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Teach Mandarin Chinese Date Format to Beginners

written by: Sujanti Djuanda • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 9/13/2013

If you are a new teacher and don’t know how to teach Chinese Date Formats, here are step-by-step lesson plans on teaching Mandarin to beginning students. Learn how to teach International Date Formats in Mandarin Chinese that is used in Mainland China.

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    Covered in This Lesson

    Using this lesson plan, you will be able to:

    1. Explain the words "International Calendar" and "day."

    2. Explain Chinese days of the month format using examples.

    3. Explain Chinese month format with examples.

    4. Explain Chinese year format with examples.

    5. Explain Chinese full date and short date formats with examples.

    6. Explain Chinese days of the week format with examples.

    7. Explain the position of dates in sentences with examples.

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    I. "International Calendar" and "Day"

    International Calendar is called 阳历【yánglì= solar calendar】in which 阳【yáng=sun】and 历【lì=calendar】; day is called 日子【rìzi】.

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    II. Days of the Month

    Chinese numbers (1-31) + 日【rì=day】or Chinese numbers (1-31) + 号【hào=date】

    The difference between 日【rì=day】and 号【hào=date】:

    日【rì=day】is often used in written language (formal) whereas 号【hào=date】is often used in spoken Chinese (more colloquial).

    Example:

    The first day of month

    一【yī=one】 日【rì=day】

    一日

    Or

    一【yī=one】 号【hào=date】

    一号

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    III. Month Format

    Chinese numbers (1-12) + 月 【yùe=month】

    Example:

    February (second month of the year)

    二【èr=two】 月【yuè=month】

    二月

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    IV. Year Format

    Format: Chinese number + 年【nián =year】

    Example:

    The year of 1992

    一【yī=one】 九【jiǔ=nine】 九【jiǔ=nine】 二【èr=two】 年【nián =year】

    一九九二 年

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    V. Full Date and Short Date Formats

    a. Chinese Short Date Format: yuè=month- rì=day

    Example:

    February 10th

    2月 【èryuè=February】10【shí】 日 【rì=day】

    2 月 10 日

    Or

    2 月 【èryuè=February】10【shí】 号【hào=date】

    2 月 10 号

    The Chinese date also uses Arabic numbers for easier reading but still uses Chinese Pinyin for pronunciation.

    b. Chinese Full Date Format: 年【nián=year - 月【yuè=month- 日【rì=day

    Example:

    October 3rd, 1989

    一【yī=one】 九【jiǔ=nine】 八【bā=eight】 九【jiǔ=nine】 年【nián=year】 十【shí=ten】 月【yuè=month】三【sān=three】日 【rì=day】

    一九八九 年 十 月 三 日

    Or

    一【yī=one】 九【jiǔ=nine】 八【bā=eight】 九【jiǔ=nine】 年【nián=year】 十【shí=ten】 月【yuè=month】 三【sān=three】 号【hào=date】

    一九八九 年 十 月 三 号

    Then explain Chinese full date format uses several separators:

    a. Slash (/) : yy/mm/dd

    Example: 2010/01/21

    b. Hyphen (-) : yy-mm-dd

    Example: 2010-01-21

    c. dot (.) : yy.mm.dd

    Example: 2010.01.21

    d.年【nián=year】, 月【yuè =month】, and 日【rì=day 】

    Example: 2010 年 01 月 21 日

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    VI. Days of Week Format

    There are three ways to express the Chinese days of the week format:

    a. Format: 星期 xīngqī + Chinese Number (1-6)

    星期 【xīngqī=star period, week】is an official term for week.

    Example:

    Monday (1st day of week)

    星期【xīngqī=week, star period】+ 一 【yī=one】

    星期一

    Then explain the exception:

    Sunday

    星期【xīngqī=week】+ 【rì=sun】

    Or

    星期【xīngqī=week】+ 【tiān=God, heaven】

    Note: 【rì】is more formal than 【tiān】

    b. Format: 礼拜【lǐbài+ Chinese Number (1-6)

    礼拜【lǐbài= day of the week, worship (Christian)】is often used in spoken language (informal) and rare used in written language.

    Example:

    Monday

    礼拜【lǐbài=worship, day of the week】+ 一【yī=one】

    礼拜 一

    Then explain the exception:

    Sunday

    礼拜【lǐbài=day of the week, worship】+ 天【tiān=God, heaven】

    It means, “Worship the God at the seventh day of a week.”

    礼拜 天

    Or

    礼拜【lǐbài=day of the week】+ 日【rì=sun】

    礼拜 日

    c. Format: 周【zhōu=week, cycle + Chinese Number (1-6)

    周【zhōu】is a bit more formal term and used as an alternative to the other two.

    Example 1:

    Monday

    周【zhōu=week, cycle】+ 一【yī=one】

    周一

    Then explain the exception:

    Sunday

    周【zhōu=week】+ 日【rì=sun】

    周日

    Arabic number can’t be used in Chinese days of week. It’s never written as 星期1, 礼拜1, 周1.

    d. Chinese days of week’s position in Chinese date format

    The day of the week is placed after in the Chinese date format.

    Example:

    Monday, February 5th 2010

    2【èr】0【líng】1【yī】0【líng】 年【nián=year】02【èr】 月【yuè=month】 05【wǔ】 日【rì=day】 星期一【xīngqīyī=Monday

    2010 年 02 月 05 日 星期一

    Ask students to give other examples.

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    VII. Chinese Date in a Sentence

    1. Declarative Sentence (Statement Sentence)

    a. Adverb of time + 是【shì + Date/Day

    Example:

    Today is January 3rd.

    今天【jīntiān=today】+ 是【shì=is】

    + 1 月【yīyuè=January】3【sān】 日【rì=day】。

    今天 + 是 + 1 月3 日。

    b. Adverb of time + Date/Day

    是【shì= be, am, is, are】 is often omitted especially in spoken Chinese.

    Example:

    Today is January 3rd.

    今天【jīntiān=today】+ 1 月【yīyuè=January】3【sān】 日【rì= date】。

    今天 + 1 月3 日。

    c. Adverb of time + 不【bù=not+ 是【shì + Date/Day

    是【shì=be, am, is, are】can’t be omitted when 不【bù=not】is used in the sentence.

    Example:

    Today is not January 3rd.

    今天【jīntiān=today】+ 不【bù=not】+ 是【shì=is】

    + 1 月【yīyuè=January】3【sān】 日【rì=day】。

    今天 + + 是 + 1 月3 日。

    Ask student to give other similar examples as shown above, such as replace 今天【jīntiān=today】with 明天【míngtiān=tomorrow】, 昨天【zuótiān=yesterday】.

    d. Subject + Date/Day + Verb

    Example:

    We meet on January 3rd.

    我们 【wǒmén=we】+ 1 月【yīyuè=January】3【sān】 日【rì=day】+ 见 【jiàn=meet】。

    我们 + 1 月3 日+ 见。

    d. Date/Day + Subject + Verb + Object

    Example:

    We have seen the doctor on January 3rd.

    1月【yīyuè=January】3【sān】号【hào=date】+ 我们 【wǒmén=we】+ 见 【jiàn=see】 了【le】+ 医生【yīshēng=doctor】。

    1 月 3 号 + 我们 + 见了 + 医生。

    Ask students to give other similar examples as shown above.

    2. Interrogative Question

    When asking date, Chinese uses 几月【jǐ yuè=what month】, 几日【jǐ rì=what date】or 几号【jī hào = what date】.

    a. Adverb of Time + 是【shì+ Question Word

    Example:

    What date is it today?

    今天【jīntiān=today】+ 是【shì=be, is】+ 几月【jǐ yuè=what month】 几日【jǐ rì=what date】?

    今天 + 是 + 几月几日?

    Or

    今天【jīntiān=today】+ 是【shì=be, is】+ 几月【jǐ yuè=what month】 几号【jǐ hào=what date】?

    今天 + 是 + 几月几号?

    b. Adverb of Time + Question Word

    是【shì= be, am, is, are】 is often omitted especially in spoken Chinese.

    Example 1:

    What date is it today?

    今天【jīntiān=today】+ 几月【jǐ yuè=what month】 几日【jǐ rì=what date】?

    今天 + 几月 几日?

    Or

    今天【jīntiān=today】+ 几月【jǐ yuè=what month】 几号【jǐ hào=what date】?

    今天 + 几月几号?

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    References

    Nciku dictionary 号 【hào】,http://www.nciku.com/search/zh/detail/%E5%8F%B7/1305861

    Nciku dictionary 月 【yuè】, http://www.nciku.com/search/zh/detail/%E6%9C%88/1318826

    Nciku dictionary 年 【nián】,http://www.nciku.com/search/zh/detail/%E5%B9%B4/1310880

    Author's Own Experience

Lesson Plan on Teaching Chinese to Beginning Students: Chinese Date Format and Chinese Time Format

If you are a new teacher and don’t know how to teach Chinese date format, here step-by-step lesson plans on teaching mandarin to beginning students – how to teach international date formats in Mandarin Chinese and Chinese time format.
  1. Teach Mandarin Chinese Date Format to Beginners
  2. How to Form Time in Chinese

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