Have you eaten? 你吃了吗?



As an informal greeting, Chinese people like to use "chī le ma?" -- which means "have you eaten yet?" Foreigners who don’t understand this kind of custom might regard this as an invitation to have a meal together. When someone ask you this, it’s possible he/she is not issuing an invitation, but merely starting a conversation with you.

In addition to "chī le ma?," there are many other expressions for saying hello in Chinese, like "where are you going?," "are you busy?," "what are you doing?," "are you going to work?," etc. We can find that when Chinese people greet each other, they like to ask about the things that other side is doing, just did or is going to do. For people not accustomed to these kinds of greetings, one might think that the person saying hello is getting into their personal space -- and leading to reactions like "what you asked is my privacy and non of your business, why do you want to know?" Meanwhile, it turns out, the Chinese person asking this questions does not really want to know "where are you going?" or "what did you do?" -- they just want to express concern for the other person.

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