Download GPX file for this article

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

(吴语) or "Shanghai dialect" or "Shanghainese" (上海话) is the main local language for much of East China — the municipality of Shanghai, most of Zhejiang province, and the southern parts of Jiangsu province. There are also some speakers in neighbouring Chinese provinces. There are local variants of the language; the standard is that of Suzhou (an older city, capital of the Kingdom of Wu centuries back, and home to many scholars), not that of Shanghai. Mutual intelligibility between different Wu dialects varies; while someone from Shanghai will be able to understand the Suzhou dialect fairly easily, comprehension becomes harder in cities further afield like Wuxi and Hangzhou, while the Wenzhou dialect is completely incomprehensible. It is therefore common for Wu speakers from different cities to communicate in Mandarin instead.

Where Wu is primarily spoken

This is a populous region and the number of Wu speakers is large; on Wikipedia's list of world languages by number of native speakers it ranks 13th with 70-odd million, slightly below German but ahead of French and Italian. On their list by total number of speakers, Wu is 18th. On both lists, it is ahead of Vietnamese, Korean, and any other Chinese language except Mandarin.

Few travellers are likely to need or want to learn Wu. Throughout China, Mandarin has been the main language of government, education, media, and entertainment, for over half a century. Nearly all Wu speakers have at least some Mandarin as well, and the educated ones are generally completely fluent. Also, the major cities where Wu is the main local language — Shanghai, Suzhou, Ningbo and Hangzhou — are all quite prosperous and full of immigrants or temporary migrant workers who come from areas where Wu is not spoken. As anywhere else in China, Mandarin is the lingua franca for communication between people from different areas. Most foreigners living in the region choose to learn Mandarin rather than Wu.

That said, if you are spending a significant length of time in the region, then learning some Wu may be useful. It will almost certainly please and amuse the locals.

Pronunciation guide[edit]

Unlike Mandarin, there is no widely-used Romanization system for Wu, and there is even no standardized Romanization system like Jyutping developed by Linguistic Society of Hong Kong for Cantonese, though some scholars did create several systems to Romanize Wu. Since native speakers almost have no idea about those, Chinese characters are what you should stick to for written communication.

This is partly due to the fact that, because standard written Chinese is based on Mandarin, many words in Wu are written with characters of the same meaning in standard written Chinese.

Here one of the Romanization system created by scholars is used. Some adjustments are made to allow non-native speakers to understand more easily.


Unlike Mandarin and Cantonese, Wu does not only distinguish between aspirated and unaspirated consonants, but also between voiceless and voiced, thus maintaining the three-way contrast of Middle Chinese stop consonants and affricates, /p pʰ b/, /tɕ tɕʰ dʑ/, etc. Aspirated sounds are pronounced with a distinctive puff of air as they are pronounced in English when at the beginning of a word, while unaspirated sounds are pronounced without the puff, as in English when found in clusters.

Letter IPA English example Notes
p p span same as pinyin 'b' in Mandarin
ph pan same as pinyin 'p' in Mandarin
b b ban
m m man
f f fan
v v van
t t stan same as pinyin 'd' in Mandarin
th tan same as pinyin 't' in Mandarin
d d dog
ts ts cats (unaspirated) same as pinyin 'z' in Mandarin
tsh tsʰ cats (aspirated) same as pinyin 'c' in Mandarin
s s sit
z z zip
n n not
l l let
c tɕʷ cheese (unaspirated) same as pinyin 'j' in Mandarin
ch tɕʷʰ cheese (aspirated) same as pinyin 'q' in Mandarin
j dz jeep
sh ɕ sheep same as pinyin 'x' in Mandarin
zh ʑ pleasure
gn ȵ canyon
k k skin same as pinyin 'g' in Mandarin
kh kite same as pinyin 'k' in Mandarin
g g get
ng ŋ singer
h h hat
gh ɦ behind (Australian / Received Pronunciation)
haat (Dutch)

Consonants m, n or ng alone can form a syllable without any extra vowels.

Note: when gh is followed by i, u and iu (/y/, listed in vowels below), it sounds like "y" in yard or "w" in way to English speakers. The spelling is changed to "y" or "w" accordingly:

  • gh + i = yi
  • gh + ieu = yeu
  • gh + iu = yu
  • gh + uan = wan
  • gh + u = wu

It should be noticed that "y" and "yu" represents two other sounds if not at the beginning of a syllable (as listed in vowels below), different from this case where "y" or "yu" is at the beginning.


Wu is rich in vowels. Do not worry if some of them are difficult for you. Speak a little slowly and native speakers will probably understand you even when you make a mistake.

A "q" after a vowel represents a glottal stop (ʔ), and in this case, the vowel should be short in time, and ends suddenly. Otherwise the vowel should be relatively long. When "n" follows "a" or "ao", it means the vowel is nasalized.

Letter IPA English example Notes
a a hat (California / Canadian / Modern speakers of Received Pronunciation)
las (Spanish)
same as pinyin 'a' in Mandarin
ao ɑ star usually merged with "a" in Shanghai on all occasions, and in Suzhou when followed by "q"; younger generation of Shanghai may further merge "aq" with "eq"
ae æ hat
au ɔ not (Australian/New Zealand)
thought (General American)
e (not before n or q) let
e (before n or q) ə Tina
o ʊ hook (Australian/Northern English/Welsh/Conservative Received Pronunciation/New Zealand)
oe ɵ foot (Received Pronunciation)
i (not before q) i feet Usually the tongue is high enough to touch the palate and make an additional sound of friction. The friction is rather important to distinguish "i" sound from "ie" (/ɪ/) sound. However in Shanghai this is not so important as people merge the two sounds.
i (before q) ɪ sit
ie ɪ sit pronounced longer than "i" in sit in English
u u boot (General American)
eu (Shanghai) ɤ long ago (Received pronunciation) for the same sound in Suzhou, it is pronounced as a diphthong /øʏ/, as listed below
ieu (Suzhou) ʏ schützen (German) for the same sound in Shanghai, it is pronounced as a diphthong /iɤ/, just combining i with eu (/ɤ/)
iu y lune (French)
grün (German)
same as pinyin 'ü' in Mandarin
y (not at beginning) ɿ/z̩ not really a vowel, only appears after the consonants ts, tsh, s and z, pronounced as the consonant is stretched out, same as pinyin 'i' in 'zi', 'ci' and 'si' in Mandarin
yu (not at beginning) ʮ/z̩ʷ not really a vowel, only appears after the consonants ts, tsh, s and z, labialized "y" /ɿ/ (pronouncing /ɿ/ while labialized), not used in Shanghai where it is merged with "y" (/ɿ/)

Attention that y/yu at the beginning of a syllable means gh + i/iu, as mentioned above in consonants.

Common diphthongs[edit]

Most diphthongs in Wu starts with i, u or iu (/y/) and ends with another vowel in the list above. The exceptions are as below.

Letter IPA English example Notes
eu (Suzhou) øʏ for the same sound in Shanghai, it is pronounced as /ɤ/, as listed above
ou ou


Like other varieties of Chinese, Wu is tonal. Tone sandhi is very common in Wu, which makes it a little harder to learn than Mandarin. However, unlike Mandarin and Cantonese, voiceless and voiced consonants are still distinguished in Wu, as in Middle Chinese. The tones of a syllable beginning with a voiceless consonant ("yin" tones) usually sounds higher than those with a voiced consonant ("yang" tones). When these rules are observed, it is easy for native speakers to understand you even when you make a mistake.

Since there is no standardized symbol to represent tones in Wu, here numbers are used according to Middle Chinese, as done by most scholars.

Tones in Suzhou
Number Name Pitch Notes
1 Yinping ˦˦ (44) For syllables beginning with a voiceless consonant and NOT ending with "q"
2 Yangping ˨˧ (23) For syllables beginning with a voiced consonant and NOT ending with "q"
3 Yinshang ˥˩ (51) For syllables beginning with a voiceless consonant and NOT ending with "q"
4 Yangshang ˧˩ (31) For syllables beginning with a voiced consonant and NOT ending with "q"
5 Yinqu ˦˩˨ (412) For syllables beginning with a voiceless consonant and NOT ending with "q"
7 Yinru ˥ʔ (5) For syllables beginning with a voiceless consonant and ending with "q"
8 Yangru ˧ʔ (3) For syllables beginning with a voiced consonant and ending with "q"

Tone sandhi in Suzhou

First syllableSecond syllable T1
˥˥ 55
˩˧ 13
˥˩ 51
˧˩ 31
˥˩˧ 513
˥ʔ 5
˧ʔ 3
˥˥ 55
˥˥ ˨˩ (55 21) ˥˥ ˨ (55 2)
˩˧ 13
˩˧ ˧˧ (13 33) ˩˧ ˨ (13 2)
˥˩ 51
˥˩ ˧˧ (51 33) ˥˩ ˨˩ (51 21) ˥˩ ˨˩ (51 21) ˥˩ ˨ (51 2)
˥˩ ˧˧ (51 33)
˧˩ 31
˩˧ ˧˧ (13 33) ˩˧ ˨ (13 2)
˧˩ ˨˩ (31 21) ˧˩ ˨ (31 2)
˥˩˧ 513
˥˥ ˨˩ (55 21) ˥˥ ˨ (55 2)
˥˩ ˧˧ (51 33) ˥˩ ˧˧ (51 33) ˥˩ ˨ (51 2)
˥˩ ˨˩ (51 21)
˥ʔ 5
No change No change No change
˥ʔ ˧˩˧ (5 313)
˧ʔ 3
˧ʔ ˨˩ (3 21) No change
Tones in Shanghai
Number Name Pitch Notes
1 Yinping 52 For syllables beginning with a voiceless consonant and NOT ending with "q"
5 Yinqu 34 For syllables beginning with a voiceless consonant and NOT ending with "q"
6 Yangqu 23 For syllables beginning with a voiced consonant and NOT ending with "q"
7 Yinru 44 For syllables beginning with a voiceless consonant and ending with "q"
8 Yangru 24 For syllables beginning with a voiced consonant and ending with "q"

Tone sandhi in Shanghai

Tone One syllable Two syllables Three syllables Four syllables Five syllables
T1 52 55 22 55 44 22 55 44 33 22 55 44 33 33 22
T5 34 33 44 33 44 22 33 44 33 22 33 44 33 33 22
T6 14 11 44 11 44 11 11 44 33 11 11 44 33 22 11
T7 44 33 44 33 44 22 33 44 33 22 33 44 33 22 22
T8 24 11 24 11 11 24 11 22 22 24
22 44 33 11
11 11 11 11 24
22 44 33 22 11

Usually among young generations in Shanghai who speak Mandarin more often, tones have become pitch accent, only appear in falling and rising, similar to Japanese.

General correspondence between Suzhou and Shanghai[edit]

Suzhou Shanghai Note
consonants and vowels ao (not before n or q) a (not before n or q)
aoq aq may be further merged with eq by younger generations of Shanghai
i i
ae au
ou u "ou" never appears after labial consonants (p, ph, b, m, f, v) in Suzhou
u "u" (not followed by another vowel) only appears after labial consonants (p, ph, b, m, f, v) in Suzhou
eu /øʏ/ eu /ɤ/ attention the spelling is the same, as mentioned above
ieu /ʏ/ ieu /iɤ/ attention the spelling is the same, as mentioned above
y (not at beginning) y (not at beginning)
yu (not at beginning)
tsi ci
tshi chi
si shi
zi zhi
ts/tsh/s/z + eu ts/tsh/s/z + eu
c/ch/sh/zh + ieu
Tones T1 T1
T3 T5
T2 T6
T7 T7
T8 T8
Vocabulary and grammar 倷 ne4 儂 nong6 meaning "you" (singular)
俉篤 ng4 toq7 㑚 na6 meaning "you" (plural)
俚 li1 伊 yi6 meaning "he/she/it"
俚篤 li1 toq7 伊拉 yi6 laq8 meaning "they"
哉 tse1 勒 leq8 meaning some action was did or has been done
弗 feq7 弗 veq8 meaning "not"
覅 fiae5 覅 viau6 meaning "do not want" or "(please) do not"
嘸不 m2 peq7 嘸沒 m6 meq8 meaning "do not have/own" or "there is no"
朆 fen1 meaning "did not do / have not done"
啊___? aq7 __? ___𠲎? __ vaq8? yes-no questions

Phrase list[edit]

The following is listed in both simplified and traditional Chinese characters, and both Suzhou and Shanghai pronunciation. Traditional characters are put in brackets after the same word or sentence written in simplified characters.


倷好 ne4 hae3. (Suzhou) 侬好(儂好)nong6 hau5. (Shanghai)
What is your name?
倷叫啥名字? ne3 ciae5 sao5 min2 zy4? (Suzhou) 侬叫啥名字?(儂叫啥名字)nong6 ciau5 sa5 min6 zy6? (Shanghai)
My name is ______ .
我叫 ______ . ngou4 ciae5 ______ . (Suzhou) ngu6 ciau5 ______ . (Shanghai)
请。(請。)tshin3. (Suzhou) chin5. (Shanghai)
Thank you.
谢谢。(謝謝。)ziao4 ziao4. (Suzhou) zhia6 zhia6. (Shanghai, usually pronounced as zhia6 ia6)
You're welcome.
覅客气。(覅客氣。)fiae5 kaoq7 chi5. (Suzhou) viau6 kaq7 chi5. (Shanghai)
是。zy4. (Suzhou) zy6. (Shanghai) (Note: Only some questions are answered with this. As with other varieties of Chinese, affirmation is generally done by repeating the verb in the question.)
弗是。feq7 zy4. (Suzhou) veq8 zy6. (Shanghai)
Excuse me.
弗好意思。feq7 hae3 i5 sy1. (Suzhou) veq8 hau5 i5 sy1. (Shanghai)
I'm sorry.
对弗起/对弗住。(對弗起/對弗住。) te5 feq7 chi3 / te5 feq7 zyu4. (Suzhou) te5 veq8 chi5 / te5 veq8 zy6. (Shanghai)
再会。(再會。)tse5 we4. (Suzhou) tse5 we6. (shanghai)
I can't speak Suzhounese/Shanghainese [well].
我弗会讲苏州闲话。(我弗會講蘇州閒話。)ngou4 feq7 ue5 kaon3 sou1 tseu1 ghe2 gho4. (Suzhou) 我弗会讲上海闲话。(我弗會講上海閒話。)ngu6 veq8 ue5 kaon5 zaon6 he5 ghe6 gho6. (Shanghai)
Do you speak English?
倷啊会讲英文?(倷啊會講英文?)ne3 aq7 ue5 kaon3 in1 ven2? (Suzhou) 侬英文讲得来𠲎?(儂英文講得來𠲎?)nong6 in1 ven6 kaon5 teq7 le6 vah8? (Shanghai)
Is there someone here who speaks English?
啊有人会讲英文?(啊有人會講英文?)aq7 yeu4 gnin2 ue5 kaon3 in1 ven2? (Suzhou) 有人英文讲得来𠲎?(有人英文講得來𠲎?)yeu6 gnin6 in1 ven6 kaon5 teq7 le6 vah8? (Shanghai)
救命!cieu5 min4! (Suzhou) cieu5 min6! (Shanghai)
Look out!
当心!(當心!)taon1 sin1. (Suzhou) taon1 shin1. (Shanghai)
I don't understand.
我弗懂。ngou4 feq7 tong5. (Suzhou) ngu6 veq8 tong5. (Shanghai)
Where is the toilet?
厕所勒嗱垯?(廁所勒嗱墶?)tshy5 sou3 leq8 no2 taq7? (Suzhou) 厕所勒嚡里垯?(廁所勒嚡裏墶?)tshy5 su5 leq8 gha6 li6 taq7? (Shanghai)


Go away
走开!(走開!)tseu3 khe1! (Suzhou) tseu5 khe1! (Shanghai)
Don't touch me!
覅碰我! fiae5 ban4 ngou4! (Suzhou) viau6 ban6 ngu6! (Shanghai)
I'll call the police.
我要叫警察 ngou4 iae5 ciae5 cin3 tshaoq7. (Suzhou) ngu6 iau5 ciau5 cin5 tshaq7. (Shanghai)
警察 cin3 tshaq7 (Suzhou) cin5 tshaq7 (Shanghai)
停 din2 (Suzhou) din6 (Shanghai)
I need your help.
我要倷帮忙。(我要倷幫忙。)ngou4 iae5 ne4 paon1 maon2. (Suzhou) 我要侬帮忙。(我要儂幫忙。)ngu6 iau5 nong2 paon1 maon6. (Shanghai)
I'm lost.
我弗认得路哉。(我弗認得路哉。)ngou4 feq7 gnin4 teq7 lou4 tse1. (Suzhou) 我弗认得路勒。(我弗認得路勒。)ngu6 veq8 gnin6 teq7 lu6 leq8. (Shanghai)
I lost my purse/wallet.
我皮夹子弗见脱哉。(我皮夾子弗見脫哉。)ngou4 bi2 kaq7 tsy3 feq7 cie5 theq7 tse1. (Suzhou) 我皮夹子弗见脱勒。(我皮夾子弗見脫勒。)ngu6 bi6 kaq7 tsy5 veq8 ci5 theq7 leq8. (Shanghai)
I'm sick.
我生病哉。ngou4 san1 bin4 tse1. (Suzhou) 我生病勒。ngu6 san1 bin6 leq8. (Shanghai)
I've been injured.
我受伤哉。(我受傷哉。)ngou4 zeu4 saon1 tse1. (Suzhou) 我受伤勒。(我受傷勒。)ngu6 zeu6 saon1 leq8. (Shanghai)
I need a doctor.
我要看医生。(我要看醫生。)ngou4 iae5 khoe5 i1 saon1. (Suzhou) ngu6 iau5 khoe5 i1 saon1. (Shanghai)
Can I use your phone?
我啊好用倷个电话?(我啊好用倷個電話?)ngou4 aq7 hae3 yong4 ne4 keq7 die4 gho4? (Suzhou) 我用一用侬个电话好𠲎?(我用一用儂個電話好𠲎?)ngu6 yong6 iq7 yong6 nong6 eq8 di6 gho6 hau5 vaq8? (Shanghai)


零 lin2 (Suzhou) lin6 (Shanghai)
一 iq7
二 gni4 (Suzhou) gni6 (Shanghai) / 两(兩) lian4 (Suzhou) lian6 (Shanghai)

Note: A single number 2 is usually read as 兩, but when 2 is the last digit of a multi-digit number (such as 2 in 12, and the last 2 in 2132) it is read as 二. (But in Mandarin, for single number 2, 兩 is only used when specifying quantities.)

三 se1
四 sy5
五 ng4 (Suzhou) ng6 (Shanghai)
六 loq8
七 tshiq7 (Suzhou) chiq7 (Shanghai)
八 poq7 (Suzhou) paq7 (Shanghai)
九 cieu5 (Suzhou) cieu5 (Shanghai)
十 zeq8
11-19 except 15
十 zeq8 + last digit (For 12, 二 is used, not 兩)
舍五 soq7 ng4 (Suzhou) zeq8 ng6 (Shanghai)
廿 gnie4 (Suzhou) gniae6 (Shanghai)
21-29 except 25
廿 gnie4 (Suzhou) gniae6 (Shanghai) + last digit (For 22, 二 is used, not 兩)
廿五 gniao4 ng4 / gnie4 ng4 (Suzhou) gniae6 ng6 (Shanghai)
When the last digit is not 0, it is read by combining the first digit, "10" and the last digit, as e.g. 42 is read as 四十二 ("four ten two"). When the last digit is 2, 二 is used, not 兩. However when the last digit is 5, the pronunciation of "10" changes to 舍 soq7 in Suzhou as in 15. When the last digit is 0, it is read by combining the first digit and "10", but the pronunciation of "10" always changes to seq7, as e.g. 50 is read as 五十 ng4 seq7 (Suzhou) ng6 seq7 (Shanghai) ("five ten").

For numbers above 100, any "gaps" must be filled in with 零 (0), as e.g. 1003 is read as 一千零三 ("one thousand zero three"), and 1030 as 一千零三十 ("one thousand zero three ten"). 一千三 ("one thousand three") would be taken as shorthand for 1300, which is usually read as 一千三百 ("one thousand three hundred").

一百 iq7 paoq7 (Suzhou) iq7 paq7 (Shanghai)
兩百 lian4 paoq7 (Suzhou) lian6 paq7 (Shanghai)
三百 se1 paoq7 (Suzhou) se1 paq7 (Shanghai)
一千 iq7 tshie1 (Suzhou) iq7 chi1 (Shanghai)
兩千 lian4 tshie1 (Suzhou) lian6 chi1 (Shanghai)

Numbers starting from 10,000 are grouped by in units of four digits starting with 万(萬) [ve4 (Suzhou) ve6 (Shanghai)] (ten thousand). "One million" in read as 一百萬 ("one hundred ten-thousands").

一万(一萬) iq7 ve4 (Suzhou) iq7 ve6 (Shanghai)
两万(兩萬) lian4 ve4 (Suzhou) lian6 ve6 (Shanghai)
十万(十萬) zeq8 ve4 (Suzhou) zeq8 ve6 (Shanghai)
一百万(一百萬) iq7 paoq7 ve4 (Suzhou) iq7 paq7 ve6 (Shanghai)
一千万(一千萬) iq7 tshie1 ve4 (Suzhou) iq7 chi1 ve6 (Shanghai)
一亿(一億) iq7 i5
十亿(十億) zeq8 i5
一百亿(一百億) iq7 paoq7 i5 (Suzhou) iq7 paq7 i5 (Shanghai)
一千亿(一千億) iq7 tshie1 i5 (Suzhou) iq7 chi1 i5 (Shanghai)
一万亿(一萬億) iq7 ve4 i5 (Suzhou) iq7 ve6 i5 (Shanghai) / 一兆 iq7 zae4 (Suzhou) iq7 zau6 (Shanghai)
number _____ (train, bus, etc.)
_____号(號) ghae4 (Suzhou) ghau6 (Shanghai)
半 poe5
少 sae3 (Suzhou) sau5 (Shanghai)
多 tou1 (Suzhou) tu1 (Shanghai)


现在(現在)yie4 ze4 (Suzhou) yi6 ze6 (Shanghai)
晏 e5
早 tsae3 (Suzhou) tsau5 (Shanghai)
morning (early)
早浪 tsae3 laon4 (Suzhou) tsau5 laon6 (Shanghai)
morning (late)
上半日/上晚昼(上晚晝) zaon4 poe5 gniq8 / zaon4 me4 tseu5 (Suzhou) zaon6 poe5 gniq8 / zaon6 me6 tseu5 (Shanghai)
中浪 tsong1 laon4 (Suzhou) tsong1 laon6 (Shanghai)
下半日/下晚昼(下晚晝) gho4 poe5 gniq8 / gho4 me4 tseu5 (Suzhou) gho6 poe5 gniq8 / gho6 me6 tseu5 (Shanghai)
夜快 yao4 khuao5 (Suzhou) ya6 khua5 (Shanghai)
半夜 poe5 yao4 (Suzhou) poe5 ya6 (Shanghai)

Clock time[edit]

The "o'clock" times are read as "hour number" + 点(點) [tie3 (Suzhou) ti5 (Shanghai)], while others are read as "hour number" + 点(點) + "minute number" + 分 (fen1). 一刻 (iq7 kheq7) is an alternative for 15分 in __:15, and 三刻 (se1 kheq7) is an alternative for 45分 in __:45. 半 (poe5), which means "half", is an alternative for 30分 in __:30.

For __:0_, the "0" should also be read out, as ____点零__分.

What time is it?
现在几点?(現在幾點?)yie4 ze4 ci3 tie3? (Suzhou) yi6 ze6 ci5 ti5? (Shanghai)
One o'clock
一点(一點)iq7 tie3 (Suzhou) iq7 ti5 (Shanghai)
Two o'clock
两点(兩點)lian4 tie3 (Suzhou) lian6 ti5 (Shanghai)
Twelve o'clock
十二点(十二點)zeq8 gni4 tie3 (Suzhou) zeq8 gni6 ti5 (Shanghai) (Attention the 2's used here are different, as mentioned in numbers.)
Half past 3
三点半(三點半)se1 tie3 poe5 (Suzhou) se1 ti5 poe5 (Shanghai)
三点一刻(三點一刻)se1 tie3 iq7 kheq7 (Suzhou) se1 ti5 iq7 kheq7 (Shanghai)
三点三刻(三點三刻)se1 tie3 se1 kheq7 (Suzhou) se1 ti5 se1 kheq7 (Shanghai)
三点五十二分(三點五十二分)se1 tie3 ng4 zeq8 gni4 fen1 (Suzhou) se1 ti5 ng6 zeq8 gni6 fen1 (Shanghai)
三点零两分(三點零兩分)se1 tie3 lin2 lian4 fen1 (Suzhou) se1 ti5 lin6 lian6 fen1 (Shanghai)


_____ minute(s)
_____ 分钟(分鐘)fen1 tsong1 [一刻钟(一刻鐘) (iq7 keq7 tsong1) is an alternative for 15 minutes, and 三刻钟(三刻鐘) (se1 keq7 tsong1) is an alternative for 45 minutes.]
_____ hour(s)
_____ 个钟头(個鐘頭)keq7 tsong1 deu2 (Suzhou) keq7 tsong1 deu6 (Shanghai)
_____ day(s)
_____ 日天 gniq7 thie1 (Suzhou) gniq7 thi1(Shanghai)
_____ week(s)
_____ 个礼拜(個禮拜)keq7 li4 pao5 (Suzhou) keq7 li6 pa5 (Shanghai)
_____ month(s)
_____ 个号头(個號頭)keq7 ghae4 deu2 (Suzhou) _____ 个月(個月)keq7 yuiq8 (Shanghai)
_____ year(s)
_____ 年 gnie2 (Suzhou) gni6 (Shanghai)


今朝 cin1 tsae1 (Suzhou) cin1 tsau1 (shanghai)
昨日 zoq8 gniq8
明朝 men2 tsae1 (Suzhou) min6 tsau1 (Shanghai)
the day before last
前日 zie2 gniq8 (Suzhou) zhi6 gniq8 (shanghai)
the day after tomorrow
后日(後日) gheu4 gniq8 (Suzhou) gheu6 gniq8 (Shanghai)
this week
哎个礼拜(哎個禮拜)e1 keq7 li4 pao5 (Suzhou) 搿个礼拜(搿個禮拜)geq8 keq7 li6 pa5 (Shanghai)
last week
上个礼拜(上個禮拜)zaon4 keq7 li4 pao5 (Suzhou) zaon6 keq7 li6 pa5 (Shanghai)
next week
下个礼拜(下個禮拜)gho4 keq7 li4 pao5 (Suzhou) gho6 keq7 li6 pa5 (Shanghai)

Days in a week are called 礼拜(禮拜) [li4 pao5 (Suzhou) li6 pa5 (Shanghai)] + number, 1 for Monday, 6 for Saturday. Both 二 and 兩 can be used for Tuesday, while 兩 is used more often. Sunday is named 礼拜日(禮拜日) [li4 pao5 gniq7 (Suzhou) li6 pa5 gniq7 (Shanghai)].


Using number + 月 [ngeq8 (Suzhou) yuiq8 (Shanghai)]. As mentioned in numbers, February is 兩月 not 二月, but December is 十二月 not 十兩月.

Writing time and date[edit]

22 March 2009
2009年3月22号 (兩零零九年 三月 廿二號) [lian4 lin2 lin2 cieu5 gnie2 se1 ngeq8 zeq8 gni4 ghae4 (Suzhou) / lian6 lin6 lin6 cieu5 gni6 se1 yuiq8 zeq8 gni4 ghau6 (Shanghai)]

Using number (of month) + 月 [ngeq8 (Suzhou) yuiq8 (Shanghai)] + number (of date) + 号(號) [ghae4 (Suzhou) ghau6 (Shanghai)]. As mentioned in numbers, the date 2nd is 两号(兩號)not 二号(二號), but 12th and 22nd are 十二号(十二號)and 廿二号(廿二號), not 十两号(十兩號)and 廿两号(廿兩號).

Furthermore, when the year is also mentioned, it is read digit-by-digit and then putting a "年" (the word "year"), and 2 is always 两(兩)not 二 because it is regarded as a single number. For example, the year 2009 is 兩零零九年 (2-0-0-9 年). The first two digits can be omitted when it is clear to which century the year belongs, like 零九年 for the year 2009. In Mandarin the year 2000 is sometimes read as 兩千年 (the number 2000 read as a whole) for short, and this is sometimes used by young Wu speakers who use Mandarin more often, but not popular.


When colors are used to describe an object in Wu, there is usually only one or two syllables (as listed below), but when referred to as the color itself, it is usually represented by the name of color + 颜色(顏色)[nge2 seq7 (Suzhou) nge6 seq7 (Shanghai)].

黑 heq7
白 baoq8 (Suzhou) baq8 (Shanghai)
灰 hue1
红(紅) ghong2 (Suzhou) ghong6 (Shanghai)
蓝(藍) le2 (Suzhou) le6 (Shanghai)
黄(黃) waon2 (Suzhou) waon6 (Shanghai)
绿(綠) loq8
橘黄(橘黃) cioq7 waon2 (Suzhou) cioq7 waon6 (Shanghai)
紫 tsy3 (Suzhou) tsy5 (Shanghai)
咖啡颜色(咖啡顏色) khao1 fi1 nge2 seq7 (Suzhou) kha1 fi1 nge6 seq7 (Shanghai) (This is an exception that "顏色" is always used even when describing an object, because 咖啡 itself means Coffee.)


Bus and train[edit]

票 phiae5 (Suzhou) phiau5 (Shanghai)
One ticket
一张票(一張票) iq7 tsan1 phiae5 (Suzhou) iq7 tsan1 phiau5 (Shanghai)
How much is one ticket?
一张票几钿?(一張票幾鈿?) iq7 tsan1 phiae5 ci3 die2 (Suzhou) iq7 tsan1 phiau5 ci5 di6 (Shanghai)
公交车(公交車) kong1 ciae1 tsho1 (Suzhou) kong1 ciau1 tsho1 (Shanghai)
火车(火車) hou3 tsho1 (Suzhou) hu5 tsho1 (Shanghai)
Where does this bus go?
哎部公交车到嗱垯?(哎部公交車到嗱墶?) e1 bu4 kong1 ciae1 tsho1 tae5 no2 taq7? (Suzhou) 搿部公交车到嚡里垯?(搿部公交車到嚡裏墶?) geq8 bu6 kong1 ciau1 tsho1 tau5 gha6 li6 taq7? (Shanghai)
Does this train go to ____?
哎部火车啊到____?(哎部火車啊到____?) e1 bu4 hou3 tsho1 aq7 tae5 __? (Suzhou) 搿部火车到____𠲎?(搿部火車到____𠲎?) geq8 bu6 hu5 tsho1 tau5 __ vaq8? (Shanghai)
What time does this train leave?
哎部火车啥辰光开?(哎部火車啥辰光開?) e1 bu4 hou3 tsho1 sao5 zen2 kuaon1 khe1? (Suzhou) 搿部火车啥辰光开?(搿部火車啥辰光開?) geq8 bu6 hu5 tsho1 sa5 zen6 kuaon1 khe1? (Shanghai)
What time will this bus arrive?
哎部公交车啥辰光到?(哎部公交車啥辰光到?) e1 bu4 kong1 ciae1 tsho1 sao5 zen2 kuaon1 tae5? (Suzhou) 搿部公交车啥辰光到?(搿部公交車啥辰光到?) geq8 bu6 kong1 ciau1 tsho1 sa5 zen6 kuaon1 tau5? (Shanghai)


How do I get to _____ ?
我哪哼去_____? ngou4 na2 han1 chi5 __? (Suzhou) 我哪能去_____? ngu6 na6 nen6 chi5 __? (Shanghai)
the train station
火车站(火車站) hou3 tsho1 ze4 (Suzhou) hu5 tsho1 ze6 (Shanghai)
the bus station?
公交站 kong1 ciae1 ze4 (Suzhou) kong1 chiau1 ze6 (Shanghai)
the airport?
机场/飞机场(機場/飛機場) ci1 zan4 / fi1 ci1 zan4 (Suzhou) ci1 zan6 / fi1 ci1 zan6 (Shanghai)
市区(市區) zy4 chiu1 (Suzhou) zy6 chiu1 (Shanghai)
the youth hostel?
青旅 tshin1 li4 (Suzhou) chin1 li6 (Shanghai)
the _____ hotel?
_____酒店 tseu3 tie5 (Suzhou) cieu5 ti5 (Shanghai)
the [American/Canadian/Australian/British] consulate
[美国/加拿大/澳州/英国] 领事馆([美國/加拿大/澳州/英國] 領事館) [me3 kueq7 / kao1 nao2 dao2 / ae5 tseu1 / in1 kueq7] lin4 zy4 kuoe3 (Suzhou) [me5 koq7 / ka1 na6 da6 / au5 tseu1 / in1 koq7] lin6 zy6 kuoe5 (Shanghai)
Where are there _____ ?
嗱垯好寻着_____?(嗱墶好尋著_____?) no2 taq7 hae3 zin2 zaoq8 __? (Suzhou) 嚡里垯好寻着_____?(嚡裏墶好尋着_____?) gha6 li6 taq7 hau5 zhin6 zaq8 __? (Shanghai)
饭店(飯店) ve4 tie5 (Suzhou) ve6 ti5 (Shanghai)
酒吧 tseu3 po1 (Suzhou) cieu5 po1 (Shanghai)
sites to see
景点(景點) cin3 tie3 (Suzhou) cin5 ti5 (Shanghai)
Can you show me on the map?
啊好勒地图浪指畀我看?(啊好勒地圖浪指畀我看?) aq7 hae3 leq8 di4 dou2 laon4 tsy3 peh7 ngou4 khoe5? (Suzhou) 勒地图浪指畀我看好𠲎?(勒地圖浪指畀我看好𠲎?) leq8 di6 du6 laon6 tsy5 peh7 ngu6 khoe5 hau5 vaq8? (Shanghai)
街 kao1 (Suzhou) ka1 (Shanghai)
Turn left.
左转弯(左轉彎) tsou3 tsoe3 ue1 (Suzhou) tsu5 tsoe5 ue1 (Shanghai)
Turn right.
右转弯(右轉彎) yeu4 tsoe3 ue1 (Suzhou) yeu6 tsoe5 ue1 (Shanghai)
左 tsou3 (Suzhou) tsu5 (Shanghai)
右 yeu4 (Suzhou) yeu6 (Shanghai)
straight ahead
一直走 iq7 zeq8 tseu3 (Suzhou) iq7 zeq8 tseu5 (Shanghai)
towards the _____
去_____ chi5
past the _____
过脱____(過脫____) kou5 theq7 (Suzhou) ku5 theq7 (Shanghai)
before the _____
____前头(____前頭) zie2 deu2 (Suzhou) zhi6 deu6 (Shanghai)
Watch for the _____.
看好_____。 khoe5 hae3 __. (Suzhou) khoe5 hau5 __. (Shanghai)
四岔路口/十字路口 sy5 tsho5 lou4 kheu3 / zeq8 zy4 lou4 kheu3 (Suzhou) sy5 tsho5 lu6 kheu5 / zeq8 zy6 lou6 kheu5 (Shanghai)
北 poq7
南 noe2 (Suzhou) noe6 (Shanghai)
东(東) tong1
西 si1 (Suzhou) shi1 (Shanghai)


Take me to _____, please.
去_____,谢谢。(去_____,謝謝。) chi5 __, zia4 zia4. (Suzhou) chi5 __, zhia6 zhia6. (Shanghai, the latter zhia6 is often pronounced ia6)
How much does it cost to get to _____?
去_____要几钿?(去_____要幾鈿?) chi5 __ iae5 ci3 die2? (Suzhou) chi5 __ iau5 ci5 di6? (Shanghai)


Do you have any rooms available?
啊有房间?(啊有房間?) aq7 yeu4 vaon2 ke1? (Suzhou) 有房间𠲎?(有房間𠲎?) yeu6 vaon6 ke1 vaq8? (Shanghai)
How much for one room?
一间房几钿?(一間房幾鈿?) iq7 ke1 vaon2 ci3 die2? (Suzhou) iq7 ke1 vaon6 ci5 di6? (Shanghai)
One person
一个人(一個人) iq7 keq1 gnin2 (Suzhou) iq7 keq1 gnin6 (Shanghai)
Two persons
两个人(兩個人) lian4 keq1 gnin2 (Suzhou) lian6 keq1 gnin6 (Shanghai)
Does it have ____?
啊有____? aq7 yeu4 __? (Suzhou) 有____𠲎? yeu6 __ vaq8? (Shanghai)
a bathroom
浴室 yoq8 seq7
a telephone
电话(電話) die4 gho4 (Suzhou) di6 gho6 (Shanghai)
a TV
电视(電視) die4 zy4 (Suzhou) di6 zy6 (Shanghai)
May I see it first?
啊好先看看? aq7 hae3 sie1 khoe5 khoe5? (Suzhou) 先看看好𠲎? shie1 khoe5 khoe5 hau5 vaq8? (Shanghai)
Do you have something more ____?
啊有____点个?(啊有____點個?) aq7 yeu4 __ tie3 keq7? (Suzhou) 有____点个𠲎?(有____點個𠲎?) yeu6 __ ti5 eq8 vaq8? (Shanghai)
大 dou4 (Suzhou) du6 (Shanghai)
便宜 bie2 gniq8 (Suzhou) bi6 gniq8 (Shanghai)
I'll sleep here for ____ nights.
我要住__夜。 ngou4 iae5 zyu4 __ yao4. (Suzhou) ngu6 iau5 zy6 __ ya6. (Shanghai)
Do you have a _____?
俉笃啊有_____?(俉篤啊有_____?) ng4 toq7 aq7 yeu4 __? (Suzhou) 㑚有____𠲎? na6 yeu6 __ vaq8? (Shanghai)
保险箱(保險箱) pae3 shie3 sian1 (Suzhou) pau5 shi5 shian1 (Shanghai)
储物箱(儲物箱) zyu4 veq8 sian1 (Suzhou) zy6 veq8 shian1 (Shanghai)
Is [breakfast/supper] included?
啊包 [朝饭/夜饭]?(啊包 [朝飯/夜飯]?) aq7 pae1 [zae1 ve4 / yao4 ve4]? (Suzhou) 包 [朝饭/夜饭] 𠲎?(包 [朝飯/夜飯] 𠲎?) pau1 [zau1 ve6 / ya6 ve6] vaq8? (Shanghai)
What time is [breakfast/supper]?
[朝饭/夜饭] 几点钟?([朝飯/夜飯] 幾點鐘?) [zae1 ve4 / yao4 ve4] ci3 tie3 tsong1? (Suzhou) [zau1 ve6 / ya6 ve6] ci5 ti5 tsong1? (Shanghai)
Please clean my room.
麻烦倷清理房间。(麻煩倷清理房間。) mo2 ve2 ne4 tshin1 li4 vaon2 ke1? (Suzhou) 麻饭侬清理房间。(麻煩儂清理房間。) mo6 ve6 nong6 chin1 li6 vaon6 ke1? (Shanghai)
Can you wake me at _____?
啊好___喊我起來? aq7 hae3 __ he3 ngou4 chi3 le2? (Suzhou) ___喊我起來好𠲎? __ he5 ngu6 chi5 le6 hau5 vaq8? (Shanghai)
I want to check out.
我要退房. ngou4 iae5 the5 vaon2. (Suzhou) ngu6 iau5 the5 vaon6. (Shanghai)


付 fu3 (Suzhou) fu5 (Shanghai)
现金(現金) ghie4 cin1 (Suzhou) ghi6 cin1 (Shanghai)
credit card
信用卡 sin5 yong4 kha3 (Suzhou) shin5 yong6 kha5 (Shanghai)
debit card
借记卡(借記卡) tsia5 ci5 kha3 (Suzhou) cia5 ci5 kha5 (Shanghai)
支票 tsy1 phiae5 (Suzhou) tsy1 phiau5 (Shanghai)
foreign exchange
外汇(外匯) ngao4 we4 (Suzhou) nga6 we6 (Shanghai)
to change money
换铜钿(換銅鈿) woe4 don2 die2 (Suzhou) woe6 don6 di6 (Shanghai)
exchange rate
汇率(匯率) we4 liq8
Chinese Renminbi
人民币(人民幣) zen2 min2 bi6 (Suzhou) zen6 min6 bi6 (Shanghai)
___ yuan
___块(塊) __khue5 (referred to as a certain amount of money)
US dollars
美元/美金 me3 yoe2 / me3 cin1 (Suzhou) me5 yoe6 / me5 cin1 (Shanghai)
欧元(歐元) eu1 yoe2 (Suzhou) eu1 yoe6 (Shanghai)
British pounds
英镑(英鎊) in1 paon5


Reading a Chinese Menu

Look for these characters to get an idea of how your food's cooked. With help from The Eater's Guide to Chinese Characters (J. McCawley).

煎 tsie1 (Suzhou) ci1 (Shanghai)
炒 tshae3 (Suzhou) tshau5 (Shanghai)
stir-fried or scrambled
煮 tsyu3 (Suzhou) tsy5 (Shanghai)
炸 tso5
炆 men1
炖(燉) ten5
焗 jioq8
蒸 tsen1
One person
一个人(一個人) iq7 keq1 gnin2 (Suzhou) iq7 keq1 gnin6 (Shanghai)
Two people
两个人(兩個人) lian4 keq1 gnin2 (Suzhou) lian6 keq1 gnin6 (Shanghai)
Can I look at the menu, please?
麻烦倷畀我看看菜单。(麻煩倷畀我看看菜單。) mo2 ve2 ne4 peq7 ngou4 khoe5 khoe5 tshe5 te1. (Suzhou) 麻烦侬畀我看看菜单。(麻煩儂畀我看看菜單。) mo6 ve6 nong6 peq7 ngu6 khoe5 khoe5 tshe5 te1? (Shanghai)
Can I look in the kitchen?
啊好看看厨房?(啊好看看廚房?) aq7 hae3 khoe5 khoe5 zyu2 vaon2? (Suzhou) 看看厨房好𠲎?(看看廚房好𠲎?) khoe5 khoe5 zy6 vaon6 hau5 vaq8? (Shanghai)
Is there a house specialty?
啊有招牌菜? aq7 yeu4 tsae1 bao2 tshe5? (Suzhou) 招牌菜有𠲎? tsau1 ba6 tshe5 yeu6 vaq8? (Shanghai)
Is there a local specialty?
啊有本地特产?(啊有本地特產?) aq7 yeu4 pen3 di4 deq8 tshe3? (Suzhou) 本地特产有𠲎?(本地特產有𠲎?) pen5 di6 deq8 tshe5 yeu6 vaq8? (Shanghai)
I'm a vegetarian.
我吃素。 ngou4 chiq7 sou5. (Suzhou) ngu6 chiq7 su5. (Shanghai)
I don't eat ___.
我弗吃___。 ngou4 feq7 chiq7 __. (Suzhou) ngu6 veq8 chiq7 __. (Shanghai)
Can you make it "lite", please?
麻饭倷烧清淡点。(麻煩倷燒清淡點。) mo2 ve2 ne4 sae1 tshin1 de4 tie3. (Suzhou) 麻烦侬烧清淡点。(麻煩儂燒清淡點。) mo6 ve6 nong6 sau1 chin1 de6 ti5? (Shanghai)
fixed-price meal
套餐 thae5 tshoe1 (Suzhou) thau5 tshoe1 (Shanghai)
a la carte
照菜单来(照菜單來) tsae5 tshe5 te1 le2 (Suzhou) tsau5 tshe5 te1 le6 (Shanghai)
朝饭(朝飯) zae1 ve4 (Suzhou) zau1 ve6 (Shanghai)
中饭(中飯) tshong1 ve4 (Suzhou) tshong1 ve6 (Shanghai), or 昼饭(晝飯) tseu5 ve4 (suzhou) tseu5 ve6 (Shanghai), mainly used by the elderly and rarely used among young generation
夜饭(夜飯) yao4 ve4? (Suzhou) ya6 ve6 (Shanghai)
I want _____.
我要_____。 ngou4 iae5 __. (Suzhou) ngu6 iau5 __. (Shanghai)
I want a dish containing _____.
我要有_____个菜。(我要有_____個菜。) ngou4 iae5 yeu4 __ keq7 tshe5. (Suzhou) ngu6 iau5 yeu6 __ eq8 tshe5. (Shanghai)
鸡(雞) ci1
牛 gnieu2 (Suzhou) gnieu6 (Shanghai)
鱼(魚) ng2 (Suzhou) ng6 (Shanghai)
火腿 hou3 the4 (Suzhou) hu5 the5 (Shanghai)
香肠(香腸) shian1 zan2 (Suzhou) shian1 zan6 (Shanghai)
忌司 ci5 sy1
蛋 de4 (Suzhou) de6 (Shanghai)
沙拉 sao1 lao1 (Suzhou) sa1 la1 (Shanghai)
[fresh] vegetables
[新鲜]蔬菜([新鮮]蔬菜) [sin1 sie1[ sou1 tshe5 (Suzhou) [shin1 shi1] su1 tshe5 (Shanghai)
[fresh] fruit
[新鲜]水果([新鮮]水果) [sin1 sie1] syu3 kou5 (Suzhou) [shin1 shi1] sy5 ku5 (Shanghai)
面包(麵包) mie4 pae1 (Suzhou) mi6 pau1 (Shanghai)
吐司 thou3 sy1 (Suzhou) thu5 sy1 (Shanghai)
面(麵) mie4 (Suzhou) mi6 (Shanghai)
饭(飯) ve4 (Suzhou) ve6 (Shanghai)
豆 deu4 (Suzhou) deu6 (Shanghai)
馄饨(餛飩) wen2 den4 (Suzhou) wen6 den6 (Shanghai)
小笼馒头(小籠饅頭) siae3 long2 moe2 deu2 (Suzhou) shiau5 long6 moe6 deu6 (Shanghai)
Chinese mitten crab
大闸蟹(大閘蟹) dou4 zaq8 hao5 (Suzhou) du5 zaq8 ha5 (Shanghai)
Yangcheng Lake large crab
阳澄湖大闸蟹(陽澄湖大閘蟹) yan2 zan2 ghou2 dou4 zaoq8 hao5 (Suzhou) yan6 zan6 wu6 du5 zaq8 ha5 (Shanghai)
May I have a glass/cup of _____?
啊好畀我杯____? aq7 hae3 peq7 ngou4 pe1 __? (Suzhou) 畀我杯____好𠲎? peq7 ngu6 pe1 __ hau5 vaq8? (Shanghai)
May I have a bottle of _____?
啊好畀我瓶____? aq7 hae3 peq7 ngou4 bin2 __? (Suzhou) 畀我瓶____好𠲎? peq7 ngu6 bin6 __ hau5 vaq8? (Shanghai)
咖啡 khao1 fi1 (Suzhou) kha1 fi1 (Shanghai)
tea (drink)
茶 zo2 (Suzhou) zo6 (Shanghai)
果汁 kou3 tseq7 (Suzhou) ku5 tseq7 (Shanghai)
bubbly water
汽水 chi5 syu3 (Suzhou) chi5 sy5 (Shanghai)
水 syu3 (Suzhou) sy5 (Shanghai)
啤酒 bi2 tseu3 (Suzhou) bi6 cieu5 (Shanghai)
red/white wine
红(紅)/白 酒 ghong2/baoq8 tseu3 (Suzhou) ghong6/baq8 cieu5 (Shanghai)
May I have some _____?
啊好畀我点____?(啊好畀我點____?) aq7 hae3 peq7 ngou4 tie3 __? (Suzhou) 畀我点____好𠲎?(畀我點____好𠲎?) peq7 ngu6 ti5 __ hau5 vaq8? (Shanghai)
盐(鹽) yie2 (Suzhou) yi6 (Shanghai)
胡椒 ghou2 tsiae1 (Suzhou) wu6 ciau1 (Shanghai)
黄油(黃油) waon2 yeu2 (Suzhou) waon6 weu6 (Shanghai)
Excuse me, waiter? (getting attention of server)
服务员(服務員) voq8 vu4 yoe4 (Suzhou) voq8 vu6 yoe6 (Shanghai)
I'm finished.
我吃好哉。 ngou4 chiq7 hae3 tse1. (Suzhou) 我吃好勒。 ngu6 chiq7 hau5 leq8. (Shanghai)
It was delicious / good to drink.
好吃 hae3 chiq7 (Suzhou) hau5 chiq (Shanghai)
Please clear the plates.
麻烦倷收捉台子。(麻煩倷收捉檯子。) mo2 ve2 ne4 seu1 tsoq7 de2 tsy3. (Suzhou) 麻烦侬收捉台子。(麻煩儂收捉檯子。) mo6 ve6 nong6 seu1 tsoq7 de6 tsy5. (Shanghai)
The check, please.
结帐,谢谢。(結帳,謝謝。) ciq7 tsan4, zia4 zia4 (Suzhou) ciq7 tsan6, zhia6 zhia6. (Shanghai, the latter zhia6 is usually pronounced as ia6)


Do you serve alcohol?
俉笃啊有酒?(俉篤啊有酒?) ng4 toq7 aq7 yeu4 tseu3? (Suzhou) 㑚有酒𠲎? na6 yeu6 cieu5 vaq8? (Shanghai)
Is there table service?
啊有餐桌服务?(啊有餐桌服務?) aq7 yeu4 tshoe1 tsoq7 voq8 vu4? (Suzhou) 餐桌服务有𠲎?(餐桌服務有𠲎?) tshoe1 tsoq7 voq8 vu6 yeu6 vaq8? (Shanghai)
A beer/two beers
一/两(兩) 杯啤酒 iq7/lian4 pe1 bi2 tseu3 (Suzhou) iq7/lian6 pe1 bi6 cieu5 (Shanghai)
A glass of red/white wine
一杯 红(紅)/白 酒 iq7 pe1 ghong2/baoq8 tseu3 (Suzhou) iq7 pe1 ghong6/baq8 cieu5 (Shanghai)
A bottle
一瓶 iq7 bin2 (Suzhou) iq7 bin6 (Shanghai)
_____ (hard liquor) and _____ (mixer)
___搭___ __ taq7 __
威士忌 ue1 zy4 ci5 (Suzhou) ue1 zy6 ci5 (Shanghai)
伏特加 voq8 deq8 kao1 (Suzhou) voa8 deq8 kha1 (Shanghai)
朗姆酒 laon4 m4 tseu3 (Suzhou) laon6 m6 cieu5 (Shanghai)
水 syu3 (Suzhou) sy5 (Shanghai)
club soda
苏打水(蘇打水) sou1 tan3 syu3 (Suzhou) su1 tan5 sy5 (Shanghai)
tonic water
汤力水(湯力水) thaon1 liq8 syu3 (Suzhou) thaon1 liq8 sy5 (Shanghai)
orange juice
橙汁 zen2 tseq7 (Suzhou) zen6 tseq7 (Shanghai)
Coke (soda)
可乐(可樂) khoe3 loq8 (Suzhou) khu5 loq8 (Shanghai)
Do you have any bar snacks?
俉笃啊有小吃?(俉篤啊有小吃?) ng4 toq7 aq7 yeu4 siae3 chiq7? (Suzhou) 㑚有小吃𠲎? na6 yeu6 shiau5 chiq7 vaq8? (Shanghai)
One more [cup/bottle]
再要一 [杯/瓶] tse5 iae5 iq7 [pe1/bin2] (Suzhou) tse5 iau5 iq7 [pe1/bin6] (Shanghai)
When is closing time?
几点关门?(幾點關門?) ci3 tie3 kue1 men2 (Suzhou) ci5 ti5 kue1 men6 (Shanghai)
干杯(乾杯) koe1 pe1


Do you have this in my size?
啊有我个尺寸?(啊有我個尺寸?) aq7 yeu4 ngou4 keq7 tshaq7 tshen4? (Suzhou) 我个尺寸有𠲎?(我個尺寸有𠲎?) ngu6 eq8 tshaq7 tshen6 yeu6 vaq8? (Shanghai)
How much?
几钿(幾鈿) ci3 die2 (Suzhou) ci5 di6 (Shanghai)
That's too expensive.
忒贵哉(忒貴哉) theq7 ciu5 tse1 (Suzhou) 忒贵勒(忒貴勒) theq7 ciu5 leq8 (Shanghai)
Would you take _____?
啊收_____? aq7 seu1 __? (Suzhou) _____收𠲎? __ seu1 vaq8? (Shanghai)
贵(貴) ciu5
便宜 bie2 gniq8 (Suzhou) bi6 gniq8 (Shanghai)
I can't afford it.
我买弗起。(我買弗起。) ngou4 mao4 feq7 chi3. (Suzhou) ngu6 ma6 veq8 chi5. (Shanghai)
I don't want it.
我覅哉。 ngou4 fiae5 tse1. (Suzhou) 我覅勒。 ngu6 viau6 leq8. (Shanghai)
You're cheating me.
倷勒弄松我。 ne4 leq8 long4 song1 ngou4. (Suzhou) 侬勒弄松我。(儂勒弄松我。) nong6 leq8 long6 song1 ngu6. (Shanghai)
I'm not interested.
我呒不兴趣。(我嘸不興趣。) ngou4 m2 peq7 shin5 tshi5. (Suzhou) 我呒没兴趣。(我嘸沒興趣。) ngu6 m6 meh8 shin5 chi5. (Shanghai)
OK, I'll take it.
好,我要哎件。 hae3, ngou4 iau5 e1 jie4. (Suzhou) 好,我要搿件。 hau5, ngu6 iau5 geq8 ji6. (Shanghai)
Can I have a bag?
啊好畀我只袋袋?(啊好畀我隻袋袋?) aq7 hae3 peq7 ngou4 tsaq7 de4 de4? (Suzhou) 畀我只袋袋好𠲎?(畀我隻袋袋好𠲎?) peq7 ngu6 tsaq7 de6 de6 hau5 vaq8? (Shanghai)
Do you ship [overseas]?
俉笃啊送货[到外国]?(俉篤啊送貨[到外國]?) ng4 toq7 aq7 song5 hou5 [tae5 ngao4 kueq7]? (Suzhou) 㑚送货[到外国]𠲎?(㑚送貨[到外國]𠲎?) na6 song5 hu5 [tau5 nga6 koq7] vaq8? (Shanghai)
I need...
我要... ngou4 iae5... (Suzhou) ngu6 iau5 (Shanghai)
...牙膏 ngao2 kae1 (Suzhou) nga6 kau1 (Shanghai)
...a toothbrush.
...牙刷 ngao2 seq7 (Suzhou) nga6 seq7 (Shanghai)
...卫生巾(衛生巾) we4 sen1 cin1 (Suzhou) we6 sen1 cin1 (Shanghai)
...肥皂 bi2 zae4 (Suzhou) bi6 zau6 (Shanghai)
...汏头膏(汏頭膏) da4 deu2 kae1 (Suzhou) da6 deu6 kau1 (Shanghai)
...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen)
...止痛药(止痛藥) tsyu3 thong5 yaoq8 (Suzhou) tsy5 thong5 yaq8 (Shanghai)
...cold medicine.
...感冒药(感冒藥) koe3 mae4 yaoq8 (Suzhou) koe5 mau6 yaq8 (Shanghai)
...stomach medicine.
...胃药(胃藥) we4 yaoq8 (Suzhou) we6 yaq8 (Shanghai)
...a razor.
...剃须刀(剃鬚刀) thi5 si1 tae1 (Suzhou) thi5 shi1 tau1 (Shanghai) umbrella.
...伞(傘) se3 (Suzhou) se5 (Shanghai)
...sunblock lotion.
...防晒霜(防曬霜) baon2 so5 saon1 (Suzhou) baon6 so5 saon1 (Shanghai) (Young generation tend to pronounce "baon" as "vaon", influenced by Mandarin)
...a postcard.
...名信片 min2 sin5 phie5 (Suzhou) min6 shin5 phi5 (Shanghai)
...postage stamps.
...邮票(郵票) yeu2 phiae5 (Suzhou) yeu6 phiau5 (Shanghai)
...电池(電池) die4 zyu2 (Suzhou) di6 zy6 (Shanghai)
...writing paper.
...纸头(紙頭) tsy3 deu2 (Suzhou) tsy5 deu6 (Shanghai)
...a pen.
...笔(筆) piq7
...English-language books.
...英文书(英文書) in1 ven2 syu1 (Suzhou) in1 ven6 sy1 (Shanghai)
...English-language magazines.
...英文杂志(英文雜誌) in1 ven2 zaq8 tsyu5 (Suzhou) in1 ven6 zaq8 tsy5 (Shanghai) English-language newspaper.
...英文报纸(英文報紙) in1 ven2 pae5 tsy3 (Suzhou) in1 ven6 pau5 tsy5 (Shanghai) English-English dictionary.
...英英字典 in1 in1 zy4 tie3 (Suzhou) in1 in1 zy6 ti5 (Shanghai)
...a Chinese-English dictionary.
...汉英词典(漢英詞典) hoe5 in1 zy4 tie3 (Suzhou) hoe5 in1 zy6 ti5 (Shanghai) English-Chinese dictionary.
...英汉词典(英漢詞典) in1 hoe5 zy4 tie3 (Suzhou) in1 hoe5 zy6 ti5 (Shanghai)


I want to rent a car.
我要租车。(我要租車。) ngou4 iae5 tsou1 tsho1. (Suzhou) ngu6 isu5 tsu1 tsho1. (Shanghai)
Can I get insurance?
啊好买保险?(啊好買保險?) aq7 hae3 mao4 pae3 shie3? (Suzhou) 保险好买𠲎?(保險好買𠲎?) pau5 shi5 hau5 ma6 vaq8? (Shanghai)
stop (on a street sign)
停 din2 (Suzhou) din6 (Shanghai)
one way
单行线(單行線) te1 ghan2 sie5 (Suzhou) te1 ghan6 shi5 (Shanghai)
让(讓) gnian4 (Suzhou) gnian6 (Shanghai)
no parking
弗许停车(弗許停車) feq7 shiu3 din2 tsho1 (Suzhou) veq8 shiu5 din6 tsho1 (Shanghai)
speed limit
限速 ghe4 soq7 (Suzhou) ghe6 soq7 (Shanghai)
gas (petrol) station
加油站 khao1 yeu2 ze4 (Suzhou) kha1 yeu6 ze6 (Shanghai)
汽油 chi5 yeu2 (Suzhou) chi5 yeu6 (Shanghai)
柴油 zao2 yeu2 (Suzhou) za6 yeu6 (Shanghai)


I haven't done anything wrong.
我朆做错事体。(我朆做錯事體。) ngou4 fen1 tsou5 tsho5 zy4 thi3. (Suzhou) 我呒没做错事体。(我嘸沒做錯事體。) ngu6 m6 meq8 tsu5 tsho5 zy6 thi5. (Shanghai)
It was a misunderstanding.
是误会。(是誤會。) zy4 ngou4 we4. (Suzhou) zy6 ngu6 we6 (Shanghai)
Where are you taking me?
倷带我去嗱垯?(倷帶我去嗱墶?) ne4 tao5 ngou4 chi5 no2 taq7? (Suzhou) 侬带我去嚡里垯?(儂帶我去嚡裏墶?) nong6 ta5 ngu6 chi5 gha6 li6 taq7? (Shanghai)
Am I under arrest?
我啊畀逮捕? ngou4 an1 peq7 de4 pu3? (Suzhou) 我畀逮捕勒𠲎? ngu6 peq7 de6 pu5 leq8 vaq8? (Shanghai)
I am an [American/Canadian/Australian/British] citizen.
我是 [美国/加拿大/澳州/英国] 公民。(我是 [美國/加拿大/澳州/英國] 公民。) ngou4 zy4 [me3 kueq7 / kao1 nao2 dao2 / ae5 tseu1 / in1 kueq7] kon1 min2. (Suzhou) ngu6 zy6 [me5 koq7 / ka1 na6 da6 / au5 tseu1 / in1 koq7] kong1 min6. (Shanghai)
I want to talk to the [American/Canadian/Australian/British] [embassy/consulate].
我要寻 [美国/加拿大/澳州/英国] [大使馆/领事馆]。(我要尋 [美國/加拿大/澳州/英國] [大使館/領事館]。) ngou4 iae5 zin2 [me3 kueq7 / kao1 nao2 dao2 / ae5 tseu1 / in1 kueq7] [dao4 sy3 kuoe3 / lin4 zy4 kuoe3]. (Suzhou) ngu6 iau5 zhin6 [me5 koq7 / ka1 na6 da6 / au5 tseu1 / in1 koq7] [da6 sy5 kuoe5 / lin6 zy6 kuoe5]. (Shanghai)
I want to talk to a lawyer.
我要寻律师。(我要尋律師。) ngou4 iae5 zin2 liq8 sy1. (Suzhou) ngu6 iau5 zhin6 liq8 sy1. (Shanghai)
Can I just pay a fine now?
啊好就罚铜钿?(啊好就罰銅鈿?) aq7 hae3 zeu4 vaq8 dong2 die2? (Suzhou) 就罚铜钿好𠲎?(就罰銅鈿好𠲎?) zhieu6 vaq8 dong6 di6 hau5 vaq8? (Shanghai)

Learning more[edit]

  • Wu Chinese Online Association (吴语协会), a BBS set up in 2004, in which topics such as phonology, grammar, orthography and romanization of Wu Chinese are widely talked about, and of which the cultural and linguistic diversity within China is also a significant concerning
This Wu phrasebook has guide status. It covers all the major topics for traveling without resorting to English. Please contribute and help us make it a star!