Chinese is a language family consisting of languages mutually unintelligible to varying degrees. About one-fifth of the world’s population, or over one billion people, speak some form of Chinese as their native language. The identification of the varieties of Chinese as "dialects" instead of "languages" is considered inappropriate by some linguists and Sinologists.

Spoken Chinese is distinguished by its high level of internal diversity, although all spoken varieties of Chinese are tonal and analytic. There are between seven and thirteen main regional groups of Chinese (depending on classification scheme), of which the most spoken, by far, is Mandarin (about 850 million), followed by Wu (90 million), Cantonese (Yue) (70 million) and Min (70 million).

The standardized form of spoken Chinese is Standard Mandarin based on the Beijing dialect. Standard Mandarin is the official language of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC), as well as one of four official languages of Singapore. Chinese or Standard Mandarin is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.


Basic Mandarin

English Pinyin Chinese
Correct Duì
No, not
May I ask your name? Nín guìxìng? 您贵姓
My name is… Wǒ jiào… 我叫...
Are you married? Nĭ jiéhūnle ma? 你结婚了吗?
Yes (have) Yǒu
No (do not have) Méiyǒu 没有
Do you have… Nĭ yǒu méiyǒu 你有没有
I have… Wǒ yǒu 我有
Boyfriend Nánpéngyou 男朋友
Girlfriend Nǚpéngyou 女朋友
Children Háizi 孩子
Brothers Xiōngdì 兄弟
Sisters Jiĕmèi 姐妹
How old are you? Nĭ duō dà le? 你多大了?
I am … years old Wǒ yǒu … suì 我有 ... 岁
Where are you from? Nĭ cóng năr lái? 你从哪儿来?
I am from … Wǒ cóng … 我从 ... 来