5 Chinese greetings that aren’t Ni Hao

Everyone knows 你好 (Nǐ hǎo), it’s the de facto greeting in Chinese, and one of the first phrases you learn when starting out. There are other ways to say hello Chinese, however, and here I’ll show you five greetings that you can use to give you a break from the old standard.

吃飯了沒 (吃饭了没)

Chīfànle méi
Have you eaten yet?
Also: 吃飽沒 (吃饱没 chī bǎo méi)

This is a greeting that is generally used by the older generation, and when someone asks you this they’re asking after your well-being – i.e. Have you eaten? Are you full/satisfied? Is everything OK?

Even if you haven’t eaten yet, a polite response would still be something like 吃飽了, or 吃了,吃了!Just like in English if you bump into someone in the street and they ask how you’re doing, you’ll still reply positively even if you’re having a bad day (usually).

Hāi
Hi

The phonetic equivalent of ‘Hi’ and used exactly the same. T. Rex below demonstrates how to use 嗨 in a sentence:

T. Rex Hi

嗨,我是暴龍 (嗨,我是暴龙)
Hǎi, wǒ shì Bàolóng
Hi, I’m a Tyrannosaurus

Hēi
Hey

Just like 嗨, 嘿 is the phonetic equivalent of ‘hey’. Something you’ve probably noticed is that both of these are familiar characters (海 ‘sea’ and 黑 ‘black’) with the radical for mouth 口 added, which in this case indicates these are phonetics.

哈囉 (哈啰)

Hā luō
Hello, excuse me

A greeting, just like ‘hello’, but another usage you will hear, especially if in Taiwan, is to get someones attention. If you want to get a service person’s attention in Taiwan then use this, comparable to ‘excuse me’.

如何

rúhé
What’s up?

如何 has many meanings, like ‘how’, ‘why’, ‘what’, but you can also use it as a greeting among friends. If you come across a friend while out you can say:

今天如何?
Jīntiān rúhé?
How’s it going today?

If you haven’t seen your friend in a while you can say:

最近如何?
Zuìjìn rúhé?
How have you been recently?

You can also mix it up a bit and add 嘿 and 嗨 from above:

嘿!大衛。今天如何?
Hēi! Dà wèi. Jīntiān rúhé?
Hey! Dave. How’s it going (today)?

I’ve tried to pick what I think are the most common alternatives to the boring 你好, but if you know any others, or any regional greeting that aren’t listed then please post them in a common below, or on the Facebook post.

2 responses to “5 Chinese greetings that aren’t Ni Hao

  1. Great guide!
    I think there’s also “你去哪儿/哪里〞when bumping into someone you know. 🙂

  2. I was told by a native mainland speaker that “最近如何” is a very ancient/formal way of speaking, which was kind of a shock to me; I don’t know if it’s the same situation in Taiwan. He suggested just using “最近怎样”. What’s up with that?

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