A Brief Guide to Sounding Like a Beijinger

Here are some easy tricks to help you master 北京话, the Beijing dialect.


The Beijing dialect is probably the most well-known dialect among Chinese speakers. With its symbolic accent and special greetings, 北京话 (Běi jīng huà) is the very pride of people who grew up in this city. And when you speak Chinese with a Beijing accent, it will natually bring you closer to the locals. 

  1. 1 Use 您 (formal) instead of 你 (informal)

    In stardard Mandarin, or putonghua (普通话), it is taught that 您 the honorific form of 你. While the former is used in formal situations and with elders, the latter is used with peers in daily speech. In the Beijing dialect, however, this is not strictly the case. People from Beijing always address strangers with 您 instead of 你, regardless of your age or the other person's age. This seemingly formal pronoun is also used among relatives and neighbors who already know each other well (a situation where you should definitely use 你 in standard Mandarin). When 您 is used by an elder to a youngster or a friend of similar age, it adds a sense of irony or satire to the sentence.

    e.g. 真是谢谢您请我吃这么一顿大餐了。

           Thank you for this feast you bought me (After a "feast" of only one unpalatable dish in a cheap restaurant). 

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Phoenix Hou


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