My textbook says that ''until recently, 你好 was only used to greet foreigners, but now even native speakers use it to greet each other.''

Wow, so when was 你好 invented/added to the Chinese lexicon ?

Does the senior demographic in China use it ?

4 Answers 4


Foreigners? I would say strangers.

We use "你好" or "您好" as a propriety.

To greet someone elder or higher status, we'll say "您好", if greet friends we'll say "嗨、哈囉" same to hi and hello to be more close, and say "你好" to someone not very familiar(strangers).

And yes, almost everyone use these to greet.


Most people treat 你好 as a formal greeting for example

服务员:"你好, 这位先生\女士"


臣民:"你好, 陛下"

As you can see from those examples, when we use 你好, it shows respect, but feels a distance.

To make it informal, we can use 你好呀, which is also more often used.


你好 could be used to strangers.


  • Call their name or nickname (for your classmates / colleagues / family members same or younger generations) 小张,老李,王明
  • Call surname + position (for your teacher / leader) 赵经理,王主任,孙老师
  • Call job occupation (for shop assistant / restaurant waiter / etc.) 服务员,师傅,老板
  • Call by family relationship (for family members elder generations) 爸爸,二姑,三舅母
  • ....

In case all these not work. You can still use 你好.

Someone could help me fix these English as it may not be represented correctly.


你好 is "hi", "hello". And everyone uses it. I don't think it's correct from what you described textbook.

  • 1
    Why do you not think it's correct ? If you are Chinese then would your grandparents say 你好 to each other ?
    – Kantura
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 14:40
  • 你好 is an all time, all age, daily used language for Chinese to greet each other.
    – asule
    Commented May 22, 2020 at 16:05
  • Hmm ... It sounds like you are merely basing that on your own personal experience.
    – Kantura
    Commented May 22, 2020 at 19:41
  • And it's true. baike.baidu.com/item/%E4%BD%A0%E5%A5%BD/32416?fr=aladdin
    – asule
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 8:54

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