Knowing how to introduce yourself in Mandarin Chinese is essential.
Whether you’re forging new friendships, traveling to China, meeting new business partners, or going for a job interview, a good introduction will leave a good impression.
Beyond a simple hello, you may also want to equip yourself with other introductory phrases.
The context in which you introduce yourself obviously matters.
In this guide, I’ll cover some key phrases that will help you tackle self-introductions with more confidence and ease.
On top of that, understanding a thing or two about Chinese culture/etiquette will also give you an edge.
Etiquette when introducing yourself in Chinese
In Chinese culture, people don’t typically bow when greeting one another.
Instead, you’ll notice handshakes and nods being exchanged.
If it’s your first time meeting a stranger, it’s best to abstain from overly-friendly physical gestures, such as hugging or kissing on the cheek.
Though this may be common in other cultures, it’s rare in Chinese culture.
One of the most common ways to greet someone in China is with a quick handshake, the right amount of eye contact, and a warm smile. But if you’re meeting someone completely new or of a higher status, you may wish to wait for them to initiate the handshake before you go in for it.
And if they don’t, greet them with a polite nod instead.
In business and formal settings, allow your Chinese counterpart to initiate handshakes and try to introduce yourself with your full name. If business cards are exchanged, receive the other party’s card with both hands as a polite gesture.
Take a good look at it before storing it, as this conveys interest and respect. When handing over your business card, do it with both hands as well.
Key phrases to introduce yourself in Mandarin Chinese
Introductions don’t merely involve names.
You’ll likely start with a hello and your name. Moving on from that, you may also talk about your job, profession, where you’re from, or your age.
Any conversation is a two-way street, and the best introductions usually involve two people genuinely wanting to know each other better.
You won’t leave a good impression if you only talk about yourself the entire conversation!
Hence, we’ll also cover how you can ask for a person’s name, where they’re from, and what they’re currently doing.
After you’ve nailed the hellos (and goodbyes), here’s are some key phrases to follow it up!
1. Telling people your name
After the hello, introductions usually start with an exchange of names.
You may ask for their name to break the ice. You can say 你叫什么名字(nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?), meaning “What’s your name?”
Another phrase you can use is 请问怎么称呼? (qǐngwèn zěnme chēnghu), meaning “How may I address you?”
Once they’ve given you their name, you may proceed with introducing yourself. To do so, you may use the phrase 我叫…, followed by your name. Other than that, you may also say 我的名字是… (wǒ de míngzi shì…), then your name.
If the person has asked for your name first, tell them your name, and you may then ask for theirs by saying, 你呢? (nǐ ne), which means “How about you?” The 你 means “you” while the 呢 is a questions particle in this context.
In business settings or formal situations, you may wish to use 您呢? (nín ne), where the 您 also carries the meaning “you” but is a formal, polite, and highly respectful way of addressing the other party.
If you’re meeting someone of a higher status, someone senior, your boss, or anyone you greatly respect and admire, then you should use 您 instead of the more casual 你.
In some settings, people would introduce themselves by their surname or last name. You can do the same by saying 我姓… (wǒ xìng…) followed by your last name.
2. Talking about your country of origin
If you’re a tourist or foreigner vising China, chances are, your Chinese friends and counterparts would be curious to know where you’re from.
They may also prompt you to talk a little more about your background and home country with the following questions:
These phrases have similar meanings and can be interchangeably used to ask the other person where they’re from or for their nationality.
You can then reply by saying 我是…人 (wǒ shì … rén).
You’ll insert your country into the phrase. For instance, if you’re from America, you can say 我是美国人 (wǒ shì měiguó rén). This means “I’m American.” or “I’m from America.”
If you’re in a slightly more formal setting, you can use the phrase 我来自… (wǒ lái zì…). If you’re from America, this would then be 我来自美国 (wǒ lái zì měiguó), which means “I am from America.”
Finally, your friends may be curious about where you’re currently based. The question you’ll come upon is 你住在哪里? (nǐ zhù zài nǎli), meaning “Where do you live?”
Of course, they’re not looking for your full address. What you could say is 我住在上海 (wǒ zhù zài shànghǎi), and this means “I live in Shanghai.” Replace the last two characters with your country or city of residence.
The following table lists some countries in Chinese.
|Country||Chinese Characters||Chinese Pinyin|
3. Talking about what you currently do
You may need to talk a little about your job or career when meeting someone new.
On the flip side, you may also be interested in what the other party currently does for a living.
You may prompt them to talk a little more about their career pursuit by saying 你做什么工作? (nǐ zuò shénme gōngzuò?), meaning “What is your job?” Alternatively, you may also use the phrase 你的职业是什么? (nǐ de zhíyè shì shénme), which means “What is your occupation?”
You can also ask where they work by using the phrase 你在哪里工作? (nǐ zài nǎlǐ gōngzuò), meaning “Where do you work?”
You could then reply by saying something along the lines of 我是医生 (wǒ shì yī shēng), meaning “I am a doctor.” You’ll replace the last two characters with your profession or occupational identity.
If you’d like to be very proper, you can then say 我是一名医生 (wǒ shì yī míng yīshēng). Perhaps you’re currently studying. In this case, you can use the phrase 我是一名学生 (wǒ shì yī míng xuéshēng), which just means “I’m a student.”
In English, the “a” and “an” are commonly used before a noun. However, this would not be necessary for the Chinese language. The 一名 could be likened to the “a” or “an” in English. It’s best used when talking about occupations or professions.
You can still omit 一名, though, as it is not required to form a complete sentence.
Some native speakers may find that dropping the 一名 does not sound natural, so you may still wish to slot it into your sentence when talking about your profession.
Say the other party has asked you where you work. You can reply by saying 我在…工作 (wǒ zài … gōngzuò), which conveys the meaning “I work at…”
Perhaps you work at a café. In that case, you’ll say 我在咖啡店工作 (wǒ zài kāfēi diàn gōngzuò). Or if you work at a bank, you can then say 我在银行工作 (wǒ zài yínháng gōngzuò). Replace the middle of the phrase with the location of your workplace.
The following table lists some common occupations.
Hopefully, this will help you introduce your profession confidently in Mandarin Chinese!
|Occupation||Chinese Characters||Chinese pinyin|
4. Introducing your hobbies and favorite activities
Having similar interests and hobbies is definitely one way to jumpstart a new friendship. In any conversation, finding common ground would be a huge advantage.
If you’re curious about what the other party enjoys doing during their free time, you can prompt them to share their interests. There are several variations you can use to go about this. These phrases include:
When asked about your hobbies and interests, you can reply with 我的爱好是… (wǒ de àihào shì…), meaning “My hobby is…” You can also say 我喜欢 (wǒ xǐhuān), which means “I like to…”
Insert your favorite pastime and interest at the end of the phrase.
For instance, if you enjoy playing video games, you can say 我喜欢玩电子游戏 (wǒ xǐhuān wán diànzǐ yóuxì).
Here’s a table of some common hobbies and interests.
|Activity||Chinese Characters||Chinese pinyin|
|Playing football||踢足球||Tī zúqiú|
|Watching movies||看电影||kàn diànyǐng|
|Playing volleyball||打排球||dǎ páiqiú|
5. Talking about your family
In China, your conversation might touch a little on the topic of family.
Asking basic questions about someone’s family conveys genuine interest in getting to know the other person. Of course, there’s no need to ask very personal questions.
Just a few simple questions will do the trick.
When meeting a family friend or a relative for the first time, you may expect some questions about family to come your way.
Some questions related to the topic of family include the following:-
When asked about siblings, you can talk about the number of brothers or sisters you have.
For instance, you can say 我有一个哥哥 (wǒ yǒu yīgè gēgē), meaning “I have one older brother.” 一 in that phrase means “one,” while 哥哥 means “older brother.” You can replace those accordingly.
Another example would be 我有两个姐姐 (wǒ yǒu liǎng gè jiějiě), which means “I have two older sisters.”
If asked about how your parents are currently doing, you can say something along the lines of 我的父母还好 (wǒ de fùmǔ hái hǎo). This means, “My parents are doing alright.”
Say you’re asked 你结婚了吗? (Are you married?).
In that case, you can reply with 结婚了 (jiéhūnle), meaning “I’m married.” or 我单身 (wǒ dānshēn), which means “I’m single.” or “I’m not attached.”
Finally, you may be met with questions about your children, for example, the number of children you have.
You can reply with something along the lines of 我有一个女儿 (wǒ yǒu yīgè nǚ’ér), meaning “I have one daughter.”
If you have a son, you can say 我有一个儿子 (wǒ yǒu yīgè er zi).
Introducing yourself to someone new goes beyond a simple name exchange
By broadening your vocabulary and knowledge of Mandarin Chinese, you can introduce yourself to another person with more confidence.
Plus, one way to convey a genuine interest in getting to know the other party is to prompt them with relevant questions.
Without a doubt, the best conversations are a two-way street.
By learning a mix of questions and replies to use in such introductory discussions, you’ll definitely leave a positive and lasting impression!
Where to from here?
Or jump on italki and start introducing yourself to Chinese speakers now.
Which phrases do you typically use to introduce yourself?
Let me know in the comments below - especially if they haven’t been mentioned in this list.