I am (doing)...

我在听。(wo3 zai4 ting1)  I am listening.

我在玩。(wo3 zai4 wan2)  I am playing.

我在走。(wo3 zai4 zou3)  I am walking.

我在看。(wo3 zai4 kan4)  I am looking/watching

你   很   adj。    You are very (trait/characteristic of the person).

你(ní) 很(hěn) 高(gāo)。  You are very tall.

你(nǐ) 很(hén) 好(hǎo)。  You are very nice.

你(nǐ) 很(hén) 美(měi)。  You are very beautiful.

你(ní) 很(hěn) 帅(shuài)。  You are very handsome.

**Literal meanings:

很(hěn):(adv.) very; often used in Chinese to omit “be” (am/are/is).

好(hǎo):(adj.) good, right, or nice

她(tā) 是(shì) 一(yì) 名(míng)   + noun。   She is a (the career of the person).

她(tā) 是(shì) 一(yì) 名(míng) 学(xué) 生(shēng)。   She is a student.

她(tā) 是(shì) 一(yì) 名(míng)  老(lǎo) 师(shī)。   She is a teacher.

她(tā) 是(shì) 一(yì) 名(míng) 医(yī) 生(shēng)。   She is a doctor.

她(tā) 是(shì) 一(yì) 名(míng) 律(lǜ) 师(shī)。   She is a lawyer.

**Literal meanings:

是(shì) :be (am/is/are)

名(míng): a classifier that is used to assist the noun; For example, a “bottle” of water, a “class” of students, “bottle” and “class” are considered as classifiers in Chinese.  Although in English there aren’t too many of these noun classifiers, in Chinese every category of nouns comes with a specific classifier.  In this case, 名(míng) is the proper classier for a person’s job.

他(tā) 有(yǒu) 两(liǎng) 个(gè) + noun。   He has two (something).

他(tā) 有(yǒu) 两(liǎng) 个(gè) 手(shǒu) 机(jī)。   He has two cellphones.

他(tā) 有(yǒu) 两(liǎng) 个(gè) 杯(bēi) 子(zǐ)。   He has two mugs/cups.  

他(tā) 有(yǒu) 两(liǎng) 个(gè) 背(bēi) 包(bāo)。   He has two backpacks.

他(tā) 有(yǒu) 两(liǎng) 个(gè) 女(nǚ) 儿(ér)。   He has two daughters.  

**Literal meanings:

两(liǎng):(number) two, but only used before a noun; for example, 两(liǎng) 个(gè) 学(xué) 生(shēng): two students.

手(shǒu):(n.) hand

机(jī):(n.) machine

背(bēi):(v.) to carry

包(bāo):(n.) bag

女(nǚ):(n.) female

这(zhè) 是(sh)ì 她(tā) 的(de) + noun。   This is her (name of the place).

这(zhè) 是(sh)ì 她(tā) 的(de) 家(jiā)。   This is her home.

这(zhè) 是(sh)ì 她(tā) 的(de) 学(xué) 校(xiào)。   This is her school.

这(zhè) 是(sh)ì 她(tā) 的(de) 大(dà) 学(xué)。   This is her university.

这(zhè) 是(sh)ì 她(tā) 的(de) 办(bàn) 公(gōng 室(shì)。   This is her office.

**Literal meanings:

的(de):possessive form in Chinese, similar to (‘s) in English; for example, 老(lǎo) 师(shī) 的(de) means the teacher’s, 学(xué) 生(shēng) 的(de) means the student’s.

Interrogative Word: What...?  什么 (shěn me)      

什么 (shěn me) can be placed at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence.

Example 1: Place 什(shěn) 么(me) at the beginning of a sentence when you are asking for a specific definition or details about something and the pronoun is unnecessary.

什(shěn) 么(me) 是(shì)卫(wèi) 星(xīng)? What is satellite? 

什(shěn) 么(me) 事(shì)*     What’s up/What’s the matter?

Example 2: Place 什(shěn) 么(me) at the middle of a sentence when you add an explicit pronoun to the sentence.

你(nǐ) 叫(jiào)* 什(shěn) 么(me) 名(míng)* 字(zì)*?   What is your name?

他(tā) 拿(ná) 着(zhe) 什(shěn) 么(me) 东(dōng)* 西(xi)*?  What  is he bringing/carrying?

Example 3: Place 什(shěn) 么(me) at the end of a sentence when the object is not specified and a verb is in front it.

这(zhè) 是(shì) 什(shěn) 么(me)?  What is this?

你(nǐ) 说(shuō) 什(shěn) 么(me)?   What did you just say? (ironically)

Literal Meanings***

事(shì): (n.) matter

叫(jiào): (v.) to call; to be called

名(míng): (n.) name

字(zì): (n.) word/character

名(míng) 字(zì): (n.) name

东(dōng) 西(xi): (n.) generic word for “thing” and “stuff”

Interrogative word: How...?  怎样 (zěn yàng) how

怎样 (zěn yàng) can be placed at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence.

Example 1: Place 怎样 (zěn yàng) at the beginning of a sentence when the subject is implied and the pronoun is unnecessary.

怎(zěn) 样(yàng) 去(qù)* 学(xué) 校(xiào)?   How (do you) get to school?

怎(zěn) 样(yàng) 可以(kě yǐ)* 买(mǎi) 到(dào) 那(nà) 本(běn) 书(shū)?   How (can you) get(buy) that book? 

Example 2: Place 怎样 (zěn yàng) at the middle of a sentence when it’s followed by a verb and the the subject/object is explicit.

我(wǒ) 在(zài) 学(xué) 怎(zěn) 样(yàng) 讲(jiǎng) 中(zhōng) 文(wén)。  I am learning how to speak Chinese.

这(zhè) 个(gè) 怎(zěn) 样(yàng) 安(ān) 装(zhuāng)?  How (do I) install this?

Example 3: Place 怎样 (zěn yàng) at the end of a sentence when you are asking for an opinion.

你(nǐ) 觉得(jué dé)* 怎(zěn) 样(yàng)? How are you feeling?/How do you feel?

这(zhè) 个(gè) 吃(chī)* 起(qǐ) 来(lái)* 怎(zěn) 样(yàng)? How does this taste like?

Literal Meanings***

去(qù): (v.) to go

可以(kě yǐ):  (v.) can; able to

觉得(jué dé):(v.) to think (as an opionin)

吃(chī):(v.) to eat

来(lái):(v.) to come

起(qǐ) 来(lái):(v.) to get up

RSS Learn Mandarin Daily

  • Day 14: How to give compliments in Mandarin
    Day 14: How to give compliments in Mandarin 很(hěn) very 厉害 (lì hài) awesome 你很厉害呀。(nǐ hěn lì hài ya) You are awesome! 聪明 (cōng míng) smart 你很聪明呀。(nǐ hěn cōng míng ya) You are so smart. 好 (hǎo) good 你很好呀。(nǐ hěn hǎo ya) You are so nice. 漂亮 (piào liàng) pretty 你很漂亮呀。(nǐ hěn piào liàng ya) […]
  • Day 13: Happy Mid-autumn Festival
    中秋節 (zhōng qiū jié) Mid-autumn Festival 中秋節快樂! (zhōng qiū jié kuài lè) Happy Mid-autumn Festival! 月餅 (yuè bǐng) mooncake 蓮蓉月餅 (lián róng yuè bǐng) lotus seed paste mooncake 八月十五 (bā yuè shí wǔ) 15th day of the 8th month 中秋節是農曆八月十五。 (zhōng qiū jiē shì nóng lì bā yuè shí wǔ) Mid-autumn festival is the 15th […]
  • Day 12: "What’s your favorite…" in Mandarin
    喜欢 (xǐ huān) to like 最喜欢 (zuì xǐ huān) favorite 是 (shì) is 餐厅 (cān tīng) restaurant 你最喜欢的餐厅是什么? (nǐ zuì xǐ huān de cān tīng shì shěn me ?) What is your favorite restaurant? 我最喜欢的餐厅是小南国。 (wǒ zuì xǐ huān de cān tīng shì xiǎo nán guó) My favorite restaurant is 21 Shanghai House. 书 (shū) […]
  • Day 11: "What did you eat for lunch" in Mandarin
    午餐 (ng5 caan1) lunch 你午餐吃了什么? (nǐ wǔ cān chī le shěn me) What did you have for lunch? 热狗 (rè gǒu) hot dog 我午餐吃了热狗。 (wǒ wǔ cān chī le rè gǒu) I ate a hot dog for lunch. 三文治 (sān wén zhì) sandwich 我午餐吃了三文治。 (wǒ wǔ cān chī le sān wén zhì) I ate a […]
  • Day 10: "What is your name" in Mandarin
    叫 (jiào) to call; to be called 名字 (míng zì) name 你叫什么名字? (nǐ jiào shěn me míng zì) What is your name? 我叫Jade。 (wǒ jiào Jade) My name is Jade. 有 (yǒu) to have 没有 (méi yǒu) to not have 有没有…( yǒu méi yǒu) do you have… 中文 (zhōng wén) Chinese (language) 你有没有中文名字? (nǐ yǒu […]
  • Day 9: “What do you like to eat” in Mandarin
    吃 (chī) to eat 什么 (shěn me) what 你喜欢吃什么? (nǐ xǐ huān chī shěn me) What do you like to eat? 鸡肉 (jī ròu) chicken 我喜欢吃鸡肉。 (wǒ xǐ huān chī jī ròu) I like to eat chicken. 沙拉 (shā lā) salad 我喜欢吃沙拉。 (wǒ xǐ huān chī shā lā) I like to eat salad. 中国 (zhōng […]
  • Day 8: “How’s your day today” in Mandarin
    今天 (jīn tiān) today 你今天怎么样? (nǐ jīn tiān zěn me yàng?) How’s your day today? 很 (hěn) very 好 (hǎo) good 我今天很好。(wǒ jīn tiān hěn hǎo) I am very well today. 累 (lèi) tired 我今天很累。(wǒ jīn tiān hěn lèi) I am very tired today. 懒 (lǎn) lazy 我今天很懒。(wǒ jīn rì hěn lǎn) I am very […]
  • Day 7: Why do you want to learn Chinese (based on Day 6)
    为什么 (wèi shěn me) why 中文 (zhōng wén) Chinese 普通话 (pǔ tōng huà) Mandarin; the common language 为什么你想学中文? (wèi shěn me nǐ xiǎng xué zhōng wén) why do you want to learn Chinese? 去 (qù) to go 我想去中国。 (wǒ xiǎng qù zhōng guó) I want to go to China. 唐人街 (táng rén jiē) Chinatown 我喜欢去唐人街。 […]
  • Day 6: "Where are you from" in Mandarin
    你是从哪儿来的? (nǐ shì cóng nǎ ér lái de ?) Where are you from? 紐約 (niǔ yuē) New York 我是从纽约来的。 (wǒ shì cóng niǔ yuē lái de) I am from New York. 加州 (jiā zhōu) California 我是从加州來的。 (wǒ shì cóng jiā zhōu lái de) I am from California. 英国 (yīng guó) England 我是从英国來的。 (wǒ shì cóng […]
  • Day 5: "What do you like to do?" in Mandarin
    Day 5 喜欢 (xǐ huān) to like 什么 (shěn me) what 你喜欢干什么?(nǐ xǐ huān gàn shěn me) What do you like to do? 我喜欢看书。 (wǒ xǐ huān kàn shū) I like to read. 我喜欢看电影。 (wǒ xǐ huān kàn diàn yǐng) I like to watch movies. 我喜欢做运动。 (wǒ xǐ huān zuò yùn dòng) I like to […]