Teach Your Kids These Auspicious Chinese New Year Phrases

As Lunar New Year rolls around, we’ve shortlisted a few quick easy phrases for your little ones to learn in Mandarin for this festive period. Learn how to say these phrases in your dialect!

Tones And Dictionary

A note on tones: Each of these languages are tonal in nature, so saying the same word with a different tone may produce laughable results as you’re in effect saying another word. For example, 妈 mā and 马 mă are both romanised as ma in its hanyu pinyin, but one means mother and the other means horse. Especially for the dialects, which has anywhere from five to eight tones, we highly recommend you and your little ones practice the pronunciation with your parents and/or grandparents.

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新年快乐 (Xīn nián kuài lè)

What it means: Happy New Year! This, along with Gong Xi Fa Cai, is the most common phrase you’ll hear during the Lunar New Year.
Cantonese: sān nìhn faai lohk
Hokkien: sin-nî khòai-lo̍k
Teochew: Sing nîin kuài láhk

Wishing For Prosperity

恭喜发财 or gōng xǐ fā cái

What it means: Literally, this means “congratulations on becoming rich”. Hence, it’s to wish prosperity for your loved ones and friends.
Cantonese: gūng héi faat choìh
Hokkien: kiong-hí hoat-châi           
Teochew: giong hí hueg câi

财源广进 cái yuán guǎng jìn

What it means: Fortune is at your doorstep. Like the phrase above, this wish is for an abundance of wealth.
Cantonese:  coìh jyùhn gwóng zeon
Hokkien: châi gôan kóng chìn       
Teochew: Cȃi nguêng guáng jìn

For Everything to Proceed Smoothly

顺顺利利 shùn shùn lì lì

What it means: This is a greeting to wish that all will proceed smoothly in the year ahead.
Cantonese: seohn seohn leih leih
Hokkien: sūn sūn lī lī
Teochew: sŭng sŭng lĭ lĭ

万事如意 wàn shì rú yì

What it means: This literally means that ten thousand things will go according to your will, thus whatever you want to accomplish will be done.
Cantonese: maahn sih jyúh ji
Hokkien: bān-sū jû-ì       
Teochew: bhuang si zu yi


身体健康 shēn tǐ jiàn kāng

What it means: May your body be healthy.
Cantonese: sān tái gihn hōng
Hokkien: seng-khu ióng-kīa
Teochew: sin tí giĕng kang

For Studies and Promotions

学业进步 xué yè jìnbù

What it means: Usually used for students (from kindergarten to university), this greeting wishes for improvement in your studies.
Cantonese: hohk yihp jeun bouh
Hokkien: ha̍k-gia̍p chìn pō
Teochew: háhg ngiéhp zìng bōu

步步高升 bù bù gāo shēng

What it means: This wish is for employees to rise steadily up the career ladder, and get a promotion.
Cantonese: bouh bouh gōu sīng
Hokkien: pō pō kôan-chhèng
Teochew: bōu bōu gao seng


Cantonese: Wikipedia for tones, dictionary
Hokkien: Meetup post for tones, Niaw de Leon for the dictionary
Teochew: Wikipedia for tonesMogher for the dictionary

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