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5 Easy Topics in Mandarin for Everyday Conversation


Living in Malaysia, I believe we all are exposed with diversity of language and culture since we were young. Chinese being the second largest race in Malaysia means all of us would have at least 2-3 Chinese friends or neighbors growing up. I bet at some points we wish we can speak Mandarin and talk with our Chinese friends in their native language.


Mandarin sounds foreign yet it is a fascinating language to learn, and it can be especially useful for traveling to Mandarin-speaking countries such as China. Together, we'll explore some practical phrases and sentences that can help you start using Mandarin in day-to-day conversation even if you have zero basic in it.


1. GREETINGS

All conversations starts with a proper greeting, unless you are a naturally rude person or your siblings stole your food without permission. Mandarin, just like any other language, does have few ways to greet people. The most common and widely known is none other than "你好 (nǐ hǎo)" that means "hello". Alternatively, you can also start the conversation with "你好吗?(nǐ hǎo ma)" to ask "how are you?" or "最近好吗 (zuì jìn hǎo ma)" to ask "how's it going?"


2. SELF-INTRODUCTIONS


Introducing our name is like adding contact to the other person's brain, it's crucial on to establish our identity in their mind. To introduce yourself in the simplest way, you only need to know these two Mandarin syllable which is "我叫 (wǒ jiào)" followed by your name. For example, "我叫 (wǒ jiào) Muhammad.", it carry the literal meaning of "I'm called Muhammad". There are other ways to do self-introduction in Mandarin that sounds more formal but today we are going to take it easy by learning the simplest way which is "我叫 (wǒ jiào)".


3. ASKING FOR DIRECTIONS

If you're moving to a new place and need to find your way around, it's essential to know some basic Mandarin phrases to ask for directions, especially if you happen to live in a Chinese neighborhood. Whenever you want to ask question politely, always start with "请问 (qǐng wèn)" which stands for "excuse me, may I ask". The common question when going out and about at new place is knowing where the public transportation is. Here's how to say "where is" in Mandarin "在哪里 (zài nǎ lǐ)" then we will add the destination at the front of it. For example, to ask where is the subway station, we will say "地铁站在哪里? (dì tiě zhàn zài nǎ lǐ)". In Mandarin, the main idea is as the subject of the sentence which in case it would be "subway station" or "地铁站 (dì tiě zhàn)".


A/N: I hope you get the gif reference for this one :)

4. ORDERING FOOD

Malaysians' soulmate is food and Malaysia is well-known as the food paradise among SEA countries. Eating out is a common part of our daily life, and knowing how to order food in Mandarin might potentially save your bank account. Typically Chinese sellers love when non-natives speak in their native language, they usually shows appreciation in the form of discount (shhh, it's our secret weapon). To order something, say "我要 (wǒ yào)" followed by the item you want. For example, "我要鸡饭 (wǒ yào jī fàn) " means "I want chicken rice." To ask for the bill, simply say "买单 (mǎi dān)".


5. SMALL TALK

No one likes the awkward silent after introducing ourselves to new people, feeling unsure how open we can be with that person. And, that's what makes small talk a great way to get to know someone and indirect way to practice your Mandarin skills. Some common topics for small talk include the weather, hobbies, food and travel. You can start small by asking "天气怎么样? (tiān qì zěn me yàng)" to ask "how's the weather?" or "你喜欢做什么? (nǐ xǐ huān zuò shén me)" to ask "what do you like to do?". Keep it general, keep it simple and let the conversation flow.



Speaking Mandarin in daily conversation can be a fun and rewarding experience. Whether you're doing it to brush-up your Mandarin skill or simply want to mingle around the Chinese community better, knowing some common phrases and sentences can help you get started. So don't be afraid to practice and have fun with Mandarin!


If you need support from the experts *cough* Fasih Mandarin, feel free to reach out our Education Counselor and find out the latest promotion for our Mandarin class.


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