Learn Mandarin Chinese Vocabulary

Chinese words & examples on 30+ topics

Learn Mandarin Chinese Vocabulary with NihaoCafe

Vocabulary fuels your Chinese learning.

Of course, there are other aspects of the language learning too — grammar, listening & speaking skills, cultural knowledge — but vocabulary is at the core of it! The more words you know and, more importantly, can use, the more clearly you will be able to express your thoughts and understand others.

Learn Chinese Vocabulary with NihaoCafe

How to Use This Page

Use this page as a guide to many (over 30!) free Chinese vocabulary lists we have on NihaoCafe blog. Some of them are suitable for beginners; other will be more suitable for intermediate & advanced levels.

But as it happens in real life, daily language doesn’t always follow the HSK levels. So pick and choose any words you’d like to learn (or need for your daily conversations) and don’t worry about their ‘difficulty’!

All Nihao Cafe’s Chinese vocabulary lists come with:

  • Accurate pinyin;
  • Hand-picked English translations;
  • Creative examples written by NihaoCafe teachers;
  • Audio pronunciation of the words recorded by NihaoCafe teachers in putonghua, standard Chinese pronunciation;
  • Custom-made illustrations to help you visualize these words;
  • Quiz feature so you can test yourself on both Chinese and English translations.

You can use them to:

  • learn new Chinese words;
  • learn how to use these words in context with simple examples.

Happy learning — and feel free to share your favorite lists with friends!

Test Your Knowledge of Chinese Vocabulary with NihaoCafe

Vocabulary Quiz

Do you feel confident enough to test yourself on vocabulary right from the start?

Then click Start the Quiz and dive in!

If not, you can always come back to this section and toggle the switch on later.

Numbers

Learn how to count in Chinese, especially words for 1000 and 10000 which are always very useful to know.

Numbers  |  千 Qiān thousand | chinese nihaocafe

qiān

thousand

我每个月的房租是3千五百元。

Wǒ měi gè yuè de fángzū shì sānqiān wǔbǎi yuán.

My monthly rent is 3,500 yuan.

Numbers  |  Hào 号 Number  | chinese nihaocafe

Hào

Number

今天几月几号?

Jīntiān jǐ yuè jǐ hào?

What day is it today?

Languages & Nationalities

Learn what to call different nationalities in Chinese, so that you can tell where you and your friends are from.

nationalities Yīngwén 英文 english  chinese nihaocafe

英文

Yīngwén

English

这首英文歌很好听。

Zhè shǒu Yīngwén gē hěn hǎotīng.

This English song is very nice.

nationalities Hànyǔ 汉语 chinese  chinese nihaocafe

汉语

Hànyǔ

Chinese

她是一名汉语老师。

Tā shì yī míng Hànyǔ lǎoshī.

She is a Chinese teacher.

nationalities Kǒuyǔ 口语 Spoken  chinese nihaocafe

口语

Kǒuyǔ

Spoken language

他想要每天练习口语。

Tā xiǎngyào měitiān liànxí kǒuyǔ.

He wants to practice his spoken Chinese every day.

Technology / IT

Learn the different terms related to IT and Technology. Whether these terms are related to WeChat, Alipay, or payment and communication in general, they are all quite useful in everyday life.

technology Jìshù 技术 technology chinese nihaocafe

技术

jìshù

Technology

科学技术快速发展。

Kēxué jìshù kuàisù fāzhǎn.

The rapid development of science and technology.

 MEASURE WORD  项 xiàng

technology Shuā liǎn 刷脸 face scan chinese nihaocafe

刷脸

shuā liǎn

Face scan

现在可以刷脸支付了。

Xiànzài kěyǐ shuāliǎn zhīfù le.

Now you can pay with face recognition.

technology Sǎo 扫 to scan chinese nihaocafe

sǎo

To scan

你扫我还是我扫你?

Nǐ sǎo wǒ háishi wǒ sǎo nǐ?

Will you scan my QR code or shall I scan yours?

technology Fā yǔyīn 发语音 to send a voice message chinese nihaocafe

发语音

To send a voice message

我喜欢给朋友发语音。

Wǒ xǐhuan gěi péngyou fā yǔyīn.

I like to voice my friends.

Money & Shopping

Learn all the terms related to money and shopping, so that next time you need to buy some new piece of clothes, you know how to express yourself.

shopping money | Shōu huò 收货 to receive goods | chinese nihaocafe

收货

shōu huò

To receive goods

请在这里写一下你的收货地址。

Qǐng zài zhèlǐ xiě yīxià nǐ de shōu huò dìzhǐ.

Please write your delivery address here.

shopping money | Xiànjīn 现金 cash | chinese nihaocafe

现金

Cash

可以用现金吗?

Kěyǐ yòng xiànjīn ma?

Can I pay with cash?

shopping money | Xiǎo piào 小票 Receipt | chinese nihaocafe

小票

xiǎopiào

Receipt

 这是您的小票。

Zhè shì nín de xiǎopiào.

This is your receipt.

 MEASURE WORD  张  zhāng

shopping money | Mǎidān 买单 Pay the bill | chinese nihaocafe

买单

mǎidān

To pay the bill

今天的晚饭我来买单。

Jīntiān de wǎnfàn wǒ lái mǎidān.

I’ll pay the bill for today’s dinner.

Economics

Learn the most important economics terms in order to talk business with local people.

shopping money |  Fángjià 房价 house price | chinese nihaocafe

房价

fángjià

house/apartment price

市中心的房价只涨不跌。

Shì zhōngxīn de fángjià zhǐ zhǎng bù diē.

Housing prices in the city center only rise but never fall.

shopping money |  Yuán 元 Yuan  | chinese nihaocafe

yuán

Chinese yuan
(unit of money)

这杯咖啡三十元。

Zhè bēi kāfēi sānshí yuán.

This cup of coffee is thirty yuan.

shopping money |  Wánměi 完美 perfect  | chinese nihaocafe

完美

wánměi

Perfect

世界上没有完美的人。

Shìjiè shàng méiyǒu wánměi de rén.

There is no perfect person in the world.

Sports

Learn the name of the most commonly played sports ; whether it’s tennis, football or basketball, it’s always useful to know those names in order to start a small talk.

Sport Zúqiú 足球 Football chinese nihaocafe

足球

zúqiú

Football

你喜欢踢足球吗?

Nǐ xǐhuan tī zúqiú ma?

Do you like playing football?

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

Sport Qiúyuán 球员 Football player chinese nihaocafe

球员

qiúyuán

Football player

我最喜欢的球员是梅西。

Wǒ zuì xǐhuan de qiúyuán shì Méixī.

My favorite player is Messi.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè / 名 míng

Sport Lánqiú 篮球 basketball chinese nihaocafe

篮球

lánqiú

basketball

要一起去打篮球吗?

Yào yīqǐ qù dǎ lánqiú ma?

Do you want to play basketball together?

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

Sport Yóuyǒng 游泳 swim chinese nihaocafe

游泳

yóuyǒng

To swim

今天下午你要去游泳吗?

Jīntiān xiàwǔ nǐ yào qù yóuyǒng ma?

Are you going swimming this afternoon?

Seasons

Learn how to call the different seasons of the year, so that you can get ready for the hot and cold temperatures.

Seasons Jìjié 季节 seasons chinese nihaocafe

季节

jìjié

Season

你最喜欢的季节是什么?

Nǐ zuì xǐhuan de jìjié shì shénme?

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SEASON?

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

Seasons Qiūtiān 秋天 autumn chinese nihaocafe

秋天

qiūtiān

Autumn

北京的秋天很漂亮。

Běijīng de qiūtiān hěn piāoliang.

AUTUMN IN BEIJING IS VERY BEAUTIFUL.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

Seasons Dōngtiān 冬天 winter chinese nihaocafe

冬天

dōngtiān

Winter

冬天很冷。

Dōngtiān hěn lěng.

WINTER IS VERY COLD.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

Western food

Learn the name of the most common western ingredients and dishes, in order to order them in the restaurant or at the supermarket whenever you miss food from home.

body Niúròu 牛肉 beef chinese nihaocafe

牛肉

niúròu

Beef

牛肉面很好吃。

Niúròumiàn hěn hǎochī.

THE BEEF NOODLES ARE DELICIOUS.

 MEASURE WORD  碗 wǎn

body miànbāo 面包 bread chinese nihaocafe

面包

miànbāo

Bread

今天早饭是面包和牛奶。

Jīntiān zǎofàn shì miànbāo hé niúnǎi.

BREAKFAST TODAY IS BREAD AND MILK.

 MEASURE WORD  片 piàn

body  Pīsà 披萨 Pizza chinese nihaocafe

披萨

pīsà

Pizza

意大利人喜欢吃披萨。

Yìdàlìrén xǐhuan chī pīsà.

ITALIANS LIKE TO EAT PIZZA.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè / 块 kuài

body  Shālā 沙拉 Salade chinese nihaocafe

沙拉

shālā

Salad

我点了一份沙拉。

Wǒ diǎn le yī fèn shālā.

I ORDERED A SALAD.

 MEASURE WORD  份 fèn

Fruits

Learn how to call the most important fruits, because it’s important to provide your body with a lot of vitamins.

Fruits  |  苹果 Píngguǒ apple | chinese nihaocafe

苹果

Píngguǒ

apple

这个苹果不太甜。

Zhè gè píngguǒ bù tài tián.

THIS APPLE IS NOT TOO SWEET.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

Fruits  |  香蕉 Xiāngjiāo banana | chinese nihaocafe

香蕉

Xiāngjiāo

banana

香蕉多少钱一斤?

Xiāngjiāo duōshao qián yī jīn?

HOW MUCH IS A POUND OF BANANAS?

 MEASURE WORD  根 gēn

Fruits  |  Pútáo 葡萄 grape | chinese nihaocafe

葡萄

Pútáo

grape

我们点了一瓶红葡萄酒。

Wǒmen diǎnle yī píng hóng pútaojiǔ.

WE ORDERED A BOTTLE OF RED WINE

 MEASURE WORD  串 chuàn

Fruits  |  Shuǐguǒ fruit 水果 | chinese nihaocafe

水果

Shuǐguǒ

fruit

吃水果对身体好。

Chī shuǐguǒ duì shēntǐ hǎo.

EATING FRUIT IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

Desserts

Learn how to call the most delicious desserts so that next time at the restaurant, you can treat yourself some yummy dish.

dessert  | 饼干 Bǐnggān Biscuits  | chinese nihaocafe

饼干

bǐnggān

Biscuits

桌子上放着很多饼干。

Zhuōzi shàng fàngzhe hěn duō bǐnggān.

There are many biscuits on the table.

 MEASURE WORD  块 kuài

dessert  | 蛋糕 Dàngāo cake  | chinese nihaocafe

蛋糕

dàngāo

cake

我想吃一块儿蛋糕。

Wǒ xiǎng chī yīkuàir dàngāo.

I want to eat a piece of cake.

 MEASURE WORD  块 kuài

dessert  | 巧克力  Qiǎokèlì chocolate | chinese nihaocafe

巧克力

qiǎokèlì

chocolate

小朋友爱吃巧克力。

Xiǎopéngyou ài chī qiǎokèlì.

Children love chocolate.

 MEASURE WORD  块 kuài

House Rooms

Learn how to call the different rooms of an apartment. This is especially useful when you need to describe your dream flat to a real estate agent.

body  Fángjiān 房间 Room chinese nihaocafe

房间

fángjiān

Room

我家有四个房间。

Wǒ jiā yǒu sì gè fángjiān.

There are four rooms in my house.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

body Cèsuǒ 厕所 bathroom chinese nihaocafe

厕所

cèsuǒ

Bathroom

厕所在一楼。

Cèsuǒ zài yīlóu.

The bathroom is on the first floor.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

body  Chuāng 窗 window chinese nihaocafe

chuāng

Window

我想要一个靠窗的位置。

Wǒ xiǎngyào yī gè kàochuāng de wèizhì.

I want a position by the window.

 MEASURE WORD  扇 shàn

body Kètīng 客厅 kitchen  chinese nihaocafe

客厅

kètīng

Living room

你家客厅很大。

Nǐ jiā kètīng hěn dà.

Your living room is very big.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

Home Furniture

Learn the names of the furniture items you might need to buy in China when changing apartment. It’s important to know how the different pieces are called in case you need to replace them or order them online.

furniture Yīguì 衣柜 wardrobe chinese nihaocafe

衣柜

Yīguì

Wardrobe

这个衣柜很高。

Zhè gè yīguì hěn gāo.

This wardrobe is very tall.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

furniture Lèsè tǒng 垃圾桶 Trash can  chinese nihaocafe

垃圾桶

Lèsè tǒng

Trash can

请把垃圾扔进垃圾桶里。

Qǐng bǎ lājī rēng jìn lājītǒng lǐ.

Please throw the rubbish in the trash can.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

furniture Zhuōzi 桌子 Table chinese nihaocafe

桌子

Zhuōzi

Table

咖啡在桌子上。

Kāfēi zài zhuōzi shàng.

Coffee on the table.

 MEASURE WORD  张 zhāng

furniture Jìngzi 镜子 Mirror chinese nihaocafe

镜子

Jìngzi

Mirror

不可以把镜子放在床对面。

Bú kěyǐ bǎ jìngzi fàng zài chuáng duìmiàn.

Do not put the mirror on the opposite side of the bed.

 MEASURE WORD  面 miàn

House appliances

Learn the name of the different devices at your apartment. It’s important to know how to call the appliances, for example if you need to call the repair man to come fix some broken devices. 

house appliances Kòngtiáo 空调 Air Conditioning chinese nihaocafe

空调

Kòngtiáo

Air conditioning

夏天经常用空调。

Xiàtiān jīngcháng yòng kōngdiào.

AIR CONDITIONING IS OFTEN USED IN SUMMER.

 MEASURE WORD  台 tái

house appliances Kòngtiáo 洗碗机 dishwasher chinese nihaocafe

洗碗机

Xǐ wǎn jī

Dishwasher

我要换一个新的洗碗机。

Wǒ yào huàn yī gè xīn de xǐwǎnjī.

I WANT TO REPLACE IT WITH A NEW DISHWASHER.

 MEASURE WORD  台 tái

house appliances Kǎoxiāng 烤箱 oven chinese nihaocafe

烤箱

Oven

用烤箱烤面包。

Yòng kǎoxiāng kǎo miànbāo.

Bake bread in the oven.

 MEASURE WORD  台 tái

house appliances Xǐyījī 洗衣机 washing machine chinese nihaocafe

洗衣机

Xǐyījī

Washing machine

洗衣机坏了。

Xǐyījī huài le.

The washing machine is broken.

 MEASURE WORD  台 tái

Daily Use Objects

Learn the name of the different objects of your daily life, so that you can ask for it in the supermarket.

daily  | Rìyòngpǐn 日用品 Daily necessities  | chinese nihaocafe

日用品

rìyòngpǐn

Daily necessities

我去超市买日用品。

Wǒ qù chāoshì mǎi rìyòngpǐn.

I go to the supermarket to buy daily necessities.

 MEASURE WORD  一些 yīxiē

daily  | Cháimǐyóuyán 柴米油盐 firewood, rice, oil and salt  | chinese nihaocafe

柴米油盐

chái mǐ yóu yán

firewood, rice, oil and salt (expression)

做饭需要柴米油盐。

Zuò fàn xūyào cháimǐyóuyán.

You need firewood, rice, oil and salt to cook.

daily  |  Yágāo toothpaste 牙膏   | chinese nihaocafe

牙膏

yágāo

toothpaste

牙膏用完了。

Yágāo yòngwán le.

I ran out of toothpaste.

Family members

Learn how to call the different family members. You might know that Chinese vocabulary is very precise for family members, that’s why it’s important to know them all in order to not get confused when talking about a specific person.

holidays Jiātíng 家庭 Family chinese nihaocafe

家庭

Jiātíng

Family

我有一个大家庭。

Wǒ yǒu yī gè dà jiātíng.

I HAVE A BIG FAMILY.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

holidays  老婆 Wife chinese nihaocafe

女朋友

Nǚ péngyǒu

Girlfriend

我的女朋友很漂亮。

Wǒ de nǚpéngyou hěn piàoliang.

MY GIRLFRIEND IS VERY BEAUTIFUL.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

holidays  老婆 Wife chinese nihaocafe

妻子

Qīzi

Wife

我的妻子是上海人。

Wǒ de qīzi shì Shànghǎirén.

MY WIFE IS FROM SHANGHAI.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

holidays  Zhàngfū 丈夫 husband chinese nihaocafe

丈夫

Zhàngfū

Husband

她丈夫是一名警察。

Tā zhàngfu shì yī míng jǐngchá.

HER HUSBAND IS A POLICEMAN.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

People

Learn the most important nouns and adjectives describing people, so that you can easily describe individuals.

People Lǎo 老 old chinese nihaocafe

lǎo

Old

他是我的老朋友。

Tā shì wǒ de lǎo péngyou.

He is my old friend.

People Niánqīng 年轻 Young chinese nihaocafe

年轻

niánqīng

Young

现在的年轻人都离不开手机。

Xiàn zài de nián qīng rén dōu lí bù kāi shǒu jī.

Young people today are inseparable from mobile phones.

People Háizi 孩子child chinese nihaocafe

孩子

Háizi

Child

他的孩子都很优秀。

Tā de háizi dōu hěn yōu xiù.

His children are excellent.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

People Yǒuqíng 友情 friendship  chinese nihaocafe

友情

Yǒuqíng

Friendship

友情和爱情哪个更重要?

Yǒuqíng hé àiqíng nǎ gè gèng zhòngyào?

Which is more important, friendship or love?

 MEASURE WORD  段 duàn / 份 fèn

Celebrities

Learn the name of the some celebrities, actors or fictional characters.

celebrities | Chénglóng 成龙  Jackie Chan | chinese nihaocafe

成龙

Chénglóng

Jackie Chan

你看过成龙的电影吗?

Nǐ kànguo Chéng Lóng de diànyǐng ma?

HAVE YOU SEEN JACKIE CHAN’S MOVIE?

celebrities | Chuàngshǐ rén 创始人 founder | chinese nihaocafe

创始人

Chuàngshǐ rén

Founder

马云是阿里巴巴的创始人。

Mǎ Yún shì Ālǐbābā de chuàngshǐrén.

MA YUN IS THE FOUNDER OF ALIBABA.

 MEASURE WORD  位 wèi

celebrities | Chāorén 超人 Superman | chinese nihaocafe

超人

Chāorén

Superman

超人会飞。

Chāorén huì fēi.

SUPERMAN CAN FLY.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

Habits

Learn the most common animal names in Chinese. Learn how to pronounce the 12 zodiac animals, but also other animals of the farm.

habits Yǎngshēng 养生 keep in good health chinese nihaocafe

养生

yǎngshēng

Keep in good health

中国人很懂养生。

Zhōngguórén hěn dǒng yǎngshēng.

Chinese people know a lot about health & nutrition.

habits Chōuyān 抽烟 to smoke chinese nihaocafe

抽烟

chōuyān

To smoke

房间里不可以抽烟。

Fángjiān lǐ bù kěyǐ chōuyān.

Smoking is not allowed in the room.

Body Parts

Learn the names for different body parts in Chinese, so that next time you go to a massage place, to see a doctor or to get a new haircut, you can describe the body they should pay particular attention to.

body shenti 身体 chinese nihaocafe

身体

shēntǐ

body

我身体不舒服。

Wǒ shēntǐ bù shūfu.

I’m not feeling well.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

body face lian 脸 chinese nihaocafe

liǎn

face

她的脸红了。

Tā de liǎn hóng le.

She blushed.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

body hair toufa 头发 chinese nihaocafe

头发

tóufa

hair

你的头发很长。

Nǐ de tóufa hěn cháng.

Your hair is long.

 MEASURE WORD  个 gè

body hair fringe bangs Liúhǎi er 刘海儿 chinese nihaocafe

刘海儿

liúhǎir

bangs / fringe

我想剪刘海儿。

Wǒ xiǎng jiǎn liúhǎir.

I want to get bangs.

Make Up

Learn terms related to make up and cosmetics, so that next time you need to make a present for your best friend’s birthday, you know what to ask for.

Make up  |  Huàzhuāng 化妆 make up  | chinese nihaocafe

化妆

huàzhuāng

make up

今天来不及化妆就出门了。

Jīntiān láibuújí huàzhuāng jiù chūmén le.

I went out before I had time to put on makeup today.

Make up  |  Hùfū pǐn 护肤品 Skin care products  | chinese nihaocafe

护肤品

Hùfū pǐn

Skin care products

我一直用这个牌子的护肤品。

Wǒ yīzhí yòng zhè gè páizi de hùfūpǐn.

I always use this brand of skin care products.

 MEASURE WORD  套 tào

Animals

Learn the most common animal names in Chinese — including pets from dogs & cats to birds, fishes & butterflies — and other common animal species in the animal kingdom!

animals  chinese nihaocafe

动物

dòngwù

Animal

你最喜欢的动物是什么?

Nǐ zuì xǐhuan de dòngwù shì shénme?

What’s your favourite animal?

 MEASURE WORD  只 zhī / 个 gè /群 qún

animal pets Chǒngwù 宠物 chinese nihaocafe

宠物

chǒngwù

Pet

你养宠物吗?

Nǐ yǎng chǒngwù ma?

Do you have a pet?

 MEASURE WORD  只 zhī / 个 gè /群 qún

animal cat 猫

māo

Cat

我家有一只小猫。

Wǒ jiā yǒu yī zhī māo.

I have a cat.

 MEASURE WORD  只 zhī

Plants

Learn all the terms related to plants and more generally nature, so that next time you need to add some green to your living room, you know what to look for.

Numbers | 草 Cǎo grass | chinese nihaocafe

Cǎo

grass

不要坐在草地上。

Bù yào zuò zài cǎodì shàng.

Don’t sit on the grass.

 MEASURE WORD  株 zhū / 棵 kē

Numbers | Huā 花 flower | chinese nihaocafe

Huā

flower

我们去花店买花吧!

Wǒmen qù huā diàn mǎi huā ba!

Let’s go to the flower shop to buy flowers!

 MEASURE WORD  枝zhī / 束  shù / 盆 pén

Numbers | 叶子 Yèzi leaf | chinese nihaocafe

叶子

Yèzi

leaf

树上的叶子是黄色的。

Shùshàng de yèzi shì huángsè de.

The leaves on the tree are yellow.

 MEASURE WORD  片 piàn

Holidays

Learn what to call the different celebrations of the year and get ready to celebrate with people that count.

holidays 生日 Shēngrì birthday chinese nihaocafe

生日

Shēngrì

Birthday

你养宠物吗?

Nǐ yǎng chǒngwù ma?

Do you have a pet?

 MEASURE WORD  只 zhī / 个 gè /群 qún

holidays 婚礼 Hūnlǐ Wedding chinese nihaocafe

婚礼

Hūnlǐ

Wedding

很多中国老年人喜欢养鸟。

Hěn duō Zhōngguó lǎoniánrén xǐhuan yǎng niǎo.

Many old Chinese people like to HAVe birds as A pet.

 MEASURE WORD  只 zhī

aholidays 圣诞节 Shèngdàn jié christmas chinese nihaocafe

圣诞节

Shèngdàn jié

Christmas

你最喜欢的动物是什么?

Nǐ zuì xǐhuan de dòngwù shì shénme?

What’s your favourite animal?

 MEASURE WORD  只 zhī / 个 gè /群 qún