Chinese Phrases For Dummies
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When making plans, appointments, and travel arrangements in Chinese-speaking countries, you need to be able to state dates and other calendar terms in Chinese. Knowing how to say and understand dates, the days of the week, and the months of the year can help you to avoid confusion.

Days of the week

Days in Chinese are very simple: Monday through Saturday are days (xīngqi) 1 through 6, while Sunday is either "day of sky" (xīngqitiān) or "day of the sun" (xīngqirì).

xīngqīyī (sheeng chee ee) (Monday)
xīngqīèr (sheeng chee are) (Tuesday)
xīngqīsān (sheeng chee sahn) (Wednesday)
xīngqī (sheeng chee suh) (Thursday)
xīngqīwŭ (sheeng chee woo) (Friday)
xīngqīliù (sheeng chee lyoe) (Saturday)
xīngqītiān (sheeng chee tyan) (Sunday)

Other phrases used to indicate the days of the week include:

jīntiān (jin tyan) (today)
zuótiān (dzwaw tyan) (yesterday)
míngtiān (meeng tyan) (tomorrow)
hào (hao) (dates)

Months of the year

Months in Chinese are simply the number of the month plus the word "month" (yuè).

yīyuè (ee yweh) (January)
èryuè (are yweh) (February)
sānyuè (sahn yweh) (March)
sìyuè (suh yweh) (April)
wŭyuè (woo yweh) (May)
liùyuè (lyo yweh) (June)
qīyuè (chee yweh) (July)
bāyuè (bah yweh) (August)
jiŭyuè (jyo yweh) (September)
shíyuè (shir yweh) (October)
shíyīyuè (shir ee yweh) (November)
shíèryuè (shir are yweh) (December)

Telling time

The time of day can be described in general terms or specific times. The following words can be used to describe the general time of day.

zăochén (dzaow chen) (morning)
báitiān (bai tyan) (day)
zhōngwŭ (juong woo) (noon)
xiàwŭ (sya woo) (afternoon)
wănshàng (wan shang) (evening)
wăn (yeh wan) (night)
bànyè (ban yeh) (midnight)

When you want to know a specific time of day, you can ask jĭdiăn le? (What time is it?) or xiànzài jĭ diănzhōng? (What time is it now?)

Chinese commonly uses the 24-hour clock for all official listings, including plane and train schedules, store hours, and the program guide for TV stations. For every hour after 12 noon, just add an hour. So 1 p.m. becomes 13, and 8 p.m. becomes 20.

bā diăn (8:00)
bànyè yī diăn (1 a.m.)
zăoshàng qī diăn (7 a.m.)
shàngwŭ shíyī diăn (11 a.m.)
zhōngwŭ shíèr diăn (12 p.m.)
xiàwŭ liăng diăn (2 p.m.)
wănshàng liù diăn (6 p.m.)

When expressing time between the hours, use the following terms to break things down.

diănzhōng (o’clock)
xiăoshí (hour)
yíkèzhōng (quarter hour)
fēnzhōng (minute)
miăo (second)
bànxiăoshí (half an hour)
Generally, you can use bàn for "half past," such as jiŭ diăn bàn (9:30).

The following are some examples of specific times.

bādiăn shífēn (8:10)
jiŭdiăn yíkè (9:15)
jiŭdiăn bàn (9:30)
shídiăn sān kè (10:45)
chà yí kè shíyī diăn (quarter to eleven)
chà wŭ fēn shíyī diăn (literally: five minutes to eleven) (10:55)

You can use the following phrases as a guide when talking about time in Chinese.

  • jīntiān shì xīngqījĭ? (What day is today?)

  • jīntiān shì xīngqīyī. (Today is Monday.)

  • nĭ shénme shíhou zŏu? (What day are you leaving?)

  • wŏ xīngqīliù zŏu. (I am leaving on Saturday.)

  • jīntiān shì jĭ hào? (What’s the date today?)

  • jīntiān shì shíèr hào. (Today is the 12th.)

  • nĭde shēngrì shì jĭyuè jĭhào? (What month and day is your birthday?)

  • wŏde shēngrì shì qīyuè shísān hào. (My birthday is July 13.)

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