Ep01: How are you doing? | Tsia̍h-pá--buē 食飽未?

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Bite-size Taiwanese | Elementary
Ep01: How are you doing? | Tsia̍h-pá--buē 食飽未?

In this episode, we learned several ways to greet people and how to reply in Taiwanese.

(These show notes use tables and rich formatting. Please visit the episode webpage for an optimal viewing experience.)

Tsia̍h---buē? Have you eaten yet?
Guá tsia̍h---ah. I have eaten. I’m full.
Guá tsia̍h--ah. I’ve eaten.
Iáu-buē. Not yet.
Ah lí--leh? How about you?
hó! Hi! Hello!
Gâu-tsá! Good morning!
Ta̍k-ke hó! Hello, everyone!

*Syllables that require tone changes are greyed out.


How did “tsia̍h---buē” become a common greeting in Taiwanese? It is said that back in the old days there wasn’t always enough food, so when people met, they would ask if you’d eaten something as a way to show concern for your health. It wasn’t too long before it became a common greeting. You can think of it as “how are you doing?”

To reply to the question “tsia̍h---buē”, you usually just say you’ve eaten “guá tsia̍h---ah.” It is like you would normally say “I’m fine” when someone asks “how are you” as a greeting.

The use of “tsia̍h---buē” seems to depend on the generation. Older generations may use it more often and more widely with friends, neighbors, acquaintances, shopkeepers or even strangers. The younger generations, however, tend to say it less, or only to seniors and elder family members.


tsia̍h to eat
khùn to sleep

In this episode, we have talked a little about the construction where you have an action immediately followed by a result, or the so-called resultative complement of a verb.

Here are the two examples we used in the episode:

Tsia̍h-” (“eat-full”), meaning “eat until full”.

Khùn-” (“sleep-full”), meaning you’ve “slept enough” or “had a good night’s sleep”.

In Taiwanese, it is common to have this action-result two-part construction. In English this concept is often expressed by using different verbs (e.g. “look” and “see”, “listen” and “hear”), a verb-object-result construction (e.g. “wipe the table clean”), or phrasal verbs (e.g. “cut” vs. “cut open”, “eat” vs. “eat up”).

For even more examples and exercises on this grammar point, be sure to check out our downloadable workbook.


For all those overachievers out there, we will try to throw in a little something each episode that is a bit more challenging.

Here is the One Bite Challenge of this episode:

Guá mā iah-buē! Lán tàu-tīn lâi-khì tsia̍h-pn̄g, hó--bô?

I also not-yet we together go eat-rice/meal good--no?

Me neither! How about grabbing a bite together?

lán you and I, we (including the listener)
tàu-tīn together
lâi-khì / laih / la̋i to go (+verb), let’s (+verb); to go away, to leave (for)


Pronunciation note: this verb is often pronounced as “laih” at the end of a sentence, or a special mid rising tone “la̋i” when followed by other words.

tsia̍h-pn̄g to eat rice; to have a meal
--bô? Alright? How about...? How does it sound?

Music Credit: TeknoAXE

2 replies on “ Ep01: How are you doing? | Tsia̍h-pá--buē 食飽未? ”
  1. Hi,
    Thanks for the great podcast. I wonder if young people really say “Lí-hó” nowadays when greeting each other? To me, it sounds more like “How do you do?”, which is something you would say to people you meet the first time.

    1. Hi L,
      We’re so glad to hear that you’re enjoying our podcast! Great observation about how “Lí-hó” is primarily heard when meeting for the first time. It’s still used among young people, but perhaps another way to look at how it’s used is that it’s reserved for when there is still a polite distance between people. So, even after a first meeting with someone, if the relationship doesn’t develop any more deeply (acquaintances, neighbors, shop keepers, clients, etc.), “Lí-hó” can still be used as a greeting.

      If the relationship does develop, then often a standard greeting is done away with altogether. So, instead you might say, “Lí lâi–ah!” (Oh, you’re here!), or the conversation just continues from where it left off the last time you saw each other. Basically, there’s no longer a need for formalities.

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