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.
- Standard: 星期 (xīng qī) — Week
- Modern: 周 (zhōu) — Week
- Colloquial: 礼拜 (lǐ bài) — Week
- Vocabulary for Talking About Days
- Vocabulary for Talking About Weeks
- How to Use the Days of the Week in Chinese: Example Dialogues
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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.
|星期一||xīng qī yī||Monday|
|星期二||xīng qī èr||Tuesday|
|星期三||xīng qī sān||Wednesday|
|星期四||xīng qī sì||Thursday|
|星期五||xīng qī wǔ||Friday|
|星期六||xīng qī liù||Saturday|
|星期日 / 星期天||xīng qī rì / xīng qī tiān||Sunday|
Modern: 周 (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.
|周日 / 周天||zhōu rì / zhōu tiān||Sunday|
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.
|礼拜一||lǐ bài yī||Monday|
|礼拜二||lǐ bài èr||Tuesday|
|礼拜三||lǐ bài sān||Wednesday|
|礼拜四||lǐ bài sì||Thursday|
|礼拜五||lǐ bài wǔ||Friday|
|礼拜六||lǐ bài liù||Saturday|
|礼拜日 / 礼拜天||lǐ bài rì / lǐ bài tiān||Sunday|
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||gōng zuò rì||Workday, working day, weekday|
|今日 / 今天||jīn rì / jīn tiān||Today|
|前天||qián tiān||Day before yesterday, two days ago|
|后天||hòu tiān||Day after tomorrow, in two days|
|另一天||lìng yī tiān||Another day, some other day|
|每天||měi tiān||Every 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 tiān hòu||Three days later|
|在三天之内||zài sān tiān zhī nèi||Within three days|
|连续三天||lián xù 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||xīng qī yī dào xīng qī wǔ||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.
|工作周||gōng zuò zhōu||Workweek|
|上周末||shàng zhōu mò||Last weekend|
|下周末||xià zhōu mò||Next weekend|
|前的周末||qián de zhōu mò||The weekend before|
|后的周末||hòu de zhōu mò||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 kāi shǐ||Beginning of this week|
|本周中||běn zhōu zhōng||Middle of this week|
|本周末||běn zhōu mò||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||lián xù sān gè xīng qī||Three weeks in a row, three consecutive weeks|
|每周||měi zhōu||Every week|
|每隔一周||měi gé yī zhōu||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.
(jīn tiān xīng qī jǐ?)
What day is it today?
(jīn tiān shì xīng qī sān.)
Today is Wednesday.
Here’s another example.
(nǐ shén me shí hou huí qù shàng bān?)
When do you go back to work?
(wǒ xià zhōu èr huí qù shàng bān.)
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.
(yī shēng zhè ge xīng qī wǔ yǒu shí jiān ma?)
Is the doctor available this Friday?
(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?
(kě yǐ. xīng qī sì jiàn!)
Yes. See you Thursday!
(xīng qī sì jiàn!)
See you Thursday!
Need to make plans? Here’s an example of how you might discuss planning a friend’s birthday party.
(tā de shēng rì shì shén me shí hou?)
When is her birthday?
(liǎng zhōu hòu.)
In two weeks.
(shì gōng zuò rì hái shì zhōu mò?)
Is it on a weekday or weekend?
(wǒ rèn wéi shì xīng qī yī.)
I think it’s on a Monday.
(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.
(nín shàng zhōu yī cān jiā le péi xùn ma?)
Did you attend the training last Monday?
(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.
(nǐ duō jiǔ yùn dòng yí cì?)
How often do you exercise?
(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.
(yú jiā kè shì xīng qī jǐ?)
What day is the yoga class?
(měi zhōu wǔ.)
(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.
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!