Chinese name. You’ll learn how to speak Chinese today, right now, if you follow through with the instructions.
We outlined why talking from Day 1 is important in this article. We also mentioned some useful websites for finding someone to talk to. But what if you don’t know what to say?
The chart below will give you a very basic script to get started immediately. We’ve got the Chinese characters (both Simplified and Traditional), the pinyin, a very very rough pronunciation guide and the English translation.
The rough equivalent column is just for reference and very inexact. We want to get you talking immediately so we won’t worry too much about the details. Getting talking to someone who speaks Chinese, make mistakes and accept corrections. The learning you’ll get from this process will be far greater than trying to make everything perfect before ever opening your mouth to speak.
Check below for notes on finding your name and nationality in Chinese.
OK let’s do this!
|Chinese Characters||Pinyin||Rough Equivalent||English||Recording|
|你好||Nǐ hǎo||Nee how||Hello|
|我叫___(1)____||Wǒ jiào ________||Woh jow||My name is ________|
|我是__(2)_人||wǒ shì _（měiguó)______ rén||woh shh _(maygwah)___ ren||I am American (replace as necessary)|
|我学习汉语（T：我學習漢語）||wǒ xuéxí hànyǔ||Woh shue she han you||I am learning Chinese|
|你能帮助我吗?(T: 你能幫助我嗎?)||Nǐ néng bāngzhù wǒ ma?||Knee nung bang jew woh ma||Can you help me?|
Your name in Chinese
The second phrase leaves a blank for your name. Don’t have a Chinese name yet? You can use your English (or mother tongue) name and the native speaker you talk to may be able to help you come up with a good Chinese name. If it’s something relatively common there is likely already a Chinese version.
Here’s a list of 5000 common non-Chinese names in Chinese at Chinese Tools.
Another alternative is to use a name generator like this one at Mandarin Tools. This generator creates a more authentic Chinese name than simply transliterating the sound of your original name into Chinese.
A transliteration works for shorter names. Here’s a good website for Chinese names that relies more on transliteration. but if you have a more complicated name it can get messy.
You may end up with a monstrosity of a Chinese name like Benedict Cumberbatch (who plays Sherlock). He’s been shouldered with 本尼迪克特·蒂莫西·卡尔顿·康伯巴奇 (běnnídíkètè dìmòxī kǎěrdùn kǎnbóbāqí) for his full name Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch! No wonder he’s just known as “Curly Fu” in China…
Once you have made some Chinese friends they’ll be able to help you get a good Chinese name, based on your personality. Until then feel free to use a name from one of the websites.
Your nationality in Chinese
The sound file above has 美国人（měiguórén) or “American” as a placeholder. A lot of you are likely American so that’s nice and easy!
If you are not then here’s a handy list of nationalities – it’s a very complete list so you shouldn’t have any trouble.
Once you have found the characters for your nationality copy/paste them into Google Translate and hit the Speaker button to hear the word said out loud. Again, it’s not perfect but will get you 90% of the way there. That’s enough for you to start having a conversation.
Go and talk!
The whole purpose of these phrases is to get you talking ASAP. The phrases aren’t perfect. Your Chinese name might be a bit wonky. Your nationality might sound strange coming from Google translate.
It doesn’t matter.
1. Get a name.
2. Work out how to say your nationality.
3. Plug these into the phrases.
4. Find a Chinese speaker (in person or on iTalki).
5. Speak, make mistakes, get corrected. Learn.
This is all very simple stuff yet if you actually go and do it now you’ll be taking a very bold step in the direction of mastering Chinese.
Also, if you are ready to move on from this point then you’ll want to check out our free eBook Speak Chinese today: