Chinese Payphone Instructions

With mobile phones being so prevalent it’s unlikely that you will find yourself needing to use a payphone, and even if you did, payphones aren’t difficult to use in any language. So rather than focus on how to use a phone in Chinese, this is more of a look at instructional Chinese and which words will be useful for reading other instructions:

A Taiwanese Payphone


Pinyin: tí qǐ tīng tǒng
Zhuyin: ㄊㄧˊ ㄑㄧˇ ㄊㄧㄥ ㄊㄨㄥˇ
English: lift up (提起) the receiver (听筒)


Pinyin: tóu rù yìng bì
Zhuyin: ㄊㄡˊ ㄖㄨˋ ㄧㄥˋ ㄅㄧˋ
English: insert (投入) coins (硬币)


Pinyin: chā rù kǎ piàn
Zhuyin: ㄔㄚ ㄖㄨˋ ㄎㄚˇ ㄆㄧㄢˋ
English: insert (插入) (phone)card (卡片)

You’ve probably noticed there are two words used here for ‘insert’: 投入 and 插入, this is due to actions that are performed for each type of insert. 投入 is along the lines of ‘drop in’, as the coins are ‘dropped’ into the phone, while when the card is inserted – it is slid in and sits ‘inset’ into the phone, so 插入 is used. It’s the equivalent of saying ‘drop coins in’ and ‘slide card in’ in English.


Pinyin: bō hào
Zhuyin: ㄅㄛ ㄏㄠˋ
English: dial (撥) number (號)


Pinyin: tōng huà
Zhuyin: ㄊㄨㄥ ㄏㄨㄚˋ
English:  communicate (by phone), call

通話完畢 掛回聽筒(通话完毕 掛回聽筒)

Pinyin: tōng huà wán bì
Zhuyin: ㄊㄨㄥ ㄏㄨㄚˋ ㄨㄢˊ ㄅㄧˋ
English:  upon call completion, replace the receiver.
Literal: communication/phone call (通話) completed (完畢), hang (掛) back (回) receiver (聽筒)


Pinyin: tuì huí yú é
Zhuyin: ㄊㄨㄟˋ ㄏㄨㄟˊ ㄩˊ ㄜˊ
English:  return/send back (退回) unused balance (餘額)


Pinyin: qŭ huí kǎ piàn
Zhuyin: ㄑㄩˇ ㄏㄨㄟˊ ㄎㄚˇ ㄆㄧㄢˋ
English:  take back (取回) card (卡片)

If we consider only actions, or words that might be useful for reading other instructions, then these are the words worth remembering:

提起: lift up/raise up

投入: drop into

插入: insert/inset into

撥: poke/dial

掛回: hang back up

退回: send back, return to,

取回: take back

Have any ideas for things we should analyse in future posts? Leave a message below and let us know: