The different replies with 好 hǎo in Chinese

I decided to write this post because I was getting confused with the different ways of using 好 hǎo to reply in Chinese.  

It wasn't so much that I was slow to reply but rather I would say the most recent 好+ word that I had heard as a response and I was not really taking into account the feeling / different uses that each one has.

I selected a few that I hear regularly to cover below and I give my thoughts on how they are used but please correct me or add additional notes in the comments.

好 - hǎo - good / well / proper / good to / easy to / very / so

好 means many things but specifically this post deals with using it as a response to what another person just said.  If I hear 好 as a response to something, I tend to assume it's 'okay, good'. It's acknowledging the situation but focusing more on it being okay or good rather than focusing on agreement with what the person said.


好的 - hǎo de - okay, I agree

Although I am sure it's okay to use 好 and 好的 interchangeably it seems like people tend to use 好的 more when they agree with what someone said. It may not be good or bad but it is 'okay' or 'I agree (with you)'.


好吧 - hǎo ba - 'okay, ugh' or 'okay, fine' or right? okay?

This one is my favorite because I associate with a little kid who doesn't want to do her homework. Parents are harassing the kid to do it and finally she relents and agrees to do it.  You're agreeing but you're not happy about it or it's not the ideal scenario.  好吧 is also used to soften suggestions - You're going to pick up that trash, right?  In that sentence, 好吧 functions like the 'right?' on the statement.


好了 - hǎo le - ready, +吗 ready?

This isn't used as frequently as a response but is still good to know early on. The full way to say ready is 准备好了zhǔn bèi hǎo le but often shortened to just 好了. Similarly if you want to know if something is ready you can just ask 好了吗? hǎo le ma?


好啊 - hǎo a, ā - okay, great

The tone for 啊 makes a difference - á = eh? what? - à = uhm, ah okay, ǎ = surprise or doubt, ā = suprise, positive.  For me it seems like that when you hear 好啊 that it usually is closer to happy agreement or unexpected agreement, which I translate as like 'okay, great!'.  Obviously it depends on how the person says it but generally speaking I found it to be positive.


What do you think?  Am I using these properly or do you have other 好 replies to add in the comments below?


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Comment by Selom on August 8, 2011 at 7:24am
Comment by xu yong on August 7, 2011 at 1:19am





Comment by xu yong on August 6, 2011 at 9:16pm








Comment by Júlia Baló on August 4, 2011 at 5:19pm

Dear Brandon,

thank you very much for your clever answer on "还可以吧… 还不错把"...

and of course, it IS  "cuo" :)

Comment by Tang laoshi on August 4, 2011 at 10:43am
好的 is for bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, Hostess Barbie-type agreement, "Sure thing! OK! No problem" and is usually used when someone has made a request or proposed a plan.
Comment by Júlia Baló on August 2, 2011 at 5:25pm
Comment by Júlia Baló on August 2, 2011 at 5:12pm

 I see :)

Zhang Wenzhuo -thank you so much :)))

Top Member
Comment by Zhang Wenzhuo on August 2, 2011 at 9:35am

Hi, Júlia Baló

The mood of 足够 is a little heavy than 够了,but I think there is not much difference between them.


For example:

A friend pours wine for me over and over again because we haven't seen each other for a long time, while I don't drink, but I have to drink it, I would say: 好了好了,我不能喝太多。(It's enough, I couldn't drink too much.)

Comment by Ma Si Wen on August 2, 2011 at 7:50am
Great post Brandon. Check this out for more uses of 好

The 好 (hǎo) words of Chinese language

Comment by Júlia Baló on August 1, 2011 at 8:01pm

@ Zhang Wenzhuo : 

我有一个问题: 好了...  就像“够 吗?   (or:“足够”)

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