Wear more clothes!: 6 Common Chinese Phrases You Didn’t Know are Common Manners in China

by Angela Efros on November 3, 2014

You may think learning a new language is all about grammar and vocabulary, but guess what! Culture is just as important if you want to successfully communicate and make friends in China.  You’ll need to understand the common Chinese phrases.

wear more clothes

Is this enough???

Before arriving in China, I thought I knew a lot about the cultural differences. Boy was I in for a surprise. The culture shock lasted for months.

I often became confused or even annoyed at comments from those around me
because I thought that they were judging or belittling me. For example, people
would tell me to wear more clothes, and for weeks I couldn’t understand why everyone I met in China treated me like they were my mother! Eventually I found out that they were actually just practicing what is considered common courtesy here in China.

With these new phrases under your belt, you’ll avoid the mistakes that I made, and be well on your way to communicating with the Chinese. Be sure to check out the pronunciation help at the bottom of the post.


  1. 多穿一点衣服 (Duō chuān yīdiǎn yīfú)

Wear more clothes.

When the weather is cold, or even chilly, you will hear this phrase over and over again. Don’t worry, you’re friends aren’t critiquing your outfit. It doesn’t even necessarily refer to the clothes you are wearing at that time. It means, in general, make sure you wear enough clothes so that you don’t catch a cold. I assumed my friends thought I was stupid or couldn’t take care of myself every time I heard this, but it doesn’t mean that at all. It’s a polite way to show that you care about someone.

最近很冷,多穿点衣服 (Zuìjìn hěn lěng, duō chuān diǎn yīfú)

It’s pretty cold these days; make sure you wear enough clothing.


  1. 注意身体 (Zhùyì shēntǐ)

Pay attention to your health.

This phrase basically means to take care of your self. Again, it’s not an assumption that you can’t take care of yourself (although it may feel that way when you hear it the first 200 times), it’s just being friendly. It’s commonly used during cold weather or when someone is sick. If you know someone is not feeling well, that would be the perfect time to practice this sentence.

A:怎么了,你感冒了吗? (Zěnme le, nǐ gǎnmàole ma?)

B:就是有点咳嗽,没事。(Jiùshì yǒudiǎn késòu, méishì.)

A:那注意身体。                  (nà zhùyì shēntǐ)

A: What’s wrong, do you have a cold?

B: Just a little cough, it’s nothing.

A: Well, take care.


  1. 早一点休息 (Zǎo yīdiǎn xiūxí)

Rest earlier.

This is the go to phrase for parting ways at night. Just like wear more clothes, it sounds like something your mom would say, but Chinese friends will really appreciate your concern. If you are on the phone with a Chinese friend any time after 8 pm, this would be a good phrase to end the call with. Also, when friends leave an evening party, this would be a common way to say good bye.

A:拜拜,我要回家。(Bābā, wǒ yào huí jiā.)

B: 好,早一点休息。(Hǎo, zǎo yīdiǎn xiūxí.)

A: Bye, bye. I’m going home.

B: Ok, get some rest.


  1. 一般般吧。(Yībān bān ba.)

Chinese will always be very modest, and downplay compliments. This phrase means “just so-so” or “it’s not that great.”

A:你做的菜很好吃 。(Nǐ zuò de cài hěn hǎo chī. )

B:一般般吧。(Yībān bān ba. )

A: The food you cooked is delicious.

B: It’s only okay.


  1. 哪里哪里(Nǎlǐ nǎlǐ)

Shucks.

When someone compliments the way you look, the response in Chinese may seem weird. “Where, where?” is the direct translation, but it really means, “You’re too kind.”

A:哇,你今天太漂亮了。(Wa, nǐ jīntiān tài piàoliàngle. )

B:哪里哪里 。(Nǎlǐ nǎlǐ. )

A: Wow, you are too beautiful today.

B: Shucks.


  1. 没有没有 (Méiyǒu méiyǒu)

I haven’t, I haven’t.

Typically Chinese will downplay their successes when they are brought up, or even deny them all together. Let’s say that you lose a little bit of weight. A Chinese friend might say, “你是不是减肥了?” In response, regardless of the actual result, it would be common to respond, “没有没有.”

A:听说你高升了,变高富帅了。(Tīng shuō nǐ gāoshēngle, biàn gāofù shuàile. )
B:没有没有。(Méiyǒu méiyǒu. )

A:恭喜!(Gōngxǐ!)

A: I heard you got a promotion. You’ve become handsome, tall, and rich!

B: No, no, it’s nothing.

A: Congratulations.


 

Now you are ready to face Chinese culture!
Armed with these new phrases, you will be a star at manners in Chinese. But, remember, when someone compliments your Chinese, the correct response is “一般般吧 (Yībān bān ba) 。”

 

Here is the pronunciation of the 6 Chinese phrases:

 

IMG_1909Check out my post on my best tutor – The Taxi Driver.

What is your strangest Chinese phrase?

Angela Efros

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Xiao An November 19, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Ha Ha! Great! Your Chinese is Good. 🙂

Reply

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