Every culture has its differences with other cultures—it’s the way we are brought up and the social environment we live in. It’s always helpful to be aware of some of the differences with other cultures—and even better if you know how to talk about them with others!

In this Podcast, you will learn:

(i) How to talk about cultural differences between people in one country and another

(ii) To mention some of the cultural differences you have observed


Two people are discussing cultural differences:


(zài kā fēi tīng)

(at the café)


Zhōng Guó hé Měi Guó de wén huà dōu yǒu nǎ xiē bù tóng?

What are some of the differences between Chinese and American cultures?


Tài duō le. Bǐ rú, Měi Guó rén bù quàn jiǔ. Rǔ guǒ nǐ bī zhe bié rén hē jiǔ gān bēi, shì hěn bù lǐ mào de xíng wéi.

Oh.., so many. For example, American people don’t urge others to drink. If you force other people to drink or “bottoms up”, it is considered very impolite.


Òu, hái yǒu ne?

What else?


Hái yǒu, Zhōng Guó rén xǐ huān hē rè shuǐ, rè chá, Měi Guó rén yī bān dōu hē bīng shuǐ. Āi, zhōng měi wén huà chā yì hěn dà la, yī jù liǎng jù shuō bù wán de!

Hmm…, Chinese like to drink hot water and hot tea, Americans often drink ice water. Hey, there are lots of differences between Chinese and American cultures. Can’t finish them in one or two sentences.

Chinese words and phrases mentioned in this Podcast:

中国文化:Chinese culture

美国文化:American culture



比如:for example




别人:other people

喝酒:drink alcohol

干杯:cheers/”bottoms up”



热水:hot water

热茶:hot tea

冰水:ice water

文化差异:cultural differences

一句两句说不完:can’t finish explaining in one or two sentences


中美:a short version of ‘中国和美国’, it is more formal

Cultural/Grammar note:

‘A和B有哪些不同’ is how you ask to compare two things.

‘劝酒’ is part of traditional Chinese culture. If someone says bottoms up to you, you need to do this literally, not only take a sip. You need to drink it up to show that you respect and want to be friends with that person. In fact, you can usually hear this sentence in a restaurant:


Shì péng yǒu jiù gān bēi.

If we are friends, bottoms up.

But, nowadays, there are some people who are more considerate, they would say:


Wǒ gān bēi, nín suí yì

I will bottoms up, you can do whatever, it’s up to you.

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Yes! I’d like to learn Mandarin Chinese more effectively

Narrated by Song Liu

Our Podcast narrator, is a native Chinese speaker and is originally from Beijing, China and is keen to help you get ahead with learning. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a Master of Arts in Communication Studies. Song also hosted a Mandarin live call-in news and music radio show in the Bay Area.

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2 Comments on "166: How to talk about cultural differences in Mandarin Chinese"

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I like the way synonyms are mentioned, but I’m afraid it might be confusing for someone who hasn’t encountered all of the synonyms before. It is especially hard to learn new words that are very similar without confusing them. Also, it would be really awesome if once in a while you guys explained more the dialogue itself in Chinese, and generally had longer dialogues. Song Liu has a really clear voice so I think it would be good. Thanks for the lesson today. I think Americans do urge others to drink though, but depending on the situation it may be… Read more »
Learn Mandarin Now

Hey Eli, thanks for your great feedback about our podcast and also sharing the American culture. We will be talking more about Chinese drinking culture in the coming episodes:)