There are lots of ways to greet people, but the common way is "how are you?" in English, translate in Chinese the best way would be "Nǐ hǎo ma?", "ni" means you, "hao" means good, "ma" is an interrogative particle, used at the end of statement to make it a general question. But if you speak "Nǐ hǎo ma?" to Chinese, although they know what you want to express, they still feel a little strange. So which is the best way say "how are you" in Chinese mandarin?
In China, which greeting you use might depend on your relationship with the person, the time of day or the kind of response you want know.
If you just want to say "hi", and you are not very close, you can say "Nǐ hǎo", or according to the time of day, you also can say "Zǎoshang hǎo",which means" good morning","Xiàwǔ hǎo"which means "good afternoon", or "Wǎnshàng hǎo" which means "good evening", if someone say this to you, you can respond the same. Like this:
你好：ni hao (hello, Chinese means you good)
早上好：zao shang hao (good morning)
下午好：xia wu hao (good afternoon)
晚上好：wanshanghao (good evening)
If you are very close, when you met each other, you can ask some specific question that you want to know like "what are you doing today", "where are you going to go?" instead of "how are you". If you didn't see your friend for couple of days, you can say "你最近怎么样"（ni zui jin zen me yang?） which means "how are you"你（ni）means "you", 最近（zuijin） means "recently or lately", "怎么样"（zenmeyang）means "how". You can answer like this:
不错。 (Bú cuò.) Great. (not bad)
还好。(Hái hǎo.) Good. (still good)
还可以。(Hái kěyǐ.) Okay.
不太好。(Bú tài hǎo.) Not too good.
不好。(Bù hǎo.) Not good.
You can watch the following video to learn it better
Iris Liu is a Chinese Learning teacher at Hanbridge Mandarin. Iris holds a MTCSOL degree from Jilin University. Iris has the skills and drive to make learning Chinese both fun and fruitful for her students.