North, South, East, West. How to Use a Chinese Compass.

By Ben Hedges, NTDTV
May 30, 2016 Updated: May 30, 2016

In English we refer to the points on the compass as North, South, East and West, in that order. In Chinese they also have the same four points, but a few things are a little different. This is how to use a Chinese compass.

First of all the names for the different directions are: 北 běi north, 南 nán south, 東 dōng east, 西 xī west. But we don’t refer to them in that order, the Chinese actually say, East, South, West North. 東南西北. In that order.

The order is also different when you want to say for example North-West, you say West-North 西北. What about South-East? You’ve guessed it. East-South 東南. So South East Asia is called 東南亞 East-South Asia.

When saying where someone is from we often add the word 方 which can mean direction, or side or place. So if you say 我是西方人 that means I am a person from the West, a Westerner, like me! And following that a 東方人 would be, you’ve guessed it, someone from the East, from China or east Asia. You can also say 北方人 and 南方人 but they generally refer to people from either the north or south of China.