HSK 3 Vocabulary List: All 600 Words You Need to Know to Pass HSK Level 3 Test
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
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.
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”:
bàn gè xīguā
half a watermelon
When expressing “a half”, read out the “a” – 一 (yí) as well.
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:
Wǒ zìjǐ qù.
I go by myself.
Tā 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.
Zhàogù hǎo zìjǐ.
Take good care of yourself。
|我||wǒ||I or me|
|他||tā||he or him|
|她||tā||she or her|
|我们||wǒmen||we or me|
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:
Zhè liàng chē wǒ tài xǐhuan le.
I like this car so much.
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.
|多少||duōshao||how many or how much|
|几||jǐ||how many or how much|
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):
Wǒ nǎr dōu méi qù.
I didn’t go anywhere.
Zhèr wǒ shéi dōu bú rènshi.
I don’t know anyone here.
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.
|号||hào||date or number|
|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|
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.
|人||rén||person or people|
|阿姨||āyí||aunt or maid|
|先生||xiānsheng||Mr or sir|
|校长||xiàozhǎng||head of a school|
|服务员||fúwùyuán||waiter or waitress|
|声音||shēngyīn||sound or voice|
|糖||táng||candy or sugar|
|羊肉||yángròu||lamb or mutton|
|帽子||màozi||hat or cap|
|桌子||zhuōzi||table or desk|
|杯子||bēizi||cup or glass|
|水平||shuǐpíng||level or standard|
|题||tí||question (exam, exercise)|
|体育||tǐyù||sports or physical education|
|机会||jīhuì||opportunity or chance|
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.
|家||jiā||home or family|
|楼||lóu||building or floor|
|上||shàng||on, above or last|
|下||xià||under, below or next|
|北方||běifāng||north or northern China|
Note that words like 旁边 (pángbiān), 附近 (fùjìn) are used as nouns in Chinese:
zài wǒ jiā de fùjìn
in the surrounding area of my home
Literally: “my home’s surrounding area”
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:
- √ 学校离我家近。
Xuéxiào lí wǒ jiā jìn.
- × 超市附近宾馆
chāoshì fùjìn bīnguǎn
Wrong way to say “the supermarket near the hotel”
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.
|个||gè||generic measure word|
|元||yuán||basic monetary unit of China|
|块||kuài||basic monetary unit of China|
|角||jiǎo||1/10 of Chinese Yuan|
|位||wèi||measure word for people|
|岁||suì||year (of age)|
|次||cì||time (frequency of an act)|
|件||jiàn||for affairs, clothes, furniture|
|张||zhāng||for flat objects|
|条||tiáo||for long objects|
|把||bǎ||for things with a handle|
|段||duàn||span of time or distance|
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.
(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.
|姓||xìng||to be surnamed|
|在||zài||to be in|
|住||zhù||to live or to stay|
|出||chū||to get out|
|讲||jiǎng||to say or to speak|
|看||kàn||to look or to watch|
|笑||xiào||to smile or to laugh|
|送||sòng||to give as a gift or to deliver|
|拿||ná||to hold or to take|
|开||kāi||to drive or to open|
|关||guān||to close or to shut|
|画||huà||to draw or to paint|
|花||huā||to spend or to cost|
|打电话||dǎ diànhuà||to make a phone call|
|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)|
|上网||shàngwǎng||to get online|
|上班||shàng bān||to go to work|
|起床||qǐ chuáng||to get up|
|刷牙||shuāyá||to brush teeth|
|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|
|爬山||pá shān||to climb mountain|
|锻炼||duànliàn||to work out|
|生病||shēng bìng||to get sick|
|发烧||fāshāo||to have a fever|
|感冒||gǎnmào||to have a cold|
|完成||wánchéng||to complete or accomplish|
|生气||shēngqì||to get angry|
|还||huán||to return (sth)|
|接||jiē||to catch or to pick up|
|借||jiè||to borrow or to lend|
|注意||zhùyì||to pay attention to|
|迟到||chídào||to be late|
|放心||fàngxīn||to rest assured|
|照顾||zhàogù||to look after|
|分||fēn||to divide or separate|
|小心||xiǎoxīn||to be careful|
|举行||jǔxíng||to hold (event)|
|会||huì||can (to know how to)|
|能||néng||can (to be able to)|
|可以||kěyǐ||can (to be permitted to)|
|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.
Wǒ xuǎnzé shàng dàxué.
I choose to go to college.
Zhè shì yí gè cōngmíng de xuǎnzé.
This is a smart choice.
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:
Zhè kāfēi zhēn nánhē!
This coffee is really disgusting! (“difficult to drink”)
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)
|差||chà||bad (in quality)|
|久||jiǔ||long (in time)|
|高||gāo||tall or high|
|矮||ǎi||short (in height)|
|旧||jiù||old or used|
|老||lǎo||old (in age)|
|认真||rènzhēn||serious or careful|
|努力||nǔlì||studious or hardworking|
|都||dōu||both or all|
|正在||zhèngzài||indicating action in progress|
|一边||yìbiān||at the same time|
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”):
Wǒ míngtián zài lái.
I’ll come again tomorrow.
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:
Wǒ wèi nǐ gāoxìng.
I am happy for you.
Wèile jiànkāng, wǒ měi tiān dōu duànliàn.
For the sake of health, I work out every day.
|像||xiàng||as or like|
|除了||chúle||besides or except|
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.
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)
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”.
|喂||wèi||hello (on the phone)|
|不客气||bú kèqi||you’re welcome|
|没关系||méi guānxi||it’s all right|
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:
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
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.
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.
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.