Lesson 11 – Ordering Dinner

Ms Zhang () Is taking Mr Wang‘s () order at a local restaurant. Download

PinyinChineseEnglish
Ní xiǎng chī shénme? Yào bú yào chī yú?你想吃什么? 要不要吃鱼?What would you like to eat? Do you want fish?
Wǒ bú tài xǐhuān yú. Wó xiǎng chī gūlǎoròu.我不太喜欢鱼,我想吃咕咾肉。I don’t like fish too much. I would like sweet and sour pork.
Hǎo de. Xiǎng bù xiǎng chī chǎofàn?好的,想不想吃炒饭?Okay, Would you like fried rice?
Chǎofàn kéyǐ. Yǒu tāng ma?炒饭可以,有汤吗?Fried rice is okay. Do you have soup?
Yǒu. Yǒu shūcài tāng. Nǐ yào ma?有,有蔬菜汤,你要吗?Yes, we have vegetable soup. Do you want it?
Yào. Gòu le, xìexie!要。够了,谢谢。Yes, that’s enough now. Thanks.
Qíng děng yí xià.请等一下。Please wait a bit.
Improve your pronunciation! After listening to the audio, try recording your own voice. Click here to repeat the last audio played

Vocabulary

ChineseEnglishNotes
fishNoun, fish
tàitooAdverb expressing an extreme degree
xǐhuān喜欢likeVerb, indicating a strong preference
spicyNoun, the hot kind of spicy
chǎofàn炒饭fried riceNoun, fried rice mixed with vegetables
tāngsoupNoun, a hot watery dish
ròumeatNoun, example: jī ròu is chicken meat
gūlǎoròu咕咾肉sweet and sour porkNoun
shūcài蔬菜vegetableNoun
gòuenoughAdjective, no more is needed
leIndicates change of state

Pinyin and Pronunciation

Here are the rest of the ü-medials (the ones with the “ü” sound in the middle). Note that the dots are only used with “n” and “l” initials. This is a convenience since the ones with “n” and “l” initials are the only ones what would be ambiguous if the dots were omitted. In other words the u sound (pronounced “oo” as in moo) only occurs in syllables starting with “n” or “l”.

finals:
initials:
ü üe üan un iong tongue position
  yu yue yuan yun yong tongue_jqx_.jpg
n nüe      
l lüe      
j ju jue juan jun jiong
q qu que quan qun qiong
x xu xue xuan xun xiong

To produce the ü sound, try pronouncing “yi” (ee) and protruding your lips. The picture above shows that the tip of the tongue presses against the lower teeth. You can contrast “lu” and “lü” to see how different the tongue positions are.

Listen and circle the one you hear

lu – lü, nu – nü, ju – jue, qu – que,
quan – chuan, ye – yue, jiong – zhong, qiong – chong,
zuan – suan, ruan – run, shu – xu, xue – shui,
weng – wong, xun – shun, xuan – shuan, chuang – qiang

Listen and add the correct tone marks

fan dian, chao fan, shu cai, he tang, zhu rou
niu rou, ba kuai qian, xi huan, duo shao qian,
chi yu, tang mian, ji rou

Bonus Dialog

PinyinChineseEnglish
Ní xiǎng chī shénme? Wǒmen de yú hén hǎochī.你想吃什么?我们的鱼很好吃。What would you like to eat? Our fish is very tasty.
Wǒ bú tài xǐhuān chī yú. Kéyǐ kàn nǐde càidān ma?我不太喜欢吃鱼,可以看你的菜单吗?I am not too fond of fish. Can I look at your menu?
Kéyǐ. Qǐng kàn yí xià càidān。可以,请看一下菜单。Okay. Please have a little look.
Hǎo. Wǒmen yào liǎng fèn gōngbǎo jīdīng hé liǎng wán mǐfàn.好,我们要两份宫保鸡丁和两碗米饭。Okay. We want two servings of Kungpow Chicken and two bowls of rice.
Hái yào shénme?还要什么?What else do you want?
Zài lái liáng wǎn tāng. Gòu le. Xièxie再来两碗汤。够了,谢谢。Bring us a couple bowls of soup too. That’s enough. Thanks.
Hǎo, qíng děng yí xià.好,请等一下。Okay. Please wait a bit.

New Vocabulary

ChineseEnglishNotes
kànlookverb
càidān菜单menunoun
gōngbǎo jīdīng宫保鸡丁Kungpow Chickennoun
háistilladverb
zàilái再来bringverb. Literally, zài = “again” and lái = “come”

Grammar Patterns

Both hái (还) and zài (再) are adverbs that enhance the meaning of a verb, but may have a somewhat different meaning depending on the verb.

Usage Word for word Meaning
hái yào still want still want
hái shì still is still is (also “or” as in choice)
zài jiàn again meet see you again
zài lái again come bring

Practice

(Sentence practice sheet Sentence Practice.)
Practice these substitutions by writing them out and reciting out loud.

1 A: Nǐ [modal] chī shénme?
B: Wǒ [modal] chī [food].
modal = [yào, xiǎng, xǐhuān] food = [yú, chǎofàn, gǔlǎoròu, miàntiáo, jiǎozi]
2 A: Nǐ [modal] hē shénme?
B: Wǒ xiǎng yào [drink].
modal = [yào, xiǎng, xǐhuān] drink = [tāng, kělè, shuǐ, chá, kāfēi, píjiǔ]
3 A: Nǐ yǒu [num][class][item] ma?
B: Duì bù qǐ, wǒ méi yǒu.
num = [1, 2, 3 ..],
class = [zhī, zhāng, běn],
item = [bǐ, zhǐ, shū]
4 A: Nǐmen shì [type] ma?
B: Shì de , wǒmen shì [type].
type = [Měiguórén, xuésheng, Zhāng lǎoshī de xuésheng, péngyou]
5 A: Nǐmen [time] qù [place1] ma?
B: Bú qù, wǒmen [time] qù [place2].
time = [wǎnshang, míngtiān zǎoshang, xià wǔ] place = [shāngdiàn, bàngōngshì, Wáng xiānsheng jiā]
6 A: Jīntiān wǒmen yào qù fàndiàn chī [food], nǐ qù bú qù?
B: Wǒ bú qù, jīntiān wǒ tài [mood] le.
food = [chǎofàn, gǔ lǎo ròu, jiǎozi] mood = [lèi, máng]
7 A: Nǐ yǒu kōng ma?
B: Yǒu. Nǐ xiǎng gàn shénme?
A: Wǒ xiǎng qù fàndiàn chī [food]. Nǐ yào yíqì qù ma?
B: Hǎo, wǒmen qù ba.
food = [chǎofàn, gǔlǎoròu, jiǎozi]

Flashcards

Check this link for Sentence Practice 

Lesson 12 – Getting Change

Download
Mr Wang () in interested in buying some office supplies, Mr Li () is happy to help

Dialog

PinyinChineseEnglish
Qǐng wèn, zhè zhī bǐ duōshao qián?请问,这支笔多少钱?Excuse me, how much for this pen?
Nà zhī bǐ bā kuài qián.那支笔八块钱。That pen is 8 dollars.
Hǎo de, géi nǐ shí kuài qián.好的,给你十块钱。Okay, here is 10 dollars.
Xiè xiè, zhǎo nín liǎng kuài qián. Huān yíng nín zài lái.谢谢,找您两块钱。欢迎您再来。Thank you , here is 2 dollars change. Please come back again.
PinyinChineseEnglish
Ní hǎo, wó xiáng mǎi sān běn Zhōngwén shū hé liǎng zhī bǐ, yí gòng duōshao qián?你好,我想买三本中文书和两支笔。一共多少钱?Hi. I would like to buy three Chinese books and two pens. How much will that be?
Yì běn zhōngwén shū shí kuài qián ,yì zhī bǐ yí kuài wǔ,一本中文书十块钱,一支笔一块五,One Chinese book is 10 dollars, one pen is a dollar fifty,
Yí gòng sān shí sān kuài qián.一共三十三块钱。All together it’s 33 dollars.
Hǎo de, géi nǐ sān shí wǔ kuài qián。好的,给你 35 块钱。Okay, here is 35 dollars.
Zhǎo nín liǎng kuài, xiè xiè, zài jiàn.找您 2 块,谢谢,再见。Thanks, here is 2 dollars change. Bye.

Vocabulary

Pinyin Chinese English Notes

qián money Noun
mǎi buy Verb
qiān bǐ 铅笔 pencil Noun
duōshao 多少 how many Question word, the two characters mean many (多) and few (少)
kuài dollar Measure word, used with money, yí kuài qián is “one dollar”
máo dime 1/10 kuài
fēn penny 1/100 kuài
zhǎo nín 找您 “give you”  used in the expression “zhǎo nín (change)”
yí gòng 一共 all together Noun, used when referring to everything in a set
zài lái 再来 return, come again Verb, this is the same zai we saw in zài jiàn (meet again)
bǎi hundred Noun, used for expressing numbers
líng zero  

Grammar Points

More about numbers

When to use “liǎng” in numbers ..

  • Use “liǎng” instead of “èr” when expressing the quantity 2.
  • Use “èr” in the tens place and ones place in numbers larger than 2, for example 22 = “èr shí èr”
  • Use “liǎng” in the hundreds and thousands place, for example 2222 = “liǎng qiān liǎng bǎi èr shí èr”
  • Please note that “èr bǎi” is preferred in some regions of China.

When to use “líng”

  • Use “líng” when a zero occurs between 2 numbers. Example: 202 is “liǎng bǎi líng èr“.
  • Use only one “líng” for adjacent zeros. Example: 2002 is “liǎng qiān líng èr”.

When to omit the final “shí”

  • The final “shí” may be dropped if the number ends with zero.

Example: 130 can be expressed as “yì bǎi sān”.

Expressing price

In this lesson we learn about money, “qián”, and three of its classifiers

  • kuài = dollar
  • máo = dime, 10 cents, or 1/10 of a dollar
  • fēn = penny, 1 cent, or 1/100 of a dollar

In English we use dollars and cents for quantifying money. But Chinese uses “máo”, in a similar way to express tens. For example:

  • .50 = wǔ máo
  • .55 = wǔ máo wǔ fēn

Since qián is a noun it may be omitted if it is obvious from the context. So both of the following are suitable as an answer to “How much is it?”:

  • shí kuài qián = shí kuài = 10 dollars
  • wǔ máo qián = wǔ máo = 50 cents

When expressing fractions of a dollar, you may use to use “máo” and “fēn”. For example.

  • yì fēn = 1 cent
  • yì máo = 10 cents
  • yì máo 5 fēn = 15 cents

It might be helpful to think of “máo” as replacing “shí” when expressing fractions of a dollar.

The trailing denomination can be omitted if it is clear from context.

  • yí kuài yì [máo] = 1 dollar 10 cents
  • yì máo 5 [fēn] = 15 cents

Use of “líng” depends on context.

  • Don’t start a number with “líng”. Example: 0.05 is just “wǔ fēn”.
  • Only use between two numbers. Example: 1.05 is “yì kuài líng wǔ fēn”.

Most things in China cost more than 100RMB. here are some examples of amounts over 100

  • yì bǎi kuài (100 dollars)
  • yì bǎi bā shí kuài (180 dollars)
  • yì bǎi bā shí wu kuài (185 dollars)
  • liǎng bǎi èr shí èr kuài (222 dollars)

Putting it all together

  • If we want to ask the price of something we ask “[something] duōshao qián?”. “duōshao” is a question word, like “jǐ” (lesson 4). The difference is that “jǐ” is limited situations where the answer is expected to be a small number (12 or less).
  • The seller describes the unit prices and then uses the expression “yí gòng” to preface the total price
  • When handing something to someone it is common to say “géi nǐ”. This is equivalent to the English expression “here”.
  • When handing back change, the cashier might say “zhǎo nín xxx”. In this expression (and only in this expression) “zhǎo” means “give”.

Exercises

Monetary Amounts

Fill in the following table according to the example.

yì bǎi yì shí yí kuài yì máo yì fēn 111.11
yì bǎi kuài  
yì bǎi bā shí kuài  
yì bǎi bā shí wu kuài  
yì bǎi líng wu kuài  
yí kuài  
yí kuài bā  
yí kuài bā máo  
yí kuài bā máo 5  
yí kuài bā máo 5 fēn  
yí kuài líng 5 fēn  

Next write the pinyin for each of these amounts:

111.11 yì bǎi yì shí yí kuài yì máo yì fēn
1.85  
12.50  
30.99  
125.25  
444.44  
3.05  

 

Review

Write the answer in pinyin with tone marks

Question Answer
1) Qǐng wèn, nǐ shì Zhōngguó rén ma?  
2) Ní xǐhuan hē píjiǔ ma?  
3) Nǐ zuótiān lèi ma?  
4) Gege hé wǒ míngtiān xiǎng qù shāngdiàn, nǐ qù ma?  
5) Ní yǒu péngyou ma?  
6) Ní xiǎng chī jiǎozi ma?  
7) Míngtiān nǐ qù nǎli?  
8) Nǐ de bàngōngshì yǒu duōshao ge rén?  
9) Nǐ yào bái fàn háishì miàn tiáo?  

Write an equivalent sentence in Mandarin, using pinyin with tone marks.

Question Answer
1) My girlfriend is Chinese.  
2) I have three offices.  
3) My father is an English teacher.  
4) There are 5 people in my family.  
5) Yesterday I was so busy, how about you?  
6) Tomorrow morning I am going to China.  
7) Where are you going tomorrow evening?  
8) I would like to drink a bottle cold red tea.  
9) I like speaking Chinese.  
10) I would like to eat a bowl of chicken soup.  

More Numbers

 

1 11 shí yī 91 jiǔ shí yī 101 yì bǎi líng yī 111 yì bǎi yì shí yī 991 jiǔ bǎi jiǔ shí yī
2 èr 12 shí èr 92 jiǔ shí èr 102 yì bǎi líng èr 112 yì bǎi yì shí èr 992 jiǔ bǎi jiǔ shí èr
3 sān 13 shí sān 93 jiǔ shí sān 103 yì bǎi líng sān 113 yì bǎi yì shí sān 993 jiǔ bǎi jiǔ shí sān
4 14 shí sì 94 jiǔ shí sì 104 yì bǎi líng sì 114 yì bǎi yì shí sì 994 jiǔ bǎi jiǔ shí sì
5 15 shí wǔ 95 jiǔ shí wǔ 105 yì bǎi líng wǔ 115 yì bǎi yì shí wǔ 995 jiǔ bǎi jiǔ shí wǔ
6 liù 16 shí liù 96 jiǔ shí liù 106 yì bǎi líng liù 116 yì bǎi yì shí liù 996 jiǔ bǎi jiǔ shí liù
7 17 shí qī 97 jiǔ shí qī 107 yì bǎi líng qī 117 yì bǎi yì shí qī 997 jiǔ bǎi jiǔ shí qī
8 18 shí bā 98 jiǔ shí bā 108 yì bǎi líng bā 118 yì bǎi yì shí bā 998 jiǔ bǎi jiǔ shí bā
9 jiǔ 19 shí jiǔ 99 jiǔ shí jiǔ 109 yì bǎi líng jiǔ 119 yì bǎi yì shí jiǔ 999 jiǔ bǎi jiǔ shí jiǔ
10 shí 20 èr shí 100 yì bǎi 110 yì bǎi yì shí 120 yì bǎi èr shí 1000 yì qiān

How to read numbers in Mandarin

Number Pattern Spoken/Casual
0  líng  
1-9  yī, èr, sān, sì, wǔ, liù, qī, bā, jiǔ  
10  shí  
11-19  shí[1-9]  
20  èr shí  
21-29  èr shí[1-9]  
91-99 jiǔ shí[1-9]  
100 yī bǎi  
101-109 yī bǎi líng [1-9]  
110 yī bǎi yī shí yī bǎi yī
111-119 yī bǎi yī shí [1-9]  
190 yī bái jiǔ shí yī bái jiǔ
191-199 yī bái jiǔ shí [1-9]  
200 èr bǎi liáng bǎi
2,000 èr qiān liǎng qiān
3,456 sān qiān sì bǎi wǔ shí liù  

Homework

Check this link for Sentence Practice 

Voice recording courtesy of Danie Wu, Effective Chinese Instructor

Download

Lesson 13 – Shopping for Clothes

In this conversation a mother and her daughter are shopping for clothes (mp3)

PinyinChineseEnglish
Nǐ xiáng mǎi shénme yīfu? Kùzi háishì chènshān?你想买什么衣服?裤子还是衬衫?What clothes are you looking for? Pants or shirt?
Wǒ xiáng mǎi yí jiàn chènshān.我想买一件衬衫。I would like to buy a shirt.
Nǐ xǐhuan shénme yánsè de chènshān?你喜欢什么颜色的衬衫?What color do you like?
Bái sè de.白色的。White ones.
Zhè jiàn zěnme yàng?这件怎么样?How about this one?
Zhè jiàn tài dà le.这件太大了。This one is too big.
Zhè jiàn ne?这件呢?What about this one?
Wǒ xǐhuan zhè jiàn. Duō shǎo qián.我喜欢这件,多少钱?I like this one. How much is it?
380 kuài 。380 块。380 dollars
Tài guì le!太贵了!Too expensive.
Shì tài guì le 。Zhè jiàn ne?是太贵了,这件呢?It is too expensive. What about this one?
Tài piàoliang le, wǒ xǐhuan, yě bú guì, wǒ mǎi le.太漂亮了,我喜欢,也不贵,我买了。Oh, it is too pretty, I like it and it is not too expensive. I’ll buy it!

Vocabulary

Pinyin
Chinese
English

bái
white
Adjective
color
Suffix, appended to color words like: báisè, hóngsè, lǜsè
yánsè 颜色 color
Noun
piàoliang 漂亮 beautiful
Adjective
yīfu 衣服 clothes
Noun used to refer to clothes in general.
jiàn
Classifier for clothes, mainly upper garments, such as shirts or sweaters.
tiáo
Classifier for pants, and many of long thin things.
chènshān 衬衫/td>

shirt/blouse
Noun
zěnme yàng 怎么样 “how about it”
Expression used to ask the opinion of others.
kùzi 裤子 pants
Noun
guì expensive
Adjective
piányi 便宜 cheap
Adjective
big
Adjective
xiǎo
small
Adjective
le
Particle, used for emphasis


Grammar patterns

When to use “de” with adjectives

Adjectives are used to qualify nouns, that is to say, they add information about the noun. In Chinese, like English, the adjective precedes the noun in word order. Adjectives are often linked to a noun using the structural partical “de”, but it is not always required. Here are a couple of examples

Adjective

Noun

Example
Translation
hěn guì de yīfu Wǒ xǐhuan hěn guì de yīfu I like very expensive clothes
guì yīfu
Wǒ xǐhuan guì yīfu I like expensive clothes



The rule is simple. If the adjective has two or more syllables then use “de” otherwise you can omit it.

Color words don’t always need “sè”

Color words are sometimes followed by the word “sè”. For example: “báisè”, “hóngsè”, “lǜsè”. Using “sè” emphasizes the color. Note, when you use “sè” the color becomes a two letter adjective and, so, it requires “de”

Color (optional) Noun English
chá green tea
hēi kāfēi black coffee
hóng sè de red pencil
bái
sè de yīfu white clothes

Note that “lǜ chá” is not actually green colored tea, and “hēi kāfēi” means coffee with nothing extra. So in these two cases, adding “sè de” would change the meaning.

Practice

Check this link for Sentence Practice 

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(to download right click Download , select "save as")

Lesson 14 – Comparing Weather

Hóng is in Xi’an and Yuè is in Beijing. They are comparing the weather.(mp3)

PinyinChineseEnglish
Běijīng de tiānqì zěnmeyàng?北京的天气怎么样?How is the weather in Beijing?
Jīntiān Běijīng de tiānqì bù hǎo, yòu xiàyǔ yòu guāfēng今天北京的天气不好,又下雨又刮风Today Beijing’s weather is awful, raining and windy.
Xī’ān yě xiàyǔ.西安也下雨。Xian is also raining.
Nà Xī’ān hé Běijīng yíyàng ma?那西安和北京一样吗?So Xi’an and Beijing are the same?
Bù yíyàng, Xī’ān bù guāfēng.不一样,西安不刮风。Not the same, Xi’an is not windy.
Xī’ān jīngcháng xiàyǔ ma?西安经常下雨吗?Does it frequently rain in Xian?
Yǒu shíhou xiàyǔ, yǒu shíhou qíngtiān.有时候下雨,有时候晴天。Sometimes raining, sometimes sunny.
Wó bǐjiào xǐhuan Guǎngzhōu. Tāmen de tiānqì jīngcháng qíngtiān.我比较喜欢广州。他们的天气经常晴天。I prefer Guangzhou. Their weather is often sunny.
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
qíngtiān
晴天
(n) sunny day
xiàyǔ
下雨
(v) rain
xiàxuě
下雪
(v) snow
duōyún
多云
(adj) cloudy
yīntiān
阴天
(adj) overcast
guāfēng
刮风
(v) blow wind
yòu X yòu Y
又..又..
grammar pattern
lěng

(adj) cold


(adj) hot
yīyàng
一样
(adv) same
yǒu shíhou
有时候
(adv) sometimes
jīngcháng
经常
(adv) frequently
bǐjiào
比较
(adv) comparatively
tiānqì
天气
(n) weather

Grammar Patterns

Asking about the weather

Just as in English, the Chinese ask about the weather using open-ended sentences like “How’s the weather”. In Chinese it is a good idea to provide an editorial assessment first, like “good” or “bad” and then follow up with additional commentary. The first lines two lines of this dialog are good examples. The subject of the question can be a location, a time, or both

  • Běijīng de tiānqì zěnmeyàng? – How is Beijing’s weather?
  • Jīntiān de tiānqì zěnmeyàng? – How is Todays’s weather?
  • Míngtiān Xī’ān de tiānqì zěnmeyàng? – How will tomorrow’s weather in Xian be?



The answer can be any expression satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Here are a few simple ones

  • Bù hǎo, xià yǔ. – Bad, it is raining.
  • Hén hǎo, qíng tiān. – Good, it is sunny

Verbs with obligatory objects

Chinese has many types of verbs. Lots of verbs come in sets. One such type is sometimes call verb-object verbs because the verb requires an object. Here are a few examples.

  • xiàyǔ (raining)
  • guāfēng (windy)
  • chīfàn (eating)

Expressing sameness

To say that two things are the same you join them with “hé” or “gěn” and follow them with “yīyáng”

(first phrase) (second phrase) yīyáng
Xī’ān Běijīng yīyáng

Expressing consistent characteristics

If you want to say that something has two characteristics that are both positive or both negative then you can use the “Yòu … yòu …” pattern.

Yòu (first phrase) Yòu (second phrase)
Yòu xiàyǔ Yòu guāfēng

Homework

Homework should challenge the student to use the vocab and grammar from the lesson


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Lesson 15 – What do you know?

 

Wang Xing (王星) and Mǎkè (马克) are having a chat. ( Download )

Name
Chinese English
王星 Mǎkè, zhè shì shénme? 马克,这是什么? Mark. What’s this?
马克 Wǒ bù zhīdào. Nǐ shuō. 我不知道,你说。 I don’t know. You tell me.
王星 Zhè shì wǒ de shǒujī. Nǐ míngbai “shǒujī” ma? 这是我的手机,你明白”手机”吗? This is my “shǒujī”. Do you understand “shǒujī”
马克 Bù míngbai. yīngwén zěnme shuō? 不明白,英文怎么说? I don’t understand. How do you say it in English?
王星 Yīngwén shuō “hand phone”. 英文说”hand phone”。 In English it is called “hand phone”.
马克 A, míngbai le. “shǒujī” de “shǒu” shì dì sān shēng ma? 啊,明白了。”手机”的”手”是第三声吗? Oh, now I understand. Is the “shou” in “shǒujī” third tone?
王星 Duì. 对。 Yes.
马克 “Shǒujī” de “jī” shì dì sì shēng ma? “手机”的”机”是第四声吗? Is “ji” in “shǒujī” fourth tone?
王星 Bú duì. “shǒujī” de “jī” shì dì yì shēng. “shǒujī”, “shǒujī”. Nǐ kàn. 不对,”手机”的”机”是第一声,”手机”,”手机”,你看。 No “ji” is first tone. (repeats twice for emphasis). Look. (holding the phone out).
马克 Nǐ de shǒujī tài xiǎo le! Qǐng gěi wǒ kàn yī kàn. 你的手机太小了!请给我看一看。 You hand phone is so small. Can I take a look?
王星 Hǎo. 好。 Sure.
马克 Búcuò. Nǐ xǐhuan ma? 不错,你喜欢吗? Not bad. Do you like it?
王星 Xǐhuan. 喜欢。 I do.
马克 O, wó xiǎng wèn nǐ yī ge wèntí. 哦,我想问你一个问题。 Oh, I have a question.
王星 Shénme wèntí? 什么问题? What question?
马克 Zhè ge shǒujī shì bú shì Měiguó de? 这个手机是不是美国的? Is this an American phone?
王星 Bú shì, shì rìběn de. 不是,是日本的。 No it’s Japanese.

This dialog is a good model for learning new words from your Chinese friends. It helps to ask questions to be sure you are hearing the tone and pronunciation correctly.

Vocabulary

Pinyin Chinese Definition Use
míng bai 明白 understand verb  
dì yī 第一 first noun This is an ordinal. The pattern is: 第一, 第二, 第三 … meaning first, second, third, ….
dì yì shēng 第一声 first tone noun This is a pattern used to describe the tone of a word: first, second, third, forth.
kàn look verb
le change of state particle For example: wǒ míng bái means “I understand”, but wǒ míng bái le means “Now I understand”
o oh expression Expresses having just thought of something
shǒujī 手机 mobile phone noun shǒu means “hand”, jī means machine.
shuō say, speak verb  
zěnme 怎么 how question For example 怎么说 means “how to say”
wèntí 问题 question noun  
zhīdào 知道 to know verb  
Búcuò 不错 pretty good adjective 错 (cuò) means “mistake”

Grammar Patterns

Doubling up on verbs

When a verb is repeated in a sentence (such as Qǐng gěi wǒ kàn kàn) it indicates that the action is expected to have a short duration. For example kàn kàn could be translated as “a little look”. It can be separated by an optional yī (一) as in “kàn yī kàn” but the meaning is still the same. The pattern “verb yí xià” also has the same meaning. The following table show all three forms for two different verbs.

kàn kàn kàn yī kàn kàn yí xià
chī chī chī yī chī chī yí xià

Please note, the form in the first column is most common

Ordinals

Ordinals are words that express the sequential order of things, like “first”, “second”, “third” and so forth. Note that the first 3 English ordinals bear no relationship to the words: one, two and three. Chinese is a bit clearer because the ordinal is formed by simply prefacing a number with “dì”

dì yī tiān the first day
dì èr jiàn shì the second matter
dì sān běn shū the third book
dì sì shēng the forth tone

By the way, did you notice that two of the words in this table have no classifier. There are very few words like “tiān” and “shēng”, but these words are actually considered to be classifiers where noun is always omitted. This is like, when you say “yì kuài” or “yi kuài qián”, but “yì kuài” is preferred if the context is clear.

Learning New Words

When you hear a new word it is a good idea to learn as much as you can about the word. For example: how to pronounce it, how to write it and how to use it. In this way you will be able to retain it and use it later. If you use chinese to request this information, you have more chance to practice the language and it will make the request clearer.

Asking about the parts of a word

Many Chinese words are often composed of two parts, so it helps to be able to ask about each part separately. For example, to find out more about “shǒu” part of “shǒujī” you can express this with the phrase:

  • “shǒujī “de “shǒu”.

This means “the shǒu in shǒujī”.

Using this grammar pattern you can ask a question about one part of the word. For example …

  • “shǒujī” de “shǒu” shì dì sān shēng ma? (Is the shǒu in shǒujī 3rd tone?)
  • “shǒujī” de “shǒu” gěn yòushǒu de shǒu yíyàng ma? (Is the shǒu in shǒujī the same as shǒu in yòushǒu?

This type of inquiry is similar to an English learner asking if “examination” is based on the word “examine”

Knowing and understanding

These two Chinese verbs (zhīdào and míngbai) align well with the English equivalents “know” and “understand”. Chinese has many words for knowing and understanding, but the two listed below are widely used.

  • zhīdào (知道) has to do with knowing facts
  • míngbai (明白) has to do with understanding or comprehension.

One way to see how these two verbs are used is to imagine you are listening to someone speak Chinese. You will be expected to give the speaker feedback from time to time to confirm that you are listening and comprehending. Here are some responses you might make.

  • “Míngbai” – I understand what you said.
  • “Bu míngbai” – I don’t understand what you said.
  • “Zhīdào” – I understand, and I already knew it.
  • “Zhīdào le” – I understand, and but I did not know it before.

Audio

Audio courtesy of Cecilia Shang

Click on the player to start the audio.

Lesson

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Lesson 16 – Shanghai

Wáng Xīng (王星) is catching up with Mǎkè (马克 about the details of his trip to Shanghai Download

Name
Chinese English equivalent
王星 Nǐ qù guò Shànghǎi ma? 你去过上海吗? Have you been to Shanghai?
马克 Qù guò. jīnnián sān yuèfèn wǒ qù le. 去过。今年三月份我去了。 I have. I was there in March.
王星 Nǐ zài Shànghǎi chī le shénme? 你在上海吃了什么? What did you eat in Shanghai?
马克 Wǒ chī le hěn duō zhōngguó cài. 我吃了很多中国菜。 I ate many Chinese dishes.
王星 Nǐ chī le huǒguō ma? 你吃了火锅吗? Did you eat “hot pot”?
马克 Wǒ méi chī huǒguō, kěshì wǒ chī le málàtàng. 我没吃火锅,可是我吃了麻辣烫。 I didn’t eat hot pot, but I did eat “Mala tang”.
王星 Nǐ kàn le dōngfāngmíngzhū tǎ ma? 你看了东方明珠塔吗? Did you see the Pearl Tower?
马克 Wǒ méi kàn, wǒ tài máng le. 我没看,我太忙了。 I didn’t see it, I was too busy.
王星 Nǐ zài Shànghǎi gàn shénmele ? 你在上海干什么了? What were you doing in Shanghai?
马克 Wǒ zài Shànghǎi xué le Zhōngwén 我在上海学了中文 In Shanghai I was studying Chinese.
王星 Zài Shànghǎi ní mǎi dōngxi le méiyǒu? 在上海你买东西了没有? Did you buy something in Shanghai?
马克 Wó mǎi le sīchóu shuìyī. 我买了丝绸睡衣。 I bought silk pajamas.

Vocabulary

Pinyin Chinese
guò (verbal complement) experienced
le (structural particle indicating completed action)
méi (adv) not (only for actions in the past)
jīnnián 今年 this year
yuèfèn 月份 month
cài (n) dish, as in type of food
huǒguō 火锅 (n) hot pot
kěshì 可是 (conj) but
málàtàng 麻辣烫 (n) a kind of soup
dōngfāngmíngzhū tǎ 东方明珠塔 (n) Pearl Tower, a famous landmark in Shanghai
dōngxi 东西 (n) something
sīchóu 丝绸 (n) silk
shuìyī 睡衣 (n) pajamas

Grammar Patterns

Aspect -vs- Tense

Chinese is different from English when it comes to expressing when things occurred. Where as in English we can put any action into one of three tenses (past, present and future), Chinese uses temporal aspect to distinguish time.

One example of a temporal aspect is an action has been completed. An another example is an action that is still happening. Both languages express the same range of meaning with regard to action, but they go about it in slightly different ways.

In Chinese the verbs are combined with words such as “le”, “méi”, and “guò” to provide time related information. These words are call “aspect markers”, because the indicate temporal aspects. This chapter addresses the simplest grammar patterns for discussing things that have already occurred.

Talking about something that occurred, using 了(le)

If you want to indicate that you have completed some action you can use the suffix “le”. In this case the “le” usually follows the verb directly, the sentence final “le” usually indicates a change of state. However, when asking a question, the “le” occurs directly before “ma”.

  • Wǒ qù le Shànghǎi. – I went to Shanghai.
  • Tā chī le huǒguò. – He ate hot pot.
  • Nǐ mǎi yīfù le ma? – Did you buy clothes?

Talking about experience using 过 (guò)

If you to indicate that you have experienced something, as opposed to having done something at a specific time you will follow the verb with “guò”. Although, this is a separate word we can call it a suffix.

  • Wǒ qù guò Shànghǎi. – I have been to Shanghai.
  • Tā chī guò huǒguò. – He has eaten hot pot.
  • nǐ mǎi guò yīfù ma? – Have you bought clothes?

Talking about things that didn’t happen, using 没(méi)

Using “méi” you can talk about what has not happened. Please note that “le” is never combined with “méi” .

  • Wǒ méi qù Shànghǎi. – I did not go to Shanghai.
  • Tā méi chī huǒguò. – He did not eat hot pot.
  • Nǐ méi mǎi yīfù ma? – You didn’t buy clothes? (rhetorical

You can also use “méi” when describing experiences that have not happened.

  • Wǒ méi qù guò Shànghǎi. – I have not been to Shanghai.
  • Tā méi chī guò huǒguò. – He has not eaten hot pot.
  • Nǐ méi mǎi guò yīfù. – You have not bought clothes.

Homework

Check this link for Sentence Practice 

Download , (right click select “save as”)

Lesson 17 – Family pictures

Mǎkè 马克 introduces Wang Xing 王星 to his girlfriend.

Name
Chinese English
王星 Mǎkè, níhǎo! Wó hěn gāoxìng jiàndào nǐ. 马克,你好! 我很高兴见到你。 Hi Mike! Nice to see you again.
马克 Wáng Xīng, níhǎo! Wó yé hěn gāoxìng. Zhè shì wǒ nǚpéngyou, Xiáo Lǐ. 王星,你好! 我也很高兴。这是我女朋友,小李。 Hi Wang Xing! Nice to see you too. This is my girl friend, Little Li.
马克 Xiáo Lǐ, zhè shì wó hǎopéngyou Lǎo Wáng. 小李,这是我好朋友老王。 Little Li, this is my good friend, Old Wang.
小李 Wáng xiānsheng nínhǎo. 王先生您好。 Hello Mr Wang.
王星 Níhǎo Xiáo Lǐ. 你好,小李。 Hi.Little Li.
小李 Wǒ tīngshuō nín yóu liǎng ge háizi. 我听说您有两个孩子。 I hear you have two children.
王星 Shì de. Wó yóu liǎng ge nǚér. méiyǒu érzi. Ní xiǎng kàn tāmen de zhàopiàn ma? 是的,我有两个女儿,没有儿子。你想看她们的照片吗? Yes. I have 2 daughters, no sons. Would you like to see their picture?
小李 Dāngrán xiǎng. A, tāmen tài kěài le. Tāmen jǐ suì? 当然想,啊,她们太可爱了,她们几岁? Of course. (.. looks at the picures) Oh, they are so cute. How old are they?
王星 Xiáo nǚér bā suì, dà nǚér shíyī suì. 小女儿八岁,大女儿十一岁。 The little one is eight, the older one is eleven.
小李 Nín yǒu nín tàitai de zhàopiàn ma? 您有您太太的照片吗? Do you have a picture of your wife?
王星 Shì de. nǐ kàn. 是的,你看。 Yes. See.
小李 Qǐngwèn, nín háizi de míngzi shì shénma? 请问,您孩子的名字是什么? May I ask, what are your daughter’s names?
王星 Tāmen jiào Xià Jú hé Dōng Méi. 他们叫夏菊和冬梅。 Xiaju and Dongmei
马克 Duìbuqǐ. qǐng zàishuō yícì. Kéyǐ shuō màn yīdiǎn ma? 对不起,请再说一次,可以说慢一点吗? Excuse me, can you say that again, a little more slowly?
王星 Kéyǐ. Xià Jú hé Dōng Méi. 可以,夏菊和冬梅。 Can. Xia-Ju and Dong-Mei

Vocabulary

Pinyin Chinese Definition
gāoxìng 高兴 adj. happy  
jiàndào 见到 to meet jiàn is the verb and dào is the resultative compliment. By adding dào you clarify that you are talking about the completion of the action.
woman/girl examples: nǚpéngyou (girl friend) and nǚér (daughter).
tīngshuō 听说 exp. heard said This is common abbreviated expression indicating that you “have heard it said … “
zhàopiàn 照片 photograph  
nǚér 女儿 daughter  
érzi 儿子 son  
dāngrán 当然 exp. of course An expression confirming what has just been said and indicating that it is obvious.
suì age in years  
tàitai 太太 wife  
kě ài 可爱 adj. cute/lovely  
occurrence/instance an instance of an occurrence. example: yicì (one time).
màn adv. slow  
háizi 孩子 child  

 

Language Patterns

Greetings

When encountering someone in a social situation is is nice to use one of the following expressions

  • Wǒ hěn gāoxìng jiàndào nǐ., “I am happy to meet you”.
  • Wǒ hěn gāoxìng kànjiàn nǐ., “I am happy to see you”.
  • Wǒ hěn gāoxìng rènshi nǐ., “I am happy to know you”.

Heard it said

The expression tīngshuō is really two verbs tīng (to listen) and shuō (to speak). This is a very common expression, but the more proper way to use these verbs would be to give tīng an object.

  • Wǒ tīng Mǎkè shuō nǐn yǒu liǎng ge háizi.

It is interesting to note that the object of tīng is the subject of shuō. Many Chinese text books refer to this grammar pattern as a pivotal sentence.

How old are they?

There are many ways to ask someones age. When asking about a child the expression jǐ suì is common. But remember jǐ is for counting things less that 12, so it won’t work well for adults. A typical expression that works well for both adults and children is.

  • Tāmen duō dà? /他们多大?

Here the literal meaning is “they are how big?”, but all Chinese speakers understand it to be a question about age. It will never be answered with weight or height as might be expected from the literal translation.

Say it again

It is unavoidable. When you are learning a language you need to ask people to repeat themselves.The polite way to ask would be one of these two sentences.

  • Qǐng zàishuō yīcì. /请再说一次。
  • Qǐng zàishuō yībiàn./清再说一边。

In these sentences zài (再) means “repeat” or “again”, not to be confused with the other zài (在) which means “located at”. This is the same zài (再) that is found in zàijiàn (再见), which can be translated as “meet again”. Both yībiàn and yīcì means “one time”. So putting it all together both sentences mean get “Please repeat one time”.

A little slower

Probably the reason you are asking to repeat is because your ears/brain are not ready for native speed. So to request that the speaker slow it down use the sentence.

  • Qǐng shuō màn yīdiǎn.

If someone is speaking too slowly you might want make the following request

  • Qǐng shuō kuài yīdiǎn.

Homework

Check this link for Sentence Practice 

Audio

Audio courtesy of Cecilia Shang

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Audio courtesy of Amy Zhai, and friends. This one is a little closer to natural speed.

(right click here , select “save as”)

Lesson 18 – How long?

Sometimes just buying a pen can be an opportunity to practice Mandarin

Pinyin
Chinese English
Níhǎo ,nà zhī bǐ duōshao qián? 你好,那支笔多少钱? Hello. How much is that pen?
Bā kuài wǔ 。 。。。 nǐ de zhōngwén shuō de zhēn hǎo 。 八块五……,你的中文说得真好。 Eight fifty … You speak Chinese really well.
Nálǐ nálǐ。 哪里哪里。 Not really.
Nǐ lái zhōngguó duōcháng shíjiān le? 你来中国多长时间了? How long have you been in China?
Liǎng gè xīngqī le。 两个星期了。 Two weeks.
Zhème duǎn shíjiān! Nǐ xué zhōngwén duōcháng shíjiān le? 这么短时间! 你学中文多长时间了? Such a short time! How long have you studied Chinese?
Wǒ xué zhōngwén yì nián duō le。 我学中文一年多了。 I studied for more than one year.
Nǐ zài nálǐ xué de zhōngwén? 你在哪里学的中文? Where did you study Chinese?
Wǒ shì zài měiguó xué de。 我是在美国学的。 I studied in the US.
Tā men jiāo de hǎo ma? 他们教得好吗? Do they teach well?
Tā men jiāo de hén hǎo 。 他们教得很好。 They teach very well.
Gěi nín bǐ 。 Nín hái yào shénme ? 给您笔,您还要什么? Here is the pen. What else do you want?
Xièxie ,bú yào le! 谢谢,不要了! Thanks, I don’t want anything now!
Nín màn zǒu ,zài jiàn 。 您慢走,再见。 Take care, good bye

Vocabulary

Pinyin Chinese English
cháng long Adjective, indicating length.
duǎn short Adjective, short in terms of length, like time or string, but not in terms of height.
duō many Adjective, when this word follows a quantity it indicates that the actual amount is greater than the stated quantity.
duō cháng 多长 how long Interrogative pronoun, asking for the length of something.
shí jiān 时间 duration Noun used in quantify periods of time.
zhème 这么 such, so Adverb used for emphasis.
le   Verb compliment, indicating completed action.
zhēn really Adverb, similar to hěn (很) but expressing surprise as well.
nálǐ ná 哪里哪里   Expression used to downplay a compliment. Normally is used between the people are not familiar. The literal translation is “where, where”.
de   Structural Particle, connecting a verb to its complement.
shì .. de 是 .. 的   Sentence pattern used when indicating the time manor or place of an action which happens in the past.
jiāo teach Verb, to teach
hái still Adverb indicating something is not yet complete
nín màn zǒu 您慢走   Expression used to see friend or customer off. Literal translation is: please go slowly.

 

Grammar Patterns

This lesson introduces several new grammar patterns.  Each of the descriptions below contains a link to The Grammar Wiki, an excellent resource for understanding Chinese grammar.

Using de (得) to express degree compliments

We already learned two forms of de, both of which are represented by the character (的).  One is used to indicate possession or close association, the other is to bind adjectives to nouns. For example …

  1. lǎoshī de shū (the teacher’s book)
  2. hóng sè de kǔzi (red pants)


The de we will learn here has a different character (得), but sounds the same.  This de (得) has many uses, but at this point we will focus on using it to express degree compliments.  A degree compliment is basically and adverbial phrase.

For example, in this lesson we find the sentence

  • Tā men jiāo de hǎo ma?

The pattern is: verb – “de” – adverb

verb adverb English
jiāo de hǎo teach well
chī de kuai eat fast


Here are some examples to illustrate the similarities and differences.

  • Use de (得) to connect a verb with its adverb.
    • Nǐ shuō de zhēn hǎo. (You speak really well.)
    • Wǒ chī de tai shǎo. (I eat too little.)
    • Tā men jiāo de hén hǎo. (They teach very well.)
  • Use de (的) to indicate association or bind an adjective.
    • de zhōngwén (your Chinese)
    • de xuéxiào
    • de lǎoshī

Using le (了) to indicate temporal aspect

We already learned about temporal aspects in lesson 15. Here are some points to illustrate slightly different usages of le.

  • Use le(了) to indicate completed action.
    • Nǐ lái zhōngguó le ma? (Did you come to China?) Note: “ma” always follows “le”
    • Wǒmen tīng lǎoshī shuō de huà le. (We listened to what the teacher said)
    • Wǒ zuótiān qù bàngōngshì le (I went to the office)
  • Use le(了) to indicate a change of state. (in this can
    • Wǒ bù yào le (I don’t want anymore)
    • Jīntiān xià yǔ le (today it is raining) Implies that yesterday it was not
    • Wó dǒng le (Now I understand.)
  • Use le(了) for as used with “tài”
    • tài hǎo le (that’s great)

Expressing duration of time

To express duration of time in a sentence, it is necessary to specify the amount of time after the verb.  In contrast, time-when always precedes the verb.

  • Place a time duration expression after the verb.
    • Wǒ xué yì gè xiǎoshí. (I study for one hour)
    • Wǒmen zuótiān tīng liǎng ge xiǎoshí le. (Yesterday we listened for two hours)
    • Wǒ lái zhōngguó yì nián le. (I have been in China for one year)
  • To express being in excess of an amount, place duo after the classifier and before noun.
    • Wǒ xué yì gè duo xiǎoshí. (I study for more than an hour)
    • Wǒmen zuótiān tīng liǎng ge duo xiǎoshí le. (This evening we will listen for more than two hours)
    • Wǒ lái zhōngguó yì nián duo le. (I have been in China for more than a year)

Expressing surprise

  • Use zhème or nàme to express surprise about the degree of something. These two words can be used interchangeably. 
    • Zhème duǎn shíjiān! (Such a short time!)
    • nàme hǎo. (Not that good.)
    • zhème lèi. (I am so tired.)

Emphasizing details about completed actions

In addition to le (了) completed action can also be expressed using the shìde construct. This construct is used when emphasizing specific details about an action. The details to be emphasized follow the shì while the de follows the verb or appears at the end of the sentence.

Take an example from this lesson is: shì zài měiguó xué de

detail verb
shì zài měiguó xué de


The shì may be omitted in the positive form: Nǐ zài měiguó xué de ma?

But not in the negative form: Wǒ bú shì zài měiguó xué de


Here are a few more examples.

subject (是) detail verb phrase
  zài nǎli xué de
shì zuótiān lái zhōngguó de

 

Additional Grammar Points

  • In a Chinese sentence some details may be omitted if they can be inferred by previous sentences. These examples are taken from the dialog in this lesson.
    • Liǎng gè xīngqī le. —> Wǒ lái zhōngguó liǎng gè xīngqī le
    • bú yào le. —> Wǒ bú yào le.
  • The adverb hái (like the English word “still”) expresses the persistence of a condition.
    • hái yào (still want)
    • hái zài (still at)
    • hái měiyou (still not yet)
    • hái xiǎng (still desire)
    • hái shì (still is)
  • Note: hái shì also means “or” as we learned in lesson 6. The choice of interpretation is usually clear from context..

Homework

Check this link for Sentence Practice 

Audio

Click on the player to hear the dialog. Be sure to scroll back up so you can view the pinyin while listening.

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

Voice recording courtesy of Jo Ding, Chinese Teacher in Shanghai

Lesson 19 – Ordering a Big Meal

Mr Lǐ (李) welcomes Miss Shàng (尚), and her guests, to his restaurant

  Pinyin
Chinese Sentence level translation
Huānyíng guānglín! Nǐ men jǐ wèi? 欢迎光临!你们几位? Welcome, how many in your party?
Wǔ wèi. 五位。 5 persons
Zhè biān qǐng. Nǐmen hē diǎnr shénme? 这边请。你们喝点儿什么? This way please. Would you like something to drink?
Lái yì bēi píjiǔ, yì bēi rè chá, liǎng píng kělè, yì bēi bīng shuǐ. 来一杯啤酒,一杯热茶,两瓶可乐,一杯冰水。 Bring a mug of beer, a cup of hot tea, two bottles of cola and a glass of ice water.
Nǐmen chī diǎnr shénme? 你们吃点儿什么? What would you like to eat?
Nǐmen yǒu yīngwén càidān ma? 你们有英文菜单吗? Do you have an English menu?
Bù hǎo yìsi ,wǒmen méiyǒu. 不好意思,我们没有。 Sorry, we don’t have any.

Méi wèntí. Ràng wǒ xiān kàn yíxìa càidān. … Lái yì pán yúxiāng ròusī, yì pán gúlǎoròu, yì pán chǎo xīlánhuā, yì pán chǎo qīngcài, bàn zhī běijīng kǎoyā, sān wǎn báifàn, yì wǎn miàntiáo hé èr liáng jiǎozi.

没问题。让我先看一下菜单。… 来一盘鱼香肉丝,一盘古老肉, 一盘炒西兰花,一盘炒青菜,半只北京烤鸭, 三碗白饭,一碗面条和二两饺子。 No problem. Let me have a look at your menu … Bring a plate of shredded pork, sweet and sour pork, stir fried broccoli, stir fried green vegetable,half of a Peking Duck, three bowls of white rice, one bowl of noodles and two dumpling dishes.
Hái yào shénme ma? 还要什么吗? Anything else?
Xiè xiè, gòu le. 谢谢,够了。 No thanks, that’s enough.
   (later, after dinner.)    
Xiǎojie , jié zhàng. 小姐,结账。 Miss, we would like to pay.
Xièxie, huānyíng nǐ zài lái. 谢谢,欢迎你再来。 Thank you, come back again soon.

Vocabulary

 

Pinyin Chinese English
wèi   Classifier for people. More respectful than ge (个)
biān side Suffix for noun of locality. Example (这边) zhè biān means “this direction”
càidān 菜单 menu Noun
bù hǎo yì si 不好意思 How embarassing Expression
méi wèn tí 没问题 No problem Expression
ràng let Verb, to allow or compel someone to do something
xiān first Adverb
yú xiāng ròu sī 鱼香肉丝 shredded pork Noun
xī lán huā 西兰花 broccolli Noun
qīng cài 青菜 green vegetables Noun
hái still Adverb, for example hái yāo shénme (还要什么) means “still want more”
bàn half Number
zhī   Classifer for many types of animals including birds and cats
jié zhàng 结账 checkout Verb, meaning to pay the bill

Homework

Check this link for Sentence Practice 

Lesson 20 – Work and School

Download
Two friends are talking, Lǐis asking Chénabout his family

Name Pinyin Chinese English equivalent
Nǐ gēge zuò shénme gōngzuò? 你哥哥做什么工作? What kind of job does your big brother do?
Tā zài liánxiǎng diànnǎo gōngsī gōngzuò. Tā shì gōngchéngshī. 他在联想电脑公司工作,他是工程师。 He works at Lenovo computers. He is an engineer.
Tīngshuō nǐ bàba yě zài liánxiǎng gōngzuò. Tā shì jīnglǐ ma? 听说你爸爸也在联想工作,他是经理吗? I heard that your father works there too. Is he the general manager?
Bú shì. Tā shì gōngchéng zhúguǎn. 不是。他是工程主管。 No, he is an engineering manager.
Nǐ mèimei ne? Tā háizài shàng dàxué ma? 你妹妹呢?她还在上大学吗? What about your sister? Is she still at the university?
Bù, tā bìyè le. 不,她毕业了。 No, she graduated.
Tā xué de shénme zhuānyè? 她学的什么专业? What was her major?
Tā de zhuānyè shì lìshǐ. 她的专业是历史。 Her major was history.
Tā xiànzài zuò shénme? 她现在做什么? What does she do now?
Tā zhèngzài zhǎo gōngzuò. 她正在找工作。 She is looking for work.

Vocabulary

Pinyin Chinese English Notes
zuò to do (work) verb
gōngzuò 工作 job noun
gōngsī 公司 company/business noun
jīnglǐ 经理 high level manager noun
zhúguǎn 主管 first level manager noun
gōngchéngshī 工程师 engineer noun
dàxué 大学 university noun
lìshǐ 历史 history noun
zhǎo seek verb
zhèngzài 正在 currently adverb
liánxiǎng 联想 Lenovo The Chinese company that bought IBM
diànnǎo 电脑 computer noun

Grammar Patterns

Working and doing

In an earlier lesson we learned that “gàn” means to do, and here we learn that “zuò” also means “to do”. The main differences are that “gàn” is more informal and that “zuò” is more often about doing work. The expressions “Nǐ gàn shénme?” and, “Nǐ zuò shénme?” have the same meaning, except that “gan” carries a more informal and relaxed tone.


“Gōngzuò” can be your official job or just work in general. Take this exchange for example

  • “Nǐ gàn shénme?” (What are you doing?)
  • “Wo zuò gōngzuò” (I am working.)



The person working, could be at the office or doing house work. Both are possible interpretations.

On-going action

The words “zhèngzài” and “zài” both express the aspect of on-going activity. The difference is that “zài” is more about right now, while “zhèngzài” expresses a longer duration.

  • “Nǐ zài gàn shénme?” is asking: what are you doing right now.
  • “Wǒ zài xué zhōngwén.” means: I am studying Chinese at this moment.
  • “Wǒ zhèngzài xué zhōngwén.” means: I am studying Chinese these days.

Sentence Practice 11

Pinyin 中文 English   Pinyin 中文 English
tài too   fish
xǐhuān 喜欢 like   chǎofàn 炒饭 fried rice
gòu enough   tāng soup
le (particle)   gūlǎoròu 古老肉 sweet and sour pork
kàn look   shūcài 蔬菜 vegetable
càidān 菜单 menu   pán plate
mǐfàn 米饭 cooked rice   gōngbào jīding 宫保鸡丁 Kungpow Chicken
hái still/yet   zài lái 再来 bring
[food] = yú, chǎofàn, tāng, jīròu, gūlǎoròu, shūcài, gōngbào jīding

[food] = miàntiáo, báifàn, jiǎozi, qīngcài

[portion] = wǎn, fèn, pán, bēi, píng

 

# Prompt Response
1 Nǐ chī shénme? Wǒ chī [food]
2 Nǐmen de [food] hǎochī ma? Wǒmen de [food] hěn hǎochī.
bù hǎochī.
3 Ní xiǎng chī shénme? Wó xiǎng chī [food]
4 Qǐng wèn, nǐ yào chī shénme? Wǒ yào yì [portion] [food]
5 Ní xiǎng hē shénme? Yì bēi [drink]
6 Yì [portion] [food] hé yì bēi [drink], gòu le ma? Gòu le.
7 Nǐ [máng/lèi] ma? Wǒ tài [máng/lèi] le
8 Ní xiǎng kàn yí xià càidàn ma? Xiǎng, qíng gěi wǒ kànkan。

Sentence Practice 12

Pinyin 中文 English   Pinyin 中文 English
mǎi buy   fēn penny
zhǎo nín 找您 return change   kuài dollar
qián money   máo dime
zhāng 铅笔 classifier   piào ticket
duōshao 多少 how many   bǎi hundred
yí gòng 一共 all together   líng zero

 Props: pens, books, and RMB (if available)

# Prompt Response
1 Nà zhī bǐ duōshao qián? [2, 10, 12, 35]  kuài
2 Zhè běn shū duōshao qián?  [100, 104, 270, 654] kuài
3 Wǒ xiáng mǎi nà [2,3,4,5] běn shū

Hǎo de, yì běn [10,20,30,40] kuài.
Yí gòng [num*price] kuài qián.

4 Wǒ xiáng mǎi zhè [7,8,9,10] zhī bǐ Hǎo de, yì zhī  [10,20,30,40] kuài.
Yí gòng [num*price] kuài qián.
5 Ní xiǎng hé shenme? [n = 2, …, 9] píng chá
Yì píng 10 kuai, yí gòng [n*10] kuài Géi nǐ [?] bǎi kuài.
Zhǎo nín [?] kuài qián. Hǎo de, zài jiàn.
6 Zhè píng píjiǔ duōshao qián? [2, 5, 11, 27] kuài [5,6,7,8] máo
7 Nà zhāng piào duōshao qián? 10.60, 12.10, 65.70, 23.50, 1.80
8 Nà běn zhōngwén shū duōshao qián? [1-9]
9 Zhè běn yīngwén shū duōshao qián? [1-9] kuài [1-9]
10 Nǐ xiáng mǎi shenme?  Wǒ yào bǐ
Nǐ mái jǐ zhī? [2,5,11,44] zhī bǐ.

Sentence Practice 13

Pinyin 中文 English   Pinyin 中文 English
qúnzi 裙子 skirt   chènshān 衬衫 shirt/blouse
bái white   zěnme yàng 怎么样 “how about it”
yánsè 颜色 color   kùzi 裤子 pants
lán blue   guì expensive
yīfu 衣服 clothes   piányi 便宜 cheap
jiàn (classifier)   big
tiáo (classifier)   xiǎo small
piàoliang 漂亮 beautiful   shìshì 试试 give it a try
hǎokàn 好看 nice looking   nánkàn 难看 bad looking
[color] = bái, lán, hóng, lǜ, hēi, huáng
[adjective] = piàoliang, guì, piányi, dà, xiǎo, nán kàn
[item] = chènshān, kùzi, qúnzi      [class] = jiàn, tiáo 

# Prompt Response
1 Nǐ xiáng mǎi shénme yīfu? Wǒ xiáng mǎi [yí] [jiàn chènshān]
2 Ní xǐhuan shénme yánsè de [kùzi]? [color] sè de.
3 Zhè [class] zěnme yàng? Zhè [class] tài [adjective] le.
4 Zhè [jiàn] duōshǎo qián. [1-9] bǎi [1-9] shí [1-9] kuài
5 Ní xǐhuān zhè [class] ma? Xǐhuan. Nà [class] duōshao qián?
Yì [class] [X] kuài qián. Nǐ yào ma? Yào, wó mǎi le.
6 Huāngyíng huānyíng, nǐ yào shénme? Wǒ yào [item].
Zhè [class] zěnme yàng? Nà [class] hǎokàn. Ní yǒu [color] sè de ma?
Yǒu. Zhè [class] ne? Nà [class] tài [dà]. Ní yǒu [xiǎo] yì diǎn de ma?
Yǒu. Géi nǐ. Nǐ shìshì ba. Hǎo de.
  Yì [class] [X] kuài qián, liǎng [class] [X * 1.5]. ní xiǎng mái jǐ [jiàn]?. Yì [class] gòu le.

Sentence Practice 14

Pinyin 中文 English   Pinyin 中文 English
qíngtiān 晴天 (n) sunny day   lěng (adj) cold
xiàyǔ 下雨 (v) rain   (adj) hot
xiàxuě 下雪 (v) snow   y[ī]yàng 一样 (adv) same
duōyún 多云 (adj) cloudy   yǒu shíhòu 有时候 (adv) sometimes
yīntiān 阴天 (adj) overcast   jīngcháng 经常 (adv) frequently
guāfēng 刮风 (v) blow wind   bǐjiào 比较 (adv) comparatively
yòu.. yòu.. 又..又.. grammar pattern   tiānqì 天气 (n) weather
fēicháng 非常 (adj) extreemly   [X] 死了 sǐ le  (exp) X to death
places = Bōtèlán, Xīyǎtú, Wēngēhuá, Jiùjīnshān, Luòshānjī
weather = xiàyǔ, yīntiān, qíngtiān, rè, lěng, xiàxuě, duōyún, guāfēng, bùhǎo
time = míngtiān, zuótiān, zǎoshang, wǎnshàng, xīngqí yī
# Prompt Response
1 Nǐ jīngcháng qù [place] ma? Wǒ (bù) jīngcháng qù
2 [place] de tiānqì zěnme yàng? [place] de tiānqì jīngcháng [weather]
3 [time] de tiānqì zěnme yàng? [time] de tiānqì [weather]
4 [place] de tiānqì [weather1] ma? Bù [weather1], jīngcháng [weather2]
5 [place1] hé [place2] de tiānqì yīyàng ma? . Bù yīyàng, [place1] méiyǒu [place2] de [weather]
6 [place] jīngcháng [weather1] ma? Yǒu shí hòu [weather1], yǒu shí hòu [weather2]
7 Nǐ xǐhuān [place1] ma? Wǒ bǐjiào xǐhuān [place2], tāmen de tiānqì hěn hǎo.
昨天不冷吗? 上海冬天冷吗? 北京春天经常下雨吗? 今天早上下雨,现在晴天了。 昨天冷不冷? 昨天不冷? 昨天是不是很冷? 上海冬天冷吗?上海的天气怎么样? 北京春天常下雨么? 春天北京常下雨么? 今天早上下雨,现在晴天了。

Sentence Practice 15

Pinyin中文English Pinyin中文English
míng bai明白understand ooh
dì yī第一first shǒujī手机mobile phone
dì yì shēng第一声first tone shuōsay, speak
kànlook zěnme怎么how
lechange of state wèntí问题question
    zhīdào知道to know
[thing] = yǎnjīng, bèibāo, jiàoshì, diànhuà, diànnǎo

[word] = Shū, bǐ, shuǐ, chá, jiǔ

#PromptResponse
1Zhè shì shénme?Wǒ bù zhīdào. Nǐ shuō.
Zhè shì wǒ de [shǒujī]. O, zhīdào le.
2Nǐ míngbai “shǒujī” ma?Bù míngbai. 
3Zhège yīngwén zěnme shuō?Yīngwén shuō “hand phone”.
A, míngbai le. 
4[word] shì dì jǐ shēng?[word] shì dì [N] shēng.
5“XY” de “X” shì dì [N] shēng ma?Duì.
6“XY” de “Y” shì dì [N] shēng ma?Bú duì. “XY” de “Y” shì dì [M] shēng.
7Qǐng géi wǒ kànkàn.Hǎo.
8Bú cuò. Ní xǐhuan ma?Xǐhuan.
9Wó xiǎng wèn nǐ ge wèntí.Shénme wèntí?

明白

“我是[老师]” 你明白吗? [学生,好人,美国人,记者,工程师,张小姐] 明白/不明白

第一

这个课是第几课?第十五课。
这是你第一次来这里吗?不是。
第一天我们学习中文,第二天呢?
第三个字是什么字?
第四个人是谁?

可以小点儿声吗?
他的声音很好听。

你喜欢看书吗? 看什么书?

看看

听听,问问,吃吃。

昨天晴天,今天下雨了。

手机

你的手机号码是什么?

我听说你是老师。

怎么

你怎么吃米饭?我用筷子。
你怎么喝啤酒?我用杯子。
这个中文怎么说?

问题

你有问题吗?
我问你个问题。
没有问题。

知道

你是老师。我知道。
你知道我的笔在哪里吗? 不知道。
我的笔在哪里? 还不知道。

Sentence Practice 16

Pinyin中文English Pinyin中文English
guò(experienced) huǒguō火锅hot pot
le(completed action) kěshì可是but
méinot málàtàng麻辣烫a kind of soup
jīnnián今年this year dōngfāng míngzhūtǎ东方明珠塔Pearl Tower
qùnián去年last year dōngxi东西something
yuèfèn月份month sīchóu丝绸silk
 cài 菜 dish/type of food shuìyī睡衣pajamas

food = huǒguō, mālàtàng, [place] cài, chǎofàn, gǔlǎoròu, shūcài, gōngbào jīding

time = zuótiān,  jīnnián, qùnián, [1-12] yuèfèn

item = dōngxi, sīchóu, shuìyī, yīfu, chènshān, kùzi

activity = mǎi dōngxi, gōng zuò, xué zhongwen, kàn [place]

sight = , Yùyuán, Pǔdōng, Wàitān

#PromptResponse
1Nǐ [zuótiān] qù le [Bōtèlán] ma?Wǒ [zuótiān] méi qù.
Nǐ qù guò [Shànghǎi] ma? Méi qù guò.
Qù guò. Wo [time] qù guò.
3Nǐ zài Shànghǎi chī le shénme?Wǒ chī le [food]. Nǐ chī guò le ma?
4Nǐ chī le [food1] ma?Wǒ méi chī guò [food1], kěshì wǒ chī le [food2].
Nǐ kàn le [dōngfāngmíngzhū tǎ] ma? Wǒ méi kàn, wǒ tài máng le.
Kàn le.
6Ní mǎi le shénme?Wó mǎi le [item].
7Nǐ [jīntián] mǎi le [item] ma?Èn, mǎi le [color] de.

Sentence Practice 17

Pinyin 中文 English   Pinyin 中文 English
gāoxìng 高兴 adj. happy   dāngrán 当然 exp. of course
jiàndào 见到 to meet   suì age in years
woman/girl   tīngshuō 听说 exp. heard said
háizi 孩子 child   kě ài 可爱 adj. cute/lovely
tàitai 太太 wife   occurrence/instance
nǚér 女儿 daughter   màn adv. slow
érzi 儿子 son   zhàopiàn 照片 photograph

feeling = gāoxìng,

meeting = jiàndào, rénshì

relation = [nǚ/nán/hǎo] péngyou, háizi, tàitai, nǚér, érzi

what= píjiǔ, wǒ, kǎoyā, zhōngguó

# Prompt Response
1 Wó hěn gāoxìng jiàndào nǐ. Wǒ yé hěn gāoxìng.
2 Zhè shì wǒ [relation], [name] [Name], jiàndào ní hěn gāoxìng.
3 Wǒ tīngshuō nín yǒu [num] ge háizi. Yǒu a. Wó yǒu [num] ge nǚér. [méiyǒu] érzi.
4 Ní xiǎng kàn tāmen de zhàopiàn ma? Dāngrán xiǎng. A, tāmen tài kěài le.
5 Tāmen jǐ suì? Xiǎo nǚér [N] suì, dà nǚér [N+] suì.
6 Nín yǒu nín tàitai de zhàopiàn ma? Yǒu. Nǐ kàn
7 Zhè shì shénme dōngxi? [answer]
  Duìbuqǐ. qǐng zàishuō yì cì. [answer (faster)]
  Kéyǐ shuō màn yìdiǎn ma?. Kéyǐ. [answer (slower)]
8 Wǒ tīngshuō ní xǐhuān [what] Dāngrán xǐhuān.
9 Zhè shì nǐ dì-yī cì lái Zhōngguó ma? Bú shì, zhè shì wǒ dì-[N] cì.

Sentence Practice 18

Pinyin 中文 English   Pinyin 中文 English
cháng long   nálǐ ná 哪里哪里 (expression)
duǎn short   de (particle)
duō cháng 多长 how long   shì .. de 是 .. 的 (pattern)
shí jiān 时间 duration   jiāo teach
zhème 这么 such, so   hái still
zhēn really   nín màn zǒu 您慢走 (expression)
jiǔ length of time   duō jiǔ 多久 how long
[place] = xuéxiào, bàngōngshì, shāngdiàn, fàndiàn, zhèlǐ, měiguó
[period] = gè xiǎoshi, gè yuè, tiān, nián
[action] = jiāo, mǎi, chī, hē, cháng, shuō
[language] = zhōngwén, yīngwén, fǎwén
[stuff] = zhǐ, shū, kùzi, chènshān, píjiǔ, shuǐ, kāfēi

# Prompt Response
1 Nǐ de zhōngwén shuō de zhēn hǎo. Nálǐ nálǐ.
2 Nǐ lái [place] duōjiǔ le? Liǎng [period] le.
3 Nǐ xué zhōngwén duōjiǔ le? Yì [period] duō le。
4 Nǐ shì zài nálǐ xué de [language]. Wǒ shì zài [place] xué de。
5 Tāmen [action] de hǎo ma? [action] de hén hǎo.
6 Nín hái yào shénme ? Wǒ hái yào [stuff]
7 Nín màn zǒu. Zài jiàn.

use 这么,还,短,真, verb 得好,得慢,得快

Sentence Practice 19

Pinyin 中文 English   Pinyin 中文 English
ràng let   cài dān 菜单 menu
xiān first   yú xiāng ròu sī 鱼香肉丝 shredded pork
wèi (classifier)   xī lán huā 西兰花 broccoli
biān side   jié zhàng 结账 checkout
bàn half   bù hǎo yì si 不好意思 How embarrassing
zhī (classifier)   méi wèn tí 没问题 No problem
hái yet, more   huān yíng guāng lín 欢迎光临 Welcome
[container] = bēi, píng, guàn
[drink] = píjiǔ, shuǐ, kělè, chá
[portion] = pán, bàn zhī, wǎn
[food] = gǔlǎoròu, chǎo xīlánhuā, chǎo qīngcài, běijīng kǎoyā, báifàn, miàntiáo, jiǎozi

1 Nǐmen jǐ wèi? [N] wèi.
Zhè biān qǐng Hǎo de.
2 Nǐmen hē diǎnr shénme? Lái [N] [container] [drink]
3 Nǐmen hē diǎnr shénme? Lái [N + container + drink] * 3
<repeat the list> Duì
4 Zhèlǐ yǒu yīngwén càidān ma? Méiyou, gěi nǐ Zhōngwén càidān
5 Nǐmen chī diǎnr shénme? Lái [N] [portion] [food]
6 Nǐmen chī diǎnr shénme? Lái [N + portion + food] * 3
<repeat the list> Duì
Hái yào shénme ma? Bù yào le, xièxie.
7 Mǎi dān! Hǎo, děng yí xìa
8 Zài jiàn Huānyíng nǐ zài lái

Sentence Practice 20

Mandarin 中文 English   Mandarin 中文 English
zuò to do   dàxué 大学 university
gōngzuò 工作 job   lìshǐ 历史 history
gōngsī 公司 company   zhǎo seek
jīnglǐ 经理 high level manager   zhèngzài 正在 currently
zhǔguǎn 主管 first level manager   liánxiǎng 联想 Lenovo
gōngchéngshī 工程师 engineer   diànnǎo 电脑 computer
[activity] = Mǎi yīfú, xué zhōngwén, chī jiǎozi, hē píjiǔ, tīng yīnyuè
[job] = Lǎoshī, jīnglǐ, yuángōng, mìshū, fúwùyuán, sījī, gōngchéngshī, zhǔguǎn
[place] = Běijīng dàxué, shànghǎi shāngdiàn, měiguó fàndiàn, liánxiǎng
[field] = Shùxué, lìshǐ, kēxué, zhōngwén, yīngwén
[relation] = baba,mama … (etc)

# Prompt Response
1 Ní xǐhuan zuò shénme? Wó xǐhuan [activity].
2 Nǐ zuò shénme gōngzuò? Wǒ shì [job].
3 Nǐ zài nǎ yīgè gōngsī gōngzuò? Wǒ zài [place] gōngzuò.
4 Tīng shuō nǐ [relation] yě zài [place] gōngzuò? Duì a. Tā shì [role].
5 Nǐ shì jīnglǐ ma? Búshì, wǒ shì [job]
6 Nǐ xué shénme zhuānyè? Wǒ xué [field] zhuānyè.
7 Nǐ zhǎo shénme gōngzuò? Wó xiǎng zuò [field].