Ms Shang () walks into a stationary store and is greeted by Mr Wang ().

Huān yíng, huān yíng! Nǐ yào shénme?欢迎,欢迎。你要什么?Welcome, what do you want?
Wǒ yào yì zhī bǐ, liáng běn shū,我要一支笔,两本书,I want a pen, a couple books,
hé sān zhāng zhǐ.和三张纸。and three sheets of paper.
Duì bu qǐ, wǒmen méiyǒu zhǐ.对不起,我们没有纸。Sorry, we don’t have paper.
Shū hé bǐ ne?书和笔呢?How about books and pens?
Zhè shì shénme? (pointing near)这是什么?What is this?
Nà shì bǐ.那是笔。That is a pen.
Nà shì shénme? (pointing far)那是什么?What is that?
Zhè shì shū. 这是书。This is a book.
Wǒ yào nà běn Yīngwén shū. 我要那本英文书。I want that English book.
Nà běn Zhōngwén shū, hé zhè zhī bǐ .那本中文书,和这支笔。That Chinese book and this pen.
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yàoto wantVerb
zhīClassifier for pens, brushes, etc. Example: yì zhī bǐ
zhāngClassifier for paper, tables and other flat things: sān zhāng zhǐ
běnClassifier for books. Example: liǎng běn shū
zhèthisSingular demonstrative pronoun, refers to a something close to the speaker.
thatSingular demonstrative pronoun, refers to a something away from the speaker.
英文YīngwénEnglishNoun,the English language.
中文ZhōngwénChineseNoun, the Chinese language.
欢迎huānyíngwelcomeGreeting, often heard when a customer enters a retail store.
对不起duì bu qǐsorryExpression, used for “sorry” or “excuse me”
gěito giveVerb

Pinyin and Pronunciation

aoaozaocaosaozhaochaoshao jiaoqiaoxiao
eieizei  zhei shei   

Notice the similarity between the pairs: zhao-jiao, chao-qiao, shao-xiao. These pairs sound remarkably similar to anyone who grew up speaking English. There two key differences: tongue position and the “i” medial. To see how the tongue position for zh, ch and sh differs from q, s and x, please review the pinyin and pronunciation chart in lesson 3. Also listen to how the “i” in jiao, qiao, and xiao indicates the “ee” sound in the middle of the syllable. These two clues should help you distinguish the sounds.

Listen and circle the correct choice

  (Use 1st recording as a self test)
1 zai-cai, zao-cao, zai-zhei, zou-zuo
2 chai-shai, sao-shao, zhou-zhuo, zuo-cuo
3 chao-chou, shou-shuo, shao-shou
4 zhao-jiao, chao-qiao, shao-xiao, shou-xiu

Listen and add the correct tone marks

1 yi zhi bi, liang zhang zhi, san ben shu
2 yao, zhe, na, mang, lei, mei guo
3 Beijing, Shanghai, Yingwen, Zhongwen

Grammar Patterns

Singular or plural

Chinese nouns do not have a singular or plural form. So when a Chinese noun has no quantifier it can refer to one or many things, depending on context. In the dialog when the shopkeeper says “Zhè shì shū”, it is unclear if he is referring to one or many books. But if he says “Zhè shì liǎng běn shū” it is clear that he is referring to two books.

More about classifiers

Classifiers are required for quantifying nouns, among other things. They are called classifiers because they indicate that the noun that follows belongs to a certain class of things. For example zhāng is a classifier associated with flat things things, such as papers, beds and tables.

Number Classifier Noun English
běn shū one book
liǎng zhī two pens
sān zhāng zhǐ three pieces of paper

Demonstrative Pronouns

Classifiers are also needed with demonstrative pronouns (such as “this” and “that”). For example, “nà yì běn shū” means “that book”. When the quantifier is one, you may omit yì. For example, “nà běn shū” also means “that book”

pronoun Number Classifier Noun English
(yì) běn shū that book
zhè liǎng zhī these two pens
sān zhāng zhǐ those three sheets of paper

Example sentences:

  • Nà liǎng běn shū shì Yīngwén de – means “Those two books are English ones”.
  • Zhè yì běn shū shì Zhōngwén de – means “This book is a Chinese one”.

Note: here, the “de” in “Yīngwén de” makes a noun out the the adjective “Yīngwén”.

If an adjective is used to describe the noun it will follow the classifier

pronoun Number Classifier Adjective Noun English
(yì) běn Zhōngwén shū that Chinese book
zhè liǎng zhī Měiguó de these two American pens
sān zhāng hóng (red) zhǐ those three red sheets of paper

Example sentences:

  • Nà liǎng běn Yīngwén shū shì wǒ de – means “Those two English books are mine”.
  • Zhè yì běn Zhōngwén shū shì nǐ de – means “This Chinese book is yours”.

Note: here, “de” indicates possessive. “wǒ de” means “mine”.


Check this link for Sentence Practice 


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Voice recording courtesy of Wen Lingling