From Monday to Sunday: A Guide to the Days of the Week in Chinese

Bodhi Ramos7 min
Created: Apr 1, 2024Last updated: May 1, 2024
Days of the Week in Chinese

Learning the days of the week in Chinese is an important first step in mastering the language. Compared to English, they are fairly straightforward. Each one has a unique name that corresponds with a number. If you want to learn the days of the week in Chinese, this guide will help you. We will teach you each day’s name, how to use it in a sentence, and common phrases you may hear when discussing the time. Also, we’ll provide examples to make these concepts easier to grasp.

Understanding the Three Systems of Days of the Week in Chinese

In Chinese, three systems describe the days of the week: the standard, formal, and colloquial systems. Each has its unique origin and usage, which we will explore in more detail below.

The Standard System: 星期 (Xīngqī)

The standard system for days of the week in Chinese, known as 星期 (Xīngqī), is the most commonly used in communication. It integrates the concept of numbering days with the word 星期, meaning ‘week.’ Here, the days are named sequentially, starting with Sunday as 星期天 (Xīngqītiān) or 星期日 (Xīngqīrì).

星期天/星期日Xīngqītiān / XīngqīrìSunday

These simple and logical names make it easy for learners to remember the days. Once you memorize the numbers one through six, you can quickly connect them to each day.

The Formal System: 周 (Zhōu)

The formal system for naming Chinese days of the week uses the character 周 (Zhōu), which translates to ‘week.’ It is often used in formal, academic, and official communications. It has a slightly more official and serious tone than the standard system.

In the 周 (Zhōu) system, the days are named using 周 followed by the numbers one to seven, with 周一 (Zhōuyī) for Monday and ending with 周日 (Zhōurì) for Sunday. This naming convention is clear and systematic, which helps to prevent any confusion.


Such a structured naming setup again relies on remembering numbers one through seven. It adds to the simplicity of this system, and learners can master it with minimal effort.

The Colloquial System: 礼拜 (Lǐbài)

The colloquial system for days of the week uses the term 礼拜 (Lǐbài), which is commonly heard in informal settings. This term has religious origins, related to the Christian day of worship, but in modern usage, it simply denotes the days of the week in a less formal context.

In the 礼拜 (Lǐbài) system, days are similarly numbered but with a more casual tone. The week starts with 礼拜天 (Lǐbài tiān) or 礼拜日 (Lǐbài rì) for Sunday. This system is particularly popular in spoken language and can be frequently encountered in conversations among native speakers.

礼拜天/礼拜日Lǐbài tiān / Lǐbài rìSunday
礼拜一Lǐbài yīMonday
礼拜二Lǐbài èrTuesday
礼拜三Lǐbài sānWednesday
礼拜四Lǐbài sìThursday
礼拜五Lǐbài wǔFriday
礼拜六Lǐbài liùSaturday

Which One System of Days of the Week in Chinese Use

Deciding between 星期 (xīngqī), 周 (zhōu), and 礼拜 (lǐbài) depends on context, formality, and personal preference. Here’s a breakdown to help you choose the right term for the occasion:

  • Context matters. 星期 (xīngqī) is universally understood and is the most neutral term, commonly used in educational settings, formal documents, and media. It’s the safest choice for most written and spoken communication, especially if you are unsure of the formality required. 周 (zhōu) carries a formal and polished tone, making it appropriate for business, academic settings, and formal occasions. 礼拜 (lǐbài) is predominantly used in casual speech.
  • Formality and usage. In formal writing and speech, especially in Mainland China, stick to 星期 (xīngqī) or 周 (zhōu). 礼拜 (lǐbài), despite its common use in speech, is less favored in formal or official written Chinese due to its religious connotations and Western origins.
  • Regional preferences. In Taiwan, 礼拜 (lǐbài) is widely accepted in both speech and writing, resulting in the island’s linguistic and cultural diversity. In contrast, Mainland China tends to prefer 星期 (xīngqī) for formal use and 周 (zhōu) in more cultivated circles.
  • Personal preference. Ultimately, your choice can also reflect your style and the people you interact with. Adopting their preferred term can facilitate smoother conversations and show cultural sensitivity if you frequently communicate with a certain group.

Understanding the nuances between 星期 (xīngqī), 周 (zhōu), and 礼拜 (lǐbài) allows for more effective and appropriate communication in Mandarin. Familiarize yourself with all three to adapt effectively to different situations.


Talking About Days in Chinese: The Essential Vocabulary

When discussing days in Chinese, certain words and phrases are essential to convey your message accurately. These terms help to structure conversations about schedules, appointments, and events. Below are the words to help you talk about the days of the week in Mandarin:

  • 今天 (Jīntiān) – Today

今天天气怎么样?(Jīntiān tiānqì zěnme yàng?) – How is the weather today?

  • 昨天 (Zuótiān) – Yesterday

昨天你做了什么?(Zuótiān nǐ zuòle shénme?) – What did you do yesterday?

  • 明天 (Míngtiān) – Tomorrow

明天我们去公园怎么样?(Míngtiān wǒmen qù gōngyuán zěnme yàng?) – How about we go to the park tomorrow?

  • 前天 (Qiántiān) – The day before yesterday

前天我遇到了我的老朋友。(Qiántiān wǒ yùdào le wǒ de lǎo péngyǒu.) – I met an old friend the day before yesterday.

  • 后天 (Hòutiān) – The day after tomorrow

后天你有空吗?(Hòutiān nǐ yǒu kòng ma?) – Are you free the day after tomorrow?

  • 上周 (Shàng zhōu) – Last week

上周我去了海边。(Shàng zhōu wǒ qùle hǎibiān.) – I went to the beach last week.

  • 本周 (Běn zhōu) – This week

本周我们有重要的会议。(Běn zhōu wǒmen yǒu zhòngyào de huìyì.) – We have an important meeting this week.

  • 下周 (Xià zhōu) – Next week

下周你打算做什么?(Xià zhōu nǐ dǎsuàn zuò shénme?) – What are you planning to do next week?

  • 上个月 (Shàng gè yuè) – Last month

上个月他去了日本。(Shàng gè yuè tā qùle Rìběn.) – He went to Japan last month.

  • 本月 (Běn yuè) – This month

本月我要完成我的项目。(Běn yuè wǒ yào wánchéng wǒ de xiàngmù.) – I need to complete my project this month.

  • 下个月 (Xià gè yuè) – Next month

下个月我们要搬到新家。(Xià gè yuè wǒmen yào bān dào xīn jiā.) – We are moving to a new house next month.

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Mastering the days of the week in Chinese is simple once you understand the three systems in use. Remember, practice makes perfect: speak to native Mandarin speakers and use the vocabulary in your daily life. Soon, discussing days, weeks, and months will become second nature. Keep learning and growing your language skills!


How does the concept of a week differ from the traditional Chinese lunar calendar to the Gregorian calendar?

The traditional Chinese lunar calendar emphasizes the concept of a week less than the Gregorian calendar. It focuses more on lunar months and significant festivals, although the seven-day week is still acknowledged in modern times.

How do business hours typically align with days of the week in China?

In China, standard business hours usually align with the international workweek from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm, with a shorter day on Saturday in some companies. Sundays are generally off, which mirrors global business practices.

What impact do public holidays have on the workweek in China?

Public holidays in China often lead to adjusted workweeks. Additional workdays are designated before or after the holiday to compensate for extended breaks.

Where can I learn other Chinese vocabulary?

Online dictionaries such as Pleco and YellowBridge are invaluable. Pleco offers comprehensive definitions and pronunciation guides, while YellowBridge includes detailed character analysis and other valuable tools. Also, the Chinese language learning app by Promova makes it easy to master new words on the go. It has flashcards and practice exercises to help improve your vocabulary.