Physical Examination in English and Chinese


This is a demonstration of the most common steps involved in a physical examination, conducted by a physician in a hospital or general practice. Both the original recording in English, as well as the version translated into Mandarin, are provided. In both recordings, a beep is sounded at the end of each segment for the listener to pause and translate.

Important Notes

  • These recordings and transcripts are for interpreting training only, and should not be taken as medical advice or used as medical training material.
  • Most of the steps in this physical examination are adapted from the Duke PA Program Complete Physical Exam which can be viewed YouTube (Part 1 and Part 2).
  • I’ve tried to make the English as straight forward and non-technical as possible, but inevitably some parts may sound strange to those not familiar with physical examinations (e.g. the capillary refill time, translated as 微血管充填时间, a term I decided to leave out, though I kept the original test).
  • Although the Chinese was translated to make it sound as authentic as possible, some parts will sound a strange as the original was after all in English and some physical terms sound strange expressed in Chinese (e.g. frown, cross-eyed, etc.). Therefore, while the Chinese version is still useful for Chinese learners, it should be taken with a grain of salt.

Listen to the Physical Examination in English

Physical Examination in English

Listen to the Physical Examination in Mandarin

Physical Examination in Mandarin

Combined English and Chinese Transcript

We’ll get started with the physical examination right after I’ve washed my hands.

OK, first we’ll measure your height. Now please stand on the scales, we’ll take a look at your weight.

OK, first I’ll take your vital signs, starting with your body temperature. Good. Now please lift your arm and roll up your sleeve. I’m going to take your blood pressure and your pulse.

Now I’m going to examine your head, hair and scalp.

Now I’m going to ask you to do some facial exercises. You can follow me. First wrinkle your forehead. Now close your eyes really tight. Puff out your cheeks. Give me a big smile. Now give me a big frown. Now open your mouth nice and wide. Now close it. Now open and close your mouth repeatedly. Good.

Now I’m going to check for sensation in your face. Please close your eyes. I’m going to tap on your face with this little instrument. I want you to tell me whether the sensation feels sharp or dull.

Now I’m going to take a look at your ears. Looks fine. OK, now I’ll have a look at the other side.

Now I’m going to check your hearing. Please look directly at me. I’m going to tap this tuning fork. I want you to motion with your hand to indicate which side the noise is coming from.

I’ll take a look now at your eyes, brows and eyelids. OK, they look fine. Now I’m going to check your pupils. Look straight at my nose. I’m going to shine this light at you. OK. Next I want you to stare at my finger as it moves towards you. You may go cross-eyed.

Now I’d like to check your eyesight. Can you read this line of numbers? Good. Now cover one eye and read the line backwards. Good. Now cover the other eye and read the next line forwards. Now I want you to follow my finger with your eyes, and keep your head still. I’m going to wiggle my finger on either side. I want you to motion with your hand to indicate which side I am wiggling my finger from.

Now I’m going to examine your nose, please tilt your head. I’d like to press on some parts here to see if you have any tenderness in your nasal passages. Does it hurt here? No, good. Now I’m going to check if your nasal passages are open. Please close one of your nostrils and try to breathe in, then try again with the other nostril.

I’m going to test your sense of smell now. Please close your eyes. I’m going to give you two things to smell. Don’t worry, they are nice smells. First, sniff this one and tell me if you can smell something, and if what is it. Good. Now sniff this one. Good.

I’d like to look inside your mouth now, please open wide. Lift up your tongue for me. Good. Now stick your tongue out, put it to one side, then put it to the other side. Now say “aah”.

Let me just check your neck now. I’d like to look at your thyroid gland and your lymph nodes. Take a sip of this glass of water. Don’t swallow just yet. OK, now you can swallow. Great. Now I’d like you to do some neck movements. Tuck your chin into your chest. Now make your ear touch your shoulder. Now try again on the other side.

Now I’d like to examine your back, starting with the contour of your back. Please undo your gown. That looks fine.

I also need to check your breathing. Take a deep breath in. I’m going to push on your back, tell me if any of this hurts. Now I’m going to pound on your back, does that hurt? Cross your arms, I’m going to press you on different parts of your back, when you feel something say ABC. Now I’m going to tap on your back a little bit to check your diaphrams. Take a deep breath in, now let it all out. OK you can breathe normally now. Now take a deep breath in and hold it. OK you can breathe normally now.

OK, let’s check your lungs now. When you feel me touch you with the stethoscope, I want you to take a deep breath in and out.

Now I’m going to check your lymph nodes under your arms. Please rest your arm on my shoulder, I’m going to press down on your arm pit. Try to relax your arm. Good. Now we’ll try the same on the other side. Again, try to relax your arm.

Now I’d like to look at your chest. I’m going to have you lie down. I’m going to press on you, tell me if it hurts. Now I’m going to tap on you a bit, say ABC when you feel it. Now I’m going to take a listen to your breathing. Take a deep breath. One more time.

I’m just going to listen to your heart now. Please lie on your side for me. That’s great. Please sit up now and put your gown back on.

I’m going to have a listen to your abdomen now. That’s good. I’m just going to tap over your liver. Now I’ll tap over your spleen, take a deep breath. Very good. I’m going to press on your tummy, let me know if any of this feels uncomfortable for you. Lightly at first, now a little bit deeper. I want you to take a deep breath for me, and let it out. Good. Again. Let it out. You can breathe normally now.

We’ll check your arms now. Please sit up. I’m just checking the skin here now, and feeling for any difference in temperature between your two arms. Now I’m going to press on your finger nails to see how long it takes for them to go from white to red. OK, looks good. Now I’ll check the palms of your hands. I’m also going to compare your pulses in both arms. Good, they’re equal.

OK. Now I’d like to examine your physical strength. I’d like you to put your arms up and hold them up. I’m going to push on your arms now, try your best to resist me. Spread your fingers out and hold them out. Put your thumb and your pinky together, and hold it. Very good.

We’re going to check for sensations in your hands. Please close your eyes. I’m going to place something in your hands. Go ahead and feel it and tell me what it is. A key, yes. Now I’m going to place something else in your other hand and tell me what it is. A coin, yes.

We’re just going to go through some motion exercises with your arms now. So just go ahead and do what I do. Stretch your arms out as wide as you can. Now raise them up above your head. And touch your back. Good. Put your arms by your sides. Lastly, I’ll get you to put your arms behind your back.

I’m going to examine your legs now. I’m going to check to see if there is any swelling. Good. Now I’m going to test for strength in your legs. I’m going to put my hands on your shins, I want you to push up with your knee as hard as you can.

Please lie down, we’re going to test the motion of your legs now. I’m going to push your knee in towards your chest. Does that feel OK? Good. Now I want you to lie on your side again. Put your legs out straight. Good. You can sit up now.

OK now I’m going to check your reflexes. Just rest your arms. Great. Now I’ll check the reflexes of both of your arms. Very good. Now I’ll check the reflexes of your legs.

Now we’re going to do some neurologic exercises. Just follow me. First flip your hand over repeatedly as quickly as you can. Now touch my finger with your finger, and then touch your nose. I’m going to keep moving my finger around, keep on touching it with your finger and then touch your nose. Let’s try with the other hand now. Good. All right, now take your right heel, place it on the shin of your left leg, then move it slowly down to your foot. Good. Now do the other one. Very good. Now I want you to tap on my hand with your foot as fast as you can. Now the other one. Now I want you to walk across the room. Now turn around and come back. Now I want you to walk back again, but with one foot in front of the other, heel touching toe. Good, now come back.

Now I’d like to check your balance. Put your feet together. Look straight ahead. Close your eyes. I’m going to push you a little bit. I want you to try and maintain your balance. OK, very good.

The last thing I’m going to do is check the range of motion in your back. So I’m going to ask to lean down and try and touch your toes. OK, come back up. Now I want you to twist your upper body as I hold your hips. Now I want you to lean to one side, and then to the other. Very good. All right we’re all done.

9 Comments to "Physical Examination in English and Chinese"

  1. michael's Gravatar michael
    23/01/2014 - 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic. Facial exericises part is particularly interesting..

  2. David Gale's Gravatar David Gale
    24/01/2014 - 4:16 pm | Permalink

    I thought frown is “皱眉头” – I’ve heard this a few times from Chinese speakers, although admittedly never at the doctors 🙂

  3. Molly seow's Gravatar Molly seow
    24/01/2014 - 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Cross eye = 斗鸡眼

  4. Molly seow's Gravatar Molly seow
    24/01/2014 - 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Liver = 肝脏
    Kidney= 肾脏

  5. 14/04/2014 - 11:38 am | Permalink

    You can download audio files to practice Chinese-English medical interpreting at
    Developed by interpreters for interpreters, just like this wonderful blog!

  6. amy's Gravatar amy
    24/05/2014 - 6:54 am | Permalink

    in the sentence, “tell me if the sensation feels sharp or dull”
    l feel the chinese meaning and expression should be 告诉我脸部的反应是刺痛还是闷痛?
    how do you feel?

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