Lesson 1 – Greetings

Welcome To Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin is the official language of China, and Taiwan. Although there are many dialects, every Chinese person you meet will speak and understand Mandarin. It is officially classified as a “difficult” language, but in some ways it is easier than English.

The lack of irregular verbs, lack of verb endings and the presence of consistent pronouns are among the reasons why it could be considered easier. In Mandarin, once you learn a word, its yours. 

Mandarin is written in Chinese characters, which are not phonetic. In order to learn the language we will use pinyin, a phonetic representation. Each Chinese character is pronounced as a single syllable and represented phonetically as a pinyin syllable. The table below uses an example to illustrate this relationship.

Pinyin Chinese English Audio
Ní hǎo 你好 Hello

The main goal of the first ten lessons is learn pronunciation. Using a phonetic representation, instead of characters, makes this easier to achieve.  In addition to pronunciation, learning pinyin has other benefits as well: such as Looking up words in a dictionary and typing Chinese characters on a keyboard or mobile phone

Tones

Tone Chart

Mandarin has only 409 distinct syllables. Compared to more than 5000 English syllables, this is a small number. Once you master these 409 sounds, you can pronounce any word in Mandarin.

Mandarin is a tonal language, where “tone” is actually a change in pitch that occurs during the pronunciation of a syllable. Tone marks are placed above the vowels as guide to pronunciation. The table below illustrates how tones change the meaning of words that sound like “ma”.

Tones are not optional.  If you use the wrong tone, you said the wrong word.  Missing the tone generally confuses your listener. So, unless you have a musician’s ear, it is a good idea to memorize the tone when you learn a word.

Some words will take a different tone depending on the tone of the word that follows. This is called tone change, or “spoken tone”. There are just three types of tone change, which will be explained later. Standard text books do not show spoken tone. However this courseware does, in order to make the expected pronunciation more clear.

NumberMarkPitchMeaningHanzi
1stma1high levelMother
2ndma2risingNumb
3rdma3falling then risingHorse
4thma4fallingScold
NeutralmamaunstressedQuestion
  • 4 tones: mā má mǎ mà
  • Mother scolds a horse: māma mà mǎ
  • Click on bolded pinyin in the chart to hear the differences.

 

How are you?

Note: In the first column of the table below 王 (Wáng) and 张 (Zhāng) are common family names in China.

PinyinChineseEnglish
Ní hǎo ma?你好吗?How are you?
Wǒ hén hǎo.我很好。I am fine (very good).

Are you busy?

PinyinChineseEnglish
Nǐ máng ma?你忙吗?Are you busy?
Wǒ bù máng, nǐ ne?我不忙,你呢?I’m not busy, how about you?
Wó yě bù máng.我也不忙。I am also not busy.

Good Morning!

PinyinChineseEnglish
Zǎoshang hǎo!早上好!Good morning!
Zǎo!早!Morning!
Nǐ máng ma?你忙吗?Are you busy?
Wó hěn máng, nǐ ne?我很忙,你呢?I am very busy, and you?
Wǒ yé hěn máng.我也很忙。I am also very busy.
Zàijiàn.再见。Bye.
Zàijiàn.再见。Bye.

Vocabulary

PinyinEnglishNotes
youPronoun, second person singular.
hǎogoodAdjective, generally indicating a positive quality.
你好ní hǎohelloA greeting, not a question.
I or mePronoun, first person singular. Note: wǒ can be used as a subject (“I”) or an object (“me”).
hěnveryAdverb of degree
maParticle, used to request confirmation. Similar to a rising tone in English.
newhat about ..?Particle, used to request more information.
alsoAdverb, expressing similarity
mángbusyAdjective
notAdverb of negation
早上zǎoshangmorningNoun, early in the day
晚上wǎnshangeveningNoun, late in the day
再见zàijiàngood byeExpression, taken separately the characters mean “again” “meet”.

Tone Change

When two 3rd tone syllables occur in sequence, the first syllable is usually pronounced with a 2nd tone. This makes the sentence easier to say. For example “nǐ hǎo” (the written form) is normally pronounced “ní hǎo” (the spoken form). Unfortunately, all books published with pinyin use the written form and let you figure out how to say it. In contrast, this courseware will display the spoken form at all times, so you don’t have to guess about the pronunciation.

Grammar Patterns

Grammar is the patterns of a language. Although every pattern has exceptions, recognizing the language patterns improves our feel for the language.

Sentences

All the sentences in this lesson describe conditions: good, bad, busy, not busy. It is interesting to note that they do not contain any form of the verb “is”. Mandarin does have a verb that is similar to “is”, which we will learn in the 3rd lesson. The table below illustrates the structure of sentences that express conditions.

subject adjective phrase meaning
hén hǎo. I am very good
bù máng You are not busy

 

Particles

Particles, like ma and ne in Chinese, are structural words. They are used to indicate the purpose of a sentence (such as question or statement) without effecting the content.

  • When ma occurs at the end of a sentence it is asking for confirmation. For example “Nǐ máng” is the statement “You are busy”, while  “Nǐ máng ma?” asks for confirmation of that statement.
  • When ne occurs at the end of a sentence it indicates a more open ended question. For example “nǐ ne?” means “what about you?” and “wǒ ne” means “what about me?”.

Seeking Confirmation

We learned two sentences that seek confirmation in this lesson: “Nǐ máng ma?” and “Ní hǎo ma?”. All confirmation questions have the same structure: a statement, followed by “ma”. This is much easier than English, where we change the order of subject and verb.

Statement “?” Answer
Wǒ máng ma? Máng
Ní hǎo ma? Hén hǎo
Nǐ máng ma? Máng

Confirming the question also differs from English. Chinese does not have a simple “yes” and “no”;. Instead, the Chinese speaker uses the verb or adverb of the sentence in its positive or negative form.

Here are some examples of answers to “Nǐ máng ma?”.

  • Wó hěn máng. – affirmative response
  • Bù máng. – affirmative response
  • Wǒ máng. – omitting any adverbs
  • Máng. – brief and succinct

After answering you can use “Nǐ ne?” to return the question. And, if the second answer is consistent with the first you can add to the response

  • Wǒ yé hěn máng.
  • Yé hěn máng.
  • Wó yě máng.
Statement “?” Answer
Wó hěn máng, nǐ ne? Wǒ yé hěn máng
Bù máng, nǐ ne? Wó yě bù máng
Máng, nǐ ne? Wó yě máng

Greetings

Just as in English, a response to a greeting is usually the same as the greeting.

Greeting Response
Zǎo Zǎo
Ní hǎo. Ní hǎo.
Zǎoshang hǎo. Zǎoshang hǎo.
Wǎnshang hǎo. Wǎnshang hǎo.
Zàijiàn. Zàijiàn.

Resources

There are two types of flashcards to choose from. Each type has two sides. Both types will provide valuable practice opportunities.

  • Pinyin to English Flashcards will display the pinyin first and give you the opportunity to remember the English meaning.
  • Chinese to English Flashcards will display a Chinese character first. When the character is displayed you will hear the word pronounced. Don’t worry about reading the character, your job is to listen to the word and remember the pinyin and tone mark.

 

 

Also check out …

See this page for Sentence Practice

See this website more general pinyin practice

Lesson 2 – Teacher and Students

Mr Wang () approaches a group of college students visiting a local museum.

PinyinChineseEnglish
Nǐ shì lǎoshī ma?你是老师吗?Are you the teacher?
Bú shì。Wǒ bú shì lǎoshī。Wǒ shì xuésheng。不是,我不是老师。我是学生。No. I am not the teacher. I am a student.
Shéi shì lǎoshī?谁是老师?Who is the teacher?
Tā shì lǎoshī。Tā shì Zhāng lǎoshī。她是老师,她是张老师。She is the teacher. She is teacher Zhang.
Tā shì Yīngguó rén ma?她是英国人吗?Is she British?
Bú shì,tā shì Měiguó rén.不是,她是美国人。No, she is American.
Tāmen shì Zhāng lǎoshī de xuésheng ma?他们是张老师的学生吗?Are they teacher Zhang’s students?
Shì。是。Yes.
Qǐng wèn, tāmen shì nǎguó rén?请问,他们是哪国人?What nationality are they?
Tāmen dōu shì Zhōngguó rén。他们都是中国人。They are all Chinese.
Improve your pronunciation! After listening to the audio, try recording your own voice. Click here to repeat the last audio played

Vocabulary

ChineseEnglishNotes
shìam/isVerb “to be”, but never used with adjectives
老师lǎoshīteacherNoun or title depending on context
学生xuéshengstudentNoun
guócountryNoun, often used as part of a country name
美国MěiguóAmericaProper noun
英国YīngguóEnglandProper noun
中国ZhōngguóChinaProper noun
whichInterrogative pronoun (question word), for example nǎguó means “which country”
rénpeopleNoun, meaning people
menpluralSuffix, indicating more than one, for example wǒmen (we/us) and lǎoshīmen (teacher)
dewhoparticle, indicating a relationship between two nouns
shéiwhoInterrogative pronoun, seeking the identity of someone
dōualladverb, this word must precede a verb
他,她him/her/she/he/itPronoun, third person singular
请问qǐngwènMay I ask ..Expression used to preface a question

Pinyin and Pronunciation

Each lesson will cover about 40 pinyin in a chart similar to the one below. Pinyin are composed of two parts: “initials” and “finals”. Initials are all consonants and the finals are vowels or vowel-like

  • initials: b, p, m, f, d, t, n, l, k, g, h, zh, ch, sh, j, q, x, z, c, s, r
  • finals: a, e, i, o, u, ü, n, ng, (and 29 other combinations of these 8)

These initials and finals combine to form 402 pinyin syllables. Which is very small number compared to over 5,000 in English. Not all pinyin syllables have initials. Here are some examples of initial and final combinations:

Pinyin Initial Final Chinese English
wo (none) o me
ni n i you
hao h ao good

In the pinyin chart below you can see how each pinyin syllable is composed of an initial part (in the top row) and a final part (in the left column).

Click on the pinyin syllable to hear its pronunciation.

finals:
initials
bpmfdtnlgkhsounds
like
aabapamafadatanalagakahala
owobopomofo whoa
ee me detenelegekehemud
iyibipimi ditinili need
uwubupumufudutunulugukuhufood
üyu         few

Notes

  • The first column contains a list of finals, the first row contains the initials. Together these two parts combine to make a single pinyin sound.
  • The second column contains pinyin which have no initial. Some of these syllables start with a “w” or “y” to make them easier to read, but it does not indicate a change in pronunciation. For example “yi” is pronounced “ee” not “yee”, the “y” is just decoration.
  • To hear the difference between ü and u, try saying phew and foo.
  • To pronounce ü, try saying “ee” and then protrude your lips. In other words, your tongue teeth and throat are in the same position when you pronounce “ee” and “ew”, only your lip position differs.

Pinyin Practice:

Listen, and circle the correct choice

1 ba – bo, me – mi, ta – tu, fa – fo
2 he – ke, nu – nü, ga – ka, ku – hu

Listen, and add the tone marks

1 mang, lei, hao, lao shi, xue sheng
2 Ying guo, Mei guo, Zhong guo, na guo
3 Zhong guo ren, ta men, wo men, ni men

Grammar Patterns

The verb “shì”

This verb is similar to the English verb “to be”, with two notable differences

  1. It is regular. No matter how it is used, it is aways “shì”. Chinese has no irregular verbs.
  2. It is never used with adjectives.

For example, “Tā máng” expresses “He is busy” without using shì, or any other verb.

Shì is not used with adjectives but it is used with nouns.

  • Tā shì Yīngguó rén
  • Wǒ shì lǎoshī

Basic sentence pattern

The basic sentence structure in Chinese is subject – verb – object. Chinese does use the subject – object – verb pattern found in Japanese and German, but it will not be introduces until the level 3 series.

subject verb object
shì Měiguó rén.
xìng Lǐ.
jiào shénme míngzi?

This sentence structure is also used when asking questions. For example, to solicit confirmation of a statement, the statement is simply followed by a ma. This is a lot easier than the English pattern of inverting the subject and verb.

statement ma
Nǐ shì Měiguó rén ma?
Tā xìng Lǐ ma?

Possessive

The particle de can be used to indicate possessive. This particle de is equivalent to the apostrophe-s suffix in English.

  • tāmen de lǎoshī – Their teacher
  • lǎoshī de xuésheng – Teacher’s students

Answering Confirmation Questions

Providing confirmation in Chinese requires more attention than English, because the answer depends on the words in the question. Typically, the response is a positive or negative form of the verb or adjective. But “Shì”/”Shì de” and “Bú shì” can be used like the English “yes” and “no” respectively. There are no rules regarding this, but Chinese speakers tend to use the main verb or adjective when it obvious from structure of the question sentence.

sentence type question answer
affirmative negative
adjective Nǐ máng ma? Máng. Bù máng
verb Nǐ shì Zhōngguó rén ma? Shì. Bú shì
complex   Shì de. Bú shì

Answering specific questions

Other questions, not ending with ma, will contain an interrogative pronoun, also known as a question word. This type of question requests specific information. Paying attention to the word order will improve your listening and speaking skills.

Note that the word order of the answer will be the same as the question. And the requested information will occupy the same position in the sentence as the question word. You can think of the interrogative pronoun as a place-holder for the answer (which is what pronouns do). Compare the questions and answers of the following 3 exchanges.

  Questions Answers
1 Shéi shì lǎoshī? shì lǎoshī.
2 Tā xìng shénme? Tā xìng Lǐ.
3 Nǐ shì nǎ guó rén? Wǒ shì Yīngguó rén.

Listening for the sentence patterns will help you answer questions more easily.

Classroom activities

art3_china.bmp art3_japan.bmp art3_uk.bmp art3_usa.bmp
(张) Zhāng Mǐn (李) Lǐ Mǎlì (尚) Shàng Dàwei (王) Wáng Mǎkè

 

Homework

Check this link for Sentence Practice 

Audio

This recording

omits two words from the dialogs transcript. See if you can pick them out. To download the recording right click here , and select “save as”.

Voice recording courtesy of Jo Ding, https://joding1212.blog.sohu.com

Lesson 3 – Introductions

Mr Wang () and Ms Zhang () have been working all morning for a neighborhood cleanup project.

Dialog

PinyinChineseEnglish
Ní hǎo!你好!Hello!
Ní hǎo!你好!Hello!
Nín guì xìng?您贵姓?What is your family name?
Wǒ xìng Wáng,nǐ ne?我姓王,你呢?My family name is Wang, and you?
A, ní hǎo Wáng xiānsheng ,wǒ xìng Zhāng.阿,你好,王先生。我姓张。Oh, hello Mr. Wang, I am named Zhang.
Ní hǎo Zhāng xiáojiě. Nǐ lèi ma?你好,张小姐。你累吗?Hello Ms. Zhang, are you tired?
Wǒ bú lèi ,nǐ ne?我不累,你呢?I am not tired, how about you?
Wó yě bú lèi.我也不累。I am also not tired.
Qǐng wèn, tā jiào shénme míngzi?请问,她叫什么名字?May I ask, what is her name?
Tā? Tā jiào Lǐ Měiměi.她?她叫李美美。Her? She is called Li Meimei.
Zàijiàn.再见。Bye.
Zàijiàn.再见。Bye.
Improve your pronunciation! After listening to the audio, try recording your own voice. Click here to repeat the last audio played

Chinese names

A Chinese name starts with family name, followed by given names. This is the opposite of English, so the terms “first name” and “last name” are not helpful when talking about Chinese people. Using the terms “family name” and “given name” will avoid confusion. Names with a title also follow a pattern that differs from English: the title follows the name.

Family name Given name
Měiměi
Wáng Mǎkè
Zhāng Mǐn
Family name Title
xiáojiě
Wáng xiānsheng
Zhāng lǎoshī
PinyinEnglishNotes
他,她him/her/she/he/itPronoun, third person singular
lèitiredAdjective, “to be tired”
先生xiānshengMr.Polite title for a man. Like all titles, it comes after the name.
小姐xiáojiěMs.Polite title for a woman.
xìngfamily nameVerb meaning to have a particular family name
贵姓guì xìnghonorable family nameOnly used when asking someones name
jiàocalledVerb, meaning “to be called” or “to be named”
什么shénmewhatQuestion word, equivalent to “what”
名字míngzìnameNoun, could mean full name, family name or given name
wènaskVerb, meaning “to ask”
请问qǐng wènMay I ask ..Expression used to preface a question
WángWongFamily name
LeeFamily name

Pinyin and Pronunciation

initials:
finals:
a o e i u ü English approx Tongue position Pronunciation Group
  a wo e yi wu yu      
z za   ze zi zu   clods tongue_zcs.jpg Dental (z,c,s)
c ca   ce ci cu   cats
s sa   se si su   sip
zh zha   zhe zhi zhu   germ tongue_zh.jpg Retroflex (zh,ch,sh,r)
ch cha   che chi chu   churn
sh sha   she shi shu   sure
r     re ri ru   car
j jia   jie ji   ju jeep tongue_jqx_.jpg Palatal (j,q,x)
q qia   qie qi   qu cheap
x xia   xie xi   xu sheep
Audio
 
 

Notes:

  1. Yu, ju, qu, xu are all pronounced with the ü sound, but the dots are omitted for convenience.
  2. To learn more about pronouncing these initials see pronunciation tips
  3. Pinyin sounds with the same final generally rhyme, but “i” is a notable exception.
    • For zi, ci, si the “i” is a lightly voiced “i” as in “hit”.
    • For zhi, chi, shi and ri the “i” is pronounced like “rrr”
    • Fort ji, qi, and xi the “i” is pronounced like “eee”

Listening Exercises

Listen and add the correct tone marks

1 nin gui xing, xiao jie, xian sheng
2 qing wen, ming zi, jiao shen me
3 Zhang, Wang, Shang, Li

Listen and circle the one you hear

1 ji – zhi, chi – qi, chu – qu, xu – shu,
2 ce – ci, shi – si, zhu – ju, shi – she,
3 zhi – chi, re – ri, zhe – zhi, qia – cha

Grammar Patterns

Asking Questions

When initiating a conversation with a question, the phrase “Qǐng wèn” is very helpful. The meaning of this phrase is “may I ask ..”. It lets the listener know that you are going to ask a question in Mandarin, which may be unexpected.

  • Qǐng means something similar to “please” and used to invite someone to do something
  • wèn is the verb “to ask”. For example “nǐ wèn tā” means “you ask him”.

Asking someone’s name

Not all sentences follow a grammatical pattern. “Nín guì xìng?” is one example. Grammatically speaking, this is not really a question. But it is the appropriate way to inquire about someone’s family name. Literally it means “Your honorable family name”.

A somewhat less polite, but more grammatical, way of asking is “nǐ xìng shénme”. The meaning is “What is your family name”.

  • – you
  • xìng – family name (used as a verb)
  • shénme – what

Another common way to inquire about someone’s name is to ask “nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?”.

  • jiào – is called
  • shénme – what
  • míngzi – name

The meaning is: “what do you prefer to be called”. This question can be answered with a family name or a given name or both depending on the preference of the one being asked. Chinese use given names only with close friends, so in a work situation the answer to this question might be “Lǐ Měiměi” or just “Lǐ”, but it is not likely to be “Měiměi”.

Use ma for confirmation

You may have noticed that some questions end with ma and others do not. There are two types of questions: confirmation and specific request. Never use ma for a specific request. Always use ma for confirmation. Examples:

  • Confirmation: “Tā xìng Lǐ ma?”
  • Specific request: “Tā xìng shénme?”

Some sentences have no verbs

Unlike English, Mandarin has some sentences with no verbs. If the sentence describes a condition and contains only a subject and adjective there will be no “to be” verb connecting them. The examples below illustrates this pattern.

Subject Adverb Adjective
lèi
hěn máng

Homework

Check this link for Sentence Practice.

Lesson 4 – Family Members

Mr Wang () asks Ms Zhang () about her family.

Dialog

PinyinChineseEnglish
Nǐ jiā yóu jǐ gè rén? 你家有几个人? How many people in your family?
Wǒ jiā yǒu liù gè rén,bàba,māma,gēge,dìdi,liǎng gè jiějie hé wǒ。 我家有六个人,爸爸,妈妈,哥哥,弟弟,两个姐姐和我。 My family has 6 people, dad, mom, big brother,little brother, two big sisters and me
Ní yǒu mèimei ma? 你有妹妹吗? Do you have a little sister?
Méiyǒu。 没有。 No.

Numbers

123456789101112
Pinyin èr sān liù jiǔ shí shí yī shí èr
Chinese 十一 十二
Improve your pronunciation! After listening to the audio, try recording your own voice. Click here to repeat the last audio played

Vocabulary

PinyinEnglishNotes
jiāhome, familyNoun, indicating home or family, depending on context.
yǒuto haveVerb, indicating possession, real or abstract
méinotAdverb of negation, used to negate yǒu.
没有méiyǒuVerb, to not have
how manyInterrogative pronoun, 12 or less.
Classifier for people, and other things.
liǎnga coupleNumber 2 used only with classifiers (“èr” is almost never used with classifiers.)
爸爸bàbadadNoun
妈妈māmamomNoun
哥哥gēgeolder brotherNoun
弟弟dìdiyounger brotherNoun
姐姐jiějieolder sisterNoun
妹妹mèimeiyounger sisterNoun
andConjunction, used only with lists of things.

Pinyin and Pronunciation

initials:
finals:
bpmfdtnlgkhHint 
ai bai pai mai   dai tai nai lai gai kai hai sky
ao bao pao mao   dao tao nao lao gao kao hao cow
ei bei pei mei fei dei   nei lei gei kei hei weigh
ou bou pou mou fou dou tou nou lou gou kou hou dough
uo bo po mo fo duo tuo nuo luo guo kuo huo whoa

Notes

  • All of the pinyin words in the last row rhyme with “wo”. It would be nice if Hanyu pinyin used a consistent representation for similar sounds, but it doesn’t.
  • If you find the difference between “ou” and “uo” difficult, try thinking of the “u” as if it were a “w”. So “uo” sound like “wo” and “ou” sounds like “ow” (as in “low” or “owe”).
  • “er” is a final which has no initial. One example is èr (two). The pronunciation sounds the same as the letter “R” in English.

Listen, and circle the correct choice

  • 1) ba – bai, tao – tei, po – pou, dei – de
  • 2) gao – kao, lou – luo, tao – tou, ou – wo
  • 3) shi – xi, zhe – ji, zha – za, se – ce
  • 4) chi – qi, huo – hou, lei – lai, zha – jia

Listen, and add the tone marks

  • 1) ni, jia, you, ji ,ge, ren
  • 2) yi,er,san,si,wu,liu,qi,ba,jiu,shi
  • 3) baba,mama,gege,dìdi,liang, jiejie, he
  • 4) meimei, mei you, lao shi, xue sheng

Grammar Patterns

Classifiers

A classifier is a word that is used when we quantify a noun. For example: in “ten head of cattle”, “head” is a classifier. Unlike English, where classifiers are seldom used, in Chinese all nouns must be proceeded by a classifier when quantified. We will learn “gè” first. This is the most common classifier, and it can be used whenever we are unsure of the correct one. Being able to use “gè” as a default is convenient because Chinese has hundreds of classifies and each noun only has one or two classifiers that it can be quantified with.

numberclassifiernoun
liù rén

Two words for “two”: liǎng and èr

Use liǎng when talking about how many, use èr for counting and labeling. The table below shows how they relate to the concepts we learned (and immediately forgot) in grade school.

TypeDescriptionExamples123
 Cardinal  Quantifier, how many   two dollars, two horses, etc liǎng sān
 Ordinal  Order of occurrence  first, second, third, forth dì yī dì èr dì sān
 Nominal  Used as a label  phone number, address, date èr sān

Negating yǒu

méi negates yǒu and negates all other verbs and adjectives. méi is not used with and other verbs and is never used with yǒu. (later we will learn that méi is also used to negate past tense verbs, but for now, we can assume that méi is only used with yǒu).

Homework

Check this link for Sentence Practice

Audio

Click on the player to start the audio.
Lesson

(right click Download , select “save as”)

Lesson 5 – Ordering drinks

Mr Wang () takes drink orders from Ms Zhang () and her friends.

PinyinChineseEnglish
Nǐmen hē shénme?你们喝什么?What do you want to drink? (“want” is implied)
Wǒmen yào liǎng píng píjiǔ.我们要两瓶啤酒。We want two bottles of beer.
Hǎo de, qíng děng yí xià好的,请等一下。Okay, wait just a bit.
Hǎo de. Xièxie好的,谢谢。Sure. Thanks.

Mr Wang now takes orders from Ms Zhang and her friends.

PinyinChineseEnglish
Qǐng wèn, (nǐ) hē diǎn shénme?请问, 你喝点什么?May I ask, do you want to drink a little something?
Yì bēi chá.一杯茶。A cup of tea
Nǐ yào lǜ chá, háishì hóng chá?你要绿茶, 还是红茶?Do you want green tea or red tea?
Lǜ chá.绿茶。Green tea.
F1Wó yě yào lǜ chá.我也要绿茶。I also want green tea.
F2Wǒ hē yì bēi kāfēi.我喝一杯咖啡。I’ll drink a cup of coffee.
F3Yì píng kělè hé yì bēi shuǐ。一瓶可乐和一杯水。One bottle of Cola and a glass of water.
Improve your pronunciation! After listening to the audio, try recording your own voice. Click here to repeat the last audio played

Beijing Accent

Note that diǎn in the dialog is pronounced diǎr. The “n” sound is replaced by the “r” sound. The “r” sound has its origin in the Beijing dialect. In the Beijing dialect many words end with this “r” sound, and some of them are now used around the country. Diǎr and nǎr are widely used in textbooks and other learning materials. The pinyin can be written as diǎr or diǎnr.

Vocabulary

PinyinEnglishNotes
to drinkVerb
啤酒píjiǔbeerNoun
咖啡kāfēicoffeeNoun
cháteaNoun, the drink that put China on the map.
shuǐwaterNoun
可乐kělèCokeNoun
bēicupMeasure word for things which come in cups. Examples: yì bēi chá, liǎng bēi kāfēi
píngbottleMeasure word for things that come in bottles. Examples: yì píng píjiǔ, liǎng píng kělè
děngto waitVerb
一下yí xiàjust a littleExpression, used to soften the verb examples: děng yí xià, hē yí xià,
还是háishìorInterrogative pronoun, used when offering a choice between two alternatives.
diǎna littleParticle, used to soften a sentence, no real meaning.
绿greenAdjective, the color green.
hóngredAdjective, the color red.
谢谢xièxiethank-youExpression of gratitude.
yàowantverb

Pinyin Practice

In this lesson we look at the nasal finals.

finals:
initials
bpmfdtnlgkh
ananbanpanmanfandantannanlangankanhan
enenbenpenmenfen  nen genkenhen
angangbangpangmangfangdangtangnanglanggangkanghang
engengbengpengmengfengdengtengnenglenggengkengheng
inyinbinpinmin   ninlin   

Listen, and circle the correct choice

  • 1) ban – ben, en – yin, pang – peng, fan – fang
  • 2) dang – deng, tan – tang, tao – tou, min – men
  • 3) shi – xi, zhe – ji, zha – za, se – ce
  • 4) gang – geng, kang – hang, lei – lai, nen – nin

Listen, and add the tone marks

  • 1) yi bei cha, liang ping pijiu, kele,
  • 2) haishi, shui, kafei, he, lü, hong
  • 3) zhong guo, mei guo, ying guo
  • 4) deng yi xia, qing wen, dian

Tone Change Rules:

As if learning a tonal language wasn’t hard enough, the Chinese also employ “tone change” to some syllables. This is because strictly pronouncing all the tones would be too sing-songy and tiring. These rules are linguistically referred to as “tone sandhi”. To learn more, follow this link.  Pinyin is usually printed with  “dictionary tone”.  This textbook might be the only one ever printed with “spoken tone” (ie, with tone change applied) .

Third tone syllables (like hǎo) are pronounced with a different pitch change depending on the tone of the following syllable. Basically, the rule is: if there are 2 or more third tones in a row, the first is pronounced like a second tone. We have already seen this with nǐhǎo which is pronounced Níhǎo

You may wonder what happens if there multiple third tones in a row: Wǒ yě hěn hǎo.  Basically the pronunciation is up to the speaker.  It could pronounced: Wó yé hén hǎo. In other words, all the third tones change to second except the last one. Or it could be pronounced wó yě hén hǎo. Either way is fine.

By the way, most of the time, the 3rd tone syllables only go low.  Actually, the only time it goes back up is at punctuation points.

The case of  一 (yī) : When 一 (yī) occurs in a number (any type of number, nominal or ordinal) it is pronounced first tone.  If it occurs outside of a number, it follows the same rules as 不 (bù).

The case of 不 (bù): When combined with other syllables yī and bù will change tone. They change to 2nd (yí, bú) when followed by a 4th tone and 4th (yì, bù) when followed by any other tone. 

Alone Before
1st tone
Before
2nd tone
Before
3rd tone
Before
4th tone
Examples
yì bēi, yì píng, yì wǎn, yí xià
bù hē, bù máng, bù hǎo, bú yào

Good news: these are the only two syllable/words in Mandarin that do not follow the normal rules.

Homework

Check this link for Sentence Practice 

Audio

Use the audio lesson to practice your pinyin. Click on the player to start the audio, then listen to the dialog and try to understand as much as possible without looking at the pinyin. Once you understand the words, then try to write the pinyin including tone marks.

First Audio by Danie Wu(right click here , select “save as”)

These next recordings are recorded a natural speed so they are a bit more challenging.

Second Audio by Zhang Min (right click here , select “save as”)

And her brother (right click here , select “save as”)

Lesson 6 – Pens and Paper

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

PinyinChineseEnglish
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?
Yǒu.有。Yes.
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.
Hǎo.好。Okay.
Improve your pronunciation! After listening to the audio, try recording your own voice. Click here to repeat the last audio played

Vocabulary

ChineseEnglishNotes
yàoto wantVerb
penNoun
zhīClassifier for pens, brushes, etc. Example: yì zhī bǐ
zhǐpaperNoun
zhāngClassifier for paper, tables and other flat things: sān zhāng zhǐ
shūbookNoun
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

finals:
initials
zcszhchshrjqx
aiaizaicaisaizhaichaishai   
aoaozaocaosaozhaochaoshao jiaoqiaoxiao
eieizei  zhei shei   
ououzoucousouzhouchoushouroujiuqiuxiu
wowozuocuosuozhuochuoshuoruo   

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”.

Homework

Check this link for Sentence Practice 

Audio

(right click here , select “save as”)

(right click here , select “save as”)
Voice recording courtesy of Wen Lingling

Lesson 7 – Ordering Food

Mr Zhang () and his friend peng () would like to order some food.

PinyinChineseEnglish
Wǒ hé wǒ de péngyou xiǎng chī wǔ fàn.我和我的朋友想吃午饭。Me and my friend would like to eat lunch.
Nǐmen xiǎng chī shénme?你们想吃什么?What would like to eat?
Nǐmen zhèlǐ yǒu shénme?你们这里有什么?What do you have?
Wǒmen yǒu miàntiáo,jiǎozi,hé báifàn。我们有面条,饺子,和白饭。We have noodles, dumplings and white rice.
Ní yǒu qīngcài ma?你有青菜吗?Do you have vegetable dishes?
Yǒu.有。Have.
Wó xiǎng chī yì wǎn báifàn hé qīngcài.我想吃一碗白饭和青菜I would like to eat a bowl of rice and some green vegetables.
Wó xiǎng yào yí fèn jiǎozi.我想要一份饺子。I would like a helping of dumplings.
Hǎo de, qíng děng yí xià.好的,请等一下。Okay, wait a bit.
Xiè xie。谢谢。Thanks.
Improve your pronunciation! After listening to the audio, try recording your own voice. Click here to repeat the last audio played

 

Vocabulary

PinyinChineseEnglish
chī to eat Verb
zhèlǐ 这里 here Pronoun, meaning at this location
miàntiáo 面条 noodles Noun
báifàn 白饭 white rice Noun
wǎn bowl Measure word for bowls of food
jiǎozi 饺子 dumplings  
fèn serving Measure word for a portion of food
qīngcài 青菜 green vegetables  
xiǎng would like Modal Verb, indicating a desire for the verb which follows to occur.
péngyou 朋友 friend Noun
wǔfàn 午饭 lunch Noun. compare with zǎofàn (breakfast) and wǎnfàn (dinner)

 

Pinyin and Pronunciation

  zcszhchshrjqx 
an an zan can san zhan chan shan ran jian qian xian
en en zen cen sen zhen chen shen ren      
ang ang zang cang sang zhang chang shang rang jiang qiang xiang
eng eng zeng ceng seng zheng cheng sheng reng      
in yin               jin qin xin

 

Listen and circle the one you hear

  • 1) zan – zen, zang – zeng, zen – cen, can – cen,
  • 2) sang – san, zen – san, zhen – jian, jin – qin,
  • 3) ren – rang, jian – xian, zhen – chen, ceng – cang,
  • 4) chang – cheng, shan – sheng, zhe – she, sha – cha,

Listen and add the correct tone marks

  • 1) xiang chi, shen me, zhe li, qing cai
  • 2) mian tiao, jiao zi, bai fan, deng yi xia
  • 3) zao fan, wan fan, wu fan, mei you, peng you

Grammar Patterns

Modal verbs

Instead of representing an action or a state, modal verbs represent modalities, such as wanting or preferring. A modal sentence describes the relationship between the subject and the main verb. This table contains some examples from English

subjectmodal verbverb phrase
I would like to eat.
John wants to drink a beer.

Modal sentences in Chinese have a similar structure.

subjectmodal verbverb phrase
xiǎng chī yí fèn jiǎozi
Nǐ péngyou yào hē píjiǔ
Wǒmen xiǎng yào yí wǎn miàntiáo

The object of a modal verb is the subsequent verb. “yào” can be used as both a modal verb and a main verb, but “xiǎng” can only be used as a modal verb. For example: “wǒ yào hē píjiǔ” and “wǒ yào píjiǔ” are okay. However, although you can “xiǎng” drinking, you can not “xiǎng” beer.

Note, it may seem a little strange to say “xiǎng yào”, which literally this means “I would like to want”. But actually “yào” is just a place holder for an implied verb (like hē or chī). If you think about it, the English sentence: “I would like a beer” is also assuming an implied verb. The real meaning is “I would like to order a beer”.

Please note that when confirming question with a modal verb, use modal verb as the answer, not the main verb. For example:

QuestionAnswer
Ní xiǎng chī jiǎozi ma? Xiǎng.
Nǐ péngyou yào hē píjiǔ ma? Tā bú yào.

 

Homework

Check this link for Sentence Practice 

Audio

Click on the player to hear the dialog.

(to download right click here , select “save as”)

Voice recording courtesy of Jo Ding, https://joding1212.blog.sohu.com

 

Lesson 8 – Going Places

Ms Wáng () and Ms Lǐ () are arranging a lunch meeting over the phone.

PinyinChineseEnglish
Níhǎo,nǐ máng ma?你好,你忙吗?Hi, are you busy?
Bù máng, nǐ ne?不忙,你呢?Not at all. And you?
Wó yě bù máng. Wǒmen qù chī fàn ba.我也不忙,我们去吃饭吧。I’m also not busy. Let’s go eat.
Hǎo. Qù nálǐ?好,去哪里?Okay. Where to?
Wǒ zài bàngōngshì. Nǐ kéyǐ lái zhèlǐ ma?我在办公室,你可以来这里吗?I am at the office. Can you come here?
Wǒ zài xuéxiào. Qù shāngdiàn jiàn, hǎo bù hǎo?我在学校,去商店见,好不好?I am at school. Can we meet at the store?
Hǎo.好.Okay.
Zàijiàn!再见!Bye!
Improve your pronunciation! After listening to the audio, try recording your own voice. Click here to repeat the last audio played

 

Vocabulary

Pinyin Chinese English
ná 哪里 where Interrogative pronoun used to ask about location.
nàlǐ 那里 there Pronoun, located away from the speaker. Compare to zhèlǐ (here)
go Verb indicating motion in the direction away from the speaker.
lái come Verb indicating motion in the direction towards the speaker.
zài at Verb, meaning “located at”
ba   Particle, turns the sentence into a suggestion.
xuéxiào 学校 school Noun, any type school
bàngōngshì 办公室 office Noun, any type office
shāngdiàn 商店 store Noun, any type of store
fàndiàn 饭店 restaurant Noun, any type of restaurant
duì correct Adjective, indicating the state or condtion of being correct.
jiàn meet Verb, to meet someone casually
ké 可以 can Modal verb, indicates permission or ability

 

Pinyin and Pronunciation

initials:
finals:
  b p m d t n l j q x  
i yi bi pi mi di ti ni li ji qi xi
ia ya             lia jia qia xia
ie ye bie pie mie die tie nie lie jie qie xie
iao yao biao piao miao diao tiao niao liao jiao qiao xiao
iou you     miu diu   niu liu jiu qiu xiu

This group is a subset of the “i” medials (the ones with the “i” sound in the middle). Except for the first column and the first row, each word from this set consists of three parts. For example “bie” is composed of:

  • initial: “b”
  • medial: “i”
  • final: “e”

These words almost sound like they have two syllables “bie” = bee-eh, but the two syllables merge into a single sound.

Please note the last row. The combination of “iou” is an example of an inconsistency in the pinyin “spelling” system.

  • In the first column, “you”, the “y” simply replaces the “i” in “iou”. But in the others, the “o” has been dropped, leaving “iu”.
  • Unfortunately, by dropping the “o”, an important visual clue for pronunciation is lost.
  • Due to regional dialects, “iu” is pronounced differently in different parts of China. In particular, “liu” is sometimes pronounce lee-ew, even though the standard pronunciation is lee-oh.

Listening Practice

  Circle the one you hear   Add the correct tone marks
1 bie – bei, die – dei, yi – ye, yao – you,   xuexiao, bangongshi, shangdian,
2 yi – ya, ji – jia, bi – bie, qi – qia,   nali, zheli, nali,
3 niao – niu, liao – liu, jiao – jiu, jiao – qiao,   bi, mian tiao, pi jiu
4 xia – xie, qi – qie, qia – qiao, tie – tiao,   qu, lai, zai, dui, keyi, qing wen

 

Grammar patterns

Verb-not-verb pattern

The verb-not-verb pattern is used to ask a question. If a verb-not-verb pattern appears in a sentence, there will be no “ma” at the end of the sentence. There are a number of variations on this pattern, involving adjectives, modal verbs and action verbs.

verb type subject verb-not-verb object alternate verbs
adjective tāmen máng bù máng   lèi bú lèi, hǎo bù hǎo
action verb lǎoshī qù bú qù xuéxiào lái bù lái, zài bú zài
modal verb Wáng xiānsheng yào bú yào hē jiǔ xiǎng bù xiǎng

Note that when using the verb-not-verb pattern with yǒu, you must use méi.

  • yǒu méi yǒu dìdi?

It is also used with duì and hǎo when seeking confirmation on a statement

statement verb-not-verb
shū zài zhèli duì bú duì
wǒmen qù shāngdiàn hǎo bù hǎo

Multi-verb Sentences

A Chinese sentence may have more than one verb phrase and no connecting word is required. However, any verb phrase indicating time, manner or location should come before an action phrase. Here are some examples.

Subject Modal verb Location phrase Action phrase (Question)
Nǐmen xiǎng lái wǒ jiā jiàn péngyou ma?
Wǒmen yào qù fàndiàn chī fàn hǎo bù hǎo?
Tāmen bù ké zài bàngōngshì hē píjiǔ.  

Practice

Multi-verb sentences have the form: [subject][modal verb][action phrase]

  • [subject] can be a pronoun, type of person, or name
  • [modal verb] can be xiǎng, yào, or kěyǐ
  • can use qù, lái, or zài
  • [action phrase] can use jiàn, chī, or hē

Using vocabulary from this lesson, write 3 mult-verb sentences using “ba” to indicate a suggestion, 3 in the form of a question using “ma” and, finally, 3 in the form of a question using verb-not-verb. Please bring your sentences to the next class and share.

Homework

Check this link for Sentence Practice 

Audio

Click on the player to hear the dialog.

(to download right click here , select “save as”)

Lesson 9 – Going Tonight

Mr Wang () and Ms Shang () are co-workers and happen to meet in the hallway.

PinyinChineseEnglish
Ní hǎo, Wáng xiānshēng. Nǐ míngtiān qù nálǐ?你好,王先生。你明天去哪里?Hello Mr Wang. Where are you going tomorrow?
Qù shànghǎi.去上海。To Shanghai.
Shénme shíhou qù? Shàngwǔ háishì xiàwǔ?什么时候去?上午还是下午?When (do you) go? Morning or afternoon?
Wǒ xiàwǔ qù.我下午去.I’m going in the afternoon
Jīntiān wǎnshang nǐ máng ma?今天晚上你忙吗?This evening are you busy?
Wǒ bù máng .我不忙。I am not busy.
Wǎnshang nǐ gēn wǒ qù chīfàn, hǎo ma?晚上你跟我去吃饭,好吗?Tonight, how about having dinner with me?
Hǎo a!好啊!Okay!
Nà, wǒmen jīntiān wǎnshang jiàn.那,我们今天晚上见。In that case, see you tonight.
Hǎo de, wǎnshang jiàn.好的,晚上见。Okay, see you tonight.
Improve your pronunciation! After listening to the audio, try recording your own voice. Click here to repeat the last audio played
  jīntiān míngtiān
zǎoshang 7:00 7:00
8:00 8:00
shàngwǔ 9:00 9:00
10:00 10:00
11:00 11:00
zhōngwǔ 12:00 12:00
xiàwǔ 1:00 1:00
2:00 2:00
3:00 3:00
4:00 4:00
wǎnshang 5:00 5:00
  6:00 Gēn péngyou chīfàn 6:00
  6:00 6:00

Vocabulary

Pinyin Chinese English
míngtiān 明天 tomorrow noun
jīntiān 今天 today noun
zuótiān 昨天 yesterday noun
shénme shíhòu 什么时候 when Interrogative pronoun. Literally “what time”, because shíhòu means time.
shàngwǔ 上午 late morning noun
xiàwǔ 下午 afternoon noun
zhōngwǔ 中午 noon noun
then conjunction, “in that case”
gēn with preposition
xiànzài 现在 now The present moment

Pinyin and Pronunciation

initials:
finals:
b p m d t n l j q x  
in bin pin min     nin lin jin qin xin
ian bian pian mian dian tian nian lian jian qian xian
ing bing ping ming ding ting ning ling jing qing xing
iang           niang liang jiang qiang xiang

Listen and circle the one you hear

  • 1) yin – yan, ban – bian, bin – bing, ying – yang,
  • 2) pin – pen, pian – pan, mian – mang, jin – jian,
  • 3) xing – xiang, qiang – chang, xing – xin, jiao – qiao,
  • 4) xia – xie, qi – qie, qia – qiao, tie – tiao,

Listen and add the correct tone marks

  • 1) jin tian, ming tian, shang wu
  • 2) gen wo yi qi, ting yin yue
  • 3) shen me shi hou, jintian xia wu
  • 4) wan shang jian, Shang hai

Grammar Patterns

Time when

When expressing the time at which an action will take place, the time information must precede the verb. Consider these two examples, which demonstrate that the time information may come before or after the subject, as long as it precedes the verb.

  • míngtiān qù xuéxiào
  • Jīntiān wǒ hěn lèi

Time words may follow a modal verb, but they must precede the main verb. The choice of order depends on emphasis. Just like in English, to emphasize something, it is placed earlier in the sentence

  Time    
  Míngtiān wó xiǎng chī jiǎozi. (emphasis on time)
míngtiān xiǎng chī jiǎozi. (emphasis on who)
Wǒ xiǎng míngtiān chī jiǎozi. (emphasis on preference)

Word order

When describing a point in time, the more general time words must precede the more specific words. For example “this morning” is jīntiān zǎoshang – and not the other way around, because “today” is more general than “morning”.

Examples

  • Jīntiān xiàwǔ wǒ qù xué xiào.
  • míngtiān wǎnshang xiǎng chī jiǎozi.
  • Tā yào zuótiān zǎoshang qù Shanghai.

Chinese uses this logical approach, of word order determined by general before specific, for more than just describing time. For example, t is also used for describing dates and locations. This is a very satisfying pattern of expression and will not take you long to get used to.

Homework

Check this link for Sentence Practice 

Audio

(to download right click here , select “save as”)

Second voice recording courtesy of Cecilia Shang

Lesson 10 – Time for Dinner

Mr Wang () and Ms Zhang () are arranging a dinner date.

PinyinChineseEnglish
Nǐ jīntiān wǎnshang gàn shénme ?你今天晚上干什么?What are you doing this evening?
Jīntiān shì xīngqī jǐ?今天是星期几?Today is what day of the week?
Xīngqīwǔ.星期五。Friday.
Wǒ méishì.我没事。I’m not doing anything.
Wǒmen yìqǐ qù chī wǎnfàn, hǎo bu hǎo?我们一起去吃晚饭,好不好?Let’s have dinner together, okay?
Hǎo, jí diǎn zhōng?好,几点钟?Sure, what time?
Wǎnshang qī diǎn bàn. 晚上七点半。7:30PM
Wǒmen qù nálǐ ?我们去哪里?Where will we go?
Qù Běijīng fàndiàn ba.去北京饭店吧。To the Beijing Restaurant.
Běijīng Fàndiàn yóu kǎoyā ma?北京饭店有烤鸭吗?Does Beijing Restaurant have roast duck?
Yǒu, tāmen de kǎoyā hén hǎochī.有, 他们的烤鸭很好吃。Yes, their roast duck is very delicious.
Wǒmen zǎo yìdiǎn qù ba.我们早一点去吧。Let’s go a little earlier, okay?
Hǎo ba, liù diǎn yíkè ba.好吧, 6点一刻吧。Okay 6:15?
Improve your pronunciation! After listening to the audio, try recording your own voice. Click here to repeat the last audio played

Vocabulary

Pinyin Chinese Engish
gàn shénme 干什么 what are you doing? Interogative Pronoun
xīngqī 星期 week Noun, for example, “one week” is yì gè xīngqī.
xīngqīwǔ 星期五 Friday Noun, 5th day of the week. Note: each day of the week follows this format. Except Sunday which is xīngqī tian
xīngqī jǐ 星期几 which day Interogatvie pronoun, meaning “which day of the week”. Previously we learned that jǐ means how many. This usage is similar, but different
shì matter, affair Noun, something that requires someones attention
diǎn hour o’clock Noun, like tiān this word acts as its own measure word for hours.
diǎnzhōng 点钟 hour o’clock Noun, note: diǎn and diǎnzhōng can be used interchangably in this context.
bàn half Number
kǎoyā 烤鸭 roast duck Noun
fàndiàn 饭店 restaurant Noun
hǎochī 好吃 delicious Adjective
yí 一刻 one quarter hour  
Hǎo ba 好吧 Okay Expression of agreement

Pinyin and Pronunciation

initials:
finals:
u ua uo uai uei uan un uang ung Audio
  wu wa wo wai wei wan wen wang weng
zh zhu zhua zhuo zhuai zhui zhuan zhun zhuang zhong
ch chu   chuo   chui chuan chun chuang chong
sh shu shua shuo shuai shui shuan shun shuang  
r ru   ruo   rui ruan run   rong
z zu   zuo   zui zuan zun   zong
c cu   cuo   cui cuan cun   cong
s su   suo   sui suan sun   song

Note

  • The “ui” combination is pronounced like the english word “way”. This combination should be spelled “uei”, but the designers of pinyin decided to leave out the “e” for your convenience.

Listen and circle the one you hear

  • cu – su, ru – rui, zhua – shua, zun – cun,
  • zhou – zhuo, cuo – zuo, shu – shuo, shuai – zhuai
  • shou – xiu, xue – shui, zuo – zou, rong – rang
  • chun – shun, wai – wei, ruan – run, su – sui

Listen and add the correct tone marks

  • gan shenme, xingqi, shi
  • dian zhong, liang dian ban, kao ya
  • fandian, haochi, yi ke
  • deng yi xia, mi fan, qing shao deng

Grammar Patterns

Zǎo yìdiǎn

This means “a little earlier”. The pattern is “yìdiǎn”. When yìdiǎn follows an adjective it indicated more. For example hǎo yìdiǎn, would mean “a little better”. [note: yìdiǎnr is the Beijing way to pronounce yìdiǎn]

Xīngqī jǐ

This means “which day of the week”. Previously we learned that jǐ means how many, but in this case it is asking for which number week day. jǐ is also used to ask about the time: jǐ diǎn (what time is it?)

Méishì

This expression is a short for méi yǒu shì, or “don’t have anything in particular to do”. To say the opposite you may use “wǒ yǒu shì”.

Homework

Check this link for Sentence Practice 

Audio

(to download right click here , select “save as”)
Voice recording courtesy of Cecilia Shang, Effective Chinese Lead Teacher

Sentence Practice 1

Pinyin Chinese English   Pinyin Chinese English
you   also
hǎo good   máng busy
ní hǎo 你好 hello   not
I or me   zǎoshang 早上 morning
hěn very   wǎnshang 晚上 evening
ma (confirm)   zàijiàn 再见 good bye
ne what about ..?        

These sentences can be used to practice conversation. Students alternate taking the prompt and response roles, until they are comfortable with the words.

# Question Response
1 ní hǎo ma? wǒ hén hǎo
2 nǐ ne? wó yě hén hǎo
3 ní hǎo ma? wǒ hén hǎo, nǐ ne?
wó yě hén hǎo hǎo
4 nǐ máng ma? [hěn/bù] máng
5 nǐ máng ma? wǒ [hěn/bù] máng, nǐ ne?
wó yě [hěn/bù] máng  
6 zǎoshang hǎo zǎoshang hǎo
7 wǎnshang hǎo wǎnshang hǎo
8 zàijiàn zàijiàn
9 wǎnshang hǎo wǎnshang hǎo
nǐ máng ma? wó hěn máng, nǐ ne?
wǒ yé hěn máng zàijiàn
zàijiàn  

Sentence Practice 2

Mandarin Chinese English   Mandarin Chinese English
shéi  谁 who   nǎ guórén  哪国人 Which nationality
shì  是 Is/am   yīngguó  英国 England
lǎoshī  老师 Teacher   měiguó  美国 America
xuésheng  学生 Student   zhōngguó  中国 China
rén  人 person   rìběn  日本 Japan
 他/她 he/she   (wǒ/nǐ/tā)men  我们 We/you-all/they
lèi tired   dōu  都 all
[person] = lǎoshī, xuéshēng, tā, wǒ, nǐ
[adjective] = hǎo, lèi, máng
[country] = yīngguó, měiguó , zhōngguó , rìběn

# Question Response
1 Nǐ shì lǎoshī ma?
(Are you the teacher?)
Shì, (wǒ shì lǎoshī.)
Búshì, (wǒ shì xuésheng.)
2 Shéi shì [lǎoshī/xuésheng]?
(Who is the teacher/student?)
Wǒ shì [lǎoshī/xuésheng].
Nǐ shì [lǎoshī/xuésheng].
Tā shì [lǎoshī/xuésheng].
3 Lǎoshī [adjective] ma?
(Is the teacher good/tired/busy?)
Shì. Lǎoshī hěn [adjective]
Búshì. Lǎoshī bù [adjective]
4 Nǐ shì [country] rén ma?
(Are you Chinese/American?)
Búshì, wǒ shì [country] rén.
5 Nǐ shì nǎ guó rén?
(What nationality are you?)
Wǒ shì [country] rén.
6 Shéi shì [country] rén?
(Who is English/Japanese?)
[person] shì [country] rén.
[person] yě shì [country] rén.

7 Nǐ shì xuésheng ma?
(Are you a student?)
Shì, wǒmen dōu shì xuésheng.
8 Nǐmen shì nǎ guó rén?
(What nationality are you?)
Wǒmen dōu shì [country] rén.

Sentence Practice 3

MandarinChineseEnglish  MandarinChineseEnglish
xìngfamily name  jiàonamed/called
lèiTired  qǐng wèn请问May I ask …
xiānsheng先生Mr  shénme什么What
xiáojiě小姐Ms  wènAsk
Nín guì xìng您贵姓What’s your family name  míngzi名字Name (given or full)
[adj] = lèi, máng, hǎo    [family] = Chinese family name (ex. Chen)

[-title] = xiānsheng, xiáojiě    [given] = Chinese given name 

# Question Response
1 Nǐ [adj] ma? (Are you [adj]?) Wǒ [hěn/bù][adj].
2 (introduce: Nǐ wèn tā, Wǒ wèn nǐ, etc )
3 Nín guì xìng?
(What’s your family name?
Wǒ xìng [family].
4 Qǐng wèn, nín guì xìng?May I ask your family name? Wǒ xìng [family].
Ní hǎo [family] [-title] Ní hǎo.
5 Qǐng wèn, nǐ jiào shénme?
()Excuse me, what are you called?)
Wǒ jiào [full name]
Ní hǎo [full name]  Ní hǎo.
6 Shéi xìng [family]?
(Who’s family name is [family])
[given] xìng [family]
7 Qǐng wèn, tā xìng shénme?
(Exuse me, what’s his family name.)
Tā xìng [family].
[family] [-title], zǎoshang hǎo Zǎoshang hǎo. (Good morning)
8 Qǐng wèn, nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?
(Exuse me, What is his name?)
Wǒ xìng [family] jiào [given name]
9 Ní hǎo [family] [-title] Ní hǎo [asker’s name]
10 Shéi shì [country] rén?
(Who is [nationality])
[family][-title] shì.

Sentence Practice 4

Mandarin 中文 English   Mandarin 中文 English
jiā home, family   bàba 爸爸 dad
yǒu to have   māma 妈妈 mom
méi not   gēge 哥哥 older brother
how many   dìdi 弟弟 younger brother
(classifier)   jiějie 姐姐 older sister
liǎng a couple   mèimei 妹妹 younger sister
líng zero   and
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
líng èr sān liù jiǔ shí shí yī shí èr
[Role] = lǎoshī,xuéshēng
[country] = yīngguó, měiguó , zhōngguó , rìběn
[relation] = bàba, māma, gēge, dìdi, jiějie, mèimei

# Prompt Response
1 Read a ten digit number Write down the numbers, read back
2 Use fingers indicate number [number] gè, [number] gè [member]
3 Ní yǒu [relation] ma? Yǒu. / Méi yǒu.
4 Nǐ yóu jǐ gè [relation] ? Wó yǒu [number] gè [member]
Wǒ méiyǒu [member]
5 Nǐ [relation] shì xuésheng ma? Shì, tā shì xuésheng.
Búshì, tā shì lǎoshī.
6 Qǐng wèn, Nǐ jiā yóu jǐ gè rén? Wǒ jiā yǒu [number] gè rén.
7 Shéi yǒu [relation] ? [classmate] yǒu [relation].
8 Nǐ [relation] jiào shenme?  Tā jiào [make up a name].
9 Nǐ hé [classmate] shì [country] rén ma? Shì, wǒmen dōu shì [country] rén.
10 Nǐ [relation] shì nǎ guó rén Tā shì [country] rén.

Sentence Practice 5

Mandarin 中文 English   Mandarin 中文 English
drink   píjiǔ 啤酒 beer
bēi cup   kāfēi 咖啡 coffe
píng bottle   kělè 可乐 cola
diǎn a little   shuǐ water
háishì 还是 Or (question)   chá tea
děng wait   绿 green
yí xià 一下 a little   hóng red
yào want   Xièxie 谢谢 thank-you
[drink] = píjiǔ, kāfēi, chá, shuǐ, kělè, lǜ chá, hóng chá
[class] = bēi, píng, diǎn

# Prompt Response
1 Nǐ hē shénme? Wǒ hē [drink]
2 Qǐng wèn, nǐ yào shénme? Wǒ yào [drink]
3 Nǐmen yǒu [drink] ma? Yǒu.
Wǒmen méiyǒu [drink]
4 Nǐ yào hē shénme? Wǒ yào hē yì bēi [drink]
Wǒ yào hē yì píng [drink]
5 Nǐ yào [drink1] háishì [drink2]? Wǒ yào ([number] [class]) [drink]
6 Ní yǒu jǐ [class] [drink]? Wó yǒu [number] [class] [drink]
7 Shéi yǒu [drink]? [name] yǒu [drink]
8 Qǐng wèn, nǐ yào hē shénme? Wǒ yào hē yì [class] [drink]
Qíng děng yí xià. Hǎo de.
9 ask each person: nǐ yào hē shénme? each responds: [Wǒ yào hē [drink]]
read back: [order1],…,[orderN] Hǎo de, Qíng děng yí xià.
10 Nǐ de [drink] hǎo hē ma? Hǎo hē! Nǐ hē yí xià.
13 Tā yǒu shénme? Tā yǒu yì bēi [drink]

Sentence Practice 6

Mandarin English   Mandarin English
yì běn shū One book   zhè this
yì zhāng zhǐ One piece of paper   that
yì zhī bǐ One pen   Yīngwén English
gěi give   Zhōngwén Chinese (language)
Duì bu qǐ Excuse me   huānyíng Welcome
[item] = shū, bǐ, zhǐ

# Prompt Response
  Practice counting 1-10 and 0 1-10
1 Read a 4 digit number Write down the numbers, read back
2 Zhè shì shénme? (holding item) Nà shì [shū, bǐ, zhǐ]
3 Wó yǒu jí běn shū? (holding 1-5 books) [number] běn.
[number] běn shū.
Ní yǒu [number] běn shū.
4 Nǐ yào jí běn shū? [number] běn shū.
5 Wǒ gěi nǐ [number] běn. Xiè xie.
6 Qǐng wèn, Nǐ yào jí běn shū? Wǒ yào [number] běn shū.
Wǒ géi nǐ [number] běn shū. Xiè xie.
7 Nǐ yóu [liǎng] běn shū ma? Yǒu/méiyǒu.
8 Nǐ yào jǐ zhāng zhǐ? [number] zhāng
[number] zhāng zhǐ.
Wǒ yào [number] zhāng zhǐ.
9 Wǒ géi nǐ [number] zhāng zhǐ. Xiè xie.
10 Qǐng wèn, Ní yóu jǐ zhāng zhǐ? Wó yǒu [number] zhāng zhǐ.
11 Huānyíng, huānyíng nǐ yào shénme? Wǒ yào Yīngwén shū.
Wǒ yào Zhōngwén shū.
12 Nǐ yào zhè běn háishì zhè běn? Nà běn. (pointing)
13 Nǐ yào jí běn Yīngwén shū? [number] běn.
14 Qǐng wèn, Ní yǒu [number] běn shū ma? Méi yǒu, wǒ yǒu [number] běn

Sentence Practice 7

Mandarin 中文 English   Mandarin 中文 English
xiǎng would like   miàntiáo 面条 noodles
chī eat   báifàn 白饭 white rice
nàlǐ 那里 there   jiǎozi 饺子 dumplings
zhèlǐ 这里 here   qīngcài 青菜 vegetables
péngyou 朋友 friend   wǎn bowl
wǔfàn 午饭 lunch   fèn portion

drinks = píjiǔ, kāfēi, chá, shuǐ, kělè, lǜ chá, hóng chá

# Prompt Response
1 Nǐ chī shénme? (What do you eat?) Wǒ chī miàntiáo. (I eat noodles)
2 Zhèlǐ yǒu báifàn ma?
(Do you have white rice  here?)
Yǒu  (Have.)
Méi yǒu  (Don’t have.)
3 Ní xiǎng chī shénme?
(What would you like to eat?)
Wó xiǎng chī jiǎozi 
(I would like to eat dumplings.)
4 Qǐng wèn, nǐ yào shénme?
(Excuse me, what do you want?)
Wǒ yào liáng fèn qīngcài
(I want a two helpings of green vegetables)
5 Nǐ péngyou yào shénme?
(What does your friend want?)
Tā yào sān wǎn báifàn.
(He wants three bowls of rice.)
6 Qǐng wèn, nǐ xiǎng hē shénme?
(Excuse me, what would you like to drink?)
Wó xiǎng hē kāfēi.
(I would like to drink coffee)
Yì píng kāfēi háishì yì bēi kāfēi
(A bottle of coffee or a glass of coffee?)
píng
(A bottle.)
7 Nǐmen yào jǐ fèn jiǎozi?
(How many portions of dumplings do you all want?)
 fèn jiǎozi.
(Seven portions of dumplings.)
8 Shéi yǒu qīngcài (Who has green vegetables) Zhāng xiānsheng yǒu . (Mr Zhang.)
9 Qǐng wèn, ní xiǎng yào shénme?
(Excuse me, what would you like?)
Wǒ yào wú wǎn miàntiáo  
(I want 5 bowls of noodles)  
Qíng děng yí xià. (Please wait a moment.) Hǎo, wó děng nǐ. (Okay, I will wait.)
10 Nà gè jiǎozi hǎo chī ma?
(Are those dumplings tasty?)
Hén hǎo chī! Nǐ chī ba.
(Very tasty! Have some.)
11 Zhèlǐ shénme hǎo chī?
(Here what is tasty?)
Báifàn hǎo chī. Nǐ yào ma?
(Our rice is tasty.  Do you want some?)

Sentence Practice 8

Pinyin 中文 English   Pinyin 中文 English
ná 哪里 where   xuéxiào 学校 school
nàlǐ 那里 there   bàngōngshì 办公室 office
go   shāngdiàn 商店 store
lái come   fàndiàn 饭店 restaurant
zài at   ké 可以 can
ba (none)   jiàn meet

place = xuéxiào, bàngōngshì, shāngdiàn, fàndiàn, zhèlǐ
city = Běijīng, Shànghǎi, Xī’ān
drink = píjiǔ, kāfēi, chá, shuǐ, kělè, lǜ chá, hóng chá
Note: Underlined words are substitutions

# Prompt Response
1 Nǐ qù nálǐ?
(Where are you going?)
Wǒ qù xuéxiào.
(I’m going to school.)
2 Nǐ lái bàngōngshì ma?
(Are you coming to the office?)
Bù, wǒ bú qù. Wǒ qù shāngdiàn.
(No, I’m not going.  I’m going to the store.)
3 Wǒmen zài nálǐ jiàn?
(Where should we meet?)
Zài fàndiàn, hǎo bù hǎo?
(At the restaurant, okay?)
4 Nǐ kéyǐ lái zhèlǐ ma?
(Can you come to here?)
Duì bu qǐ, bù kéyǐ。 Wǒ yóu diǎn máng.
(Sorry, its not possible. I’m a little busy.)
5 Ní xiǎng lái xuéxiào ma?
(Would you like to come school?)
Xiǎng. Wǒ yào qù.
(Yes.  I want to go.)
6 Nàlí yǒu méiyǒu kāfēi?
(Do they have coffee there?)
Yǒu. wǒmen qù ba!
(Yes.  Let’s go!)
7 Nálí yǒu píjiǔ?
(Where has beer?)
Fàndiàn yǒu.
(The restaurant has it.)
8 Wǒmen qù nálǐ chī fàn?
(Where should we go to eat lunch?)
xuéxiào ba.
(Let’s go to school.)

Telephone simulation …

1 Wéi ní hǎo Ní hǎo. Zhè shì [name]. [name2] zài ma?
2 Zài. Wǒ jiǔ shì. Ní hǎo, nǐ máng ma?
3 Bù máng。Nǐ ne? Wó yě bù máng. Wǒmen qù chī fàn ba.
4 Hǎo. Qù nǎli? Qù [place1] hǎo ma?
5 Hǎo de. Nǐ zài nálǐ?
6 Wǒ zài [place2] Wǒmen zài [place1] jiàn hǎo ma?
5 Hǎo de. Zài [place1] jiàn.  

Sentence Practice 9

Pinyin 中文 English   Pinyin 中文 English
shénme shíhòu 什么时候 when   gēn with
jīntiān 今天 today   xiànzài 现在 now
zuótiān 昨天 yesterday   then
míngtiān 明天 tomorrow   xiàwǔ 下午 afternoon
shàngwǔ 上午 late morning   zhōngwǔ 中午 noon
[time], [day] = jīntiān, míngtiān, zuótiān, xiànzài
[time], [part] = shàngwǔ, xiàwǔ, zhōngwǔ, zǎoshang, wǎnshang
[place] = xuéxiào, bàngōngshì, shāngdiàn, fàndiàn, zhèlǐ
[city] = Bě]ijīng, Shànghǎi, Xī’ān
[drink] = píjiǔ, kāfēi, chá, shuǐ, kělè, lǜ chá, hóng chá

# Prompt Response
1 Nǐ shénme shíhòu [qù]? Wǒ [time] [qù].
2 Nǐ míngtiān shénme shíhòu [lái]? Wǒ míngtiān [part] [lái].
3 Nǐ shénme shíhòu [qù] [place]? Wǒ [time] [qù] [place].
4 Wǒmen shénme shíhòu jiàn? Wǒmen [day] [part] jiàn ba.
5 Nǐ kéyǐ [time1] qù chī fàn ma? Bù kéyǐ. [time2] ba.
6 Ní xiǎng [day] lái ma? Xiǎng. wǒ yào [day] [time] lái.
7 Wǒmen shénme shíhòu hē [drink]? [time] ba
8 Ní xiǎng gēn wǒ qù [place] ma? shénme shíhòu qù?
[time] hǎo ma? Hǎode. Nà, [time] jiàn

Suggestions for Usage

Tell the students about some events you have planned for today and tomorrow. They will fill in a planner. Use this format for your question:

[day] [time of day] [time] wǒ [activity] [activity] = qù [place], chī [food], hē [drink], jiàn [person]

Optional alternatives: zài [place] [activity], gēn [person] [activity]

Planner 1 jīntiān míngtiān
zǎoshang 7 7
8 8
shàngwǔ 9 9
10 10
11 11
zhōngwǔ 12 12
xiàwǔ 1 1
2 2
3 3
4 4
wǎnshang 5 5

 

Planner 2 jīntiān míngtiān
zǎoshang 7 7
8 8
shàngwǔ 9 9
10 10
11 11
zhōngwǔ 12 12
xiàwǔ 1 1
2 2
3 3
4 4
wǎnshang 5 5

Sentence Practice 10

Pinyin 中文 English   Pinyin 中文 English
gànshénme 干什么 what are you doing?   shì matter, affair
xīngqī 星期 week   kǎoyā 烤鸭 roast duck
xīngqī jǐ 星期几 which day   diǎnzhōng 点钟 hour o’clock
bàn half   yíkè 一刻 one quarter hour
zǎo yìdiǎn 早一点 a little earlier   wǎn yìdiǎn 晚一点 a little later
[time] = [day] = jīntiān, míngtiān, zuǒtiān, xiànzài, xīngqīyi – xīngqītian
[time] = [part] = shàngwǔ, xiàwǔ, zhōngwǔ, zǎoshang, wǎnshang
[time] = [hour] = yì diǎnzhōng, … , shí er diǎnzhōng, X diǎn bàn, X diǎn (yí/sān) kè
[place] = xuéxiào, bàngōngshì, shāngdiàn, fàndiàn, zhèlǐ
[city] = Běijīng, Shànghǎi, Xī’ān
[drink] = píjiǔ, kāfēi, chá, shuǐ, kělè, lǜ chá, hóng chá

# Prompt Response
1 Nǐ jí diǎn qù? Wǒ [hour] diǎn qù.
2 Nǐ míngtiān shénme shíhòu lái? Wǒ míngtiān [hour] diǎn lái.
3 Nǐ jí diǎn qù [place]? Wǒ [hour] diǎn qù [place].
4 Nǐ [time] gàn shénme? Wǒ méi shì / Wó yǒu shì / Wǒ qù [place]
5 Wǒmen shénme shíhòu jiàn? Wǒmen [part] [hour] diǎn jiàn ba.
6 Nǐ kéyǐ [time1] chī fàn ma? Bù kéyǐ. [time2] ba.
7 Ní xiǎng [time] lái ma? Xiǎng. wǒ yào [time] qù.
8 Wǒmen shénme shíhòu hē [drink]? [day] [time] diǎn ba?
9 Nǐ míngtiān shénme shíhòu qù [place]? Míngtiān [time] qù.

Suggestions for this activity

Tell the participants about some events you have planned for next week. They will fill in the planner. Then ask the questions about the events.

Use this type of sentence to describe the activities:

  • Xīngqī [day] [time of day] [time] wǒ [activity]
  • [activity] = qù [place], chī [food], hē [drink], jiàn [person]
  • more complex activities: zài [place] [activity], gēn [person] [activity]

Then query the students with these questions:

  • Wǒ shénme shíhòu [activity] ?
  •  Wǒ xīngqī [day] [time] gànshénme?
  •  Wǒ xīngqī [day] gànshénme?
    qiántiān zuótian jīntiān míngtiān hòutiān  
xīngqī tiān xīngqī yī xīngqī èr xīngqī sān xīngqī sì xīngqī wǔ xīngqīl iù
zǎoshang 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
8 8 8 8 8 8 8
shàngwǔ 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
10 10 10 10 10 10 10
11 11 11 11 11 11 11
zhōngwǔ 12 12 12 12 12 12 12
xiàwǔ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
2 2 2 2 2 2 2
3 3 3 3 3 3 3
4 4 4 4 4 4 4
wǎnshang 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
6 6 6 6 6 6 6
7 7 7 7 7 7 7