Talking Chinese–English–Chinese Phrasebook

Talking Chinese–English–Chinese Phrasebook

Talking Chinese–English–Chinese Phrasebook


Whether you are on a short trip to China or living there, communicate in Chinese instantly! 15,000+ words and ready-to-use, customizable talking phrases in 250+ practical categories.

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Android phones/tablets

Intro Video

Key Features

    Talking Chinese–English–Chinese Phrasebook

    Talking Chinese–English–Chinese Phrasebook

  • Perfect for tourists, businesspeople and expats, with over 15,000 ready-to-use words, phrases, and two-way conversational complete sentences in more than 250 useful categories.
  • With support for either Simplified or Traditional characters, our app works in mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, and anywhere else Mandarin Chinese is spoken (including 40-50% of the population of Hong Kong and Macau; Traditional in our app is converted from Simplified automatically).
  • Amazing customizable super phrases let you build exactly the sentence you want.
  • Talks for you: crisp, clear, fluent sound recordings of a Chinese native for every single Chinese word, phrase, and complete sentence.
  • Full-text Power Search lets you find phrases and categories using any Chinese or English key words of your choosing.
  • Haggle in style with our built-in talking, translating currency and units converter.
  • Works without an internet connection and without any data charges.
  • When online, you can even speak English or Chinese words right into the app to search the phrasebook (see dictation requirements).
  • Hear a Chinese word that you want to look up, but you don't know Chinese characters? Our phrasebook lets you Search-by-Sound™ using Pinyin or two other easy-to-understand Chinese pronunciation guide systems.
  • Your Chinese friend can also search using Chinese characters.
  • Lets you make the Chinese and English text as big as you want. Use Apple keyboards, third-party keyboards (like Swype), or our enhanced, built-in Paiboon keyboards.
  • Favorites screen lets you organize your most-used phrases into multiple folders.
  • Convenient, familiar web-browser-like navigation makes it easy to go back in history.
  • Fully supports iOS 6/7/8/9/10. Full-screen and native resolution on all iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch models.
  • Includes a comprehensive, interactive guide to speaking and understanding Chinese.
  • Useful vocabulary from industry leader Paiboon Publishing.
  • Includes free translation mini-service for new words and phrases you suggest via the app.
Buy now and enjoy free lifetime upgrades (on same platform) as we continually expand our vocabulary and add new app features!

Buy Now
Android phones/tablets
Buy with the confidence of our money-back guarantee.

250+ Useful Categories

Our 12,000+ phrasebook entries are organized into more than 250+ practical categories like
  • "Language Difficulties"
  • "Hotel"
  • "Renting a Place"
  • "Food/Drink"
  • "Price Haggling"
  • "Transportation"
  • "Health"
  • "Shopping"
  • "Sightseeing"
  • "Love/Romance/Sex"
  • and even "Swearing/Insults"

Tap here to see full list of categories.

2.0 Dictionary Sneak Preview

2.0 Dictionary Sneak Preview

2.0 Dictionary Sneak Preview

Unlike other dictionaries and phrasebooks that simply give you lists of nouns, our phrasebook features many hand-crafted categories with complete, ready-to-use sentences for real situations you will encounter while traveling or living in China and Chinese-speaking places, showing both questions and answers so that you and a Chinese person can use the phrasebook to communicate together:

Useful Categories

Plus our phrasebook also contains categories for key lists of related words that are useful to learn at the same time, including colors, numbers months, days, body parts, family roles, languages/nationalities, Chinese provinces, Chinese classifiers/measure words, and more. These categories are great alongside our included comprehensive, interactive guide to speaking and understanding Chinese.

With 15,000+ entries, this phrasebook is really a mini-dictionary. Using the Search screen you can find thousands of everyday useful words, including basic medical, cultural, political and scientific terms.

Customizable Super Phrases

Unlike traditional phrasebooks and apps that give you limited phrase choices (e.g. "Take me to the bus station" but not "Take me to the airport," or "I will arrive at 2:00" but not "I will arrive at 3:30 on Friday") our app features hundreds of industry-first super phrases, which let you customize part of the phrase to your needs and get instant translation and playback of the full sentence in Chinese, complete with a talking, translating calculator, currency conversion, and units conversion built right in the phrases themselves!

For example, you can haggle with a vendor in your language and your currency and instantly convert to hers so she understands you. Here is a phrase from our "Price Haggling" category that lets you ask for a discount:

Super phrases in action

If you want to ask for a different amount of money off, simply touch the "50 CNY" and you will get this screen:

Super phrases in action

Here you can use our built-in talking, translating calculator to type or calculate any number you want. Notice how we show multiple currencies so you can type the currency you are familiar with (e.g. your home currency) and get instant conversion and translation to all other currencies (e.g. the vendor's currency). You can even touch the play button to speak any money amount in Chinese. Finally, touch "Choose" and you will be returned to your original phrase with your new money amount filled in. You can then touch the play button to say the entire phrase (with your new money amount) to the vendor.

Super phrases aren't just for money. Our app can convert distances (e.g. miles, kilometers, meters, feet), temperatures, speeds, volumes (e.g. cups, liters; useful for cooking and ordering materials), weights (e.g. kilograms, pounds, and Chinese market units), and areas (e.g. acres, hectares).

We support every unit you might need and you can even make a convenient "short list" of frequently-used units. Covers all your needs when buying at the market or the shop.

Our phrasebook also features many super phrases where you can customize your own date, time, or time period/interval. This is invaluable when you are booking a plane, bus, or train ticket, or making a date to get together again with your new Chinese friend.

Super phrases in action

Super phrases aren't just for numerical quantities and dates either.

For example, many super phrases such as "I want to take a taxi to ..." and "Which bus goes to ..." let you choose a custom place from a huge, organized menu of common destinations, including places like "my hotel," "the airport," major Chinese cities, and the most common tourist destinations across China.

Super phrases in action

Other super phrases help you shop (e.g. "I want it in ..." where you can choose your desired color or size), order food (e.g. "Please make it ..." where you can choose from totally non-spicy to local-person spicy, and "I cannot eat ..." where you can choose from common sensitive foods like gluten and MSG), and even deal with health emergencies: super phrases help you communicate your symptoms with doctors and report problems to police.

And for each of these types of phrases, you can browse the complete list of choices (e.g. colors, spiciness, foods) and learn a whole set of useful related words at once.

Organize your Favorites

Our Favorites screen lets you organize the words and phrases you use often into multiple folders (you can even have folders inside folders, as deep as you want):


Use the Favorites screen to prepare the phrases you will need for a trip or errand, organize study lists of words you want to learn, or even put together a whole sentence or paragraph which you can touch to play all at once.

Using our simple and intuitive interface, you can easily select multiple items, and move, copy, and organize your favorites as you please.

Make changes with peace of mind, knowing you have 30 levels of Undo and Redo available.

Talks for You with a Fluent Native Voice

You can touch any Chinese word, phrase, or complete sentence in the phrasebook to hear a high-quality sound recording of a native Chinese speaker. Tap the buttons to hear some sample sounds:

Don't be fooled! Most Chinese apps on the market today, even those which claim to "speak" any phrase you can look up, really give you fake, per-syllable voice clippings: they only have about 1,400 short recordings of individual Chinese syllables, plus perhaps a handful of common multi-word phrases. When you play a long phrase or sentence, other apps simply paste together these short recordings of each syllable in a halting and unnatural way. But in real human speech, the sound of every syllable is hugely affected by the syllables around it and the by feeling and meaning of the particular phrase or sentence.

Our phrasebook gives you the real deal: we have individually recorded a native Chinese person speaking every single phrase and complete sentence in its entirety, as you can hear in our samples above. Our fluent sound recordings cover 100% of all words, phrases, and complete sentences in the phrasebook. This is really important when you are trying to learn what an expression really sounds like in Chinese, when you are trying to learn to speak and recognize the tones, and when you are practicing your speech. The only case where you will hear a boundary between sounds in our app is one of sheer necessity: when you are playing one of our amazing customizable super phrases.

The app includes almost 5 hours of studio-recorded sound!

Say goodbye to toneless, gravelly robot voices and limited sound sets: our comprehensive sounds set a new standard in the industry.

Use Without an Internet Connection

Works even when you're in a taxi or a countryside street market and not connected to the internet: all entries and sounds are stored right on your device, and you will incur no data charges when you use the app.

For more details, see requirements.

When online, you or your Chinese friend can even speak English or Chinese words right into your device to search the phrasebook (see dictation requirements).

Big Text and Clear, Sensible Layout

Enjoy a clean layout that lets you scroll through multiple, complete entries on the screen at once. No need to tap to open each entry and tap back again.

Clean Layout

Best of all, you can make the Chinese and English text (separately or together) as big as you want—no more reading glasses!

Choose any font size

Full-Screen on all Devices

Full, native support for the larger iPhones and all iPads:

Full-Screen Support

Instant Search

As you type the word you're looking for, the phrasebook instantly jumps to the nearest word. You can often find your word by typing only a few letters:

Instant Search

Full-Text Power Search

Our app supports Full-Text Power Search, meaning that when you search for a word, we find all phrases that contain your word anywhere in the phrase, not just at the beginning:

Full-Text Power Search

This feature makes finding the phrase you want (and its related categories) a snap: you only have to enter one or two key words.

Amazingly, our Full-Text Power Search feature even searches inside super phrases, meaning that it can even customize a phrase to meet your search requirement, as seen above.

You can search for prefixes of words (for example, searching for "book" finds not only "book" entries but also "bookshelf" and "bookstore"). This even works for Chinese Sound searches (e.g. "nih" can find "nihao"), which saves you time and is useful when you can only remember the beginning of a word.

You can search for multiple search terms and our phrasebook will find entries containing all of those terms, even if they are not next to each other in the phrase. For example, "taxi airport" finds useful phrases like "I want to take a taxi to the airport."

Your search terms can even mix English, Chinese Characters, and Chinese Sound in any way you want, which is very useful in cases where you know part of the English meaning and part of the Chinese, e.g. "day p:guo" finds:

Mix English and Chinese

When using Search-by-Sound™ to find Chinese words by their sound, you can find all words with your specified consonants and vowels regardless of tone, or if you know the tone you can restrict your search to certain tones.

Pronunciation Guides

Every single Chinese word is accompanied by an easy-to-read, English-like Chinese Sound pronunciation guide (also known as "Transliteration" or "Phonetics"), so you can learn to speak and recognize Chinese words immediately, without needing to learn Chinese characters. Our pronunciation guides give you the tones and everything else you need to understand and to be understood.

You can choose either the ubiqitous Pinyin pronunciation guide system, the IPA system, or a new system designed by Paiboon Publishing to greatly simplify the process of learning Chinese.

With a single touch in our app settings screen, all pronunciation guides throughout the app transform into your chosen system, and you can even look up Chinese words by sound using your chosen system.

For those more advanced users who are trying to wean themselves off of pronunciation guides and onto Chinese characters, we even offer the option to temporarily hide pronunciation guides until you touch to reveal them.

We Go Three Ways

This phrasebook goes three ways!

Three-Way Design

Most dictionary and phrasebook apps let you look up English words, and some also let you look up Chinese words using Chinese characters. But Paiboon's revolutionary three-way design bridges the gap for English speakers by introducing a third option where you can Search-by-Sound™: you can look up Chinese words that you hear by their sound using the same easy-to-read pronunciation guide. Hear someone say "ni hao?" Type "ni hao" to find out what it means:

Chinese Sound section

Search-by-Sound™ has been a hallmark of all Paiboon dictionary and phrasebook products since Paiboon's first Thai products in 2002.

For more information on Search-by-Sound™, how it's different from the simple Pinyin IME that most Chinese people use to type Chinese characters, and why it's so useful for learning Chinese, see this section.

Introduction to Chinese

For those who want to go deeper, our app includes a comprehensive, interactive introduction to the Chinese language where you can learn to speak and recognize the sounds of Chinese (even the tones) and learn to put together your own sentences in Chinese.

Sample Topics:

  • Speaking and Listening: Consonant Sounds, Vowel Sounds, Tones, Practice Similar Sounds, Parts of Speech, Classifiers/Measure Words, Word Register, Telling Time/Date, Numbers.

  • Pronunciation Guide Systems: detailed charts fully explaining each system.

Here is an example from our section on Tones:

Tones section of our Introduction to Chinese

Designed for English Speakers

Unlike typical dictionaries and phrasebooks based on free, often low-quality data meant for Chinese natives, our superb Paiboon Publishing phrasebook entries are hand-crafted by a team of Chinese- and English-native editors with your needs in mind.

Entries are richly annotated for native English speakers so you know the exact meaning of each Chinese word and phrase you use including slang and formal variants. No more Google Translate gibberish!

Free Translation for New Words and Phrases

If you encounter a word or phrase that is not in the phrasebook, submit it via our app and receive a free translation by email, typically within 1 week. We are happy to receive your suggestions because the most important terms are the ones our customers are looking for!

Convenient Navigation

As you are reading any phrasebook entry, you can tap on any Chinese or English word in that entry to search for that word or activate a wide range of other amazing features. This can be a great way to explore different shades of meaning and learn new, related words.

Also, you can tap on any part of speech or other symbol to go directly to the relevant section of our language guide to learn more.

As you look up words, help pages, or use the other special features of our app, you can always touch the back button to get back where you were, just like a web browser.

Convenient Navigation

And of course with our favorites screen you can save and organize entries into multiple folders for as long as you want.

Customize Keyboards

When typing English or Chinese Sound pronunciation with our phrasebook, you can choose either system keyboards (Apple keyboards or third-party keyboards like Swype), or you can choose the built-in specialized, custom Paiboon keyboard, which is exclusive to our app. The Paiboon Keyboard features large, readable key labels and only presents the keys you need for searching in the phrasebook.

When you are using our Search-by-Sound™ feature, the Paiboon Keyboard automatically includes all letters and symbols needed for your chosen pronunciation guide system.

Our app even supports external Bluetooth keyboards.


Search-by-Sound™ is what puts Paiboon Publishing's dictionaries and phrasebooks so far ahead of the competition, and now this indispensable capability is available on your device.

The Problem

As you may know, Chinese has no alphabet and tens of thousands of characters which take years to learn. And even if you know Chinese characters, there are typically many many characters with different meanings for each sound! So, looking up a Chinese word that you hear is difficult even for a seasoned scholar.

The Solution: Search-by-Sound™

What if you could simply look up what you hear? Search-by-Sound™, a hallmark of all Paiboon dictionaries and phrasebooks since Paiboon's first Thai product in 2002, lets you do just this.

It all starts with pronunciation guide systems, which are systems to spell out the sound of Chinese words using a small alphabet of English-like letters. The ideal pronunciation guide system is one where there is exactly one simple way to write every sound and exactly one sound for every written syllable.

Chinese people use the ubiquitous Pinyin system. Pinyin is a good start and all Chinese people know Pinyin, but Pinyin contains a large number of pitfalls and idiosyncracies that make it an unnecessarily difficult tool for non-Chinese to learn the Chinese language. Plus, when Chinese people write Pinyin, they almost never include the critical tones needed for non-Chinese who are learning Chinese for the first time.

This phrasebook app supports Pinyin, and always includes tones even with Pinyin, but it also supports two other systems, including a system custom-designed by Paiboon Publishing with the needs of non-Chinese who are learning Chinese in mind. The Paiboon system finally injects some sanity into the learning of Chinese and lets the student learn the sounds of Chinese more quickly and accurately.

Every Chinese word in our phrasebook is written with Chinese characters and also with your chosen pronunciation guide system. But Search-by-Sound™ takes that one step further: you can look up a Chinese word by its pronunciation guide.

For example, if you hear someone say "ni hao," you just type "ni hao":


The app provides you with the exact pronunciation, the word written using Chinese characters, the definition, and you can even touch to hear a high quality sound recording of a native Chinese speaking that word.

Search-by-Sound™ vs. Pinyin IMEs

At a high level, Search-by-Sound™ is similar to the "IMEs" or keyboard windows that Chinese people use to enter Chinese characters into computers. In both cases, you type the sound of a Chinese syllable using an English-like alphabet.

But, unlike Pinyin IMEs, Search-by-Sound™ was designed from the ground up with the needs of non-Chinese people learning Chinese in mind:

  1. When you type some letters into a Pinyin IME, the IME shows you a list of Chinese characters, and that's it. No pronunciation, no definitions. The Pinyin IME assumes you are Chinese and you are already familiar with the characters and you want to pick one. Search-by-Sound™, on the other hand, shows you a list of complete English definitions for each match along with its complete pronunciation guide, including tones.

  2. Chinese IMEs only support Pinyin, because that is what all Chinese use. Search-by-Sound™ works with all pronunciation guide systems supported by the app (including Pinyin and the enhanced Paiboon system).

  3. Search-by-Sound™ lets you search in different ways than Pinyin IMEs do—ways that specifically interest foreigners learning Chinese. For example,

    • With Search-by-Sound™ you can type in a partial syllable (for example, just an initial consonant and part of a vowel) and see all the Chinese words that begin with that sound. That's useful if you are having trouble hearing the end of a syllable, which is actually very common because Chinese speakers love to muddle "n" and "ng" syllable endings.

    • Search-by-Sound™ gives you the option to limit your search to only show Chinese words with certain tones, which is useful if you know the tone of the word you hear but are not quite sure about its vowels or consonants.

Conquer Those Terrible Tones

Chinese is a tonal language: in addition to having particular vowels and consonants, each syllable has a particular pitch contour (high, rising, falling-rising, falling, and low). When you listen, you must recognize those tones to fully understand. When you speak, you must use the tones to be understood. Needless to say, this is often hard for native English speakers.

Search-by-Sound™ makes this much easier by allowing you to search for a word without needing to know its tones. You can then look at all the possibilities and choose the correct meaning from context.

Throughout our app, Chinese words are always shown in both Chinese characters and using a pronunciation guide. So, if you look up an English word, you can rely on the pronunciation guide to help you pronounce the word correctly and be understood.

Paiboon Publishing

Paiboon Publishing The Talking Chinese–English–Chinese Phrasebook was developed by Paiboon Publishing and Word in the Hand™ Inc.

Paiboon Publishing is the world's leading producer of South-East Asian language learning materials, including the famous Thai for Beginners and the Thai for Beginners App. There's even an audio companion to the learning books, a guide to pronunciation, and a multi-volume series on how to Speak Like a Thai. Paiboon Publishing also created leading offerings for the Burmese, Vietnamese, Lao, and Cambodian languages.

Paiboon Publishing has recently expanded into the Chinese language learning space with disruptive apps full of industry-first innovations, such as the Talking Chinese–English–Chinese Phrasebook and Survival Chinese for English Speakers.

The Talking Chinese–English–Chinese Phrasebook and Paiboon's other Chinese language materials, both printed and electronic, work perfectly together because they share a common teaching method and a common set of pronunciation guide systems (for more detail on pronunciation guide systems, see Search-by-Sound™).

For more info on Paiboon Publishing products, see Here are just some of the titles:

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