One of the most practical reasons to learn Chinese is for work and business.
Knowing Chinese as a second language opens new doors of opportunity, and increases your hireability to employers.
This requires a lot of industry-specific vocabulary that’ll soon have you knee-deep in words pertaining to titles and positions within a company or the names of foreign companies.
But there’s no need to fear, since I’m here to help get you started on learning business Chinese.
- Why Should I Learn Business Chinese?
- What to Know About Doing Business in China
- 26 Key Business Chinese Vocabulary Words and Phrases
Why Should I Learn Business Chinese?
1.2 billion people speak Chinese (848 million people speak Mandarin Chinese), according to Ethnologue, making Chinese the most widely spoken language in the world.
Next to English, Mandarin is the top business language, according to Bloomberg Business Rankings.
Knowing a second language can increase your earning potential by as much as 10-15%, according to Ryan McMunn, President of Asian Operations at a leading U.S. manufacturing firm.
Understanding the advantage of Chinese fluency, many families go to great lengths to help their children learn Chinese, including taking their kids to China for language immersion, enrolling them in language immersion schools and hiring Chinese tutors and Chinese nannies.
What to Know About Doing Business in China
In addition to learning the language, one useful piece of knowledge to have under your belt is the how the dynamics of business relationships, or 关系 (guān xì), work.
Chinese business and work culture revolves around relationships, and you cannot do business well with someone without having a good relationship.
In China, relationships can open doors, as well as get you hired or promoted.
The importance of relationships is why Chinese spend a lot of time having business get-togethers, such as eating together at restaurants, going to clubs and bars, traveling and playing golf with business associates. These business social gatherings, called 应酬 (yīng chóu), are often a necessity because of the importance of relationships.
Although learning business Chinese may seem daunting, as the Chinese proverb says, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, or 千里之行，始於足下 (qiān lǐ zhī xíng shǐ yú zú xià).
To give you a small, single step, below are 26 work-related Chinese vocabulary words to get you started.
26 Key Business Chinese Vocabulary Words and Phrases
A. Going to Work
1. 工作 (gōng zuò) – Work
我最近找到新的工作。(wǒ zuì jìn zhǎo dào xīn de gōng zuò。)
I just got a new job (work).
2. 上班 (shàng bān) – Start work
我每天九点上班。(wǒ měi tiān jiǔ diǎn shàng bān。)
I start work every day at 9 AM.
3. 下班 (xià bān) – Finish work
我通常五点下班。(wǒ tōng cháng wǔ diǎn xià bān。)
Usually I get off at 5 PM.
4. 加班 (jiā bān) – Work overtime
公司忙的时候，我必须加班。(gōng sī máng de shí hòu，wǒ bì xū jiā bān。)
During the busy season, I need to work overtime.
5. 办公室 (bàn gōng shì) – Office
我们的办公室在市中心的一城大楼里。(wǒ mén de bàn gōng shì zài shì zhōng xīn de yī chéng dà lóu lǐ。)
Our office is in a tall building downtown.
6. 工厂 (gōng chǎng) – Factory
我们还有几家工厂在深圳。(wǒ mén hai yǒu jī jiā gōng chǎng zài Shēnzhèn。)
We also have several factories in Shenzhen.
7. 出差 (chū chāi) – Business trip
年底的时候，我会到北京出差。 (nián dǐ de shí hòu，wǒ huì dào Běijīng chū chāi。)
At the end of the year, I will go on a business trip to Beijing.
B. People at Work
8. 老板 (lǎo bǎn) – Boss
黄先生是我们的老板。(Huáng xiān shēng shì wǒ mén de lǎo bǎn。)
Mr. Huang is our boss.
9. 总经理 (zǒng jīng lǐ) – CEO
黄先生也是总经理。(Huáng xiān shēng yě shì zǒng jīng lǐ。)
Mr. Huang is also the CEO.
10. 经纪 (jīng jì) – Manager
王经理有很多年的工作经验。(Wáng jīng lǐ yǒu hěn duō nián de gōng zuò jīng yàn。)
Mr. Wong, our manager, has many years of work experience.
11. 员工 (yuán gōng) – Employee
我们公司有四百多个员工。(wǒ mén gōng sī yǒu sì bǎi duō gè yuán gōng。)
Our company has over 400 employees.
12. 客户 (kè hù) – Client
我们大部分的客户都是外国人。(wǒ mén dà bù fēn de kè hù doū shì wài guó rén。)
Our clients are mainly foreigners.
C. Workplace Tools & Equipment
13. 电脑 (diàn nǎo) – Computer
到了办公司以后，我会先吧电脑点开。(dào le bàn gōng sī yǐ hòu，wǒ huì xiān ba diàn nǎo diǎn kāi。)
When I get to work, the first thing I do is turn on the computer.
14. 电邮 (diàn yóu) – Email
我每天都会收到许多的电邮。(wǒ měi tiān doū huì shōu dào xǔ duō de diàn yóu。)
Every day, I receive many emails.
15. 名片 (míng piàn) – Business card
我们交换名片吧。(wǒ mén jiāo huàn míng piàn bā。)
Let’s exchange business cards.
16. 文件 (wén jiàn) – Document
你有收到我寄给你的文件吗？(nǐ yǒu shōu dào wǒ jì gěi nǐ de wén jiàn má？)
Did you get the document I sent you?
17. 打印机 (dǎ yìn jī) – Printer
打印机没有纸了。(dǎ yìn jī méi yǒu zhǐ le。)
The printer is out of paper.
18. 复印机 (fù yìn jī) – Photocopier
你会不会用复印机？(nǐ huì bu huì yòng fù yìn jī。)
Do you know how to use the photocopier?
D. Doing Business
19. 会议 (huì yì) – Meeting
我下午两点跟吴小姐有个会议。(wǒ xià wǔ liǎng diǎn gēn Wú xiǎo jiě yǒu ge huì yì。)
I have a meeting at 2 PM with Ms. Wu.
20. 谈生意 (tán shēng yì) – Discuss business
我们在餐厅里谈生意。(wǒ mén zài cān tīng lǐ tán shēng yì。)
We discussed business in a restaurant.
21. 成交交易 (chéng jiāo jiāo yì) – Make a deal
我们终于成交交易。(wǒ mén zhōng yú chéng jiāo jiāo yì。)
We finally closed the business deal.
22. 处理问题 (chǔ lǐ wèn tí) – Manage problems
我必须跟我的同事们处里一些问题。(wǒ bì xū gēn wǒ de tóng shì mén chǔ lǐ yī xiē wèn tí。)
My coworkers and I need to manage some problems.
E. Departments Within a Company
23. 会计 (kuài jì) – Accounting
我们的会计部门很严格。(wǒ mén de kuài jì bù mén hěn yán gé。)
Our accounting department is very strict.
24. 人事处 (rén shì chù) – Human Resources
以前，我是作人事处的。(yǐ qián，wǒ shì zuò rén shì chù de。)
I used to work in Human Resources.
25. 信息管理 (xìn xī guǎn lǐ) – Information Technology
我们的信息管理部门很有效率。(wǒ mén de xìn xī guǎn lǐ bù mén hěn yǒu xiào lǜ。)
Our IT department is very efficient.
26. 营销 (yíng xiāo) – Marketing
营销部门需要我们的货品照片。(yíng xiāo bù mén xū yào wǒ mén de huò pǐn zhào piàn。)
The marketing department needs our product photos.
Now that you’ve mastered these 26 basic business Chinese vocabulary, you should be better equipped to do business in Chinese.
But there’s still much more to learn, so I encourage you to keep on getting out there and broadening your horizons. You can use FluentU’s language learning platform, for example, to get more examples of Chinese phrases used in native settings through authentic video clips. Or, you can try reading books that show how business is run in Chinese.
But for now, get out there and start showing off some of your new skills.