How to Say "Good Morning" and "Good Evening" in Chinese

Learn These Basic Mandarin Chinese Greetings

In the previous lesson we learned how to say "hello" in Mandarin Chinese. Here are some other common greetings. Audio links are marked with ► . 

"Good Morning" in Mandarin Chinese

There are three ways to say "good morning" in Mandarin Chinese

Explanation of 早

早 (zǎo) means “morning.” It is a noun and can also be used by itself as a greeting meaning "good morning".

The Chinese character 早 (zǎo) is a composite of two character components: 日 (rì) which means "sun" and 十. The character component 十 is an old form of 甲 (jiǎ), which means “first” or “armor.” A literal interpretation of the character 早 (zǎo), therefore, is “first sun.”

Explanation of 早安

The first character 早 is explained above. The second character 安 (ān) means "peace." So, the literal translation of 早安 (zǎo ān) is "morning peace".

Explanation of 早上好

A more formal way to say "good morning" is 早上好 (zǎo shàng hǎo). We know hǎo - 好 from our first lesson. It means "good". On its own, 上 (shàng) means "up" or "upon." But in this case, 早上 (zǎo shàng) is a compound meaning "early morning." So the literal translation of 早上好 (zǎo shàng hǎo) is "early morning good".

"Good Evening" in Mandarin Chinese

晚上好 (wǎn shàng hǎo) means "good evening" in Chinese.

Explanation of 晚

晚  is composed of two parts: 日 and 免 (miǎn).

As established before, 日 means sun. 免 means "free" or "absolve." Thus, put together the character represents the concept of being free of the sun. 

Explanation of 晚上好 and 晚安

In the same pattern as 早上好 (zǎo shàng hǎo), we can say "good evening" with 晚上好 (wǎn shàng hǎo). The literal translation of 晚上好 (wǎn shàng hǎo) is "evening good".

Unlike 早安 (zǎo ān), 晚安 (wǎn ān) is not usually used as a greeting but rather as a farewell. The phrase means "good night," but more in terms of sending people off or saying to people before they go to bed. 

Appropriate Times

These greetings should be said at the appropriate time of the day. Morning greetings should be said up to about 10 a.m. Evening greetings are usually said between about 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. The standard greeting  你好 (nǐ hǎo) can be used at any time of the day or night.

Tones

As a reminder, the Pinyin Romanization used in these lessons use tone marks. Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language, which means that the meanings of words depend on which tone they use. There are four tones in Mandarin:

  • high and level
  • rising
  • falling and rising
  • falling
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Su, Qiu Gui. "How to Say "Good Morning" and "Good Evening" in Chinese." ThoughtCo, Apr. 26, 2017, thoughtco.com/more-mandarin-greetings-2279368. Su, Qiu Gui. (2017, April 26). How to Say "Good Morning" and "Good Evening" in Chinese. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/more-mandarin-greetings-2279368 Su, Qiu Gui. "How to Say "Good Morning" and "Good Evening" in Chinese." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/more-mandarin-greetings-2279368 (accessed January 22, 2018).