Phrases that You Need to Know when Walking on a Street in China

#3 你会说英语吗? (nǐ huì shuō yīngyǔ ma? “Can you speak English?”)


Actually this sentence is very important no matter where you are. If you get lost in the city or don’t know where the bathroom is and you don’t have the vocabulary to ask in Chinese, you can probably ask young Chinese people 你会说英语吗? (nǐ huì shuō yīngyǔ ma?) Since English is included in the College Entrance Examination in China, most young Chinese people can speak basic English. In addition, many taxi drivers in Beijing can speak a number of English sentences because they prepared to drive foreigners around during the 2008 Olympic Games.

#2 借过 (jiè guò “Excuse me.”)


If you come to China, no matter what, you’ll see this scene every day on the street, especially in large cities. So what do you say when you really want to cut cross the “sea of people”, like in a subway station to get on the subway? 借过(jiè guò) is the answer here. It is the equivalent of saying “excuse me” and it literately means “lend me (the room) to let me pass”. It’s a polite way to ask others to let you go first. Trust me, you’ll use it more than 20 times per day if you live in China.


TOP 1 我不要。(wǒ bú yào. “I don’t want it.”)


If you are in China, congratulations! You will now experience the joy people handing you leaflets left and right. You’ll get them at the supermarkets while shopping, in hospitals while waiting, and on the sidewalk while walking. These advertisements range a lot from “a free apple upon scanning this QR code” to pamphlets urging people to not discriminate against the gay and lesbian community. Of course most of them are annoying advertisements that no one wants in the first place. No, I do not want to sign up for your gym with the first month half off! Anyhow, when someone on the street tries to hand you a flyer use the phrase 我不要 (wǒ bú yào.), which means “I don’t want (it)”.

  • That was a really great article. I need to visit here more often!

    • HelloChinese

      Thank you so much:) We’ll post more useful things! You can tell us what you want to know and we’ll post something on that~