Chinese Names for 50 US States (Plus Abbreviations)

Chinese names for US states

If you are from the United States and visiting or living in China, one of the most common questions you’ll likely be asked from curious Chinese people is which US state you’re from. So you’ll definitely want to know how to answer!

Sure, you may belt out the name of your state in English. Problem is, most people in China have no idea how the US states are called in the English language. If you answer with “Texas”, or “Pennsylvania”, chances are, they can’t figure out which state you’re talking about. That’s why you should learn how to say the state names in Chinese.

So in this article, we’ll look at the Chinese names for the 50 US states – both the official names and the abbreviations, learn how they’re written in Chinese characters, and how to pronounce them in standard Mandarin. Then, we’ll help you learn a few useful phrases you can use when introducing your Chinese-speaking friends to your state.

But first and foremost, let’s learn how to say “state” in Chinese.

State in Chinese

The word for “state” in Chinese is:

  • 州 (zhōu)

It’s a very quick and simple word for you to learn! Of course, you have to learn each state’s name in Chinese separately just like in English, but even so, it’s one of the first staple vocabulary words you should know.

Essentially, you may add the word 州 (zhōu) after any state name to make it sound formal. (more on this later)

The United States of America in Chinese

You probably already know the word for “America” in Chinese is 美国 (Měiguó), which can be translated to “beautiful nation” if you take the characters literally. But what about the full official name of America? Did you ever wonder about the translation of “the United States of America” in Chinese?

Well, the official Chinese name for “the United States of America” is:  

  • 美利坚合众国 (Měilìjiān hézhòng guó)

The translation was done by combining the sound and meaning of the country’s original English name. 美利坚 (Měilìjiān) mimics the sound of the word “America”, 合众 (hézhòng) means “federated”, and 国 (guó) means “nation”. So basically, it’s “America Federated Nation” in Chinese.

And when you omit the middle part (美利坚合众国 Měilìjiān hézhòng guó), it’s 美国 (Měiguó) – “beautiful nation”, again! Fascinating, isn’t it?

How the State Names Are Translated into Chinese

Although the average person on the street in China probably can’t name more than five US states, there is an official Chinese name for each and every one of them.

Just like the Chinese geographical names are romanized into English based on the way they sound, for instance, 武汉 (Wǔ hàn) – Wuhan, the names of US states are transliterated into Chinese by breaking down the name into syllables and replacing them with similar-sounding Chinese characters.

For instance,

  • Indiana → In-di-a-na → 印第安纳 (pronunciation: Yìn dì ān nà)
  • Utah → U-tah → 犹他 (pronunciation: Yóu tā)

Sounds close enough, right?

There is just one problem: Chinese characters can only represent syllables as concrete blocks of sound but not as fluid combinations of letters. As a result, some state names in Chinese sound “off” to English speakers and don’t bear too much resemblance to the originals.

For example,  

  • Maine → Mai-ine → 缅因 (pronunciation: Miǎn yīn)
  • Oklahoma → O-k-la-ho-ma → 俄克拉何马 (pronunciation: É kè lā hé mǎ)

Plus, with only about 400 syllables, Chinese has a much smaller stock of phonetics compared with English (for instance, there is no such sound as “geor” or “ver” in Chinese), so again, very often the transliterations are a very, very rough approximation.

For example,

  • Georgia → Geor-gi-ia → 佐治亚 (pronunciation: Zuǒ zhì yà)
  • Vermont → Ver-mon-t → 佛蒙特 (pronunciation: Fó méng tè)

While most US state names are transliterated into Chinese purely based on sound, a few are a combination of sound and meaning.

For instance, the “new” in New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New Mexico (but oddly enough, not New York) is translated to 新 (xīn), meaning “new” in Chinese. Other examples include the “North”, “South”, “West” and “Island” in North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Rhode Island.

It’s worth pointing out that due to the limited range of syllables, Mandarin Chinese has lots of homophonous characters (having the same pronunciation but different meanings). That means one can use various combinations of Chinese characters to transcribe the same US state name (there is a set of “preferred characters” for transliterating foreign names though).

For instance, Texas can be written as 克萨斯 as well as 克萨斯 – both pronounced “Dé kè sà sī”.

At other times, similar-sounding characters may be used. So Iowa can be 艾奥瓦 (Ài ào wǎ), 爱荷华 (Ài hé huá), 依荷华 (Yī hé huá) at the same time.

In this article, we list the standard translations for US states that are used in Chinese mainstream media.

List of All 50 US State Names in Chinese

Here’s the list of official Chinese names for US states, organized alphabetically, with their English name, name in Chinese characters, and Pinyin pronunciation. Just pick out your state from the list below, read this article on how to say which state you’re from in Chinese and you’ll be good to go!

English Chinese Characters Pinyin
Alabama 阿拉巴马 Ā lā bā mǎ
Alaska 阿拉斯加 Ā lā sī jiā
Arizona 亚利桑那 Yà lì sāng nà
Arkansas 阿肯色 Ā kěn sè
California 加利福尼亚 Jiā lì fú ní yà
Colorado 科罗拉多 Kē luó lā duō
Connecticut 康涅狄格 Kāng niè dí gé
Delaware 特拉华 Tè lā huá
Florida 佛罗里达 Fó luó lǐ dá
Georgia 佐治亚 Zuǒ zhì yà
Hawaii 夏威夷 Xià wēi yí
Idaho 爱达荷 Ài dá hé
Illinois 伊利诺伊 Yī lì nuò yī
Indiana 印第安纳 Yìn dì ān nà
Iowa 艾奥瓦 Ài ào wǎ
Kansas 堪萨斯 Kān sà sī
Kentucky 肯塔基 Kěn tǎ jī
Louisiana 路易斯安那 Lù yì sī ān nà
Maine 缅因 Miǎn yīn
Maryland 马里兰 Mǎ lǐ lán
Massachusetts 马萨诸塞 Mǎ sà zhū sài
Michigan 密歇根 Mì xiē gēn
Minnesota 明尼苏达 Míng ní sū dá
Mississippi 密西西比 Mì xī xī bǐ
Missouri 密苏里 Mì sū lǐ
Montana 蒙大拿 Méng dà ná
Nebraska 内布拉斯加 Nèi bù lā sī jiā
Nevada  内华达 Nèi huá dá
New Hampshire 新罕布什尔 Xīn hǎn bù shí ěr
New Jersey 新泽西 Xīn zé xī
New Mexico 新墨西哥 Xīn mò xī gē
New York 纽约(州) Niǔ yuē (zhōu)
North Carolina 北卡罗来纳 Běi kǎ luó lái nà
North Dakota 北达科他 Běi dá kē tā
Ohio 俄亥俄 É hài é
Oklahoma 俄克拉何马 É kè lā hé mǎ
Oregon 俄勒冈 É lè gāng
Pennsylvania 宾夕法尼亚 Bīn xī fǎ ní yà
Rhode Island 罗得岛 Luó dé dǎo
South Carolina 南卡罗来纳 Nán kǎ luó lái nà
South Dakota 南达科他 Nán dá kē tā
Tennessee 田纳西 Tián nà xī
Texas 得克萨斯 Dé kè sà sī
Utah 犹他 Yóu tā
Vermont 佛蒙特 Fó méng tè
Virginia 弗吉尼亚 Fú jí ní yà
Washington 华盛顿(州) Huá shèng dùn (zhōu)
West Virginia 西弗吉尼亚 Xī fú jí ní yà
Wisconsin 威斯康星 Wēi sī kāng xīng
Wyoming 怀俄明 Huái é míng

In TV reports and news articles, it’s very common to put the word 州 (zhōu) – “state” after the state name to add a more official sound to it (it’s like saying the State of …).

For example,

  • 阿拉巴马 (Ā lā bā mǎ zhōu)
    Alabama
  • 犹他 (Yóu tā zhōu)
    Utah

You can do the same in spoken Chinese – this is optional except for the State of New York and Washington, where you have to add the 州 (zhōu) at the end to differentiate them from New York City and Washington, D.C.

  • 纽约州 (Niǔ yuē zhōu)
    the State of New York

    纽约 (Niǔ yuē)
    New York City
  • 华盛顿州 (Huá shèng dùn zhōu)
    the State of Washington

    华盛顿 (Huá shèng dùn)
    Washington, D.C.
US states in Chinese

Chinese Abbreviations for the US States

Like Americans, Chinese people also like to shorten the names of certain places for convenience.

But unfortunately, while there is an abbreviation for each US state in English, only seven states get to have short names in Chinese (apparently, they are more famous in China than the other states for certain reasons).

If you’re lucky enough to come from the State of California, Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, or Texas, then you can just use its shortened Chinese name.

  • California
    Official Chinese Name: 加利福尼亚 (Jiā lì fú ní yà)
    Short Name in Chinese: 加州 (Jiā zhōu)
    Literally, “Ca-state”
  • Florida
    Official Chinese Name: 佛罗里达 (Fó luó lǐ dá)
    Short Name in Chinese: 佛州 (Fó zhōu)
    Literally, “F-state”
  • Massachusetts
    Official Chinese Name: 马萨诸塞 (Mǎ sà zhū sài)
    Short Name in Chinese: 麻省 (Má shěng)
    Literally, “Ma-province” 
  • North Carolina
    Official Chinese Name: 北卡罗来纳 (Běi kǎ luó lái nà)
    Short Name in Chinese: 北卡 (Běi kǎ)
    Literally, “North Ca” 
  • South Carolina
    Official Chinese Name: 南卡罗来纳 (Nán kǎ luó lái nà)
    Short Name in Chinese: 南卡 (Nán kǎ)
    Literally, “South Ca” 
  • Pennsylvania
    Official Chinese Name: 宾夕法尼亚 (Bīn xī fǎ ní yà)
    Short Name in Chinese: 宾州 (Bīn zhōu)
    Literally, “Penn-state”
  • Texas
    Official Chinese Name: 得克萨斯 (Dé kè sà sī)
    Short Name in Chinese: 得州 (Dé zhōu)
    Literally, “Te-state”

Observe the pattern of these abbreviations – they adhere to the same formula of two characters, which is used in naming most of China’s provinces too, for example, 四川 (Sìchuān) or 广东 (Guǎngdōng). Although some of these Chinese abbreviations may not have been standardized by government agencies, they appear frequently on the media and are widely used by the Chinese population.

Chinese Names for US Commonwealth and Territories

Outside of the 50 main states in the Union, the United States has several commonwealths and territories in different parts of the world too. As with the states, there is a Chinese name for each of the territories. Feel free to add them to your Chinese vocabulary.

English Chinese Characters Pinyin
American Samoa 美属萨摩亚 Měi shǔ sà mó yà
Micronesia 密克罗尼西亚 Mì kè luó ní xī yà
Guam 关岛 Guān dǎo
Marshall Islands 马绍尔群岛 Mǎ shào ěr qúndǎo
Northern Mariana Islands 北马里亚纳群岛 Běi mǎ lǐ yà nà qúndǎo
Palau 帕劳 Pà láo
Puerto Rico 波多黎各 Bō duō lí gè
Virgin Islands 美属维尔京群岛 Měi shǔ wéi ěr jīng qúndǎo
Washington, D.C. 华盛顿哥伦比亚特区 Huá shèng dùn gē lún bǐ yà tè qū

Note that the Chinese often refer to Washington, D.C. as just Washington, or in Chinese – 华盛顿 (Huá shèng dùn). So when referring to the State of Washington, make sure to add the word 州 (zhōu) – “state” at the end.

Chinese Names for the US States in Conversation

Now you have the vocabulary you need, it’s time to get out there and impress your Chinese friends!

But first, let’s make sure you’ll be able to understand the question “Which state are you from” properly when you get asked in Chinese.

Which State Are You From in Chinese

As with any expression in Chinese, there is more than one way to ask for this information. Here are the four most common questions you’ll encounter.

  • 你是美国哪个州的?
    Nǐ shì Měiguó nǎ gè zhōu de?
    Literally, “You are of America which state?”
  • 你是美国哪里人?
    Nǐ shì Měiguó nǎli rén?
    Literally, “You are America where person?”
  • 你从美国哪里来?
    Nǐ cóng Měiguó nǎli lái?
    Literally, “You from America where come?”
  • 你来自美国哪里?(more formal)
    Nǐ lái zì Měiguó nǎli?
    Literally, “You come from America where?”

I am from (the State of) … in Chinese

You can of course just say the name of your state in response to these questions, but your Chinese-speaking friends would certainly be amazed to hear a long answer from you.

Pick one of the four expressions below to express “I am from (the state of) …” in Chinese.

  • 我是加利福尼亚的。
    Wǒ shì Jiā lì fú ní yà de.
    Literally, “I am of California.”
  • 我是加利福尼亚人。
    Wǒ shì Jiā lì fú ní yà rén.
    Literally, “I am California person.”
  • 我从加利福尼亚来。
    Wǒ cóng Jiā lì fú ní yà lái.
    Literally, “I from California come.”
  • 我来自加利福尼亚(more formal)
    Wǒ lái zì Jiā lì fú ní yà.
    Literally, “I come from California.” 

Feel free to swap out California with your state when needed. And if you’re from a state that has a shortened Chinese name, you can use it as well! (In the above examples, you can safely use 加州 Jiā zhōu for California)

There you go! Now you should be able to talk about you state in Chinese! So, tell me, which state are you from?