Begin Learning Chinese: The First Fifty Words

By Sonal Panse

What are the 50 most-used Chinese words? Build up your vocabulary by learning the words on this list. The best way to learn Chinese is by incorporating these words into your everyday usage. Learning a new language can be an easy task if you practice often.

What's Relevant to You?

One of the quickest ways to become fluent in any new language is by learning some of the most useful vocabulary words so you can immediately begin communicating. You will be able to make yourself understood on a basic leve, and then navigate onward from there. So what are the 50 most used Chinese words? It depends on the situation. If you're going to a restaurant, for instance, you'll want to know words that will help you order something to eat. If you're traveling to China, you'll need to know travel words and phrases so you can get around without too much trouble. The point is, you need to make up your own list. In this article, we'll take a look at some general Chinese words that we think will be useful to you.

Chinese Characters

Chinese can seem like a rather daunting language, particularly when you're starting out. Unlike English, in which you only have to tackle 26 alphabet letters, there are over 60,000 characters in the Chinese language. The bounty of characters has baffled the Chinese themselves, and there probably aren't that many Chinese people who are completely well-versed in all 60,000, who use the 60,000 characters every day as part of their regular spoken and written vocabulary.

This is a boon for the Chinese language learner. You only need to know about 3,000 to 5,000 of these characters to pass as reasonably well educated in the language. Knowing 3,000 characters would help you read a modern Chinese newspaper, and knowing 5,000 characters would help you get started with a Chinese literary work.

Chinese Words

The characters are used to form the words. Let's look at fifty of the most useful words for you to know:

1. (to) Study - xuéxí

2. Afternoon - xiàwŭ

3. Age - suì

4. Airport - fēijīchăng

5. Book - shū

6. Breakfast - zăocān

7. Brothers - xiōngdì

8. Cafe - kāfēiguăn

9. China - zhōngguó

10. Chinese - zhōngwén

11. Chinese characters - hànzi

12. City - chéngshì

13. Country - guójiā

14. Dinner - wăncān

15. Direction - fāngxiàng

16. Doctor - yī shēng

17. English - yīngyŭ

18. Evening - wănshàng

19. Father - fùqīn

20. Friend - péngyou

21. Good - hăo

22. Goodbye - zàijiàn

23. Hello - nĭ hăo

24. Help - jiùmìng (call for help)/bāngzhù (need help)

25. Hospital - yīyuàn

26. Hotel – lǚguăn

27. I - wŏ

28. Mister- xiānsheng

29. Money - qián

30. Month - yuè

31. Morning - zăoshàng

32. Mother - mŭqīn

33. My - wŏ de

34. name - míngzi

35. No - bù

36. Please - qing

37. Police - jĭngchá

38. Restaurant - fàndiàn

39. Room - kèfáng

40. Shop/Store - shāngdiàn

41. Sisters - jiĕmèi

42. Taxi - chūzū qìchē

43. Teacher - lăoshī

44. Thank you - xièxie

45. Vehicle - chēzi

46. Water - shuĭ

47. We - wŏmen

48. Word - zì

49. Year - nián

50. Yes - shi

The key to learning is to make these words part of your everyday conversation. The more you use a language, the more proficient you become at it.

Resources

Here are some sites that can help you learn Chinese:

BBC - Chinese: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/chinese/

Zhongwen: http://www.zhongwen.com/

Learning Chocolate: http://www.learningchocolate.com/?st_lang=zh-hans

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