How to Discuss Hobbies in Mandarin Like a Native Speaker?!

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“爱好” (Hobbies, àihǎo) is one of the first topics covered in beginner Mandarin textbooks. It’s a nice entry lesson, but it’s arguably rather too formal and stiff for daily conversation in any language. Can you remember the last time you asked a fellow English speaker their hobbies?! I know I can’t.

爱好, àihào

Hobbies Dreamtimes
From Dreamtimes

It turns out that it’s not so common in Mandarin either. According to the Chinese teachers at Lingo Bus, for native speakers, it’s too formal to ask others the following, unless perhaps in an interview or on a blind date.

Nǐ de àihào shì shénme?

  • 你的爱好是什么?

(“What are your hobbies?”)

Below are a few alternative questions and answers that sound more natural to native-speaking ears:

QUESTIONS

Nǐ píngshí xǐhuan zuò shénme?

  • 你平时喜欢做什么?

What do you like to do in your free time?

Nǐ zhōumò yìbān zuò shénme?

  • 你周末一般做什么?

What do you usually do on the weekends?

A girl holding a camera
From The Digital Photography Tutorial

ANSWERS

Wǒ xǐhuan [xué zhōngwén]

  • 我喜欢 [学中文]。

I like [to study Chinese].

 

Wǒ píngshí xǐhuan [qù jiànshēn].

  • 我平时喜欢 [去健身]。

I normally like [to go workout or see friends].

Gym

          Wǒ yǒukòng shí jiù [qù tī qiú ]。

  • 我有空时就[去踢球]。
    I go to play soccer once I have time.

 

Wǒ yǒu shíhou  huì qù [pá’shān ]。

  • 我有时候会去[爬山]。

Sometimes I [go hiking in moutains].

 

Wǒ méi shí jiān zuò xǐhuan de shìqing !

  • 我没时间做喜欢的事情!

I don’t have time to do what I like!

 

Wǒ shì yíge gōngzuòkuáng !

  • 我是一个工作狂!

I’m a workaholic!

 

Wǒ xǐhuan chángshì xīn’xiān shìwù 。

  • 我喜欢尝试新鲜事物。
    I like to try doing new things.

Of course, when talking about hobbies, you can always add adverbs expressing degrees, like “非常”, “特别”, “不太”, etc., to specify how much you like to do a certain thing.

非常 (fēi’cháng, very much)

特别 (tèbié, really, especially)

不太 (bútài, not that much)

It will almost always be helpful to the conversation by showing interest in other’s hobbies. You can use “也” to achieve this:

Wǒ yě hěn xǐhuan xué zhōngwén.

我也很喜欢[学中文]。

I like to learn Chinese too.

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