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Days, Weeks, Months, and Years in Chinese Posted by on Mar 13, 2013 in Culture, Vocabulary

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”:

  • 日 – rì

  • 天 – tiān

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).

You’ll probably visit the Forbidden City on a Beijing day tour.

Here are some other useful words you’ll need for talking about days:

  • 2 days ago (前天 – qián tiān)

  • yesterday (昨天 – zuó tiān)

  • today (今天 – jīn tiān)

  • tomorrow (明天 – míng tiān)

  • in 2 days (后天 – hòu tiān)

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:

  • 周 – zhōu

  • 星期 – xīng qī

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:

  • Monday (星期一 – xīng qī yī)

  • Tuesday (星期二 – xīng qī èr)

  • Wednesday (星期三 – xīng qī sān)

  • Thursday (星期四 – xīng qī sì)

  • Friday (星期五 – xīng qī wǔ)

  • Saturday (星期六 – xīng qī liù)

  • Sunday (星期天 – xīng qī tiān); 星期日 – xīng qī rì)

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:

  • 2 weeks ago (两个星期前 – liǎng gè xīng qī qián)

  • last week (上个星期 – shàng gè xīng qī)

  • this week (这个星期 – zhè ge xīng qī)

  • next week (下个星期 – xià gè xīng qī)

  • 2 weeks from now (两个星期后 – liǎng gè xīng qī hòu)

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:

  • January (一月 – yī yuè)

  • February (二月- èr yuè)

  • March (三月 – sān yuè)

  • April (四月 – sì yuè)

  • May (五月 – wǔ yuè)

  • June (六月 – liù yuè)

  • July (七月 – qī yuè)

  • August (八月 – bā yuè)

  • September 九月 – jiǔ yuè)

  • October (十月 – shí yuè)

  • November (十一月 – shí yī)

  • December (十二月 – shí’èr yuè)

Easy as pie, right? Talking about months past or in the future is exactly the same as talking about the weeks. See for yourself…

  • 2 months ago (两个月前 – liǎng gè yuè qián)

  • last month (上个月 – shàng gè yuè)

  • this month (这个月 – zhè ge yuè)

  • next month (下个月 – xià gè yuè)

  • 2 months from now (两个月后 – liǎng gè yuè hòu)

From months, we move on to years…



I lived in Kunming 2 years ago.

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:

  • 2 years ago/the year before last (前年 – qián nián)

  • last year (去年 – qù nián)

  • this year (今年 – jīn nián)

  • next year (明年 – míng nián)

  • 2 years from now/the year after next (后年 – hòu nián)

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:




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About the Author:sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


  1. Jon:

    Hi Sasha!
    I thought this article was very thorough, but unfortunately not all calendars just number the months like this. Or perhaps this is translating the standard calendar into Mandarin, idk, but my chinese friends celebrate their birthday (and other personal anniversaries) by the chinese calendar, I added a chinese calendar to my phone and it’s saying the 11th month is 冬月, also it has a different character for 20 than 二十, I’m still figuring it out, maybe you know what I’m talking about. Just a suggestion for another article.

    • Prajakta Sharma:

      @Jon 冬月 is the 11th month of Chinese Lunar calendar. However 十一月 is the 11th month of English calendar/ November.
      If you can show me the other character for 20 I may be able to tell you the difference.

  2. Nyagwande:

    Hi sasha
    You are pretty clever thinking you help us children who are willing to learn Chinese you are great writer ,photographerand a video grapher you should also post calendars with the Chinese months .Thanks God bless you send number so that we may chat

    • Prajakta Sharma:

      @Nyagwande Jon:

      冬月 is the 11th month of Chinese Lunar calendar. However 十一月 is the 11th month of English calendar/ November.
      If you can show me the other character for 20 I may be able to tell you the difference.

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