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There are many ways to say happy in Chinese. Like with English, Chinese words have synonyms so that conversation doesn't get too repetitive. Here are the four ways you can say "happy" in Chinese along with examples of how to use the term. Audio files are marked with ►.
高兴 (gāo xìng)
To describe a state of feeling happy in the moment, you would use the term 高兴. 高 (g āo) means high, while 兴 (xìng) has a variety of meanings depending on the context, ranging from "interest" to "flourish."
For an example of when to use 高兴, you could say:
吃了这顿美味的饭后，我很高兴 (chī le zhè dùn měi wèi de fàn hòu, wǒ hěn gāoxìng): "After eating this delicious meal, I am happy"
When expressing pleasure at meeting someone, you would use the term 高兴. For example:
我很高兴认识你 (wǒ hěn gāo xìng rèn shi nǐ): "It was nice to meet you"
开心 ( kāi xīn)
开 (kāi) means "open," while 心 (xīn)means "heart." While 开心 and 高兴 are used in very similar ways, it can be argued that 开心 is used more as a way to describe a state of mind or character trait. For example, you could say 她很开心 (tā hěn kāi xīn) which means "she is very happy."
But in terms of meeting people, you would not use 开心. For instance, 我很高兴认识你 is a standard phrase meaning "It was nice to meet you." You would never hear someone say 我很开心认识你.
幸福 (xìng fú)
While 高兴 describes a momentary or a shorter state of happiness, 幸福 (xìng fú) describes a longer or continual state of being happy. It can also mean "to bless" or "blessing." The first character 幸 means "lucky," while the second character 福 means "fortune."
Here are examples of when to use the term 幸福:
祝 你们 家庭 幸福 (zhù nǐ men jiā tíng xìng fú): "Wishing your family blessings."
如果你结婚，妈妈会很幸福 ( rú guǒ nǐ jié hūn, mā mā huì hěn xìngfú): "If you were to marry, mom would be so happy."
快乐 (kuài lè)
快乐 can also be written in the traditional form as 快樂. The first character 快 (kuài) means fast, quick, or swift. The second character 乐 or 樂 (lè) translates to happy, laugh, cheerful, and can also be a surname. The phrase is pronounced ►kuài lè, and both characters are in the fourth tone (kuai4 le4). This term for happy is also commonly used to wish people happiness during celebrations or festivals.
Here are common examples of 快乐 being used in a sentence:
►Tā guò dehěn kuàilè.
She is happy with her life.
►Xīn nián kuài lè.
Happy New Year.