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Days of the Week in Mandarin Chinese

你好 Chinese Learners! 😃

➡ In today's lesson you will learn how to use the Chinese days of the week with 星期, 周 and 礼拜

Happy learning!

Once you've mastered this lesson, take a look at these related pages: Religion, Drinks, Vegetables & Describe arrangement of things in Chinese.

3 ways to say the days of the week[edit | edit source]

In Chinese, there are 3 ways of saying "week":

  1. 星期 (xīngqī),
  2. 周 (zhōu)
  3. 礼拜 (lǐ bài).

These three words are synonyms! You can use them all to build the days of the week (Monday to Sunday).

But then, do you have to know those three words?

To express yourself, no. You can choose and use only one of these words.

However, if you want to be sure that you understand all Chinese speakers, I advise you to know, at least passively, the other two ways of saying the days of the week. This way you will be able to understand the Chinese no matter what word they are used to using!

星期: The most common way to say week[edit | edit source]

Using 星期[edit | edit source]

The most common way to say the days of the week in Chinese is to use 星期 (xīngqī).


If you mean 1 week, then you can say 一个 星期. Remember to use the classifier 个 between the number and the word "week"!

Thanks to the word 星期, you will be able to compose very easily every day of the week in Chinese. From Monday to Saturday, just add the number corresponding to the day behind the word 星期.

For example, Monday will say 星期一, Tuesday will say 星期二, and so on. Easy, isn't it?

There is, however, one exception: Sunday is NOT 星期 七, but is said 星期日 or 星期天.

Here is a little recap with all the days of the week in Chinese:

  • Monday: 星期一 (xīngqī yī)
  • Tuesday: 星期二 (xīngqī’èr)
  • Wednesday: 星期三 (xīngqīsān)
  • Thursday: 星期四 (xīngqīsì)
  • Friday: 星期五 (xīngqīwǔ)
  • Saturday: 星期六 (xīngqīliù)
  • Sunday: 星期日 / 星期天 (xīngqīrì / xīngqītiān)

Cultural note[edit | edit source]

The word 星期 literally means "the period of the stars". It's pretty, isn't it?

This name originates from ancient Chinese culture. The sun, the moon and the 5 planets were called "the seven stars". And the 7 days of the week were built from those.

Note that in ancient China, the week began with Sunday, which was the day of the Sun (星期日). Then came Monday, moon day. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday were associated with the five planets (Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn) according to the “five elements” theory 五行 (wǔ xíng).

Planetary names quickly faded, and days are now named with numbers, as we saw above. Now you know why the word week is “star period” and why there is the character “sun” in the word “Sunday”!

3 things to remember about 星期[edit | edit source]

  • Monday to Saturday say: 星期 + number
  • Sunday is said: 星期 + 天 or 日
  • 星期 means "the period of the stars"

周: The most formal way to say the days of the week[edit | edit source]


Using 周[edit | edit source]

The second way to say week in Mandarin is 周 (zhōu). Unlike 星期, we won't use a classifier to say "a week". We will therefore say: 一周. Be careful, even if we don't use a specific classifier, two weeks is 两周, not 二 周.

To build the days of the week, it's easy, we add the number behind the word 周:

  • Monday: 周一 (zhōuyī)
  • Tuesday: 周二 (zhōu’èr)
  • Wednesday: 周三 (zhōusān)
  • Thursday: 周四 (zhōu sì)
  • Friday: 周五 (zhōu wǔ)
  • Saturday: 周六 (zhōu liù)
  • Sunday: 周日 (zhōu rì)

Small exception: Sunday translates here only by 周日, and not by 周天.

Cultural note[edit | edit source]

The Chinese word 周 comes from the Japanese 週 (shu) which means "cycle".

It was adopted into the Chinese language at the beginning of the twentieth century (the first written occurrences date from 1901 - 1903). This word is very popular in China today to refer to the days of the week!

The reason ? It only has one syllable! Each day is therefore only two syllables (周 + number). I bet the 周 will become your favorite word for days of the week in Chinese too! 😉

3 things to remember about 周[edit | edit source]

  • Monday to Saturday say 周 + number
  • Sunday only translates to 周日
  • The Japanese derivative of the word 周 means cycle

礼拜: The most common way orally[edit | edit source]


Using 礼拜[edit | edit source]

礼拜 (lǐbài) is used in exactly the same way as 星期. So you will have to use a classifier to say a week: 一个 礼拜. Easy !

The days of the week with 礼拜:

  • Monday: 礼拜一 (lǐbài yī)
  • Tuesday: 礼拜二 (lǐbài èr)
  • Wednesday: 礼拜三 (lǐbài sān)
  • Thursday: 礼拜四 (lǐbài sì)
  • Friday: 礼拜五 (lǐbài wǔ)
  • Saturday: 礼拜六 (lǐbài liù)
  • Sunday: 礼拜天 / 礼拜 日 (lǐbài tiān / lǐbài rì)

As you can see, Sunday translates here in two ways: 礼拜天 and 礼拜 日.

Cultural note[edit | edit source]

The history of the word dates back to the 19th century, when missionaries and traders began to arrive in China.

This word originally meant "worship" and referred to Christian and Islamic rituals. The Chinese of the day noticed that Westerners prayed on 7 days of the week: worship day (Sunday), worship 1 (Monday), worship 2 (Tuesday), worship 3 (Wednesday), etc.

China no longer encourages the use of the word ". But surprisingly, it is still widely used in everyday conversations in China!

Say "last week", "this week" and "next week"[edit | edit source]

To say "last week", "this week" and "next week" in Chinese, we will use the characters 上 (shàng) , 这 (zhè) and 下 (xià) respectively. Then, we add the classifier (except for the 周) and the word "week".

  • Last week: 上个星期 / 上周 / 上个礼拜
  • This week: 这个 星期 / 这 周 / 这个 礼拜
  • Next week: 下个星期 / 下周 / 下个礼拜

With this method, you can also say "last Monday", "this Tuesday" or "next Wednesday". Just add the number indicating the day of the week!

  • Last Monday: 上个礼拜 一 (shàng ge lǐbài yī)
  • This Tuesday: 这 周二 (zhè zhōu’èr)
  • Next Wednesday: 下个星期 三 (xià ge xīngqísān)

How to say "What day is it?" in Mandarin[edit | edit source]

To say "what day is today" in Chinese, just follow the following structure: today (今天) + "week" (星期 / 周 / 礼拜) + how much (几)?

So here are the three ways to ask for the date in Chinese:

  • 今天 星期 几? (Jīntiān xīngqí jǐ?)
  • 今天 周 几? (Jīntiān zhōu jǐ?)
  • 今天 礼拜 几? (Jīntiān lǐbài jǐ?)

Give today's date in full with 星期, 号, 月 and 年[edit | edit source]

If you want to say or write the date in Chinese, you should always follow the following structure: 年 (year) + 月 (month) + 日 / 号 (day) + 星期 (day of the week).

For example: Tuesday July 12, 1998 is said in Chinese 1998 年 7 月 12 日 / 号 星期二 or with the translation of the numbers 一 九九 八年 七月 十二 日 星期二. Yes, the date is reversed in Mandarin! 🙂

Say the day of the week in sentence[edit | edit source]

Now let's see how to construct a sentence with the day of the week to talk about your schedule.

As a reminder, the basic structure in Chinese is:

Complement of time + Subject + Verb + place / object.[edit | edit source]

Remember that the complement of tense always comes before the verb:

  • either at the beginning of the sentence;
  • or between the subject and the verb.

Here are some examples of sentences with the days of the week in Chinese.[edit | edit source]

It's Thursday.

➡ 今天 周四。 (Jīntiān zhōu sì.)

Next Monday, I'll go to the restaurant.

➡ 下个星期 一 , 我 要去 餐厅。 (Xià ge xīngqí yī, wǒ yào qù cāntīng.)

I'm busy Wednesday.

➡ 星期三 我 很忙。 (Xīngqīsān wǒ hěn máng.)

My birthday is next Saturday.

➡ 下个星期 六 是 我 的 生日。 (Xià ge xīngqīliù shì wǒ from shēngrì.)

I have class on Wednesday.

➡ 我 周三 上课。 (Wǒ zhōusān shàng kè.)

I don't work on Saturdays and Sundays.

➡ 周六 和 周日 我 不 上班。 (Zhōu liù hé zhōu rì wǒ bù shàngbān.)

See you on Sunday !

➡ 礼拜天 见! (Lǐbài tiān jiàn!)

I'm going to Beijing on Wednesday.

➡ 礼拜三 我 要去 北京。 (Lǐbài sān wǒ yào qù běijīng.)

We go to the bar every Friday.

➡ 我们 每个 星期五 都 去 酒吧。 (Wǒmen měi ge xīngqíwǔ dōu qù jiǔbā.)

To remember: 白天 bái tiān - days of the week[edit | edit source]

中文 pinyin English
星期一 xīngqī yī Monday
星期二 xīngqī èr Tuesday
星期三 xīngqī sān Wednesday
星期四 xīngqī sì Thursday
星期五 xīngqī wŭ Friday
星期六 xīngqī liù Saturday
星期天 xīngqī tiān Sunday

Videos[edit | edit source]

Days of the Week in Chinese[edit | edit source]

The Days of the Week in Mandarin Chinese[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

Other Lessons[edit | edit source]


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