5 Lesson 1 Dialogue 1: Meeting People for the First Time


(Li Xiaopeng is a freshman at a Chinese university. Today is her first day at school. She meets Wang Gui on campus.)

Simplified Chinese Traditional Chinese
Li Xiaopeng: 您好!我姓李,请问您贵姓?
Wang Gui: 你好!我姓王。
Li Xiaopeng: 王先生,您叫什么?
Wang Gui: 我叫王贵。李小姐,你呢?
Li Xiaopeng:我叫李小朋。很高兴认识您!
Wang Gui: 很高兴认识你!
Li Xiaopeng: 您好!我姓李,請問您貴姓?
Wang Gui: 你好!我姓王。
Li Xiaopeng: 王先生,您叫什麼?
Wang Gui: 我叫王貴。李小姐,你呢?
Li Xiaopeng:我叫李小朋。很高興認識您!
Wang Gui: 很高興認識你!




Chinese Pinyin English
pron., you
hǎo adj., good, nice, kind
你好 nǐ hǎo hello
nín pron., a respectful way to say “you”
请/請 qĭng v., to please
问/問 wèn v., to ask
请问/請問 qĭng wèn a polite way to start a question, meaning “May I ask…”
贵/貴 guì adj., honorable, expensive
xìng v./n., to be surnamed; surname
贵姓 guì xìng a polite way to ask for people’s surname
pron., I/me
Wáng Chinese surname
先生 xiān sheng n., Mr.; gentleman; husband
王先生 Wáng xiān sheng Mr. Wang
Chinese surname
小姐 xiăo jiě n., Miss, Madam
李小姐 Lĭ xiăo jiě Miss Li
jiào verb, to call or to be called
什么/什麼 shén me question word, what
叫什么/叫什麼 jiào shén me to be called what
xiǎo adj., little, small
péng noun, friend as in 朋友
ne question particle, used after a noun or a pronoun to form a question
hěn adv., very, very much
高兴/高興 gāo xìng adj., happy, glad, pleased
认识/認識 rèn shi verb, to know
很高兴认识你/很高興認識你 hěn gāo xìng rèn shí nǐ It’s a pleasure to meet you.

Grammar Notes:

  1. Greeting with 你好 (nǐ hǎo, hello, literally “you good/well”):
    This expression is often used to greet people whom you meet for the first time. 您好nín hǎo” is the respectful form of “nǐ hǎo”—it’s used to express special respect for the addressee. It is typically used when meeting people more senior in age or status or when greeting customers. In such situations the reply is often simply 你好 or 您好.
  2. The verb (xìng, to be called):
    This verb is used with the surname only, never with the first name or the first plus surname together. For example, 我姓李 literally “I am called Li by last name”, meaning “My last name is Li”.
  3. How to use 贵姓 (guì xìng):
    贵姓 literally is “honorable surname”. 你/您贵姓 is a formal way to ask for somebody’s surname. Note: when answering such a question, just reply with “我姓 + surname”. For example, “您贵姓?” “我姓王。” Note: Do not repeat “贵姓” in your reply.
  4. Requesting politely with 请问 (qĭng wèn):
    In Chinese, the character (similar to “please” in English) is used before verbs to indicate “politeness”. The structure is “ + verb”. For example, 请听。(Please listen.) 请跟我说。(Please read after me.)
    In this dialogue, the phrase 请问 (qǐngwèn) is a set expression meaning not “please ask”, but “may I ask”. It often occurs before a question to make polite requests for information. For instance, 请问您贵姓?(May I ask what your surname is?) In this sentence, 您贵姓 is the question that asks for surname, and 请问 is put before it to indicate that the speaker is being polite.
  5. Chinese pronouns:
    The basic personal pronouns are:
    (): I, me
    (): you
    他, 她, 它 (): he/him, she/her, it
    is added to the singular to form the equivalent plural pronoun:
    我们 (wǒ men): we/us
    你们 (nǐ men): you (plural)
    他们, 她们, 它们 (tā men): they/them
  6. The verb (jiào, to be called, to call):
    This verb can be followed by a given name or a full name. The structure is “subject + + bi-syllable given name or full name“. For example, 我叫王小名, literally “I am called Wang Xiaoming”.
    The verb can also be used to mean “to call”. For example, 我叫他李贵。(I call him Li Gui.)
  7. Questions with 什么 (shén me, what):
    The question word 什么 can be used either as a modifier as in 什么名字 (shénme míngzì, what name) or as a pronoun as in 你叫什么, literally “you are called what?”, meaning “what is your name?”.
  8. Questions with (ne):
    is a question particle used to ask if a previous statement applies to the current situation too. For example: When somebody states 我姓王 (wǒ xìng wǎng, My last name is Wang), he/she may then continues with 你呢 (nǐ ne), meaning “what about you?”.
  9. The sentence 很高兴认识你 (hěn gāo xìng rèn shí nǐ):
    It means “(I’m) glad to know you”. To respond to the statement, you can repeat 很高兴认识你 or 认识你很高兴 [literally: to know you (I’m) happy].
  10. Word order of the Chinese question:
    Unlike the word order of the English question, the word order of the Chinese question is to keep the word order of the statement and then change the “asked part” to the corresponding question word (see the example below).

Chinese word order

Culture Notes:

  1. 您贵姓 is normally used in formal or business situations to show courtesy and respect. When responding to it, Chinese people normally respond with 免贵,姓… (miǎn guì xìng…), meaning “no need for the ‘honorable’, my last name is…”
  2. Chinese surnames:
    and are commonly used Chinese surnames. In this dialogue, 李小朋 is a typical Chinese name, with being the surname preceding 小朋 the given name. Many Chinese surnames contain a single syllable/character. First names often have two syllables. There is a small number of very common surnames, including: (wáng), (), (zhāng), (liú), (chén), (yáng), (huáng), (zhào), (), (zhōu). Learn about most frequently used Chinese surnames here.
  3. surname + 先生/小姐:
    When addressing someone in Chinese, it is polite to use personal titles like Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc. after the surname. So instead of saying Mr. Wang and Miss Li, Chinese people say 王先生 [wáng xiān sheng] and 李小姐 [lĭ xiăo jiě] . To show respect, friends might use the terms “ lăo” (old) and “ xiăo” (young) before surnames to replace titles. For example, I might call a colleague who is older than me 老李. I might also call a friend who is younger than me 小王.
  4. When you meet people of your parents’ age, it is polite to address them by using 叔叔 (shū shu, lit. uncle) and 阿姨 (ā yí, lit. aunt). If you know their surname, add it to the front. The pattern is: Surname + 叔叔/阿姨.
  5. Greeting people in China:
    你好 is the phrase often used when people meet for the FIRST time. When the Chinese greet people they already know, they use many different expressions or sentences under different circumstances. For instance, when meeting in the morning, they would say “早上好”(zǎo shàng hǎo) or simply say “”(zǎo), which means good morning. “下午好”(xià wǔ hǎo, good afternoon) and “晚上好”(wǎn shàng hǎo, good evening) are not used as common as the morning one. When meeting around the mealtime, people would simply say “吃了吗?” (chī le ma, “Have you eaten yet?”) to show their care. The younger generation tend to use “” (hāi) or 哈喽 (hā lóu) almost anytime or any occasion they meet, which has the same sound and meaning as the English word “Hi” or “Hello”.
    When Chinese people greet each other, they normally smile and nod their heads politely or bow slightly. The bow is from the shoulders and should be greater if the person you are greeting has a higher status. Influenced by the West, the Chinese also shake hands in formal situations, but the handshake tends to be lighter and longer than the Western handshake. Traditionally, Chinese people do not greet with hugs or kisses. Many young people nowadays, however, are fine hugging new or old friends. Note: In China, always greet those who are older than you first. When you are introduced to a Chinese person, if you are seated, stand up from your seat to show your respect.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Elementary Chinese I Copyright © 2022 by Wenying Zhou is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book