ni hao (second tone first tone when used together) means 'Hello' in mandarin chinese. When the question word 'ma' (no tone) is added at the end of it, it simply means "How are you?" The literal meaning of ni hao is 'you good'. Putting something before the word good makes it hello to that paticular person or group of people. ni is simply 'you', so you would that that to only one person. With the 'ma', the literal translation is 'you good?'
yue lan: ni hao!
xiao yun: ni hao ma?
yue lan: hao. ni ne?
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