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Mandarin Chinese I | 中文课程1

In Lesson 1, you will learn expressions and etiquette to greet and address someone appropriately in a Chinese community. As already mentioned, you will learn how to say hello and ask and answer some simple questions about yourself and others. You will be able to find out if someone is a student and where he or she is from. You will also learn how to signal in a polite way that you are going to ask a question and compare the nonverbal gestures commonly used when greeting someone in Chinese and American communities.

In the following video, you will be introduced to Mary and Wang Qiang. Review the vocabulary first and then click to play the video. The vocabulary words for this lesson are listed below.

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Were you able to understand some or all of what was said in the video? Play it several times to see if you can. Check your understanding by reading the transcript below.

Transcript, vocabulary, and notes

Text 课文 (Kèwén)

After you have watched the video, check your understanding by reading the transcript and the English translation.

Pinyin Simplified Traditional English Listen Notes
Mǎlì
Nǐhǎo!
玛丽
你好!
瑪麗
你好!
Mary
Hello!

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L1
Wáng Qiáng
Nǐhǎo!
王强
你好!
王強
你好!
Wang Qiang
Hello!

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Mǎlì
Nǐ shì xuésheng ma?
玛丽
你是学生吗?
瑪麗
你是學生嗎?
Mary
Are you a student?

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G1, G2
Wáng Qiáng
Wǒ shì xuésheng, nǐ ne?
王强
我是学生, 你呢?
王強
我是學生, 你呢?
Wang Qiang
I am a student, and you?

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G2
Mǎlì
Wǒ yě shì. Qǐngwèn, nín guìxìng?
玛丽
我也是。 请问, 您贵姓?
瑪麗
我也是。 請問, 您貴姓?
Mary
I also am a student. Excuse me, what is your honorable surname?

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G3, G4, G5
Wáng Qiáng
Wǒ xìng Wáng, jiào Wáng Qiáng. Nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?
王强
我姓王, 叫王强。 你叫什么名字?
王強
我姓王, 叫王強。 你叫什麼名字?
Wang Qiang
My surname is Wang. I am called Wang Qiang. What is your name?

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G6, L2
Mǎlì
Wǒ jiào Mǎlì. Nǐ shì Měiguórén ma?
玛丽
我叫玛丽。 你是美国人吗?
瑪麗
我叫瑪麗。 你是美國人嗎?
Mary
I am called Mary. Are you American?

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Wáng Qiáng
Bù, wǒ bù shì Měiguórén. Wǒ shì Zhōngguórén. Wǒ shì liúxuéshēng.
王强
不, 我不是美国人。 我是中国人。 我是留学生。
王強
不, 我不是美國人。我是中國人。 我是留學生。
Wang Qiang
No, I am not American. I am Chinese. I am a foreign student.

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G7, L3

New Words 生词 (Shēngcí)

simplifiedtraditionalpinyinpart of speechmeaninglisten
1pronyou

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2hǎoadjgood, well, fine

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3你好 你好nǐhǎoexprhow do you do? / hello

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4shìvto be, (affirmative answer) yes

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5学生學生xuéshengnstudent

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xuévto study, to learn

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6mapartan interrogative particle

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7pronI, me

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8nepartan interrogative particle

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9advalso

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10jiàovto be called, to call

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11什么什麼shénmepronwhat

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12名字名字míngzinname

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13请问請問qǐngwènvmay I ask...?

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qǐngexprplease

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wènvto ask

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14nínpronyou (polite)

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15贵姓貴姓guìxìngexprhonorable surname

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guìadjhonorable

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xìngnsurname

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16美国人美國人MěiguórénnAmerican (people, person)

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美国美國MěiguónAmerica

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17rénnpeople; person

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18advno; not

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19中国人中國人ZhōngguórénnChinese (people, person)

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中国中國ZhōngguónChina

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20留学生留學生liúxuéshēngna student studying abroad

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留学留學liúxuévto study abroad

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21王强王強Wáng Qiángna personal name

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22Wángna surname; king

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23玛丽瑪麗Mǎlìn(Mary) a personal name

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Language Notes

L1. 你好

你好” (Nĭhǎo) is a common form of greeting. It can be used to address strangers upon first introduction or between old acquaintances. To respond, simply repeat the greeting:“你好。”

Tone change in “你好

When two 3rd tones co-occur, the first 3rd tone is pronounced as a 2nd tone. 你好 nǐhǎo is pronounced as “níhǎo.”

L2. Chinese names

A person’s name in Chinese has two parts: the surname and the given name . The word order of a Chinese name is different from that an English name. In a Chinese name, the surname comes before the given name. For example, in the Chinese name 王强 is the surname, and is the given name.

Most Chinese family names or surnames are monosyllabic. There are, however, a few disyllabic family names, written with two characters. The most common family names are Li (Lĭ), Wang (Wáng), Zhang (Zhāng), and Liu (Liú). Family names also precede official titles or other forms of address: 王先生 (Wáng xiānsheng, lit. Wang Mister). A person is seldom referred to by his or her family name alone. For example, Wang Ming 王明 (Wáng Míng), should not be referred to simply as Wang.

L3. Tone change of in 不是

When is followed by the 4th tone, it pronounced as a 2nd tone. 不是 bù shì is pronounced as “bú shì.”

Grammar Notes

G1.

Rule: is a verb that can be used to link two nouns, pronouns, or noun phrases.

For example:

  • Wǒ shì xuésheng.
  • 我是学生。
  • I am a student.
  • Tā shì Zhōngguórén.
  • 他是中国人。
  • He is Chinese.

Rule: is usually negated with .

For example:

  • Wáng Qiáng bù shì Měiguórén.
  • 王强不是美国人。
  • Wang Qiang is not an American.
G2. Questions ending with 呢,吗

Rule: The particle is used after a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase to turn the sentence into a question that could be translated as “How about you?”

For example:

  • Wǒ xìng Wáng,nǐ ne?
  • 我姓王,你呢?
  • My surname is Wang. How about you?
  • Wǒ shì Zhōngguórén,nǐ ne?
  • 我是中国人,你呢?
  • I am Chinese. How about you?

Rule: The most common way to turn a sentence into a question is to place the particle at the end of the sentence.

For example:

  • Nǐ shì xuésheng.
  • 你是学生。
  • You are a student.
  • Nǐ shì xuésheng ma?
  • 你是学生吗?
  • Are you a student?
G3.

Rule: is an adverb placed before a verb. It is often translated as also or too. cannot be placed at the beginning or end of a sentence.

For example:

  • Wǒ yě shì xuésheng.
  • 我也是学生。
  • I am a student too.
G4. 我,你,他 (tā) and

Rule: 我,你,他 (tā) are used as the first person, second person, and third person pronouns. However, Chinese pronouns do not change case like English pronouns. For example, the first-person pronoun is used for both I and me. is a term of respect for the pronoun .

For example:

  • Nínhǎo,lǎoshī!
  • 您好,老师!
  • Hello, Teacher!
G5.

Rule: is both a noun and a verb. When it is used as a verb, an object must follow it. 您贵姓 is a polite way of asking someone’s surname.

For example:

  • Nín guìxìng?
  • 您贵姓?
  • What is your honorable surname?
  • Wǒ xìng Wáng.
  • 我姓王。
  • My surname is Wang.
G6.

Rule: means “to be called” in this lesson. It must be followed by an object.

For example:

  • Nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?
  • 你叫什么名字?
  • What’s your name?
  • Wǒ jiào Mǎlì.
  • 我叫玛丽。
  • My name is Mary.
G7.

Rule: In Chinese, is a main negative adverb.

For example:

  • Wáng Qiáng bù shì lǎoshī.
  • 王强不是老师。
  • Wang Qiang is not a teacher.
  • Wǒ bù xìng Wáng.
  • 我不姓王。
  • My surname is not Wang.

Cultural notes

Different cultures have different ways of giving names. A Chinese name is written with the last name, or family name, first and the given name next. For example, John in Chinese is Ming and Smith is Yao. In Chinese, John Smith would be Yao Ming. In this lesson, you will learn the history of Chinese names. You will learn how Chinese names were given in the past and now.

History of Chinese names

No one knows exactly how many surnames the huge population in China shares. Rosters found among ancient Chinese documents list from 300 to 3,000. Most specialists in the field agree that the most common surnames of the Han Chinese number some 500.

Chinese surnames are believed to have originated during the prehistorical matriarchal society. This theory is supported by the Chinese character for surname, xìng). The character is a merger of two other characters: ()and (shēng), meaning born of woman.

According to CRI reports, a modern Han Chinese name rarely has more than three characters. The first character is the surname. The second and third characters are a connotative given name. This is very different from the way ancient Chinese names were formed. An ancient Chinese name often included four components: first the family name, followed by the given name, the alias, and then what’s known as the style.

During Chinese dynasty times, naming was fairly complex. For example, below is how Confucius was named. Confucius’ Chinese name was Kǒng Qiū (孔丘).

  • Kǒng was his family name.
  • Qiū was his personal or given name meaning hill.
  • In addition, he had a zì , which was Zhòngní 仲尼. His alias was zhòng (), with meaning the second son of the family and taken from the name of the hill 尼丘, where his parents had prayed for his birth.

What is your name in Chinese?

Check these websites to see what your name looks like in Chinese: