Conversation example:

A: Take that box to upstairs!
B: Wait.. (while he is busy doing something else)

How to say that wait in simple conversation mandarin?

I feel 等一下 is too long. If you know hokkien (minnan) language, people can say: tan lah.

I don't think 等啦 has equivalent feel with hokkien "tan lah".

  • Just curious. Do English speakers say "Wait" to mean "wait a bit"? – Wang Dingwei Dec 2 '14 at 12:01
  • Probably, I'm not english speaker actually :) – null Dec 2 '14 at 12:40
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    I'm a native English speaker (UK/Scotland). We would generally say 'wait a minute', 'wait a second', 'wait a bit' etc. Rarely would we just say 'wait', because it sounds quite rude. – Cocowalla Dec 2 '14 at 12:45
  • Also I am curious about the implied duration in Hokkien 等啦. If it's say 10 seconds, Mandarin could beat it with 等几秒, but I know that's cheating.. – Wang Dingwei Dec 2 '14 at 13:20
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    In English, "Wait", while a bit strong to the ears, is a strong suggestion or command to stop. As a single word "wait" the command is open ended because the speaker probably wishes to remain in control of the situation. "Wait a minute/minute/second" passes control to the listener after the specified time passes. In Chinese wait is not meant to stop someone from doing something as much as it is meant to request a moment of the listener's time. – Mike Butler Dec 4 '14 at 5:12

等一下 is fine, but if you want shorter answers, there are other options:

  • 等等:pretty much the same as 等一下
  • 馬上:means immediately, will be there in a moment

These are the two word answers I can think of right now.


You may say 稍等. It is more polite than 等等.

  • 1
    +1 for politeness, which is important in many situations and also sounds more professional. – Gao Dec 2 '14 at 14:19
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    But if you want to be less polite, I've heard people say 一下 the way you could say in English "one sec." – Colin McLarty Dec 2 '14 at 18:38

等等 is as short as it gets, sorry. It doesn't have any hard to pronounce consonents. I mean even "hold on" in english, which is commonly spoken, has two syllables.


I heard most of Chinese (Mandarin) saying 等下 /deng xià/ to their friends...

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