What’s the most basic conversation-starter you can think of?
Ah, yes. “How’s the weather?”
Sure, it may be a bit default and typical. But asking about the weather is one of the most common ways to break the ice with a stranger.
You can’t just walk up to somebody with an open hand to shake and say, “Hello! We shall be friends.”
Well, you can. But don’t expect the best results.
Many Mandarin-speaking cultures see weather talk exactly the same way Westerners do. It’s a culturally appropriate, polite way to greet a new person and open a conversation. For language learners, that means an easy entry point to authentic dialogues in Mandarin Chinese—which ultimately means more practice and faster fluency.
If you’re not confident enough to break out a joke or perhaps your Mandarin skills aren’t quite as advanced as you’d like, why not open up a social situation with a simple comment about the weather?
Why Learn About Chinese Weather Words and Phrases?
As we mentioned above, a back-and-forth about the rain or sunshine is a perfectly common way to start a conversation with a new person in Chinese culture. It’s a great way to break the ice. After all, it’s something we all experience and share, isn’t it? But there are more benefits to learning Chinese weather words:
- They provide some hidden grammar practice. As you’ll see below, the typical phrases associated with the weather can get you comfortable forming and answering questions in Chinese. And as you adapt the phrases depending on the weather, you’ll organically master Chinese sentence structure.
- China has quite diverse weather patterns across the country, so being able to ask about the weather or look it up yourself is ideal for traveling. Knowing Chinese weather words can save you from weather-related hardships while traveling in a Mandarin-speaking country. Learning basic weather vocabulary in Chinese is definitely practical if you’re traveling in China.
It is the fourth largest country in the world, so you can expect everything from almost tropical rainy areas to desert regions. Be prepared, know your weather vocabulary and find your local weather channel!
- Weather words are super easy. Basic vocabulary words and sentence structures involved in talking about the weather are simple enough that even the beginner learner can master a weather-based conversation!
How’s the Weather? 20+ Chinese Weather Words and Phrases You Need to Know
Chinese Weather Phrases and Questions
What’s the weather forecast today? 今天的天气预报怎么说? (jīn tiān de tiān qì yù bào zěn me shuō?)
An expansion of this phrase could also be: What’s the weather forecast for this week? 这个星期的天气预报怎么说? (zhè ge xīng qī de tiān qì yù bào zěn me shuō?)
This is by far the best opener when talking about the weather. Quick, simple, clear and to the point!
Be mindful of your body language if you’re using this phrase to open up a conversation with a stranger. Make eye contact, flash a smile and nod in their direction. Perhaps say “What’s up?” (你好吗? — nǐ hǎo ma) or “Good morning!” (早上好! — zǎo shang hǎo!) before asking about the weather forecast.
In other words, don’t just materialize behind someone and ask them about the weather. We want to connect with people here, not creep them out.
What’s the weather like in…? …的天气怎么样? (… de tiān qì zěn me yàng?)
Got a destination you plan on traveling to?
Learn the proper Mandarin pronunciation of the location you’ll be visiting on your trip, such as Beijing (北京 — běi jīng) or Taipei (台北 — tái běi), and be sure to say the name at the start of this phrase.
The weather is bad. 天气不好。(tiān qì bù hǎo)
The weather is good. 天气好。(tiān qì hǎo)
We’ll be covering weather vocabulary words that are a bit more descriptive later in this post, but “good” and “bad” are simple and clear defaults to rely on if you can’t recall a particular adjective.
Where do you live? 你住在哪里? (nǐ zhù zài nǎ lǐ?)
For obvious reasons, you should not open up a conversation by asking someone where they live. Creepy, much? Ask this question after successfully having an exchange about the weather where you and the other person currently are.
Then, follow up with this next question…
What’s the weather like there? 那里的天气怎么样? (nà lǐ de tiān qì zěn me yàng?)
People love to talk about where they’re from. Why not ask about it? You may also have an opportunity to talk about where you’re from as well.
The sun shines brightly. 阳光明媚。(yáng guāng míng mèi)
This is a common Chinese idiom used to describe a particularly sunny or beautiful day.
Saying, “It is warm there” (那里很温暖 — nà lǐ hěn wēn nuǎn) simply won’t do!
Today, the weather is… 今天天气… (jīn tiān tiān qì)
Expect this response followed by one of the vocabulary words we’ll be covering below.
Chinese Weather Vocabulary Words
Hot: 热 (rè)
It is very hot.
Warm: 温暖 (wēn nuǎn)
你在享受这温暖的一天吗? (nǐ zài xiǎng shòu zhè wēn nuǎn de yī tiān ma)
Are you enjoying this warm day?
Cool and pleasant: 凉快 (liáng kuài)
天气凉快。(tiān qì liáng kuai)
The weather is cool and pleasant.
Cold: 冷 (lěng)
今天天气冷。(jīn tiān tiān qì lěng)
Today, the weather is cold.
Rain/raining: 雨 (yǔ)
下雨了。(xià yǔ le)
It is raining.
Snow: 雪 (xuě)
看看雪! (kàn kàn xuě)
Look at this snow!
Wind/windy: 风 (fēng)
今天早上有风。(jīn tiān zǎo shang yǒu fēng)
It is windy this morning.
Fog/foggy: 雾 (wù)
在这雾中我看不见。(zài zhè wù zhōng wǒ kàn bù jiàn)
I can’t see in this fog.
How It Feels or Looks
Humid/balmy: 潮湿 (shī)
这是个潮湿的夜晚。(zhè shì gè cháo shī de yè wǎn)
It is a humid night.
Dry: 干 (gān)
今天空气干燥。(jīn tiān kōng qì gān zào)
The air is dry today.
Cloudy: 多云 (duō yún)
今天天气预报多云。(jīn tiān tiān qì yù bào duō yún)
Today’s weather forecast is cloudy.
Winter: 冬天 (dōng tiān)
这是一个寒冷的冬天。(zhè shì yī gè hán lěng de dōng tiān)
This is one cold winter.
Summer: 夏天 (xià tiān)
我爱夏天。(wǒ ài xià tiān)
I love summer.
Fall: 秋天 (qiū tiān)
秋天是我最喜欢的季节。(qiū tiān shì wǒ zuì xǐ huān de jì jié)
Fall is my favorite season.
Spring: 春天 (chūn tiān)
春天是盎然! (chūn tiān shì àng rán)
Spring is in the air! or Spring is abundant!
If you’re learning about Chinese weather words to open up new conversations, don’t just stop here!
Learn how to introduce yourself and how to pronounce various Chinese phrases so you can properly make a connection.
And remember, don’t just rely on Chinese weather words in a conversation. Ask the person how they are, what their name is or even how their day is going. Jumping into your objective without a proper greeting will come off as rehearsed and inorganic. Even if you just really want to know what the weather is like today, you still want to be polite!
Learning about the weather is pretty easy, isn’t it? Enjoy your new vocabulary of weather words and go break the ice with a Mandarin-speaking new friend!
Em Casalena is a published author, freelance writer and music columnist. They write about a lot of stuff, from music to films to language.