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.

Contents

 

3 Ways to Say the Days of the Week in Chinese

Standard: 星期 (xīngqī)

days of the week in chinese 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xīngqí yīMonday
星期二xīngqí'èrTuesday
星期三xīngqísānWednesday
星期四xīngqísìThursday
星期五xīngqíwǔFriday
星期六xīngqíliùSaturday
星期日

星期天

xīngqírì

xīngqítiān

Sunday

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.

ChinesePinyinEnglish
礼拜一lǐbài yīMonday
礼拜二lǐbài èrTuesday
礼拜三lǐbài sānWednesday
礼拜四lǐbài sìThursday
礼拜五lǐbài wǔFriday
礼拜六lǐbài liùSaturday
礼拜日

礼拜天

lǐbài rì

lǐbài tiān

Sunday

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.

ChinesePinyinEnglish
周一zhōuyīMonday
周二zhōu'èrTuesday
周三zhōusānWednesday
周四zhōu sìThursday
周五zhōu wǔFriday
周六zhōu liùSaturday
周日

周天

zhōu rì

zhōu tiān

Sunday

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.

ChinesePinyinEnglish
Day, sun
tiānDay, sky
工作日gōngzuò rìWorkday, working day, weekday
昨天zuótiānYesterday
今日

今天

jīnrì

jīntiān

Today
明天míngtiānTomorrow
前天qiántiānDay before yesterday, two days ago
后天hòutiānDay after tomorrow, in two days
另一天lìng yītiānAnother day, some other day
每天měitiānEvery 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 tiānhòuThree days later
在三天之内zài sān tiān zhī nèiWithin three days
连续三天liánxù sān tiānThree days in a row, three consecutive days
第五天dì wǔ tiānFifth day
星期一到星期五xīngqí yī dào xīngqíwǔMonday 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píngrìWeekdays
工作周gōngzuò zhōuWorkweek
周末zhōumòWeekend
上周末shàng zhōumòLast weekend
下周末xià zhōumòNext weekend
前的周末qián de zhōumòThe weekend before
后的周末hòu de zhōumòThe weekend after
上周shàng zhōuLast week
本周běn zhōuThis week
下周xià zhōuNext week
本周开始běn zhōu kāishǐBeginning of this week
本周中běn zhōu zhōngMiddle of this week
本周末běn zhōumòThis 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liánxù sān gè xīngqíThree weeks in a row, three consecutive weeks
每周měi zhōuEvery week
每隔一周 měi gé yīzhōuEvery 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?
(jīntiān xīngqī jǐ?)
What day is it today?

B: 今天是星期三。
(jīntiān shì xīngqīsān.)
Today is Wednesday.

Here’s another example.

A: 你什么时候回去上班?
(nǐ shénme shíhòu huíqù shàngbān?)
When do you go back to work?

B: 我下周二回去上班。
(wǒ xià zhōu’èr huíqù shàngbān.)
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?
(yīshēng zhège xīngqīwǔ yǒu shíjiān 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?
(yīshēng zhǐ zài xīngqī’èr hé xīngqīsì yǒu kòng. xīngqīsì kěyǐ ma?)
The doctor is only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Is Thursday okay?

A: 可以。星期四见!
(kěyǐ. xīngqīsì jiàn!)
Yes. See you Thursday!

B: 星期四见!
(xīngqīsì 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 shēngrì shì shénme shíhou?)
When is her birthday?

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

A: 是工作日还是周末?
(shì gōngzuò rì háishì zhōumò?)
Is it on a weekday or weekend?

B: 我认为是星期一。
(wǒ rènwéi shì xīngqī 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。
(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.

A: 您上周一参加了培训吗?
(nín shàng zhōu yī cānjiāle péixùn 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 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.

A: 你多久运动一次?
(nǐ duōjiǔ yùndòng yīcì?)
How often do you exercise?

B: 每周跑步两次。有时我上瑜伽课。
(měi zhōu pǎobù liǎng cì. yǒushí wǒ shàng yújiā kè.)
I go running twice a week. Sometimes I go to yoga classes.

A: 瑜伽课是星期几?
(yújiā kè shì xīngqī 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 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!

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