Chinese Time Study #5:
Learn Year in Chinese and Chinese Year Words For Daily Needs


学读中文“年份”和含“年”字的词语


Do you know how to read or write “year in Chinese” and common Chinese year words for daily use? And what are the differences between cardinal numerals and ordinals when they are separately linking with the Chinese character of year “年”. Follow us to get up-to-date tips about Chinese year words and learning resources on boosting your Chinese study. Let’s begin!



Target Story Words

English Words:

Chinese Pinyin:

Standard Chinese:

Similar Chinese Words:
年字 Nián zì One character to say year in Chinese.
年份 Nián fèn A two-character word to express the year in Chinese.
年表 Nián biǎo The Chinese word to say Chronology, or known as “纪年法” (jì nián fǎ).
纪元 Jì yuán The Chinese word of Era referring to the chronology dating system.

Related Chinese Words:
“日”时间 Rì shí jiān Chinese time words to express days.
“周”时间 Zhōu shí jiān Chinese time expressions for days of the week and weeks.
“月”时间 Yuè shí jiān Chinese time expressions for months.
“季节”时间 Jì jié shí jiān Chinese time expressions for seasons.

Chinese Words Pronunciation

Chinese Pronunciation on GoogleSay “Year and Year Words” in Chinese



Core “Year” Character in Chinese

“年份”的核心字

Basically,one Chinese character “ (nián)” is used to express the year in Chinese or year-related Chinese words/phrases, to help distinguish the time of year from other Chinese time words, such as days, dates, days of the week, months, seasons, etc.

在汉语里,通常仅用一个汉字来表达以“年”为时间基准的、或与“年份”相关的词汇,和其他如日、星期、月、季节等时间词区分开来。

The Chinese character generally contains several meanings in the context, the most common two of which imply the age or year time in Chinese. See more below.

一般来说,“年”字通常包含多种含义,依上下文而不同,其中最常见的是用来指“年”为基数的时间或年龄、岁数。如下。

  • (nián) – to commonly express the “year” in Chinese.
    年 – 中文里常用来表达“Year”的汉字。

    • a common Chinese character to signal the year as a unit of time in the Chinese language.
      表示以“年”为时间单位的常用汉字;
    • often appears in both written and spoken Chinese year words and expressions.
      常用于口语、书面语中表示年份;
    • originally means the year’s harvest.
      中文里,本义指年成,一年的收成。
    • Nowadays, it also used to mean ages, such as “年龄 (age)”, “年纪 (people’s age)”, or the time periods of people’s life, such as “童年 (childhood)”, “青年 (youth)”, “老年 (old age)”, etc.
      现代,也常用于指岁数、如“年龄”、“年纪(专指人)”;或指人一生所经历的年岁时期,如“童年”、“青年”、“老年”等。

Modern: Specify A Year in Chinese With Ordinals

用现代纪年法表示年份(序数)

As similar as other countries did, China has adopted the international-general Gregorian Calendar to count and name years since 1949 although the traditional Chinese calendar is still popular and in use in China.

中国从 1949 年起开始同现代世界上大多数国家一样采用国际通行的公元纪年法来记载年份。

Nowadays, it’s common to see a four-digit ordinal number, either written in Arabic or Chinese numeral characters, binding with the core Chinese character of year “” together to specify a year in China, such as “2021年” or “二零二一年“.

在现代中国表示年份的方法,通常是在公历年的序数字(阿拉伯数字或中文数字)后面加上一个“年”核心字,如“2021年”,或“二零二一年”。

In modern days, the commonly-appeared Year in Chinese =
4-digit Ordinals + 年, the Core Character for Year
四位数的序数 + “年” = 常见的中文“年份”表示法

For more details on the common year-counting of the modern Chinese era, please see below:

具体读写方法,如下:

  • First, “A four-digit Arabic numeral + 年” is most common to see in any of Chinese life as the proper writing form to identify and specify the year in Chinese, e.g. the Year of 2022 written as “2022年” in Chinese. As to the year in Chinese heading with a four-digit numeral, just read each digit with the Chinese pronunciation from left to right, one after another, and then the Chinese pronunciation of 年, such as reading it out like “二零二二年” or fully “公元二零二二年“.
    最常见的是用“四位数的阿拉伯数字的序数字 + 年”表示中文年份,如公元元年后的年份为“2022年”。用中文读出年份时,直接从左向右依次依次每个数字,如“二零二二年”或“公元二零二二年”;
  • Secondly, it’s also popular and formal to use “A four-digit Chinese Ordinals + 年” to express the year in Chinese, e.g. “二零二二年” in Simplified Chinese or “贰零贰贰年” in Traditional Chinese. And The way to read them out in Chinese is the same as that of the first form introduced above.
    用“四位数的中文序数字 + 年”表示中文年份,如简体中文的“二零二二年”或繁体中文的“贰零贰贰年”。也是从左向右依次用中文直接读出每个数字,如“二零二二年”或“公元二零二二年”;
  • Thirdly, to turn the Year Before Common Era (BCE) into Chinese, you’d better add the equivalent Chinese word “公元前 (gōng yuán qián)” in front of the year numerals, e.g. the Year of 221 BC (or 221 BCE) written as “公元前221年” in Chinese, and read out in Chinese orderly with cautiousness (see tips below).
    公元元年以前的年份,则在数字前加上“公元前”的词语即可,如 the year 221 BC 或 221 BCE 中文写作“公元前221年”,需小心中文读法(见提示如下)。

What’s more, there are certainly other Chinese era chronologies, with the origins earliest backing to 3000~2600 BCE. Two most popular Chinese era chronologies, well-known as “The Ten Heavenly Stems and Twelve Earthly Branches 干支纪年纪年 (gān zhī jì nián)” and “Chinese 12 Zodiac Animals 十二生肖纪年 (shí èr shēng xiāo jì nián)” have been applied to the Chinese Calendar (lunisolar calendar) and passed down for years to present-time China for popular uses.

除以上现代中国公历纪年法外,中国历史上还曾使用过多种中国纪年方法。其中,应用于中国农历的“干支纪年”法和“十二生肖纪年”法从古代流传下来,并一直沿用至今。

Learn Year-Counting Words Including Chinese Cardinals and Ordinals

学表达“年数”的词语(含序数和基数)

Cardinals + 年 For Year-Counting in Chinese

To Count the Years in Chinese (numbers of years) =
Cardinal Numbers + 年, the Core Character for Year
基数词 + “年” = 表示中文里的“年数”

  • (yī nián) – One year in Chinese
  • (sān nián) – Three years in Chinese
  • (duō nián) – Many years in Chinese
  • 许多(xǔ duō nián) – Many years in Chinese
  • 好几(hǎo jǐ nián) – Several years in Chinese
  • 又一(yī nián yòu yī nián) – Year after year in Chinese

Ordinals + 年 For Year-Counting in Chinese

Order of the Year in Chinese =
Ordinal Numbers + 年, the Core Character for Year
序数词(第几) + “年” = 表达中文里的“年份排序”

To indicate the order of the year in Chinese, you can also use the “Chinese Ordinal Numerals 第几” to combine with either the single character “” or the two-character word “年头” for the year-counting, the latter requiring “” – a must-have measure word – inserted into the year expression in Chinese, as below.

若表示年份的排列次序,则可用“中文序数词”搭配单独的“年”字或二字词语“年头”使用,后者必须添加“个”字,如下所示。

  • 第一(dì yī nián) – The first year in Chinese
  • 第四(dì sì nián) – The fourth year in Chinese
  • 第五个年头(dì wǔ gè nián tóu) – The fifth year in Chinese

Next, let’s see how many Chinese words below are able to describe the second year or similars.

接下来,一看看中文里究竟有多少种说法用来描述和表达第二年/次年的含义,如下:

  • 第二(dì èr nián) – The second year in Chinese
  • (míng nián) – The next year in Chinese
  • 下一(xià yì nián) – The next year in Chinese
  • (lái nián) – The coming year in Chinese
  • (cì nián) – The ensuing year in Chinese
  • (yì nián) – The following year in Chinese

And more:

更多如下:

  • (shí nián) – Decade or ten years in Chinese.
  • 二十(èr shí nián) – Two decades or twenty years in Chinese.
  • (bǎi nián) – Century or a period of a hundred years in Chinese, while the century is also known as “世纪(shì jì).
  • (qiān nián) – millennium or a period of a thousand years in Chinese
  • (wàn nián) – Leap year in Chinese

Learn More Chinese Year Words And Expressions

更多含“年”字的字词和表达

  • (píng nián) – Common year in Chinese, referring to the year containing 365 days opposite to the concept of Leap year in Chinese.
  • (rùn nián) – Leap year in Chinese

Continue to more Chinese year words below:

更多带“年”的词语,如下:

  • (shǒu nián) – The initial year in Chinese
  • 最初的一(zuì chū de nián) – The initial year in Chinese
  • 头几(tóu jǐ nián) – The first few years in Chinese
  • 最初几(zuì chū jǐ nián) – Initial years in Chinese
  • 一整(yì zhěng nián) – A full/whole year in Chinese
  • (quán nián) – The entire year in Chinese
  • 年的(quán nián de) – Year-round in Chinese
  • 到头(yī nián dào tóu) – All year round in Chinese
  • (měi nián) – Every year in Chinese
  • (nián nián) – Yearly, year by year, or year after year in Chinese

Chinese “Year” Words In Chronological Order

按时间顺序排序的“年”字词语


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