Small Talk in Chinese: Questions You Shouldn’t Ask

In Chinese Culture by Angel HuangLeave a Comment

When making small talk in Chinese, some questions are better left unasked.

(No, I’m not talking about political and controversial ones. But yes, give those a miss.)

Watch the video below and guess why the questions you hear may seem annoying or inappropriate...

A Quick Note On Making Small Talk In Chinese

Small talk is a great way to break the ice with Chinese speakers that you don't know well! 

When done right...

It can help you get to know people and make them feel comfortable around you.  

But questions that might make someone feel pressured, self-conscious or judged usually don't work so well 🙂  

And that's why it's a good idea to skip these in favour of "safer" conversation starters.

Full Breakdown Of The Questions In The Video

你吃狗肉吗?你吃虫子吗?
nǐ chī ɡǒu ròu mɑ? nǐ chī chónɡ zi mɑ?
Do you eat dog meat? Do you eat bugs?

  • 你 nǐ : you
  • 吃 chī : eat
  • 狗肉 ɡǒu ròu : dog meat
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    吗  mɑ : question particle
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    虫子 chónɡ zi : bugs

你长胖了。你有双下巴。你体重多少呀?
nǐ zhǎnɡ pànɡ le. nǐ yǒu shuānɡ xià bā. nǐ tǐ zhònɡ duō shǎo ya?
You’ve gained weight. You have a double chin. What’s your weight?

  • 你 nǐ : you
  • 长胖了 zhǎnɡ pànɡ le : have / has gained weight
  • 有 yǒu : have / has
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    双下巴  shuānɡ xià bā : double chins
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    体重 tǐ zhònɡ : weight
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    多少 duō shǎo : how much / how many
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    呀 ya : particle

为什么你的皮肤这么黑?你怎么长痘痘了?
wèi shén me nǐ de pí fū zhè me hēi? nǐ zěn me zhǎng dòu dòu le?
Why is your skin so dark? How come you’ve got pimples?

  • 为什么 wèi shén me : why
  • 你的 nǐ de : your
  • 皮肤 pí fū : skin
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    这么  zhè me : so
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    黑 hēi : black
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    你 nǐ  : you
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    怎么 zěn me  : how
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    长痘痘了 zhǎng dòu dòu le : have / has got pimples

你很累吗? 你病了吗?你的脸色不好!
nǐ hěn lèi mɑ? nǐ bìnɡ le mɑ? nǐ de liǎn sè bù hǎo!
Are you tired? Are you sick? You look bad.

  • 你 nǐ  : you
  • 很 hěn : very
  • 累 lèi : tired
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    吗  ma : question particle
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    病 bìnɡ : sick
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    了 le  : particle
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    你的 nǐ de : your
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    脸色 liǎn sè : complexion / look
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    不好 nǐ de : not good

你会功夫吗?你会打太极吗?
nǐ huì ɡōnɡ fū mɑ? nǐ huì dǎ tài jí mɑ?
Can you do Kung fu? Can you do Tai Chi?

  • 你 nǐ  : you
  • 会 huì : can
  • 功夫 ɡōnɡ fū : Kung fu
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    吗  ma : question particle
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    打太极 dǎ tài jí : do Tai Chi

你一个月工资多少钱啊?你一个月能存多少钱啊?
nǐ yí ɡè yuè ɡōnɡ zī duō shǎo qián a? nǐ yí ɡè yuè nénɡ cún duō shǎo qián a?
What’s your monthly salary? How much can you save in a month?

  • 你 nǐ  : you
  • 一个月 yí ɡè yuè : a month
  • 工资 ɡōnɡ fū : salary
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    多少钱 duō shǎo qián : how much
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    啊 a : particle
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    能  nénɡ : can
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    存 cún : save

你的房子是租的还是买的?租金多少钱啊?你的房子买了多少钱?
nǐ de fáng zi shì zū de hái shì mǎi de? zū jīn duō shǎo qián a? nǐ de fáng zi mǎi le duō shǎo qián?
Do you rent or own your apartment / house? How much is the rent? How much did you pay for your apartment / house?

  • 你的 nǐ de : your
  • 房子 fáng zi : apartment / house
  • 是 shì : am / are / is
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    租 zū : to rent
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    的 de : particle
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    还是 hái shì : or
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    买 mǎi : buy
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    租金 zū jīn : rent
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    多少钱 duō shǎo qián : how much
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    啊 a : particle
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    买了 mǎi le : bought

你结婚了吗?什么时候要小孩?什么时候生二胎?
nǐ jié hūn le mɑ? shén me shí hòu yào xiǎo hái? shén me shí hòu shēnɡ èr tāi?
Are you married? When are you going to have kids? When are you going to have a second child?

  • 你 nǐ de : your
  • 结婚 jié hūn : marry
  • 了 le : particle
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    吗 ma : question particle
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    什么时候 shén me shí hòu : when
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    要 yào : be going to
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    小孩  xiǎo hái : kids
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    生 shēnɡ : to be born / to give birth
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    二胎  èr tāi : second pregnancy / second child