Days of the Week in Chinese: The Standard, Modern and Colloquial Forms, Plus Sample Dialogues

It’s hard to have a conversation in Chinese without knowing how to describe something as simple as the date. 

Did you know there are actually three ways you could say “Saturday” and six ways you can say “Sunday” in Mandarin?

Read on to find out all of the different ways you can say the days of the week in Chinese, as well as how to talk about appointments, weekly activities, plans and more.

Contents

 

Standard: 星期 (xīng qī) — Week

Let’s start off with the way that most people learn about the days of the week. Like the days of the week in English, 星期 also has astrological origins. Literally meaning “star period,” 星期 is said to be based on the ancient, seven-day planetary cycle.

This is the standard (and therefore the most common) way that Chinese people say the days of the week.

ChinesePinyinEnglish
星期一 xīng qī yīMonday
星期二 xīng qī èrTuesday
星期三 xīng qī sānWednesday
星期四 xīng qī sìThursday
星期五 xīng qī wǔFriday
星期六 xīng qī liùSaturday
星期日 / 星期天 xīng qī rì / xīng qī tiānSunday

Modern: (zhōu) — Week

周 was used as a modern alternative to naming the days of the week. First appearing around the 20th century, many prefer using this naming method over the other options since it’s shorter. You’re also more likely to encounter 周 in formal situations.

ChinesePinyinEnglish
周一 zhōu yīMonday
周二 zhōu èrTuesday
周三 zhōu sānWednesday
周四 zhōu sìThursday
周五 zhōu wǔFriday
周六 zhōu liùSaturday
周日 / 周天 zhōu rì / zhōu tiānSunday

Colloquial: 礼拜 (lǐ bài) — Week

With the prevalence of Christian missionaries in the 19th century, Sunday was also recognized as the “day of worship,” or 礼拜天  (lǐ bài tiān), in China.

礼拜 is commonly used in written and spoken form in northern and southern parts of mainland China, as well as Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, although some people believe 礼拜 is too colloquial and prefer to use 星期 in written Chinese.

ChinesePinyinEnglish
礼拜一 lǐ bài yīMonday
礼拜二 lǐ bài èrTuesday
礼拜三 lǐ bài sānWednesday
礼拜四 lǐ bài sìThursday
礼拜五 lǐ bài wǔFriday
礼拜六 lǐ bài liùSaturday
礼拜日 / 礼拜天 lǐ bài rì / lǐ bài tiānSunday

Vocabulary for Talking About Days

We don’t just talk about time in relation to the days of the week. We’ll say things like “a couple of days ago,” “every other day” and “tomorrow.”

Here’s a list of vocab that you can use in place of specific days.

ChinesePinyinEnglish
Day, sun
tiānDay, sky
工作日 gōng zuò rìWorkday, working day, weekday
昨天 zuó tiānYesterday
今日 / 今天 jīn rì / jīn tiānToday
明天 míng tiānTomorrow
前天 qián tiānDay before yesterday, two days ago
后天 hòu tiānDay after tomorrow, in two days
另一天 lìng yī tiānAnother day, some other day
每天 měi tiānEvery day
隔天 gé tiānEvery other day, alternate days
每三天 měi sān tiānEvery three days
三天前 sān tiān qiánThree days ago
三天后 sān tiān hòuThree days later
在三天之内 zài sān tiān zhī nèiWithin three days
连续三天 lián xù sān tiānThree days in a row, three consecutive days
第五天 dì wǔ tiānFifth day
星期一到星期五 xīng qī yī dào xīng qī wǔMonday to Friday

Vocabulary for Talking About Weeks

Of course, we don’t always talk about time in the context of days. If you want to be a little more general and discuss appointments, engagements and events relative to the week, here’s what you’ll need to know.

ChinesePinyinEnglish
平日 píng rìWeekdays
工作周 gōng zuò zhōuWorkweek
周末 zhōu mòWeekend
上周末 shàng zhōu mòLast weekend
下周末 xià zhōu mòNext weekend
前的周末 qián de zhōu mòThe weekend before
后的周末 hòu de zhōu mòThe weekend after
上周 shàng zhōuLast week
本周 běn zhōuThis week
下周 xià zhōuNext week
本周开始 běn zhōu kāi shǐBeginning of this week
本周中 běn zhōu zhōngMiddle of this week
本周末 běn zhōu mòThis weekend, end of this week
两周前 liǎng zhōu qiánTwo weeks ago
两周后 liǎng zhōu hòuTwo weeks later
连续三个星期 lián xù sān gè xīng qīThree weeks in a row, three consecutive weeks
每周 měi zhōuEvery week
每隔一周 měi gé yī zhōuEvery other week, alternate weeks
每三周 měi sān zhōuEvery three weeks
第三周 dì sān zhōuThird week

How to Use the Days of the Week in Chinese: Example Dialogues

You have the terms, so it’s time to see examples of how we can use them in conversation. We’ve provided some simple dialogues to help you practice, as you should never be learning vocabulary in isolation if you want to master the language.

Indicating the Day of the Week

Let’s start off with something basic.

A: 今天星期几?
(jīn tiān xīng qī jǐ?)
What day is it today?

B: 今天是星期三。
(jīn tiān shì xīng qī sān.)
Today is Wednesday.

Here’s another example.

A: 你什么时候回去上班?
(nǐ shén me shí hou huí qù shàng bān?)
When do you go back to work?

B: 我下周二回去上班。
(wǒ xià zhōu èr huí qù shàng bān.)
I go back to work next Tuesday.

Setting Appointments

Another situation where you’d discuss the days of the week is when you’re making an appointment. Here’s how the conversation might go when calling for a doctor’s appointment.

A: 医生这个星期五有时间吗?
(yī shēng zhè ge xīng qī wǔ yǒu shí jiān ma?)
Is the doctor available this Friday?

B: 医生只在星期二和星期四有空。星期四可以吗?
(yī shēng zhǐ zài xīng qī èr hé xīng qī sì yǒu kòng. xīng qī sì kě yǐ ma?)
The doctor is only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Is Thursday okay?

A: 可以。星期四见!
(kě yǐ. xīng qī sì jiàn!)
Yes. See you Thursday!

B: 星期四见!
(xīng qī sì jiàn!)
See you Thursday!

Making Plans

Need to make plans? Here’s an example of how you might discuss planning a friend’s birthday party.

A: 她的生日是什么时候?
(tā de shēng rì shì shén me shí hou?)
When is her birthday?

B: 两周后。
(liǎng zhōu hòu.)
In two weeks.

A: 是工作日还是周末?
(shì gōng zuò rì hái shì zhōu mò?)
Is it on a weekday or weekend?

B: 我认为是星期一。
(wǒ rèn wéi shì xīng qī yī.)
I think it’s on a Monday.

A: 我们应该在她生日前的周末举行聚会。
(wǒ men yīng gāi zài tā shēng rì qián de zhōu mò jǔ xíng jù huì.)
We should have a party the weekend before her birthday.

Talking About Past Events

Recalling events from the past week? Let’s have a look at this sample dialogue.

A: 您上周一参加了培训吗?
(nín shàng zhōu yī cān jiā le péi xùn ma?)
Did you attend the training last Monday?

B: 那时我没空。我参加了星期三的培训。
(nà shí wǒ méi kōng. wǒ cān jiā le xīng qī sān de péi xùn.)
I wasn’t available then. I attended the training on Wednesday.

Discussing Weekly Activities

And lastly, here’s an example of a discussion of weekly events.

A: 你多久运动一次?
(nǐ duō jiǔ yùn dòng yí cì?)
How often do you exercise?

B: 每周跑步两次。有时我上瑜伽课。
(měi zhōu pǎo bù liǎng cì. yǒu shí wǒ shàng yú jiā kè.)
I go running twice a week. Sometimes I go to yoga classes.

A: 瑜伽课是星期几?
(yú jiā kè shì xīng qī jǐ?)
What day is the yoga class?

B: 每周五。
(měi zhōu wǔ.)
Every Friday.

A: 下个星期五我跟你一起去。
(xià gè xīng qī wǔ wǒ gēn nǐ yī qǐ qù.)
I’ll go with you next Friday.

 

As you can see, simply knowing the days of the week is not usually enough to have a full discussion in Mandarin. Using a program like FluentU is a great way to learn how to talk about days in Chinese, since it shows you vocabulary and grammar in use through videos by native Chinese speakers.

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While there are certainly more complex grammar points, it’s always good to take your time with simple concepts, such as the days of the week in Chinese, since there’s always more than meets the eye!

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