HSK 2 Vocabulary List: All 300 Words You Need to Know to Pass HSK Level 2 Test
事情 shìqing… 旅游 lǚyóu… 踢足球 tī zúqiú…
Do you know these words yet? They’re some of the HSK 2 vocabulary words. If you’re going to take the test, now is the time to memorize them!
If you don’t know, HSK is the acronym for Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (汉语水平考试), which means “Mandarin Chinese Proficiency Test”. It’s the most well-known and acknowledged test for Chinese proficiency in the world, with six levels. HSK Level 1 and HSK Level 2 correspond to basic Chinese skills.
Even though HSK 2 is a Chinese test for beginners, passing the test is still a big achievement. It’s an indicator that you have a good grasp of basic Chinese and can communicate simply and directly on daily topics you are familiar with. So here’s your quick guide to learning the necessary HSK 2 vocabulary words.
Required Vocabulary for HSK 2 Test
So, how many Chinese words do you need to learn to pass the HSK 2 test?
According to Hanban, the HSK test organizer, to pass HSK Level 2, you need to know 300 vocabulary words precisely – that’s 150 new words on top of HSK Level 1. These words don’t change between tests, and you can expect to see them on any given HSK 2 test (though not all 300 words will necessarily appear in one test).
Here’s the official guideline from Hanban.
- HSK1: 150 words
- HSK2: 300 words
- HSK3: 600 words
- HSK4: 1200 words
- HSK5: 2500 words
- HSK6: 5000 words
What Else to Expect on HSK 2 Test
Just as HSK 1, HSK 2 test is designed for basic Chinese learners. In HSK 2, Pinyin (Mandarin romanization) is still provided along with Chinese characters for all questions on the test paper (or screen), and there is no writing section, meaning you don’t really need to know any characters to pass the test (of course you’ll need to be totally comfortable reading Pinyin).
You do, however, need to be able to understand simple conversations from daily life and school constructed with these 300 required vocabulary words, and some basic Chinese grammar to pass HSK 2.
HSK 2 Vocabulary List – the 300 Words You Need to Know for HSK Level 2 Test
I’ll preface the list by saying that this is not meant to be the “generic word list for beginners” or “the most common Chinese words” by frequency. Instead, this is a vocabulary list crafted specifically for passing the HSK 2 test. Once you’ve got the 300 required words, you can start learning vocabulary words that are most relevant to your own personal daily speech.
Alright, so let’s start learning the HSK 2 vocabulary!
I’ve organized these words based on category (e.g. numbers, time, people, and places) because Chinese words are easiest to learn when you associate them with related words.
Enjoy the list!
(the words in color font are also required by HSK 1)
15 Chinese Words for Numbers
We’ll start with the numbers.
Numbers in Chinese are easy to learn as the system is extremely regular. Once you know how to count to ten, it shouldn’t take you more than two minutes to learn the rest. (In case you don’t know how, read here)
Pay attention to 二 (èr) and 两 (liǎng), they are both translated as “two” in English, but are used for different circumstances in Chinese. Essentially, 二 (èr) is the “two” for numbers and 两 (liǎng) is the “two” for measure words. (Read here if you are confused about when to use 二 èr and when to use 两 liǎng)
Ordinal numbers in Chinese can be formed simply by adding the prefix 第 (dì) to the cardinal number, like 第一 (dì-yī), 第二 (dì-èr). Just note that some nouns can form ordinals without 第 (dì). For example: 二哥 (èr gē) – “the second (oldest) brother”, 三号 (sān hào) – “the third date (of the month)”.
10 Chinese Pronouns
Chinese pronouns don’t change form according to whether they are the subject (doer of the action, e.g. “I”) or object (undergoer of the action, e.g. “me”).
Note while “he”, “she” , “it” (or “him”, “her”, “it”) are represented by three different Chinese characters, they are pronounced in exactly the same way.
The plural personal pronouns in Chinese are formed with the simple addition of 们 (men) to the singular forms, but note that you cannot add it to 您 (nín), as the honorific form only exists for the singular “you”.
|我||wǒ||I or me|
|他||tā||he or him|
|她||tā||she or her|
|我们||wǒmen||we or me|
Pay attention to 这儿 (zhèr) – “here”, and 那儿 (nàr) – “there”. People in southern China often use 这里 (zhèli) and 那里 (nàli) instead as part of the regional differences (both versions are readily understood anywhere in China though).
8 Chinese Question Words
Question words like “what”, “where”, “who” are technically pronouns too. I’ve listed them separately here because I would like to draw your attention to how WH Questions are raised in Chinese.
Essentially, the word order of a WH question in Chinese stays in line with the basic Chinese structure S-V-O (subject-verb-object), that is, you need to keep the word order of the statement and change the “asked part” to the corresponding question word.
This is a key grammar point in HSK 1 and HSK 2 tests. Read here if you are not sure how to craft a WH question in Chinese.
|多少||duōshao||how many or how much|
|几||jǐ||how many or how much|
20 Chinese Words for Time
These time words required by HSK 2 are often used together with numbers. You can pair numbers up with words like 月 (yuè) to create the months of the year, like 一月 (yī yuè) – “January”, or 星期 (xīngqī) to create days of the week, like 星期二 (xīngqī èr) – “Tuesday”.
Note, the time in Chinese is expressed quite differently than in English. For instance, the elements of the dates must be named in ascending order: year + month + day, that is, 年 (nián) + 月 (yuè) + 日 (rì)/号 (hào) (the latter is somewhat more colloquial to express the day of the month).
Words like 早上 (zǎoshàng), 上午 (shàngwǔ), 下午 (xiàwǔ), 晚上 (wǎnshàng), if used, also need to be placed before the time to depict the period accurately.
|号||hào||date or number|
|时候||shíhou||a certain point in time|
|时间||shíjiān||a period of time|
Notice that there are two words for “time” in Chinese? Don’t get them mixed up! 时候 (shíhou) refers to a point in time, and you use it to ask “when” or “what time” – 什么时候? (shénme shíhou?). 时间 (shíjiān) refers to a duration of time, e.g, “Do you have time tomorrow?” – 明天你有时间吗? (Míngtiān nǐ yǒu shíjiān ma?).
72 Chinese Words for People & Things
HSK 2 expects you to master 72 nouns related to people and things to pass. Some of them are very important in Chinese culture, such as 茶 (chá) – “tea”, and 米饭 (mǐfàn) – “rice”, so they pop up everywhere.
Some of them are less commonly said in daily Chinese, but you still have to learn them. For example, you may think 羊肉 (lamb or mutton) will never show up in the HSK 2 test, and yet it often does. It translates as “sheep meat or goat meat”.
|人||rén||person or people|
|先生||xiānsheng||Mr or sir|
|服务员||fúwùyuán||waiter or waitress|
|羊肉||yángròu||lamb or mutton|
|桌子||zhuōzi||table or desk|
|杯子||bēizi||cup or glass|
|题||tí||question (exam, exercise)|
22 Chinese Words for Places & Directions
Words for places and directions are always important to know to get by in China. You’ ll encounter the following 22 words under this category in the HSK 2 test.
|家||jiā||home or family|
|上||shàng||on, above or last|
|下||xià||under, below or next|
Note that the word 公司 (gōngsi) is conceived as the physical place of the business establishment In Chinese. That’s why you will always hear Chinese speakers say “I am going to the company”, “I am in the company”, when they mean to say “office”.
Pay attention to the word 饭馆 (fànguǎn) as well. It typically refers to those small, traditional Chinese restaurants where rice is served (the word literally means “rice hall”), and it’s not the most commonly used word for “restaurant” in Chinese (but oddly it’s required by HSK 2).
In daily Chinese, people would actually use the word 餐厅 (cāntīng) for “restaurant” in a general sense. It could refer to a fancy Michelin-starred restaurant or just a fast food chain like KFC.
10 Chinese Measure Words
The use of measure words is unique to the Chinese language. There are more than one hundred measure words used for different kinds of things in daily Chinese. Luckily, to pass HSK 2, you only need to learn ten of them.
|个||gè||generic measure word|
|元||yuán||basic monetary unit of China|
|块||kuài||basic monetary unit of China|
|岁||suì||year (of age)|
|次||cì||time (frequency of an act)|
|件||jiàn||for affairs, clothes, furniture|
|张||zhāng||for flat objects|
Both 元 (yuán) and 块 (kuài) are the basic monetary unit of China. They are exactly the same, it’s just that 块 (kuài) is more colloquial. Think of them as Chinese “dollars” and “bucks” if it helps.
73 Chinese Verbs
In the HSK 2 test, you’ll be quizzed on the following 73 verbs. Many of the verbs have multiple meanings, especially when combined with other words. Don’t worry about that for now, but just know there maybe – and usually are, more ways to use them once you get farther in your Chinese studies. For now, I simply included their most common meanings you need to know for taking HSK 2.
|姓||xìng||to be surnamed|
|在||zài||to be in|
|住||zhù||to live or to stay|
|出||chū||to get out|
|看||kàn||to look or to watch|
|笑||xiào||to smile or to laugh|
|送||sòng||to give as a gift or to deliver|
|开||kāi||to drive or to open|
|打电话||dǎ diànhuà||to make a phone call|
|觉得||juédé||to feel or to think|
|懂||dǒng understand||to understand|
|上班||shàng bān||to go to work|
|起床||qǐ chuáng||to get up|
|唱歌||chàng gē||to sing|
|跳舞||tiào wǔ||to dance|
|运动||yùndòng||to do sports|
|跑步||pǎo bù||to run|
|游泳||yóu yǒng||to swim|
|踢足球||tī zúqiú||to play soccer|
|打篮球||dǎ lánqiú||to play basketball|
|生病||shēng bìng||to get sick|
|会||huì||can (to know how to)|
|能||néng||can (to be able to)|
|可以||kěyǐ||can (to be permitted to)|
|下雨||xià yǔ||to rain|
47 Chinese Adjectives and Adverbs
Coming up next are the most basic Chinese adjectives and adverbs to describe things and actions. You will surely be quizzed on how to link nouns with adjectives on the HSK 2 test. To do that, simply use 很 (hěn), the default connecting word, like 我很高兴 (wǒ hěn gāoxìng). The literal meaning of 很 (hěn) – “very” is very weak in such cases.
If you actually want to stress the meaning of “very” in a sentence, use other adverbs instead, such as 非常 (fēicháng), a stronger “very”, or 真 (zhēn) – “really”.
|高||gāo||tall or high|
|都||dōu||both or all|
|正在||zhèngzài||Indicating action in progress|
Pay attention to the antonyms 高兴 (gāoxìng) and 快乐 (kuàilè). 高兴 (gāoxìng) is used to describe a temporary state of mind (like “glad” or “delighted” in English), while 快乐 (kuàilè) is used to describe a long-lasting state of mind (a more profound kind of happiness). That’s why you can say 认识你很高兴 (rènshi nǐ hěn gāo xìng) – “nice to meet you”, but never 认识你很快乐 (rènshi nǐ hěn kuàilè).
4 Chinese Prepositions
To pass HSK 4, you are expected to master 4 Chinese prepositions. Learning these prepositions requires a little more attention than learning other parts of speech in Chinese. This is because to use them correctly, you need to pay attention to a bunch of distinctions that do not even exist in English.
Take 离 (lí), for example, it’s often translated as “be away from” in English. It’s a close interpretation, but not an exact 1-1 match. The way it works is not too intuitive to an English speaker, and it’s best to think of 离 (lí) as the symbol ↔. (we’ve written a detailed post on how to use this preposition here)
8 Chinese Particles
Chinese particles are those function words that don’t have a concrete meaning on their own, but are used together with another word, phrase, or sentence to serve a grammatical purpose. To pass HSK 2, you need to know four more particles on top of the four required by HSK 1.
Pay special attention to the particle 吧 (ma). Not only can it be used as a question particle at the end of a sentence to seek confirmation, it can also be used to make concessions and raise suggestions in different contexts.
4 Chinese Conjunctions
You need to know the following 4 Chinese conjunctions to pass HSK 2.
Be aware of 和 (hé)! It is much less versatile than the English “and”, and should only be used to connect nouns in Chinese. Never attempt to connect adjectives, verbs, phrases, or sentences with 和 (hé)!
Also, take note that the conjunctions 因为 (yīnwèi) and 所以 (suǒyǐ) are often used together in one sentence in Chinese as a pair to clearly indicate cause and effect. To English speakers, this grammar pattern could take a little getting used to.
7 Chinese Expressions
Finally, there are seven basic expressions that you must master for HSK Level 2 test (you’ll most likely hear them in the Listening Section). Since these expressions are already required by HSK 1, you should definitely be very comfortable using them by now.
Just pay attention to the word 请 (qǐng). In Chinese, you can only use the word at the beginning of a sentence to start a request, not at the end. That is, you can say things like “please sit down”, but not “sit down, please”.
|喂||wèi||hello (on the phone)|
|不客气||bú kèqi||you’re welcome|
|没关系||méi guānxi||it’s all right|
HSK 2 Vocabulary Practice: The Best Way to Memorize HSK 2 Words
Okay, so now you’ve seen the HSK 2 vocabulary list and know what you should study. But what’s the best way to memorize these words?
The best way to remember HSK 2 vocabulary (or any other level) is to use flashcards and create a maximum number of “exposures” to the new vocabulary in real life. Essentially, you’ll want to surround yourself with the new vocabulary, allowing the words to naturally move from short-term memory into long-term memory.
Step 1. Select and Create a Vocabulary List
Even though the HSK 2 vocabulary list is readily available for you, don’t just sit on it.
Instead, select and craft your own vocabulary list out of it by browsing our list first and then writing down the words you don’t know in a notebook. The objective here is to force yourself to see and write the words for yourself. Make them your Chinese vocabulary words.
Step 2. Use Flashcards
Flashcards are a powerful way to review Chinese words. You could do it old school and make actual, physical flashcards. Simply write down the new words in your list, with Pinyin or characters on one side, and the English definition on the other. This process itself gives you additional exposure to the unfamiliar vocabulary.
If you don’t have that much time to spare, then make use of flashcards apps such as Anki or Memrise. You can use them on desktop as well as on a mobile phone, so you can review the new words while commuting to school or work.
These apps also make use of spaced repetition – a clever algorithm that only shows you the flashcards that you’re about to forget. Sounds awesome, isn’t it?
Step 3. Get Out There and Try New Words
It’s all very well to recognize the words from vocabulary lists or flashcards, but you need to get more exposure to accurately and convincingly be able to use these words, to pass HSK 2, and speak Chinese!
So get out there and speak! Force yourself to use these new words with native Chinese speakers near where you live or online. The way native speakers respond to your shaky, early uses of new vocabulary will reinforce the meaning and usage of these words like nothing else.
If you can’t find anyone to practice with you, look up the words in a dictionary app such as Pleco and read the example sentences. These sentences will provide numerous more exposures to the words in context. You can even use Google or Baidu to identify how these Chinese words are actually used, a method that’s surprisingly effective.
Don’t miss out on our Grammar Channel! It’s a great reference resource you can go to for a quick recap/overview of grammatical structures, covering basic words in Chinese.
Bottom line: it’s important to not simply memorize Chinese words from a word list. Learn how the words are used in context, and they will more easily stick in your long-term memory.
And practice every day! Rinse and repeat until the test!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. To pass the HSK 2 test, do I have to know all the 300 words required?
Technically you don’t have to, since you won’t encounter all the 300 words required in one test, and you only need to score 120/200 to pass the test, meaning you can chance it. However, you have to agree that most of these 300 words are among the most basic, essential words you’ll need to speak Chinese. You should master them anyway and build your vocabulary from there.
2. Do I need to know how to write these words to pass the HSK?
You don’t have to write anything in the HSK 2 Test. All questions are delivered in the format of Choose Matching Picture, True or False, Multiple Choice and Pair up Sentences. Plus, Pinyin is provided along with Chinese characters for all questions on the test paper, meaning you don’t really need to be able to read characters to pass the test. That said, it’s still a good idea to knock out the basic Chinese characters at an early stage. Characters help you memorize vocabulary better, read with ease (making learning through native resources easier), and have a deeper understanding of how the Chinese language works. Click here to view the HSK 2 character list.
There are endless directions you can take for learning Chinese. Now that you’ve got the 300 HSK 2 vocabulary words, you can figure out what’s best for you and start applying it. From here, you can continue to study HSK 3 vocabulary or start learning words more relevant to your daily needs. You could also boost your Chinese by learning about basic Chinese grammar rules, basic phrases and sentences.
Last but not least, don’t forget to check out our Chinese Learning Channel for beginners, where tons of useful resources are waiting for you!