HSK 3 Vocabulary List: All 600 Words You Need to Know to Pass HSK Level 3 Test

HSK 3 vocabulary list

环境 huánjìng… 突然 tūrán… 参加 cānjiā…

Do these words sound familiar to you? They’re some of the HSK 3 vocabulary words. If you’re going to take the HSK 3 test, it’s critical that you memorize all of them!

If you are not familiar with the test yet, the acronym HSK stands for Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (汉语水平考试), meaning “Chinese Proficiency Test”. HSK measures how good you are at Chinese with 6 competence levels, from HSK Level 1 to Level 6. HSK Level 3 is designed for elementary learners. It roughly corresponds to A2 in the CEFR scale.

HSK 3 is by no means a hard test, but passing it is still a big achievement worth celebrating, as it’s an indicator that you have actually expanded your vocabulary to the point where you depart from simple pointing and naming things to more direct information exchange. At this level, you should have learned enough Chinese words to handle basic conversations in your daily life, study, work, and you will no longer find yourself lost in translation when you travel solo in China!

Like with any other language test, a good vocabulary is vital if you want to pass or do well on HSK 3. So here’s the official HSK 3 vocabulary list and your quick guide to learning the necessary HSK 3 words.

Required Vocabulary for HSK 3 Test

So, how many Chinese words do you need to learn to pass the HSK 3 test?

Hanban – the HSK test organizer, made the answer crystal clear: to pass HSK Level 3, you need to know precisely 600 vocabulary words – that’s 300 new words on top of HSK Level 1 and Level 2. While the words that appear can vary slightly between tests, you can expect to see the words from the 600-word vocabulary list on any given HSK 3 test (not all the words will show up at once in one single test, though).

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 3 Test

HSK 3 requirements

Unlike HSK 1 and HSK 2 that are designed for basic Chinese learners, HSK 3 has started to introduce more sophisticated knowledge of Chinese, therefore, Pinyin (Mandarin romanization) is no longer provided along with Hanzi – Chinese characters in the test. This means you must have a good knowledge of the 600 basic Chinese characters required for this level in order to pass the test (if you don’t write much, you should at least feel comfortable reading the characters).

The HSK test emphasizes integrative skills and tests your Chinese knowledge in usage. While there is a small section in HSK 3 that tests directly on your ability to write stand-alone Chinese characters/words, it’s more important that you can understand conversations and passages constructed with these 600 required vocabulary words. You’ll also need to have a good foundation of Chinese grammar to pass HSK 3.

The best place for studying HSK 3 grammar is ImproveMandarin Grammar Channel. It’s a great reference resource you can go to for a quick recap or overview of grammatical structures required for the HSK 3 test.

HSK 3 Vocabulary List  the 600 Words You Need to Know for HSK Level 3 Test

I’ll preface the list by saying that this 600-word HSK 3 vocabulary list is not meant to be “the most common 600 Chinese words” by frequency of use. Instead, this list is crafted specifically for passing the HSK 3 test.

For instance, 餐厅 (cāntīng) – the most commonly used Chinese word for “restaurant” – is not included in the HSK 3 vocabulary list. Instead, you will be tested on 饭馆 (fànguǎn), a much less popular word referring specifically to small, traditional Chinese restaurants (where rice is served) in HSK 3. Well… Hanban rules that you have to learn the latter one first!  

If your Chinese-learning goal does not align with the HSK system, but you still need an HSK 3 certificate for academic or professional purposes, we would suggest you start learning words that are more relevant to your daily speech after you pass the test.

But right now, let’s focus on the HSK 3 vocabulary and conquer the 600 required words first!

I’ve organized these words based on category (e.g. nouns, verbs, adjectives, and particles) rather than alphabetical order, and I’ve grouped the synonyms and antonyms, because Chinese words are easiest to learn when you associate them with related words.

Now, enjoy the list! 

(the words in color font are also required by HSK 1 and HSK 2)

17 Chinese Words for Numbers   

By now, you should be feeling very comfortable with numerals in Chinese, both cardinal and ordinal.

Pay attention to the more colloquial way of expressing numbers in Chinese. For example, to say “six hundred eighty”, native speakers would often just say 六百八 (liù bǎi bā), which almost sounds like “six hundred eight”. The zero(s) after the digit “eight” (or any number from one to nine) can be omitted. (Wondering why? Read here)

Below are the 17 Chinese words for number that you must master for the HSK 3 test.

Chinese Pinyin English
líng zero
èr two
sān three
liù six
jiǔ nine
shí ten
liǎng two
bǎi hundred
qiān thousand
wàn ten thousand
第一 dì-yī first
bàn half

Two new numeral words are added to the HSK 3 vocabulary list: 万 (wàn), which means “ten thousand”, and 半 (bàn) which means “half”.

Pay attention to the way 半 (bàn) is used in Chinese. When expressing “half of something”, begin with 半 (bàn), follow it up with the proper measure word, and finish by stating the “thing”:

  • 个西瓜
    bàn gè xīguā
    half a watermelon

When expressing “a half”, read out the “a” – 一 (yí) as well.

  • 我只要一半
    wǒ zhǐ yào yíbàn.
    I only need a half.

13 Chinese Pronouns

Three more pronouns are added to the HSK 3 vocabulary List, including the commonly used reflexive pronoun 自己 (zìjǐ), meaning “oneself”, 其他 (qítā) – “other” and 别人 (biéren) – “other people”.

自己 (zìjǐ) can be used together with personal pronouns to strengthen the emphasis of oneself:

  • 自己去。
    zìjǐ qù.
    I go by myself.
  • 自己学中文。
    zìjǐ xué Zhōngwén.
    He studies Chinese on his own.

自己 (zìjǐ) can also be used independently as the subject or object of a sentence. This is especially common when native speakers of Chinese want to give commands, suggestions, or as a reminder to oneself.

  • 自己
    Zuò zìjǐ!
    Be yourself!
  • 照顾好自己
    Zhàogù hǎo zìjǐ.
    Take good care of yourself。
Chinese Pinyin English
I or me
you (singular)
nín you (singular/honorific)
he or him
she or her
它   it
我们 wǒmen we or me
自己 zìjǐ oneself
大家 dàjiā everybody
其他 qítā other
别人 biéren other people
这/这儿 zhè/zhèr this/here
那/那儿 nà/nàr that/there

Note that when 这 (this) and 那 (that) are used with a measure word right behind them, they are often pronounced zhèi and nèi in spoken Chinese, instead of zhè and nà:

  • 这辆车我太喜欢了。
    Zhè liàng chē wǒ tài xǐhuan le.
    I like this car so much.
  • 那个人是我的朋友。
    Nèi ge rén shì wǒ de péngyou. 
    That guy is my friend.

You can also use 那个 (nà ge/nèi ge) as a filler word in a sentence to help you sound more natural when you speak Chinese. (Read here to find out how it works)

8 Chinese Question Words      

The questions words required for HSK 3 remain the same as those required for HSK 2. So…no surprise here.

Chinese Pinyin English
哪/哪儿 nǎ/nǎr which/where
shéi who
什么 shénme  what
多少 duōshao how many or how much
how many or how much
怎么 zěnme how
怎么样 zěnmeyàng  how about
为什么 wèi shénme why

You do, however, need to learn how to them in more sophisticated sentence patterns at this point. For example, making words and phrases like “everywhere”, “nowhere”, “everyone” “no one” etc by combing questions words with the adverb 都 (dōu):

  • 哪儿都没去。
     nǎr dōu méi qù.
    I didn’t go anywhere.
  • 这儿我谁都不认识。
    Zhèr wǒ shéi dōu bú rènshi.
    I don’t know anyone here.
  • 什么都想吃。
    Wǒ shénme dōu xiǎng chī.
    I want to eat everything.

34 Chinese Words for Time      

At HSK level 3, you need to master 13 new words related to time in Chinese.

Pay attention to 星期 (xīngqī) and 周 (zhōu) – two common ways of saying “week” in Chinese. Though 周 (zhōu) is not the “officially favored” word that’s taught to foreigners when they first start Chinese learning, it’s the preferred word by cultivated city people in China – it’s slightly more formal.

The words 星期 (xīngqī) and 周 (zhōu) are interchangeable most of the time. But bear in mind while you can use the optional measure word 个 (gè) before 星期 (xīngqī), it would be wrong to do so with 周 (zhōu):

  • √ 一星期 yì xīngqī
  • √ 一个星期 yí gè xīngqī
  • √ 一周 yì zhōu
  • × 一个周 yí gè zhōu

Also, for “weekend”, you can only say 周末 (zhōumò), NEVER 星期末 (xīngqī mò).

You can learn more differences between 星期 (xīngqī) and 周 (zhōu), and the third way of saying “week” in Chinese here in this article.

Chinese Pinyin English
现在   xiànzài now
刚才 gāngcái just now
今天 jīntiān today
明天 míngtiān tomorrow
昨天 zuótiān yesterday
早上 zǎoshàng early morning
上午 shàngwǔ morning
中午 zhōngwǔ noon
下午 xiàwǔ afternoon
晚上 wǎnshàng evening
diǎn o’clock
小时  xiǎoshí hour
分钟 fēnzhōng minute
nián year
yuè month
hào date or number
星期   xīngqī week
周末 zhōumò weekend
时候 shíhou a certain point in time
时间 shíjiān a period of time
一会儿 yíhuìr a short while
以前 yǐqián before or ago
以后 yǐhòu after or later
最近 zuìjìn recent time
过去 guòqù past
去年 qùnián last year
季节 jìjié season
chūn spring
xià summer
qiū autumn
dōng winter
节日 jiérì festival
生日 shēngrì birthday

162 Chinese Words for People & Things   

HSK 3 expects you to know 162 nouns related to people and things to pass.

Some of the words might not seem very useful if you live abroad, but they turn out to be very important in Chinese society or culture, e.g. 阿姨 (āyí) – “maid”, 筷子 (kuàizi) -”chopsticks”, 熊猫 (xióngmāo) – “panda”, etc. These words could pop up anywhere on an HSK 3 test, so you still have to learn them even if you never use them in your language.

Here is the full list.

Chinese Pinyin English
rén person or people
男人 nánrén man
女人 nǚrén woman
名字 míngzì name
妈妈 māma mom
爸爸 bàba dad
丈夫 zhàngfu husband
妻子 qīzi wife
孩子 háizi child
儿子 érzi son
女儿 nǚ’ér  daughter
哥哥 gēge elder brother
姐姐 jiějie elder sister
弟弟 dìdi younger brother
妹妹 mèimei younger sister
爷爷 yéye grandpa
奶奶 nǎinai grandma
叔叔 shūshu uncle
阿姨 āyí aunt or maid
朋友 péngyǒu friend
客人 kèren guest
邻居 línjū neighbor
先生 xiānsheng Mr or sir
小姐 xiǎojiě Miss
老师 lǎoshī teacher
学生 xuésheng  student
同学 tóngxué schoolmate
同事 tóngshì colleague
校长 xiàozhǎng head of a school
医生 yīshēng doctor
司机 sījī driver
服务员 fúwùyuán waiter or waitress
经理 jīnglǐ manager
身体 shēntǐ body
liǎn face
眼睛 yǎnjīng eye
耳朵 ěrduo ear
鼻子 bízi nose
kǒu mouth
头发 tóufa hair
tuǐ leg
jiǎo foot
声音 shēngyīn sound or voice
东西   dōngxi thing
qián money
shuǐ water
茶   chá tea
咖啡 kāfēi coffee
牛奶 niúnǎi milk
面包 miànbāo bread
蛋糕 dàngāo cake
táng candy or sugar
cài dish
米饭 mǐfàn  (cooked) rice
面条 miàntiáo noodle
鸡蛋 jīdàn egg
羊肉 yángròu lamb or mutton
菜单 càidān menu
衣服 yīfu clothes
衬衫 chènshān shirt
裤子 kùzi pants
裙子 qúnzi skirt
帽子 màozi hat or cap
xié shoe
bāo bag
行李箱 xínglǐxiāng suitcase
sǎn umbrella
眼镜 yǎnjìng glasses
shū book
报纸 bàozhǐ newspaper
字典 zìdiǎn dictionary
地图 dìtú map
piào ticket
xìn letter
照片 zhàopiàn photo
护照 hùzhào passport
照相机 zhàoxiàngjī camera
桌子 zhuōzi  table or desk
椅子 yǐzi chair
黑板 hēibǎn blackboard
铅笔 qiānbǐ pencil
水果 shuǐguǒ fruit
苹果 píngguǒ apple
香蕉 xiāngjiāo banana
西瓜 xīguā watermelon
葡萄 pútáo grape
果汁 guǒzhī juice
啤酒 píjiǔ beer
cǎo grass
yào medicine
杯子 bēizi  cup or glass
wǎn bowl
筷子 kuàizi chopsticks
盘子 pánzi plate
手表 shǒubiǎo watch
手机 shǒujī mobile phone
电视 diànshì TV
电脑 diànnǎo computer
电子邮件 diànzǐ yóujiàn email
冰箱 bīngxiāng refrigerator
空调 kōngtiáo air conditioner
dēng light
电影 diànyǐng  movie
礼物 lǐwù gift
飞机 fēijī  plane
出租车 chūzūchē taxi
公共汽车 gōnggòng qìchē bus
地铁 dìtiě metro
自行车 zìxíngchē bike
chuán boat
mén door
电梯 diàntī elevator
颜色 yánsè color
动物 dòngwù animal
māo cat
gǒu dog
熊猫 xióngmāo panda
niǎo bird
shù tree
天气 tiānqì weather
太阳 tàiyáng sun
月亮 yuèliang moon
yún cloud
xuě snow
zì  character
词语 cíyǔ word
句子 jùzi sentence
汉语 Hànyǔ  Chinese (language)
普通话 pǔtōnghuà (standard) Mandarin
数学 shùxué math
bān class
年级 niánjí grade
作业 zuòyè homework
考试 kǎoshì exam
成绩 chéngjì score
水平 shuǐpíng level or standard
问题 wèntí question
question (exam, exercise)
意思 yìsi meaning
事情  shìqing matter
兴趣 xìngqù interest
爱好 àihào hobby
音乐 yīnyuè music
体育 tǐyù sports or physical education
办法 bànfǎ method
习惯 xíguàn habit
比赛 bǐsài match
游戏 yóuxì game
故事 gùshi story
关系 guānxì relation
环境 huánjìng environment
会议 huìyì meeting
机会 jīhuì opportunity or chance
节目 jiémù program
世界 shìjiè world
历史 lìshǐ history
文化 wénhuà culture
新闻 xīnwén news
作用 zuòyòng effect

43 Chinese Words for Places & Directions        

At the HSK 3 level, you should be able to speak sufficient Chinese for traveling in China by yourself. Make sure you fully understand the following 43 words for places and directions from the HSK 3 vocabulary list before you head out on your adventure.

Chinese Pinyin English
中国 Zhōngguó China
北京 Běijīng Beijing
国家 guójiā nation
城市 chéngshì city
地方 dìfāng place
jiā home or family
lóu building or floor
房间 fángjiān room
厨房 chúfáng kitchen
洗手间 xǐshǒujiān washroom
学校 xuéxiào school
教室 jiàoshì classroom
图书馆 túshūguǎn library
公司 gōngsī company
办公室 bàngōngshì office
饭馆 fànguǎn restaurant
宾馆 bīngguǎn hotel
商店 shāngdiàn shop
超市 chāoshì supermarket
公园 gōngyuán park
花园 huāyuán garden
银行 yínháng bank
医院 yīyuàn hospital
机场 jīchǎng airport
火车站 huǒchēzhàn train station
街道 jiēdào street
shàng on, above or last
xià under, below or next
左边 zuǒbiān left
右边 yòubiān right
中间 zhōngjiān middle
旁边 pángbiān side
附近 fùjìn surrounding area
前面 qiánmiàn front
后面 hòumiàn back
lǐ  inside
wài outside
dōng east
nán south
西 west
北方 běifāng north or northern China

Note that words like 旁边 (pángbiān), 附近 (fùjìn) are used as nouns in Chinese:

  • 在我家的附近
    zài wǒ jiā de fùjìn
    in the surrounding area of my home
    Literally: “my home’s surrounding area
  • 附近有家银行。
    Fùjìn yǒu jiā yínháng.
    There is a bank in the vicinity.
    Literally: “Vicinity has a bank.”

A common mistake is to use them as adjectives or prepositions.

  • × 学校离我家附近
    Xuéxiào lí wǒ jiā fùjìn.
    Wrong way to say “The school is near my home.”

Use the adjective “近 (jìn)” instead:

  • √ 学校离我家
    Xuéxiào lí wǒ jiā jìn.
  • × 超市附近宾馆
    chāoshì fùjìn bīnguǎn
    Wrong way to say “the supermarket near the hotel”

    √ 宾馆附近的超市
    bīnguǎn fùjìn de chāoshì
    Literally: “hotel vicinity’s supermarket”

21 Chinese Measure Words  

Whenever you learn a new noun in Chinese, you have to memorize the corresponding measure word that goes with it. To pass HSK 3, you need to master 21 measure words altogether.

Chinese Pinyin English
generic measure word
yuán basic monetary unit of China
kuài basic monetary unit of China
jiǎo 1/10 of Chinese Yuan
wèi measure word for people
běn for books
suì  year (of age)
xiē some
time (frequency of an act)
公斤 gōngjīn kilo
jiàn for affairs, clothes, furniture
zhāng for flat objects
tiáo for long objects
liàng for vehicles
for things with a handle
zhǒng type
céng floor
shuāng pair
duàn span of time or distance
quarter (time)

Note that Chinese measure words tend to work differently than their English counterparts, even if they share the same meaning.

For example: You can’t say 一双裤子 (yì shuāng kùzi) in Chinese like “a pair of pants” in English. Instead, you should say 一条裤子 (yì tiáo kùzi). This is because the measure word 双 (shuāng) can only used for pair of things that are separated, such as shoes, chopsticks, eyes, etc. It can not be used to quantify things like pants, glasses, scissors which are treated as one inseparable entity in Chinese.

Also note that sometimes people use different measure words to quantify the same item, and the choice would depend on which characteristic they wish to emphasize.

For example, 张 (zhāng),  把 (bǎ),  条(tiáo) – all these measure words can be used to count “chairs” in Chinese.

measure word zhang

一张椅子  yì zhāng yǐzi
measure word ba

一把椅子  yì bǎ yǐzi
measure word tiao

一条长椅  yì tiáo cháng yǐ

(We’ve written a detailed post on how to use these common measure words in Chinese. Read it here)

153 Chinese Verbs       

Verbs in language are used to help us express ourselves clearly. In the HSK 3 test, you will be tested on the following 153 verbs that contribute to over 1/4 of the official HSK 3 vocabulary list.

Chinese verbs can often contain several meanings of the English verbs, especially when they are combined with other words. In the below list, I simply focus on their most common meanings you need to know for taking HSK 3.

Chinese Pinyin English
zuò to do
shì to be
xìng to be surnamed
zài to be in
yǒu to have
zhù to live or to stay
lái to come
to go
huí to return
jìn to enter
chū to get out
dào to arrive
xiǎng to think
yào to want
需要 xūyào to need
chī to eat
to drink
说话 shuōhuà  to speak
jiǎng to say or to speak
告诉 gàosù to tell
wèn to ask
回答 huídá to answer
kàn to look or to watch
看见 kànjiàn to see
tīng to listen
xiào to smile or to laugh
to cry
见面 jiànmiàn to meet
遇到 yùdào to encounter
gěi to give
sòng to give as a gift or to deliver
dài to bring
to hold or to take
fàng to put
jiào to call
mǎi to buy
mài to sell
穿 chuān to wear
kāi to drive or to open
guān to close or to shut
zuò to sit
zhàn to stand
to read
xiě  to write
huà to draw or to paint
děng to wait
huā to spend or to cost
打电话 dǎ diànhuà to make a phone call
介绍 jièshào to introduce
认识 rènshi  to know
知道 zhīdao to know
了解 liǎojiě to know well  
觉得 juédé to feel or to think
认为 rènwéi to think or to consider
以为 yǐwéi to think (wrongly)
dǒng to understand
明白 míngbai to understand
zhǎo to find
发现 fāxiàn to discover
记得 jìde to remember
忘记 wàngjì to forget
让  ràng to let
使 shǐ to make
yòng to use
希望   xīwàng to hope
帮助 bāngzhù to help
帮忙 bāngmáng to help
wán to play
学习 xuéxí  to learn
jiāo to teach
复习 fùxí to review
上网 shàngwǎng to get online
工作 gōngzuò  to work
上班 shàng bān to go to work
睡觉 shuìjiào to sleep
起床 qǐ chuáng to get up
刷牙 shuāyá to brush teeth
洗澡 xǐzǎo to bathe
喜欢 xǐhuan to like
ài to love
唱歌 chàng gē to sing
跳舞 tiào wǔ to dance
旅游 lǚyóu to travel
运动 yùndòng to do sports
zǒu to walk
跑步 pǎo bù to run
游泳 yóu yǒng to swim
to ride
踢足球 tī zúqiú to play soccer
打篮球 dǎ lánqiú to play basketball
爬山 pá shān to climb mountain
锻炼 duànliàn to work out
休息 xiūxi to rest
生病 shēng bìng to get sick
发烧 fāshāo to have a fever
感冒 gǎnmào to have a cold
téng to ache
to wash
开始 kāishǐ to begin
wán to finish
结束 jiéshù to end
完成 wánchéng to complete or accomplish
打算 dǎsuàn to plan
决定 juédìng to decide
选择 xuǎnzé to choose
准备. zhǔnbèi to prepare
同意 tóngyì to agree
解决 jiějué to solve
担心 dānxīn to worry
生气 shēngqì to get angry
欢迎 huānyíng to welcome
bān to move
huán to return (sth)
jiē to catch or to pick up
比较 bǐjiào to compare
变化 biànhuà to change
huàn to exchange
jiè to borrow or to lend
表示 biǎoshì to express
要求 yāoqiú to require
zhù to wish
注意 zhùyì to pay attention to
表演 biǎoyǎn to perform
参加 cānjiā to attend
迟到 chídào to be late
出现 chūxiàn to appear
离开 líkāi to leave
经过 jīngguò to pass
练习 liànxí to practice
提高 tígāo to improve
检查 jiǎnchá to check
打扫 dǎsǎo to clean
相信 xiāngxìn to believe
放心 fàngxīn to rest assured
着急 zháojí to worry
关心 guānxīn to concern
照顾 zhàogù to look after
fēn to divide or separate
zhǎng to grow
gǎn to dare
害怕 hàipà to fear
小心 xiǎoxīn to be careful
影响 yǐngxiǎng to affect
结婚 jiéhūn to marry
举行 jǔxíng to hold (event)
huì can (to know how to)
néng  can (to be able to)
可以 kěyǐ can (to be permitted to)
必须 bìxū must
应该 yīnggāi should
愿意 yuànyì to be willing to
下雨 xià yǔ to rain
刮风 guā fēng to blow (wind)

In English, some words may work as both a verb and a noun. For example, “I plan to leave” vs “I have a plan”. This phenomenon is even more common in Chinese.


  • 选择上大学。
    xuǎnzé shàng dàxué.
    I choose to go to college.

    Zhè shì yí gè cōngmíng de xuǎnzé.
    This is a smart choice.
  • 学校要求我们参加汉语考试。
    Xuéxiào yāoqiú wǒmen cānjiā Hànyǔ kǎoshì.
    The school requires us to take the Chinese exam.

    Wǒ zhǐ yǒu yí gè yāoqiú.
    I only have one requirement.

To do well on the HSK 3 test, you have to dedicate yourself to mastering these common verbs and also pay attention to what part of speech they perform in a Chinese sentence.

109 Chinese Adjectives and Adverbs     

Adjectives and adverbs in language are used to describe people, things and actions. The below is the full list of the 109 Chinese adjectives and adverbs that you must know for taking the HSK 3 test.

Note that some seemingly simple adjectives in Chinese are truly versatile. One example is 难 (nán) – “difficult”. When combined with verbs, its meaning becomes much more diverse:

  • 这咖啡真难喝!
    Zhè kāfēi zhēn nánhē!
    This coffee is really disgusting! (“difficult to drink”)
  • 你别唱了!难听死了
    Nǐ bié chàng le! Nántīng sǐ le!
    Stop singing! Sounds dreadful! (“difficult to listen to”)
  • 这是一个难忘的故事!
    Zhè shì yí gè nánwàng de gùshi!
    This is an unforgettable story! (“difficult-to-forget” story)

Be sure to familiarize yourself with compound words like these before you dive into the HSK 3 test. (Read here to learn more)

Chinese Pinyin English
好    hǎo good
huài bad
chà bad (in quality)
xiǎo small
duō many
shǎo few
lěng cold
kuài fast
màn slow
yuǎn far
jìn near
duì right
cuò wrong
cháng long
jiǔ long (in time)
duǎn short
gāo tall or high
ǎi short (in height)
pàng fat
shòu thin
xīn new
jiù old or used
年轻 niánqīng young
lǎo old (in age)
guì expensive
便宜 piányi cheap
hēi black
bái white
hóng red
huáng yellow
lán blue
绿 green
qíng sunny
yīn cloudy
好吃 hǎochī tasty
tián sweet
新鲜 xīnxiān fresh
容易 róngyì easy
简单 jiǎndān simple
nán difficult
奇怪 qíguài strange
特别 tèbié special
重要 zhòngyào important
有名 yǒumíng famous
漂亮 piàoliang pretty
聪明 cōngming smart
可爱 Kě’ài cute
高兴 gāoxìng happy
快乐 kuàilè happy
难过 nánguò sad
满意 mǎnyì satisfied
máng busy
lèi tired
饿 è hungry
bǎo full
相同 xiāngtóng same
一样 yíyàng same
主要 zhǔyào main
方便 fāngbiàn convenient
安静 ānjìng quiet
干净 gānjìng clean
清楚 qīngchu clear
健康 jiànkāng healthy
舒服 shūfu comfortable
热情 rèqíng enthusiastic
认真 rènzhēn serious or careful
努力 nǔlì studious or hardworking
hěn very
非常 fēicháng extremely
tài too…
多么 duōme how…
dōu both or all
méi not
每   měi every
zuì most
zhēn really
hái still
再   zài again
yòu again
zhǐ only
jiǜ at once
马上 mǎshàng immediately
cái just
gèng more
yuè more
bié don’t…
xiān first
已经  yǐjīng already
几乎 jīhū almost
一定 yídìng definitely
一起   yìqǐ together
一共 yígòng altogether
可能   kěnéng maybe
其实 qíshí actually
突然 tūrán suddenly
正在 zhèngzài indicating action in progress
一边 yìbiān at the same time
终于 zhōngyú finally
总是 zǒngshì always
经常 jīngcháng often
一般 yìbān generally
一直 yìzhí constantly

Pay attention to the synonyms in the list. For example, 再 (zài) and 又 (yòu): they are both translated as “again” in English. However, 再 (zài) is used to describe actions that have not yet occurred (the “future again”) and 又 (yòu) is used for actions that have already occurred (the “past again”):

  • 我明天来。
    Wǒ míngtián zài lái.
    I’ll come again tomorrow.
  • 他昨天来了。
    Tā zuótiān yòu lái le.
    He came again yesterday.

Besides, the two adverbs have some additional distinct usages. You’ll definitively be quizzed on how to use these words correctly on the HSK 3 test. So…be prepared!

12 Chinese Prepositions

“Good for me?” or “Good to me”? I have to admit that it took me ages to finally figure out how to use prepositions properly in English – even the most basic ones!

Now here’s the revenge from Chinese…

Joke aside, to do well on the HSK 3 test, you really have to know the below 12 Chinese prepositions well. Pay attention to the subtle difference in their usage. For example: 为 (wèi) is used to introduce the object of an action, and 为了 (wèile) is used to introduce the purpose or reason of an action:

  • 你高兴。
    wèi nǐ gāoxìng.
    I am happy for you.
  • 为了健康,我每天都锻炼。
    Wèile jiànkāng, wǒ měi tiān dōu duànliàn.
    For the sake of health, I work out every day.
Chinese Pinyin English
从  cóng from
  xiàng towards
  away from
gēn with
bèi by
wèi for (sb/sth)
为了 wèile for (purpose)
关于 guānyú about, regarding
xiàng as or like
除了 chúle besides or except
根据 gēnjù according to

10 Chinese Particles     

Chinese particles don’t have a concrete meaning on their own, but they are used all the time in daily Chinese with other words, phrases to serve grammatical purposes in a sentence. To pass HSK 3, you need to learn two more particles on top of the eight required by HSK 1 and HSK 2.

Pay special attention to the three “de” in Chinese. Though they sound the same, each has very different usages: 的 is used to mark possession, working like ‘s (apostrophe + s) in English. 地 marks adverbs, or converts adjectives into adverbs. And 得 is used as part of a verb complement.

Chinese Pinyin English
de possession particle
de structure particle
de structure particle
le aspect particle
zhe aspect particle
guò aspect particle
ma question particle
ne question particle
ba question particle
a exclamatory particle

10 Chinese Conjunctions   

Conjunctions in language are those tiny little words that connect other words, phrases, and sentences. They re small but vital for making your sentences more logical. To pass HSK 3, you must master the below 10 basic conjunctions in Chinese.   

Take note that some conjunctions are supposed to be used together in one sentence. For instance, whenever you start a sentence with 虽然 (suīrán) -“although”, you have to follow it up with 但是 (dànshì) – “but” (or words alike) to clearly express contradiction or concession. To English speakers, this type of grammar pattern could take a little getting used to. (Read here to learn more)

Chinese Pinyin English
但是 dànshì but
虽然 suīrán although
因为 yīnwèi because
所以 suǒyǐ so
还是 háishì or
或者 huòzhě or
然后 ránhòu then, afterwards
如果 rúguǒ if
而且 érqiě moreover

8 Chinese Expressions  

Finally, Chinese expressions!

By now you should definitely be very comfortable using the expressions presented in the HSK 3 vocabulary list, as 7 out of 8 of them are already required by HSK 1 and HSK 2. Only one more expression – 当然 (dāngrán) is added. And of course, it means…”of course”.

Chinese Pinyin English
wèi hello (on the phone)
谢谢 xièxie thanks
不客气 bú kèqi  you’re welcome
再见 zàijiàn goodbye
qǐng   please…
对不起 duìbuqǐ sorry
没关系 méi guānxi it’s all right
当然 dāngrán of course

Easy-peasy, isn’t it?

Don’t take it granted! These simple expressions, when combined with other basic words, can mean a lot more! For example:

  • 别想当然
    Bié xiǎng dāngrán.

“Don’t think of course?” Guess what that’s supposed to mean.

Well, it means “Don’t take it for granted”! Another useful Chinese expression, isn’t it?

(You can learn more basic Chinese phrases and expressions in this article)

HSK 3 Vocabulary Practice: The Best Way to Memorize HSK 3 Words

HSK 3 vocabulary practice

All right, now you’ve seen the HSK 3 vocabulary list and know exactly what you should study. But what’s the best way to memorize all these words?

In my opinion, the best way to memorize the HSK 3 vocabulary (or any other level) is to use flashcards and create a maximum number of “exposures” to the new vocabulary in real life, that is, to surround yourself with the new words, allowing them to transfer naturally from short-term memory into long-term memory.

Here’s how you can do it with 3 simple steps.

Step 1. Select and Create Your Own HSK 3 Vocabulary List

Don’t sit on our HSK 3 vocabulary list just because it’s readily available for you.

Instead, select and create your own HSK 3 vocabulary list out of it by browsing our list first and then jotting down the words you don’t know in a notebook. The purpose here is to force yourself to see and write the words for yourself. Make them your Chinese vocabulary words, not anyone else’s.

Step 2. Use Flashcards

Flashcards are a highly-effective way to review Chinese words. You can do it the old fashion and make actual, physical flashcards. To do so, simply write down the words you’re unfamiliar with in your list, with characters on one side, and explanations and sentence examples on the other side. This process itself gives you additional exposure to the new words.

memorize HSK 3 vocabulary words

If you have less time to spend, then make use of flashcards apps such as Anki or Memrise which can run on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and any device with a web browser. You can review the words while commuting to school or work. These apps make use of spaced repetition – a smart algorithm that only shows you the flashcards that you’re about to forget. Amazing, 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 the tricky part is being able to use these words accurately and convincingly to pass HSK 3, and to speak Chinese.

So get out there and speak! Get more exposure! 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 people to practice these words with you, look them up 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.

Bottom line: it’s important to not just 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!

FAQs about HSK 3 Vocabulary

1. To pass the HSK 3 test, do I have to know all the 600 words required?

Technically you don’t have to. You certainly won’t encounter all the words in the HSK 3 vocabulary list in one single test, and you only need to score 180 out of 300 to pass the test, meaning you can chance it. But it goes without saying that the more you know, the better chance you stand. It’s worth pointing out that most of these 600 words are still among the most basic, essential words you’ll need to speak Chinese (at all), so 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?

The writing section of the HSK 3 test is relatively short (only 15 minutes), but it does constitute 1/3 of the total test score (100/300). So take it seriously.

If you take the traditional paper-based test, you do need to know how to write down the characters. But if you take the internet-based test, you don’t have to write down every character physically, instead, you can type the Pinyin and then select the characters shown on the screen. Though you still need to know which character to apply, you can’t get the script of the character wrong this way. (Just learn that not all HSK test centers have adequate facilities to conduct the internet-based test)

That being said, it’s still a good idea to knock out the basic Chinese characters at an early stage. Characters help you remember vocabulary better, read with ease (making learning through native resources easier), and have a deeper understanding of how the Chinese language works. Click here for a quick brush-up on the HSK 3 characters.

What’s Next?

study for HSK 3

There are endless directions you can take for learning Chinese. Now that you’ve got the 600 HSK 3 vocabulary words, you can figure out what’s best for you and start applying it!

If you need more information on the HSK 3 test, then check out our in-depth guide to HSK 3 test preparation where you’ll not only find the latest test dates, centers, registration info, but also all the important tips, tricks, and study resources to help you ace the test!  

Not sure if the HSK 3 test is right for you? Then take our free HSK 3 practice test online to try it out! It’ll give you a good feel for what you can expect from the real test. We’ve also included a detailed explanation of the HSK 3 test pattern, section by section. Get it right here.

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