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Chinese Basics

With close to 1.2 billion native speakers of Chinese, it’s easy to see how Chinese is the most spoken language in the world. And as China enjoys the second largest economy in the world, your efforts to learn Chinese are definitely worth the commitment. Mandarin Chinese is the main dialect and considered the “standard version” of Chinese. It is the official language not only of China but of Singapore.

At first glance, the Chinese writing system may seem overwhelming and unattainable. However, don’t let that deter you, as Mandarin has several things in common with English, including a few elements of grammar and the sentence structure. As with the sentence structure in English, many simple Mandarin sentences are built beginning with a subject followed by a verb, and then an object.

The Chinese writing system has about 200 primary characters. By focusing on learning a few characters, you can get up to speed quickly which can help you cover many of the more common situations of reading and writing. As an example, learning the characters for birth (生 ) and day (天 ) will help you decipher that 生日快乐 is “happy birthday.”

Basic Words and Phrases in Mandarin Chinese

If you are a beginning learner, Chinese doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You simply need the right approach and the right language learning program. Your program should scale gradually towards understanding and building confidence in speaking Chinese. Using this approach gives beginners a much greater chance of sticking with the language. This is where Rosetta Stone shines. Our language learning programs are built to scale naturally from simple, frequently used conversational phrases in context, to more complex components. Once you have those mastered, we teach you more complex parts of the language such as verb conjugation and the characters of the simplified writing system.

One of the first ways to introduce yourself to speaking Chinese Mandarin is to begin with some basic conversational words and phrases. Using common conversational phrases coupled with visual and audio cues helps you recognize and recall the words. Here are a few examples:

  • éi = hello (on the telephone)
  • hāluó = hello
  • nǐzǎo = good morning
  • zàijiàn = goodbye
  • Shì = yes
  • bàituō = please
  • xèxie = thank you
  • duìbuqǐ = sorry

Rosetta Stone offers convenient bite-sized lessons that introduce you to common Mandarin phrases you might need. These quick lessons are intended to fit into your life easily, so you are not overwhelmed and stick with the program. They are available on both desktop and via Rosetta Stone’s award-winning mobile app, and are always in sync across all your devices. This allows you to learn Chinese anytime, anywhere, and pick up exactly where you left off.

Developing your pronunciation will be especially important, and is a key component of language learning. You will be rewarded with immediate and accurate feedback on your Chinese pronunciation attempts using Rosetta Stone’s TruAccent™ speech-recognition engine. This patented speech technology instantly compares your voice to native speakers, giving you real-time feedback for the most accurate pronunciation. TruAccent is an incredibly powerful tool to help you learn and speak the Chinese language .

Try Our Award-Winning App

Surround yourself with Chinese (Mandarin) whenever, wherever with the Rosetta Stone app .

Download a unit and knock it out on the train or a flight. Select a 5-10 minute lesson and sneak it in while you wait in line or for your ride to show up. And explore dynamic features, like Seek and Speak, where you can point at an object in the real world and get a translation .

The best part? You don’t have to choose between app or desktop. Both come with your subscription and sync, so you can switch between devices seamlessly.

Learn Languages app in Google Play store Learn Languages app in iOS app store

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