Top 11 Mandarin Speech Particles

Criteria: common enough to be known by most native speakers, but special enough to only be used in specific situations.

1. hēng – “humph!” – cute, feminine, expresses disagreement in a pouting (撒娇) tone – 哼,有什么了不起!— Humph! What’s so special about that?

2. 咳哟 hāiyō – “heave-ho!”* – 咳哟,这货物怎么这么沉呢?— Heave-ho! How can these goods be so heavy?

3. / huò – “woah!” –  嚯,这东西够结实啊!— Woah, this stuff is strong!

4. nuò – “hey, look!” or “there!” – 喏,那不就是你的雨伞?— There, isn’t that your umbrella?

5. – “ah!”, “wow!” or “woah!” – 嗬,你真行! — Wow, you’re really great!

6. pēi – “whatever!” or “bah!” – 呸,他算老几?— Whatever, you’re a nobody.

7. – “hey!”, cute tone – 咦,这是怎么回事?— Ah? What’s going on?

8. lēi – cute, feminine, common online –走嘞!— Let’s go!

9. lou – feminine, teacher-like tone – 大家都坐好喽!— Everyone sit down please.

10. hài – “huh!”, apathetic or sorrowful tone – 咳,谁知道 — Ugh, who knows.

11. 噗 pū – sighing tone – 噗,你刚才说什么?— *Sigh*, what did you say?

* also used to joke about the sound of sex

6 Comments to "Top 11 Mandarin Speech Particles"

  1. 11/04/2011 - 5:28 am | Permalink

    Brilliant post. This sort of thing goes a long way to sounding more native. I’m always impressed when foreigners master things like this in English. And this list of example sentences will go nicely into Anki 🙂

  2. bailan's Gravatar bailan
    17/04/2011 - 3:23 pm | Permalink

    yes, i remember when i was saying 哎呀 just to kind of make fun, and now i do it’s so natural i didn’t notice i said it, until my western friends pointed it out 🙂

  3. Bo's Gravatar Bo
    16/05/2011 - 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Corrections:
    1. 呸,他算老几?— Whatever, he’s a nobody. (I f you want to say “呸, 你算老几?“, “Who do you think you are, ah?” might be better, me thinks)
    2. 嘞 doesnt have to be “feminine”. According to Baidu. Dic “助词,与“喽1”相似:别玩了,咱们回家~!”, so i guess this speech particle can be used by female(mostly kids) as well.
    3. 噗 is not exactly a signing tone. To the best of my knowledge, this particle refers to a certain sound of laughter, like in the situation where you’re about to burst into langhter. See also, “噗哧”. Example: 只见噗哧的一声,众人哄然一笑。

    Lemme know what you think.
    Cheers

  4. Sai Kee's Gravatar Sai Kee
    17/07/2011 - 10:28 am | Permalink

    Interesting post!
    May I point out one typo?
    No. 9 should be “坐“(verb, which means “sit”)instead of ”座“(noun, which means “seat”).

  5. 07/12/2011 - 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Great article! Do you know how these differ regionally? I’ve mainly learnt Chinese in Taiwan and I have seldom heard/seen “嚯 / 嚄 huò”. I think the others are more common, but I’m not sure how common. I suppose this will vary within Mainland China as well.

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