Hao What?

How to Use the Different Kinds of Hao (好)

Chinese people like to say 好啊 (hǎoa), 好吧 (hǎoba) , 好的 (hǎode), 好了 (hǎole), 好啦 (hǎola), 好嘞 (hǎolèi) and 好呀 (hǎoya) a lot. This could be very confusing, and overwhelming. Here are a few clear explanations and feelings behind these words.

好啊 vs 好的 vs 好吧

These three responses, express different degrees of agreement. 好啊 is a positive response to show happy agreement. When people say this, it means they are happy with your idea, suggestion or decision etc. If you hear people say 好的, you can not tell how they feel about your idea, because it’s a neutral response. 好吧 is a negative response just opposite to好啊. When people do not like an idea but have no choice but to agree, they say好吧. 

In summary

ChineseEnglish
好啊 Okay! (That’s great!)
好的Okay.
好吧Okay… (Do I have a choice?)

好了 & 好啦

Not all words with 好 are used to reply to show agreement. For example, people say 好了 and 好啦 to confirm with people that something is done or it’s enough. 

ChineseEnglish
我好了! Wǒ hǎole! /
我好啦Wǒ hǎola!
I’m done.
饭好了! Fànhǎole! /
饭好啦! Fànhǎola!
Meal is done.
好了/ 好啦,别说了。Hǎole /
Hǎola, bié shuō le.
That’s enough. Don’t say anything more.
好了/ 好啦,我不饿。Hǎole /
Hǎola, wǒ bú è.
That’s enough. I’m not hungry. (To stop people keeping offering you food)

好嘞

People say 好嘞 with a feeling of excitement to confirm that they are aware of an assignment and are ready to take actions. 

ChineseEnglish
A: 今天下午给李经理打个电话。Jīntiān xiàwǔ gěi Lǐjīnglǐ dǎ ge diànhuà.
B: 好嘞! Hǎolèi
A: Give Manager Li a phone call this afternoon.
B: Okay! (I got it.)
A: 服务员,来两瓶啤酒。Fúwùyuán, lái liǎng píng píjiǔ.
B: 好嘞! Hǎolèi
A: Waiter, two bottles of beer.
B: Okay! (Will serve soon!)

好呀

好呀 is similar to 好啊 in the degree of agreement, but is considered to be a feminine word. Guys saying 好呀 will be looked upon as less masculine. It’s used more by people from south of China.


Maria writes columns for the GoEast Blog on studying Chinese and Chinese language. She completed her MA atBeijing Foreign Studies University and has over 6 years experience teaching Mandarin. She founded GoEast together with Wang Rong in 2010.