Word of the Week hao chi

好的Most Chinese are quite proud of their food culture. When you meet a Chinese person for the first time, don’t be surprised if they ask for your opinion on Chinese food before asking for you name.

There is a strong sense of identity regarding food in China. In fact I once watched a Chinese documentary that talked about how “in Chinese Yunnan, Chinese ethnic minorities use traditional Chinese methods to make Chinese tofu….”


Chinese tofu from China


The word hǎo chī is therefore an important vocabulary item in China, because hǎo 好 means good and chī 吃 means eat. Good eat = tasty (good to eat)

As with a lot of Chinese compliments, it’s almost customary to say something is hǎo chī regardless of whether it is actually tasty or not. Compliments in China are often not seen as true, simply as polite. If your Chinese friend cooks something for you, you should probably say hǎo chī out of politeness. The actual quality of their cooking is almost completely irrelevant.


some hao chi Chinese food


hǎo chī follows a useful pattern for Chinese adjectives. You can combine hǎo (good) with a lot of verbs to create adjectives. For example hē means drink, so hǎo hē means a tasty drink (good to drink).

Similarly kàn means look/watch/read, so a good looking person, an interesting book or a good movie can all be described as hǎo kàn. If you like a piece of music you can say it as hǎo tīng (good listen), and maybe your new PlayStation game is really hǎo wán (good play).


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