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We’ve covered how to tell time pretty extensively here in the past, with posts such as “Telling the Time in Chinese” and “Advanced Time Telling“, but we haven’t gone into much detail when it comes to talking about days, weeks, months, and years. As such, this post will help you with some useful vocabulary for talking more about time and dates in Chinese.
There are two Chinese characters used to represent the word “day”:
These are basically interchangeable, so you can use whichever one you find the easiest to pronounce. When counting days, you don’t need another measure word – just simply add a number in front of the word for “day.” For example, when traveling in China you’ll often see signs for a “one day tour” (一日游 – yī rì yóu).
Here are some other useful words you’ll need for talking about days:
In case you were wondering, the Chinese name for the disaster flick “The Day After Tomorrow” most certainly is “后天.”
In order to talk about the days of the week, we first need to learn the Chinese words associated with “week.”
Just like with the days, there are two words used for “week” in Chinese:
When counting weeks, you’ll need the measure word 个 (gè). The days of the week are really easy as well. See if you can spot the pattern:
Did you spot the pattern? You just use the word for “week” plus the numbers 1-6 for the days Monday-Saturday, and then Sunday is a special one. You may recognize the characters that are used for Sunday, as they are both used for the word “day” as well.
How can you talk about weeks in the past or future? Here are some examples:
Time flies, doesn’t it? So now, we move from weeks to months…
Learning the names of the months in Chinese is so easy! Simply learn the character for “month” (月 – yuè) plus the numbers 1-12:
Easy as pie, right? Talking about months past or in the future is exactly the same as talking about the weeks. See for yourself…
From months, we move on to years…
First, you need to know the Chinese character for “year” (年 – nián). As with days, you do not need a measure word when talking about years. Simply add a number before the character for year – two years (两年 – liǎng nián), ten years (十年 – shí nián), and so on. Of course, there are some other words you can learn as well:
As you may have noticed by now, the format for talking about the days and years are similar, as is the case when talking about the weeks and months. Just remember this, and it should help you in the future! For some more help, here’s a video I made a while back: