4 Phrases to Help You In China

Last year I was asked how I overcame the language barrier in China.
Tiananmen Square Beijing China
If you remember correctly, I haven’t.

I don’t know a lot of Mandarin, but what I do know should help you if you decide to come to China.

Here are four simple Mandarin phrases and an extra tip that have helped me immensely since I landed in China in 2012.

Click on the card below to hear the Mandarin or English and and use the arrows to navigate between phrases.

1. Hello.

It may seem simple, but saying hello in Mandarin is a sturdy bridge between the cultural divide.

2. Thank you.

Gratitude never goes out of style! A thank you goes a long in anyone’s day.

3. I don’t understand.

Be honest, you don’t know what the hell anyone’s saying. Save everyone time and just speak your truth.

4. I’m sorry.

This is one of the most powerful phrases in the world. It’s humbling and humanizing. Apologize for your foolishness and…


If you’ve mastered “hello,” but can’t get further into the language: smile. Mother Teresa said it best, “Peace begins with a smile.”

2 responses

  1. Hello Michael,

    Very cool blog! I saw lots of pictures about Beijing. So I guess Beijing is your favorite city in China?:)

    My name is Yang and I am Chinese. I put together an infographic about foreigners in China recently. Can I send it to you? Maybe you would like to share in your blog for your readers.

    I was going to send it you but your contact page seems doesn’t work(you might need to check it).

    Maybe you can tell me where I can send it?

    Thanks and hope to hear from you:)


  2. Yang,

    Thanks for the heads up about the contact page. I’ve fixed the contact page and it appears to be working again now.

    Xi’an is probably my favorite Chinese city — that’s where I’ve had the most fun so far.

    If you’d like to send me a graphic I’d be more than happy to take a look at it. Maybe some of my readers would like the info.

    Please send it to: michaelvenske (at) gmail (dot) com.