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 29: Days, months, and years in Mandarin
    View episode transcript at www.inspirlang.com/mandopod/
  • Day 28: Numbers 10 to 20 in Mandarin
    View transcription at http://inspirlang.com/cantopod/
  • Day 27: "My coffee tastes really good" in Mandarin
    View episode audio at inspirlang.com/mandopod
  • Day 25: Days of the week in Mandarin
    星期一 (xīng qī yī) Monday 星期二 (xīng qī èr) Tuesday 星期三 (xīng qī sān) Wednesday 星期四 (xīng qī sì) Thursday 星期五 (xīng qī wǔ) Friday 周末 (zhōu mò) weekend 星期六 (xīng qī liù) Saturday 星期天 (xīng qī tiān) Sunday 去 (qù) to go 跳舞 (tiào wǔ) to dance 我星期六去跳舞。 (wǒ xīng qī liù qù tiào […]
  • Day 24: “Happy birthday” in Mandarin
    生日 (shēng rì) birthday 快乐 (faai3 lok6) happy 生日快乐! (shēng rì kuài lè) Happy birthday! 礼物 (lǐ wù) gift 你想要什么礼物? (nǐ xiǎng yào shí me lǐ wù ?) What birthday gifts do you want? (literal meaning: you want what birthday gift?) 我想要生日蛋糕。 (wǒ xiǎng yào shēng rì dàn gāo) I want a birthday cake. 新 […]
  • Day 22: "The weather today is very nice" in Mandarin
    天气 (tiān qì) weather 今天天气很好。 (jīn tiān tiān qì hěn hǎo) The weather today is very nice. 今天天气不好。 (jīn tiān tiān qì bù hǎo) The weather today is not nice. 暖 (nuǎn) warm 今天很暖。 (jīn tiān hěn nuǎn) It’s very warm today. 今天很冷。 (jīn tiān hěn lěng) It’s very cold today. 今天很热。 (jīn tiān hěn […]
  • Day 21: Numbers 1 to 5 in Mandarin
    Day 21: Numbers 1 to 5 in Mandarin 1 (yī) 2 (èr / liǎng) 3 (sān) 4 (sì) 5 (wǔ) 个 (gè) generic classifier; measure word 他有一个中文名。 (tā yǒu yī gè zhōng wén míng) He has a Chinese name. 我今天去了两个餐厅。 (wǒ jīn tiān qù le liǎng gè cān tīng) I went to two restaurants today. […]
  • Day 20: Future tenses in mandarin
    会 (huì) will 我午餐會吃寿司。 (wǒ wǔ cān huì chī shòu sī) I will eat sushi for lunch. 明天 (míng tiān) tomorrow 他/她 (tā) he/she 来 (lái) to come 他明天会來。 (tā míng tiān huì lái) She’s coming tomorrow. 骑自行车 (qí zì xíng chē) to ride a bicycle 我明天会骑自行车。 (wǒ míng tiān huì qí zì xíng chē) […]
  • Day 19: My new book is released!
    Learn to Speak Cantonese I (A Beginner’s Guide to Mastering Conversational Cantonese) Link to Amazon: www.inspirlang.com/lovecanto Link to my website: www.inspirlang.com/lovecantomore
  • Day 18: How to negate in Mandarin
    不 (bù) not 我不喝咖啡。 (wǒ bù hē kā fēi) I don’t drink coffee. 我不想喝咖啡。 (wǒ bù xiǎng hē kā fēi) I don't want to drink coffee. 我今天不想喝咖啡。 (wǒ jīn tiān bù xiǎng hē kā fēi) I don't want to drink coffee today. 普通话 (pǔ tōng huà) Mandarin 我今天不学普通话。 (wǒ jīn tiān bù xué pǔ tōng […]