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Making Appointments in Chinese

In most Chinese-speaking countries, people are more formal than in the United States. They prefer to set appointments for most everything. So, know how to make appointments in Chinese so that you don't waste any time.

Whether you want to get together with friends or make an appointment at the embassy, the following words will come in handy.

yuēdìng (appointment)
xìnxi (sheen she) (a message)
diànhuà hàomă (dyan hwah how mah) (telephone number)
shŏujī hàomă (show jee how mah) (cell phone number)
dìzhĭ (dee jir) (address)
diànzĭ yóujiàn dìzhĭ (dyan dzuh yo shyahng dee jir) (e‑mail address)

If you need to make a more formal appointment with business or doctor’s office, plan to give them plenty of notice — usually a week or more. Also, you should expect to make all appointments over the phone. Chinese businesses, typically, do not appreciate it if you just drop by for information.

Don’t be afraid to ask the other person to slow down if you start to get lost. Just say qĭng nĭ shuō màn yìdiăn, hăoma? (Could you speak slower, please?)

The following phrases will come in handy when planning an appointment or meeting.

  • wŏmen shénme shíhou kĕyĭ jiànmiàn? (When can we meet?)

  • shénme shíjiān duì nĭ zuì hăo? (What’s a good time for you?)

  • wŏ jīntiān xiàwŭ yŏu shíjiān/kòng. (I am available this afternoon.)

  • nĭ míngtiān shàngwŭ jiŭdiăn yŏu shíjiān/kòng ma? (Are you available tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.?)

    These two terms — yŏu shíjiān (to have time) and yŏu kòng (to have free time) — are interchangeable.

  • wŏmen sāndiăn jiàn. (Let’s meet at 3.)

  • duìbuqĭ, wŏ hĕnmáng. (I’m sorry, I’m busy.)

  • duìbuqĭ. wŏ yŏu biéde shì yào zuò. (I’m sorry. I have something else to do.)

  • duìbuqĭ, wŏ jīntiān bútài shūfu. (I’m sorry. I’m not feeling that well today.)

  • wŏ yào yùyuē kàn yīshēng. (I would like to make an appointment to see the doctor.)

  • wŏ hé Zhāng yīsheng yuēdìng zài sāndiăn jiàn. (I have a 3:00 appointment with Dr. Zhang.)

  • wŏmen liăngdiăn yào kāi yí gè diànhuà huìyì. (We’re going to have a conference call at2 o’clock.)

Don’t be afraid to ask the other person to slow down if you start to get lost. Just say qĭng nĭ shuō màn yìdiăn, hăoma? (Could you speak slower, please?)

When it comes to an official appointment of any kind, punctuality is crucial. Arriving five minutes late is considered downright rude; being fifteen minutes could spell the end of any business relations. Call ahead if absolutely must be late, but be prepared to provide a reasonable explanation.

Don't be surprised if you are not able to schedule anything from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. when almost everyone takes a break. During the break time, most offices close in China, even the phones and elevators tend to be turned off.

The following phrases will come in handy when planning for an informal get together with friends and family.

  • wŏmen wănfàn hòu jiàn. (Let’s meet after dinner.)

  • wŏmen míngtiān shàngwŭ yìqĭ hē kāfēi. (Let’s meet for coffee tomorrow morning.)

  • nĭmen xīngqīwŭ xiăng qǜ kàn diànyĭng ma? (Do you want to go to the movies on Friday?)

  • wŏ xīngqīwŭ méi kòng, xīngqītiān zĕnmeyàng? (I am not free on Friday, so how about Sunday?)

  • wŏmen bă zìxíngchē dàidào xiūlĭdiàn. (Let’s take the bike to the repair shop.)

  • wŏmen míngtiān dōu yīnggāiqǜ gōngyuán. (We should all go to the park tomorrow.)

  • wŏmen xīngqīliù yìqĭ chī wănfàn ba. (Let’s have dinner on Saturday night.)

You can use this neutral tone ba at the end of a sentence to soften a command and make it a suggestion.

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