Tourists in China usually speak Chinese for three things: being cordial, buying something, and asking directions. So here are 10 essential expressions that will allow you do these essential things.
1) How are you?
Chinese: Nǐ hǎo ma? (Nee-haoww-mah?) 你好吗
Wèi (/way/ 喂), mostly used on the 'phone, is the closest Chinese to "hello" or "hi " Nowadays most Chinese speakers know the English word "hello" and might use it even when meeting Chinese people. It has become an English loanword in the Chinese language, written 哈啰, and pronounced hāluo (haa-lwor), so it may sound odd when Chinese-speakers try to say "hello".
"Nǐ hǎo ma?" literally means "You good?" (nǐ = you, hǎo = good, ma = ?). Similar to "How are you?", it can mean "Are you ok?"
"Nǐhǎo" is said frequently. It might mean "Nǐ hǎo ma?", but it typically means something like 'It's you — good." or "Nice to see you." It's the most basic and standard Chinese greeting.
2) Good or bad?
Chinese: Hǎobùhǎo? (haoww-boo-haoww) 好不好?
Hǎomeans 'good'. Hǎo also means "ok".
Bùhǎomeans 'not good'. ("Bu" means 'no' or 'not'.) Chinese speakers use "hǎo" and "buhao" to say something is good or bad, and to signal agreement or disagreement.
Combining "hǎo" and "bùhǎo" gives "Hǎobùhǎo?", which is a question. It means 'Good or not good?' or 'Is it ok?' After this or "Nǐ hǎo ma?" you can reply "hǎo" or "bùhǎo".
3) Thank you
Chinese: Xièxie. (sshyeah-sshyeah) 谢 谢
This is the basic and simple way to say thank you.
4) I'm sorry.
Chinese: Duìbuqǐ. (dway-boo-chee) 对不起
This phrase can be used both to apologize and to ask for repetition. It literally means "I didn't begin correctly." or "You're right, that isn't upright."
"Duì" means 'correct'. It is often repeated two or three times to indicate agreement (Duì duì duì).