Nǐ hǎo (你好) is the Mandarin Chinese word for “hello.” It literally translates to “you good” but is not a question unless the “question word” ma (吗/嗎) is added to the end. This makes “Nǐ hǎo ma?” (你好吗/你好嗎), which translates to “how are you?” (你) is a singular pronoun and should be replaced with nǐ men (你们/你們) when greeting more than one person, as well as being informal, with the formal word being nín (您).

It is unclear when in Chinese history this became the most popular Chinese greeting. Traditionally, Chinese say xìnghuì (幸会) as a general hello greeting, which means “Nice to meet (you).”

In some Turkic languages, there are similar greetings to this Chinese one. In Uyghur it is Yaxshimu siz, and in Tatar it is İsänmesez. In modern Turkish, the equivalent phrase is İyi misiniz. This may reflect the cultural contact between ancient Chinese and Turkic tribes.

Explicitly stating “You good” might not be grammatically correct in many languages, but various short greetings that indicate well-being of another are common in other languages as well, although such short greetings usually are less formal. For example, Russian здорóво [zdaˈrova], Lithuanian sveikas and Finnish terve are common ways to say “hi” while actually meaning “healthy,” and Estonian tervist means “(Receive) health.”

The polite form of Ni hao is Nín hǎo (您好).

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