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Survival Mandarin Phrases for Daily Life

Updated: Sep 24, 2021

For any person moving to China it is good to have some basic phrases memorised that will help you get by. These phrases wont allow you to have a conversation but may just get you by in situations where you really need to communicate something to another person.

22 Survival Chinese Phrases


A very important part of speaking Chinese is using tones. Tones are something that are quite alien to native English speakers and take some time to get used to. In languages such as Chinese one word will have four separate tones (plus a neutral tone). Dependant on how you say the tone will affect what it is that you are trying to say.

For example the word ma in written form has a number of different characters making it easy to read, however when spoken the only way to tell the words apart is by listening to the tone of the word as it is said. See below:

Learning Chinese in China

Living in China provides the perfect opportunity to learn Chinese and add another useful skill to your CV. Living in China you will be immersed in a completely Chinese environment from day one which can quick start your learning process. If you are still struggling no problem, many schools offer language classes each week for their foreign teachers. In addition to this there are a number of other resources and methods to kick start your Chinese. Finding a language exchange partner in China is super easy as many people want to improve their English you can ask a friend to do 30 minutes of language exchange each once or twice a week. Plus you might find some benefit talking to your Chinese colleagues with the new phrases that you just learnt, they will be sure to appreciate it and will encourage you to learn more.

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