How to Talk About the Days of the Week in Standard, Colloquial and Modern Chinese
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.
- 3 Ways to Say the Days of the Week in Chinese
- Useful Chinese Vocabulary About Time
- How to Use the Days of the Week in Chinese: Example Dialogues
3 Ways to Say the Days of the Week in Chinese
Standard: 星期 (xīngqī)
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.
Colloquial: 礼拜 (lǐbài)
With the prevalence of Christian missionaries in the 19th century, Sunday was also recognized as the “day of worship,” or 礼拜天 (lǐbài 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.
Modern: 周 (zhōu)
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 first two since it’s shorter.
Useful Chinese Vocabulary About Time
Now that you know what the days are in Chinese, let’s move on to other terms you’ll need when discussing time.
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.
|工作日||gōngzuò rì||Workday, working day, weekday|
|前天||qiántiān||Day before yesterday, two days ago|
|后天||hòutiān||Day after tomorrow, in two days|
|另一天||lìng yītiān||Another day, some other day|
|隔天||gé tiān||Every other day, alternate days|
|每三天||měi sān tiān||Every three days|
|三天前||sān tiān qián||Three days ago|
|三天后||sān tiānhòu||Three days later|
|在三天之内||zài sān tiān zhī nèi||Within three days|
|连续三天||liánxù sān tiān||Three days in a row, three consecutive days|
|第五天||dì wǔ tiān||Fifth day|
|星期一到星期五||xīngqí yī dào xīngqíwǔ||Monday 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.
|上周末||shàng zhōumò||Last weekend|
|下周末||xià zhōumò||Next weekend|
|前的周末||qián de zhōumò||The weekend before|
|后的周末||hòu de zhōumò||The weekend after|
|上周||shàng zhōu||Last week|
|本周||běn zhōu||This week|
|下周||xià zhōu||Next week|
|本周开始||běn zhōu kāishǐ||Beginning of this week|
|本周中||běn zhōu zhōng||Middle of this week|
|本周末||běn zhōumò||This weekend, end of this week|
|两周前||liǎng zhōu qián||Two weeks ago|
|两周后||liǎng zhōu hòu||Two weeks later|
|连续三个星期||liánxù sān gè xīngqí||Three weeks in a row, three consecutive weeks|
|每周||měi zhōu||Every week|
|每隔一周||měi gé yīzhōu||Every other week, alternate weeks|
|每三周||měi sān zhōu||Every three weeks|
|第三周||dì sān zhōu||Third 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.
(jīntiān xīngqī jǐ?)
What day is it today?
(jīntiān shì xīngqīsān.)
Today is Wednesday.
Here’s another example.
(nǐ shénme shíhòu huíqù shàngbān?)
When do you go back to work?
(wǒ xià zhōu’èr huíqù shàngbān.)
I go back to work next Tuesday.
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.
(yīshēng zhège xīngqīwǔ yǒu shíjiān ma?)
Is the doctor available this Friday?
(yīshēng zhǐ zài xīngqī’èr hé xīngqīsì yǒu kòng. xīngqīsì kěyǐ ma?)
The doctor is only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Is Thursday okay?
(kěyǐ. xīngqīsì jiàn!)
Yes. See you Thursday!
See you Thursday!
Need to make plans? Here’s an example of how you might discuss planning a friend’s birthday party.
(tā de shēngrì shì shénme shíhou?)
When is her birthday?
(liǎng zhōu hòu.)
In two weeks.
(shì gōngzuò rì háishì zhōumò?)
Is it on a weekday or weekend?
(wǒ rènwéi shì xīngqī yī.)
I think it’s on a Monday.
(wǒmen yīnggāi zài tā shēngrì qián de zhōumò jǔxíng jùhuì.)
We should have a party the weekend before her birthday.
For intermediate Mandarin speakers, you may also refer to the video provided below for a second example dialogue of making plans in Chinese.
In this verbal exchange about weekend plans, one person describes the other as a homebody, as he explains his love for staying at home on his days off.
Talking About Past Events
Recalling events from the past week? Let’s have a look at this sample dialogue.
(nín shàng zhōu yī cānjiāle péixùn ma?)
Did you attend the training last Monday?
(nà shí wǒ méi kōng. wǒ cānjiāle xīngqīsān de péixùn.)
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.
(nǐ duōjiǔ yùndòng yīcì?)
How often do you exercise?
(měi zhōu pǎobù liǎng cì. yǒushí wǒ shàng yújiā kè.)
I go running twice a week. Sometimes I go to yoga classes.
(yújiā kè shì xīngqī jǐ?)
What day is the yoga class?
(měi zhōu wǔ.)
(xià gè xīngqīwǔ wǒ gēn nǐ yīqǐ qù.)
I’ll go with you next Friday.
As you can see, simply knowing the days of the week is not enough to discuss time in Mandarin. While there are certainly other grammar points that are more complex than this, it’s good to take your time with simple concepts, such as the days of the week in Chinese, since there’s always more than what meets the eye!