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
- And One More Thing...
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.
|xīng qī yī
|xīng qī èr
|xīng qī sān
|xīng qī sì
|xīng qī wǔ
|xīng qī liù
|星期日 / 星期天
|xīng qī rì / xīng qī tiān
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
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.
|lǐ bài yī
|lǐ bài èr
|lǐ bài sān
|lǐ bài sì
|lǐ bài wǔ
|lǐ bài liù
|礼拜日 / 礼拜天
|lǐ bài rì / lǐ bài tiān
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.
|gōng zuò rì
|Workday, working day, weekday
|今日 / 今天
|jīn rì / jīn tiān
|Day before yesterday, two days ago
|Day after tomorrow, in two days
|lìng yī tiān
|Another day, some other day
|Every other day, alternate days
|měi sān tiān
|Every three days
|sān tiān qián
|Three days ago
|sān tiān hòu
|Three days later
|zài sān tiān zhī nèi
|Within three days
|lián xù sān tiān
|Three days in a row, three consecutive days
|dì wǔ tiān
|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.
|gōng zuò zhōu
|shàng zhōu mò
|xià zhōu mò
|qián de zhōu mò
|The weekend before
|hòu de zhōu mò
|The weekend after
|běn zhōu kāi shǐ
|Beginning of this week
|běn zhōu zhōng
|Middle of this week
|běn zhōu mò
|This weekend, end of this week
|liǎng zhōu qián
|Two weeks ago
|liǎng zhōu hòu
|Two weeks later
|lián xù sān gè xīng qī
|Three weeks in a row, three consecutive weeks
|měi gé yī zhōu
|Every other week, alternate weeks
|měi sān zhōu
|Every three weeks
|dì sān zhōu
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. 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.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
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!
And One More Thing...
If you want to continue learning Chinese with interactive and authentic Chinese content, then you'll love FluentU.
FluentU naturally eases you into learning Chinese language. Native Chinese content comes within reach, and you'll learn Chinese as it's spoken in real life.
FluentU has a wide range of contemporary videos—like dramas, TV shows, commercials and music videos.
FluentU brings these native Chinese videos within reach via interactive captions. You can tap on any word to instantly look it up. All words have carefully written definitions and examples that will help you understand how a word is used. Tap to add words you'd like to review to a vocab list.
FluentU's Learn Mode turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you're learning.
The best part is that FluentU always keeps track of your vocabulary. It customizes quizzes to focus on areas that need attention and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a 100% personalized experience.
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