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If you mean everyday greetings, 你好 is the MOST common. When addressing a group, perhaps on stage, we say 大家好。 

If you want to ask 'how are you', say 你好吗?

早安/ 早上好/ 上午好 = for use in the morning - the latter two are more formal

午安 = for use at 12 o' clock

下午好 = for after 12 o' clock (this is also rather formal and used for groups)

晚上好 = night greeting (ditto above)

晚安 is mostly used for when you are leaving for the night/ going to sleep

If you mean 'greetings' like those on greeting cards, we have

生日快乐   Happy Birthday

新年快乐  Happy Chinese New Year (Spring Festival)

圣诞节快乐 Merry Christmas

Essentially just add 快乐 to the festival/ event you're celebrating. 

Hope this helps! :) 

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On 20.1.2018 at 12:36 PM, armitur said:

If you mean everyday greetings, 你好 is the MOST common. When addressing a group, perhaps on stage, we say 大家好。 

If you want to ask 'how are you', say 你好吗?

早安/ 早上好/ 上午好 = for use in the morning - the latter two are more formal

午安 = for use at 12 o' clock

下午好 = for after 12 o' clock (this is also rather formal and used for groups)

晚上好 = night greeting (ditto above)

晚安 is mostly used for when you are leaving for the night/ going to sleep

If you mean 'greetings' like those on greeting cards, we have

生日快乐   Happy Birthday

新年快乐  Happy Chinese New Year (Spring Festival)

圣诞节快乐 Merry Christmas

Essentially just add 快乐 to the festival/ event you're celebrating. 

Hope this helps! :) 

Nice list Armitur. Thank you

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  • 1 month later...

> If you want to ask 'how are you', say 你好吗?

That's a greeting used by non-native Chinese speakers. Native speakers just say "你好!" I blogged about it at

http://english-for-chinese.blogspot.com/2011/12/ni-hao-ma-is-not-native-chinese-greeting.html

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 04/03/2018 at 8:43 AM, yong321 said:

> If you want to ask 'how are you', say 你好吗?

That's a greeting used by non-native Chinese speakers. Native speakers just say "你好!"

But they don't say "你好!" to ask "how are you?", as you seam to imply. Also, "你好!" is usually only used for the first meeting.  “嗨” and “你吃饭了吗?” are a lot more common for casual greetings among friends who already know each other.

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Hi Wanda,

"你好!" is equivalent to "how are you?" in actual usage, and is not just used for the first meeting. Well, it depends on how you interpret this "first". I can say "你好!" to my coworker (officemate) this morning and say it again tomorrow morning, but probably not again just a few minutes or even hours later.

“嗨” is not used in China as a greeting. “你吃饭了吗?” is, especially around meal time, but this is slowly becoming old-fashioned.

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On 15/03/2018 at 12:13 PM, yong321 said:

"你好!" is equivalent to "how are you?" in actual usage, and is not just used for the first meeting. Well, it depends on how you interpret this "first". I can say "你好!" to my coworker (officemate) this morning and say it again tomorrow morning, but probably not again just a few minutes or even hours later.

“嗨” is not used in China as a greeting. “你吃饭了吗?” is, especially around meal time, but this is slowly becoming old-fashioned.

I assume you aren't a native speaker. I've heard westerners interpret 你好 as "how are you" before, but never witnessed 2 Chinese mean it that way while talking to each other. I'm sure it happens sometimes, but if you want to get as close to "how are you" while still using a common expression, 你还好吧?is better. As "hello", 你好 is a bit formal, so I could see office workers addressing each other that way if it's a formal workplace. But for people who are already acquainted, if you're not trying to maintain some sort of formal aspect to your relationship then it's pretty rare.

嗨 is probably the most common greeting used in China now. If you live in china, listen to how people greet each other. Watch Chinese TV. Listen to Chinese radio. It's super common, so I'm surprised you haven't heard it. 

你吃了吗?isn't antiquated, but you may be in a region where it's not common. 你还好把?你好啊?你去哪儿啊?你好,最近怎么样?Are all good replacements for "how are you" in Chinese, but 你好 isn't.

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I'm a native Chinese speaker. If I utter an interjection spontaneously, it's distinctively Chinese. I think that's a good way to test how native one's language is, isn't it?

"你好" is for greeting. "你还好吧?" can be used for greeting but more for inquiry (about health, about recovery from a car accident, etc.). I consider English "How are you?" a greeting more than an inquiry.

"嗨" is used for greeting among the young generation that have at least some exposure to foreign culture. I worked at eBay Shanghai for over a year about ten years ago. People say Hi to each other. (I'm referring to the native Chinese speakers. But everyone is proficient in English as that's the language at work.) I guess its usage as greeting is equivalent to using "uh-huh" as a synonym for "Yes". All Chinese that have some exposure to foreign culture or language understand it, and some even say it. But when I said that to my mother in answering her question on a phone call, she repeated the question, thinking I had not heard her.

The Chinese people are highly tolerant of variation of the language, not only in accent, but in word choice as well. When a foreigner says "嗨", they know he's greeting. When he says "你好吗?", it's understood the same way. If you explicitly ask a native Chinese whether these greeting words are correct, most likely they won't say they're wrong. But to many people, these greetings still sound foreign (and very friendly by the way).

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My teacher told me most Chinese people would use "你吃了吗?" to greet others. Sometimes the speaker may not really care whether or not you have had your lunch or dinner, instead, the phrase will just be used to start a conversation, similar to how native English speakers might say “Nice day, isn’t it?” or “How’s it going?”

Usually when others greet you with “你吃了吗” you can answer: “吃了, 你呢 Yes, how about you?” or “还没有, 你呢 Not yet, and you?” Then you can move on to any other conversation.

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"你吃了吗?" is a native greeting for sure, used around meal time. (You wouldn't say it around, say, 3 PM.) But as I said, it's slowly getting old-fashioned, at least to the young generation in big cities. How the English greeting "How do you do?" became old-fashioned is what's happening to this Chinese greeting now.

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1. “你好!/您好!(Nǐhǎo!/Nínhǎo!)”

2. “早上好!(Zǎoshanghǎo!)”

3. “好久不见!(Hǎojiǔbújiàn!)”

4. “最近怎么样?(Zuìjìn zěnmeyàng?)”/“最近还好吗?(Zuìjìn hái hǎo ma?)”

5. “最近在忙什么?(Zuìjìn zài máng shénme?)”

6. “你去哪儿?(Nǐ qù nǎr?)”/“你干什么去?(Nǐ gàn shénme qù?)”

 

source: 6 Popular Chinese Greetings

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