Essential Mandarin Phrases for Speaking with Your Chinese Customers

As increasing numbers of Chinese nationals are traveling abroad, more and more of us are welcoming Mandarin speakers to our hometowns and workplaces as guests and clients. No longer is Mandarin a language useful in Chinese-speaking countries alone.

 

I witnessed this earlier this month in the South of France, at a tiny non-descript restaurant by the sea that has recently started serving Chinese tourists on a very regular basis. My waitress confessed that she often felt frustrated because she had no idea how to talk with her Chinese customers.

 

Whether for use at an office, shop or restaurant, to learn some Mandarin is a wise move. A large proportion of Chinese in their 20s and 30s have decent English (if only written), but to have some basics can help put everyone at ease and build long-lasting relationships. As Nelson Mandela famously said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

 

This post covers some essential basic phrases for talking with your customers in Mandarin Chinese:

      
English Chinese (characters) Chinese (pinyin)
Welcome! 欢迎光临! Huān yíng guāng lín !
It’s nice to meet you (formal) 幸会! Xìng huì !
I’m sorry, I don’t speak Chinese well. 对不起,我中文讲得不好。 Duì bú qǐ ,wǒ zhōng wén jiǎng de bù hǎo .
How can I help you, sir/madam? 先生/女士,有什么我 能帮忙的吗? Xiān sheng /Nǚ shì ,yǒu shén me wǒ néng bāng máng de ma ?
Please let me know if you have any problems. 如果有什么问题,请随时叫我。 Rú guǒ yǒu shén me wèn tí ,qǐng suí shí jiào wǒ.
Would you like to see the menu? 需要菜单吗? Xū yào cài dān ma ?
Would you like a table for 2? 需要两人桌吗? Xū yào liǎng rén zhuō ma ?
I recommend this dish. It is a specialty of the house. 我推荐这道菜。这是本店的特色菜。 Wǒ tuī jiàn zhè dào cài .Zhè shì běn diàn de tè sè cài .
I recommend this wine. It is locally produced. 我推荐这种酒。这是本地制作的。 Wǒ tuī jiàn zhè zhǒng jiǔ . Zhè shì běn dì zhì zuò de .
Is everything OK with your meal? 饭合您口味吗? Fàn hé nín kǒu wèi ma ?
We only accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express. 我们只接受Visa, MasterCard, American Express卡。 Wǒ men zhǐ jiē shòu Visa, MasterCard, American Express kǎ .
I’m sorry, we can’t accept Union Pay. 对不起,我们不接受银联支付。 Duì bu qǐ ,wǒ men bù jiē shòu yín lián zhī fù .
Would you like to check-in? 您要办理入住手续吗? Nín yào bàn lǐ rù zhù shǒu xù ma ?
Here’s your key. 这是您的钥匙。 Zhè shì nín de yào shi .
The elevator is over there on the left/right 电梯在那边的左边。 Diàn tī zài nà biān de zuǒ biān .
Wishing you have a lovely stay at our hotel. 祝您在我们旅馆度过一段美好的时光。 Zhù nín zài wǒ men lǚ guǎn dù guò yí duàn měi hǎo de shí guāng .
Would you like me to call you a taxi? 需要我帮您叫出租车吗? Xū yào wǒ bāng nín jiào chū zū chē ma ?
How do you like America/the UK/France/Australia? 您对美国、英国、法国和澳大利亚怎么看? Nín duì Měi guó 、Yīng guó 、Fǎ guó hé ào dà lì yà zěn me kàn ?
Are you having a nice trip here? 您在这儿度假愉快吗? Nín zài zhèr dù jià yú kuài ma ?
Are you here for business or vacation? 您来这儿是出差还是度假? Nín lái zhèr shì chū chāi hái shì dù jià ?
Goodbye, see you next time! 拜拜,下次见! Báibái ,xià cì jiàn !

Are there any other phrases that you would find helpful? Feel free to let us know in the comments!

 

Sarah Soulié

Sarah Souli é is British and lives in Los Angeles, after six years in Shanghai working in online marketing within EdTech. She has been learning Chinese since 2008, and currently contributes to the Speak Up Chinese blog. Speak Up Chinese is a newly-launched service based in Beijing. Their mission is to help you speak authentic Chinese with confidence, through 1-1 and group online lessons.