Chinese Father’s Day: 8 Phrases to Put a Smile on His Face

Father’s Day in China is on August 8. Phonetically, in Mandarin, two number eights 八八 (bā bā) sound like 爸爸 (bà bà) — dad.

Due to Westernization, some Chinese also celebrate American Father’s Day in June.

This is great for Chinese dads, since respect for fathers is deeply traditional in Chinese culture.

Below, you’ll find 8 phrases you can say on Father’s Day (Chinese or American) to let your dad know how much you love, appreciate and respect him, as well as a few ways you can learn Mandarin from famous Chinese fathers.


1. 爸爸父亲节快乐! (Dad, happy Father’s Day!)

Pinyin: bà bà fù qīn jié kuài lè

父亲 is father. refers to any kind of special holiday, and 快乐 is happy.

So no matter which country’s holiday you’re using to celebrate dad, you can tell him this phrase!

2. 爸爸我爱你。 (Dad, I love you.)

Pinyin: bà bà wǒ ài nǐ

You can say this to your dad, but it’s important to note that it’s not common to verbalize feelings in Chinese culture. In fact, it’s quite rare to directly say 我爱你 to someone (though it is acceptable among young, dating couples).

Kids might say it to their parents, but older or adult children probably won’t. In fact, 我爱你 is so awkward for Chinese people to say, that whenever people do say “I love you,” they often say it in English!

3. 爸你辛苦啦。 (Dad, you’ve worked hard.)

Pinyin: bà nǐ xīn kǔ la

Instead of talking about feelings, Chinese are more likely to recognize others’ hard work and sacrifice. They thank or show love to people by pointing out perseverance and effort. This phrase is like the Chinese equivalent of “I love you.”

Saying 辛苦啦 to someone is very thoughtful. If your father is Chinese, this phrase will make him feel that you appreciate and value his effort and sacrifice. It means that you honor and recognize him.

4. 爸谢谢! (Dad, thank you!)

Pinyin: bà xiè xiè

Although Chinese people tend to honor each other indirectly, it is perfectly acceptable to say “thank you,” like in this phrase.

An adult child may say 谢谢你把我养大 (xiè xiè nǐ bǎ wǒ yǎng dà) — Thank you for raising me. Newly married couples may even say this to their parents during their wedding speeches, too. It’s a way of pointing out another’s great sacrifice as a way of honoring them.

Another related phrase is 谢谢你为我付出的一切  (xiè xiè nǐ wèi wǒ fù chū de yī qiè) — Thank you for all that you’ve done for me. This is quite sentimental, and likely tough for some Chinese to say, but on special occasions they might open up enough to say it.

5. 爸我请你吃饭。 (Dad, let me take you out for a meal.)

Pinyin: bà wǒ qǐng nǐ chī fàn

This is probably the most popular Father’s Day gift in China: having a special meal! This phrase tells your dad that you’ll be treating him.

In China, food represents gathering, unity, connection, care and love. In fact, a common way of saying “How are you?” is to say “Have you eaten yet?”

As Chinese people commonly give gifts of food or money, other popular Chinese Father’s Day gifts would be expensive wines, expensive teas, expensive cigarettes and cigars or other brand name items.

6. 爸我敬你一杯。 (Dad, here’s a toast to you.)

Pinyin: bà wǒ jìng nǐ yī bēi

So, what do you do when you’re eating with your dad on Father’s Day? You toast him!

Toasting is another common way to honor or thank someone, especially someone older or of higher rank than you. During the toast is your opportunity to say nice things, usually well wishes or blessings.

For example, you might say:

祝你生体健康。 (zhù nǐ shēng tǐ jiàn kāng.) — I wish you great health.
祝你长命百岁。 (zhù nǐ cháng mìng bǎi suì.) — I wish you a long life. (lit. “I wish that you live to a hundred years”)

These are common Chinese blessings that reflect common Chinese values—health and longevity.

7. 爸你好棒啊! (Dad, you’re awesome!)

Pinyin: bà nǐ hǎo bàng a

好棒 means “awesome,” which makes this phrase non-traditional and more slangy. But it’s often said in today’s culture, so you can use this phrase to tell your dad how you feel in a more casual manner.

8. 爸我给你按摩。 (Dad, I can give you a shoulder massage.)

Pinyin: bà wǒ gěi nǐ àn mó

Another very “Chinese” thing to do for your elders is to gently thump their shoulders with your fists in a kind of massage, or 按摩. Grandparents especially love this.

Generally, you don’t need to say “I’ll give you a massage,” since this kind of falls into the category of verbal sentiment. Instead, when your dad or grandfather is sitting in a chair, you can just come up and gently hammer their shoulders, back or knees.

If you still want to preface the act, you could also choose to use the phrase 爸你辛苦啦 from above, or simply say 来我帮你  (lái wǒ bāng nǐ) — Here, let me help you.

Learn Chinese from Famous Fathers in China

Sun Yat Sen – “Father of Modern China”

chinese fathers day

Throughout most of its long history, China was ruled by emperors. The reign of one emperor and his descendants was called a dynasty. The last dynasty was 清朝 (qīng cháo) — the Qing Dynasty, which was overthrown by revolutionaries, including Sun Yat Sen.

Sun Yat Sen played a key role in the 革命 (gé mìng) — revolution. He is credited for liberating China from dynastic rule in 1911, and is therefore called 国父 (guó fù) — “Father of the Country.”

The movie “夜·明(yè míng) — “Road to Dawn” chronicles Sun Yat Sen’s revolutionary work, as well as life in China during the last days of dynastic rule.

In the movie, Sun Yat Sen makes many passionate statements regarding his vision for a new China. Listen for such statements when you watch the film, and see how many you can add to your Chinese repertoire.

Mao Ze Dong – “Father of Communist China”

chinese fathers day

Mao Ze Dong is known in China as 毛主席 (máo zhǔ xí) — Chairman Mao.

In 1949, Mao established the People’s Republic of China, the current Chinese state. Mao was also one of the founding members of 共产党 (gòng chǎn dǎng) — the Chinese Communist Party, which is the ruling party in China’s current one-party system.

One of Mao’s most controversial but impactful policies was 大跃进 (dà yuè jìn) — the Great Leap Forward, whereby he tried to change China from an agricultural society to an industrialized nation within several years. The program led to widespread famine.

Another famous campaign was 文化大革命 (wén huà dà gé mìng) — the Cultural Revolution. Mao sought to convert China to communism by purging anything related to capitalism, breaking away from traditional elements of Chinese society and heavily imposing Maoist ideology.

In fact, it was the communist revolution that produced 简体字 (jiǎn tǐ zì) — simplified Chinese characters, used today in mainland China. Taiwan and Hong Kong did not undergo the communist revolution and still use 繁体字 (fán tǐ zì) — traditional Chinese characters.

The famous “毛主席语录(máo zhǔ xí yǔ lù) “Little Red Book” is a collection of Mao’s quotes. You can use it to learn more about this famous historical figure and his ideology.

Jackie Chan – Actor and Father of Celebrity Son

chinese fathers day

Modern day China also has some famous Chinese dads, including Jackie Chan. His artist name is 成龙 (chéng lóng), which means “the city’s dragon.”

Best known for his martial arts comedies, Chan has been featured in over 150 films, including “Rush Hour” and “The Karate Kid.”

His best Chinese-language films include “警察故事” (jĭng chá gù shì) — “Police Story,” in which a police officer, his daughter and a group of strangers are taken hostage. You can learn modern conversational and slang phrases with this movie.

Another great Jackie Chan movie is “辛亥革命” (xīn hài gé mìng) — “1911” which depicts the revolutionary overthrow of the Qing Dynasty. With this movie, you can learn modern Chinese history and vocabulary, plus names of famous Chinese cities and key revolutionary figures.

In 2014, Jackie Chan’s son was caught in a drug bust and arrested, which reflected poorly on both himself and his father. In Chinese culture, it’s especially important to be a good son, or 做个好儿子 (zuò gè hǎo ér zi).

If not, you could embarrass your family and cause them to 丢脸 (diū liǎn) — lose face, an important Chinese concept meaning to feel ashamed and lose public dignity.

Popular TV Show About Celebrity Dads


If you really want the scoop on more modern Chinese families, you might want to check out a very popular TV show “爸爸去哪儿” (bà bà qù nǎ er) — “Dad, Where Are We Going?”

In this travel show, celebrity dads take their children to various places and have adventures.

You can learn lots of everyday conversational Chinese, as well as vocabulary relating to travel and play.


Now you have a handful of awesome Chinese phrases to appreciate and honor fathers on Father’s Day! Use them on the special day, or practice them first by seeing them in use on FluentU’s videos.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

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