There are four main tones and one neutral tone in Mandarin Chinese to distinguish words and grammatical uses.
|The 1st tone||“ˉ” like in mā||High and flat (listen)|
|The 2nd tone||“ˊ” like in má||Rising (listen)|
|The 3rd tone||“ˇ” like in mǎ||Low then rising (listen)|
|The 4th tone||“ˋ” like in mà||Falling (listen)|
|The neutral tone||No mark like in ma||Light (listen)|
Sometimes Chinese tones change based on the tone that follows it. There are three main places where you will see this: with all 3rd tones (low then rising tones), with the character 一 yī (1/one), and with the character 不 bù (no, not). Here we’ll take a quick look at how the 3rd tone changes.
There are two main rules for how to pronounce the 3rd tone: When you have two 3rd tones together, the first one becomes a 2nd tone (rising tone). When you have a 3rd tone followed by any other non-3rd tone syllable, it only lowers, it doesn’t rise at the end.
|你好。||Nǐ hǎo.||Ní hǎo. (nǐ becomes 2nd tone) (listen)||Hello.|
|我的名字是Duo。||Wǒde míngzi shì Duo.||Wǒde míngzi shì Duo. (no rise in tone for wǒ) (listen)||My name is Duo.|
|我是Duo。||Wǒ shì Duo.||Wǒ shì Duo. (no rise in tone for wǒ) (listen)||I am Duo.|
When 一 is used as an independent number or as part of a series of numbers, it is pronounced with a high tone yī. When 一 is followed by a falling tone (4th tone) yì it turns into a rising (2nd tone) yí. Lastly, when it is followed by any other tone, it becomes a falling 4th tone yì.
|一次||yīcì||yícì (yī becomes 2nd tone)||One time|
|一本书||yīběn shū||yìběn shū (yī becomes 4th tone)||One book|
|一二三四||yī èr sān sì||yī èr sān sì (no change)||One, two, three, four|
Similar to English, personal pronouns in Chinese substitute regular nouns to avoid repeating the same word for many times. In English, personal pronouns for subject and object may be different, such as, “I” for the subject and “me” for the object. Please note that personal pronouns remain the same for subject and object in Chinese.
Chinese sentences and English sentences have a very similar word order. When it comes to statements, for both, you generally have the subject (who is performing the action), followed by the verb (what that person or thing is doing), and lastly the object (what is receiving the action). You can use the pattern “subject + 叫 + name” as your first practice. 叫 jiào means “to call/name” or “to be called/named” and is commonly used to introduce names.
|我叫Max。||Wǒ jiào Max.||My name is Max. (literal translation: I am called/named Max.)|
|他叫Andy。||Tā jiào Andy.||His name is Andy. (literal translation: He is called/named Andy.)|
To ask about surname (family name/last name) in particular, you can use 姓 xìng which means “to be surnamed” in a similar pattern with 叫.
|她姓李。||Tā xìng lǐ.||Her surname is Li. (literal translation: She is surnamed Li.)|
|你姓王。||Nǐ xìng Wáng.||Your surname is Wang. (literal translation: You are surnamed Wang.)|
The word order for questions in Chinese is the same as statements. You only need to replace the part you want to question about with a question word. The question word for “what” in Chinese is 什么 shénme. You can use “subject + verb + 什么 + (noun)?” pattern. The noun at the end is an option to make the question more specific.
|你叫什么？||Nǐ jiào shénme?||What’s your name? (literal translation: What are you called?)|
|你叫什么名字？||Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì?||What’s your name? (literal translation: What name are you called?)|
|他姓什么？||Tā xìng shénme?||What’s his surname? (literal translation: What is he surnamed?”|
呢 ne is placed at the end of a sentence to ask “how about…?/what about…?”. It is normally used as a return sentence after being asked the same question.
|你叫什么？||Nǐ jiào shénme?||What’s your name?|
|我叫Max，你呢？||Wǒ jiào Max, nǐ ne?||My name is Max. What about you?|
When we want to describe something we don’t use the verb “to be”, we have to put something else before an adjective. The most common word used to do this is 很 hěn, which literally means very. It goes between the subject (who or what we are describing) and the adjective (what we are describing it as). Since 很 is used so often like this, it oftentimes doesn’t mean “very”, just a link between a noun and an adjective.
*Pinyin in brackets is the actual pronunciation as a result of the change of tone.
|我很好。||Wǒ hěn[hén]* hǎo.||I'm good.|
|你很高兴。||Nǐ[ní] hěn gāo xìng.||You are happy.|
The word for “also” or “too” is much less flexible in Chinese than in English. It must always come after the subject and before the verb.
|我也认识你。||Wǒ[wó] yě rènshi nǐ.||I also know you. / I know you, too.|
|我也很高兴。||Wǒ yě[yé] hěn gāoxìng.||I am happy, also. / I am also happy.|
也 can also be used in the phrase "If X is... then Y is (also) ..." Here we don't need to use 很.
|你高兴，我也高兴。||nǐ gāoxìng, wǒ[wó] yě gāoxìng.||If you are happy then I am happy.|
|你很高兴，我也很高兴。||nǐ[ní] hěn gāoxìng, wǒ yě[yé] hěn gāo xìng.||You are happy, I am also happy.|
|我高兴，他也高兴。||wǒ gāo xìng, tā yě gāoxìng||If I am happy then he is happy.|
Chinese sentences and English sentences have a very similar word order. For both, you generally have the subject (who is performing the action), followed by the verb (what that person or thing is doing), and lastly the object (what is receiving the action).
To negate a sentence, you simply add the word 不 bù (no) before the verb. Simple!
|我吃面。||Wǒ chī miàn.||I eat noodles.|
|我不吃面。||Wǒ bù chī miàn.||I don’t eat noodles.|
|你也喝茶。||Nǐ[ní] yě hēchá.||You drink tea, too.|
|你也不喝茶。||Nǐ[ní] yě bù hēchá.||You also don’t drink tea / You don’t drink tea, either.|
Another thing to note about 不 is that when we want to say “I am not happy” or “I am not tall”, we don’t need the 很 anymore. 我很高兴 -> 我不高兴 (not 我不很高兴)
Note: You can say 我很不高兴, which is similar to saying “I am very not happy” i.e. “I am very unhappy.”
In Mandarin Chinese, there are a lot of verbs that generally cannot be used without an object. The verb 'to eat', 吃 chī, is one of these. In order to say "I eat" or "I am eating" in Chinese, you have to include what is being eaten, you cannot use 吃 just by itself.
The most common object people will use for the verb 'to eat' is rice, 饭 fàn, since in China it is eaten with almost every meal.
The word "noodles" is also in this skill. Chinese nouns don't show singular or plural in the same way that English words do. To specify if a word is plural or not, you have to use a number or another word (some, a few, etc.). The sentence 你吃面 nǐ chī miàn will translate as "You eat noodles" because it would be a bit odd to just eat a single noodle.
When we want to say that something is something, we use the word 是 shì, which is the verb “to be”. This is only when talking about two nouns or a pronoun and a noun. Remember to use 很 hěn when describing what something is like using an adjective.
|我是医生。||Wǒ shì yīshēng.||I am a doctor.|
|他是学生。||Tā shì xuéshēng.||He is a student.|
|你很高兴。||Nǐ[ní] hěn gāoxìng.||You are happy.|
Asking yes/no questions in Chinese is very simple, all you need to do is add 吗 ma (neutral tone) to the end! 吗 doesn’t really have any direct translation in English, you can think of it as a sort of question mark that you also say out loud. Also, when you add 吗, you no longer need to add 很 to mean “to be.”
|我是医生吗？||Wǒ shì yīshēng ma?||Am I a doctor?|
|他是学生吗？||Tā shì xuéshēng ma?||Is he a student?|
|你高兴吗？||Nǐ gāoxìng ma?||Are you happy?|
|他们||tāmen||they/them (a group of males or a mixed group)|
|她们||tāmen||they/them (a group of females)|
If you want to express possession, saying that someone/something belongs to someone/something else, the word 的 de (neutral tone) is used to connect the two elements. You can think of 的 as similar to adding "‘s" in English, so “A 的 B” is equivalent to “A’s B”. “A” can be a noun or a pronoun, but “B” is nearly always a noun.
|我的茶||Wǒ de chá.||My tea.|
|老师的学生||Lǎoshī de xuéshēng.||The teacher’s student(s) / The student(s) of the teacher|
In Chinese, when talking about how many of something there are, we don’t just add the number before the word, but also put something in between the number and the noun to classify it. The same thing also happens with words like “this” or “that” (demonstrative pronouns). We do something similar in English but to a much lesser degree. A few examples are “a plate of spaghetti,” “a bowl of rice,” “a bottle of water,” “a pack of dogs,” etc.
哪 nǎ combined with other words can be used to ask “where” and “which” questions. The pattern “哪 + measure word + noun” serves to ask “which…”.
|你去哪个*学校？||Nǐ qù nǎ gè xuéxiào?||Which school do you go?|
|他找哪个医生？||Tā zhǎo nǎ gè yīshēng?||Which doctor does he look for?|
*个is used for people and objects in general
The word 都 dōu can be translated as either "both" or "all" in English. Different from English, you should always place 都 after the subject, following the pattern “subject + 都 + verb”.
|她们都是学生。||Tāmen dōu shì xuéshēng.||They are both/all students.|
|他和*你都是医生。||Tā hé nǐ dōu shì yīshēng.||He and you are both doctors.|
*和 means “and”.
You learned about the pattern "subject + adverb + adjective", such as 我很高兴 (I am happy). You also learned about that to negate a verb, you can simply place 不 before it. Similarly, to negate an adjective, one pattern is "subject + 不 + adjective", such as 我不高兴 (I am not happy).
|学校不大。||Xuéxiào bù[bú] dà.||The school is not big.|
|他不忙。||Tā bù máng.||He is not busy.|
Chinese has a specific word to talk about where someone or something is located. This word is 在, and it means to be at or located in.
*When 不 bù is followed by a 4th tone word, it becomes bú. There is no exception to this rule.
|伦敦不在美国。||Lúndūn bù[bú]* zài Měiguó.||London isn’t in the USA.|
|张老师在学校。||Zhānglǎoshī zài xuéxiào.||Teacher Zhang is at the school.|
在 can also be added after certain verbs to say where the action is taking place. The most common verb is 住 zhù (to live):
|学生都住在加拿大。||Xuéshēng dōu zhù zài Jiā’nádà.||The students all live in Canada.|
|你住在中国吗？||Nǐ zhù zài Zhōngguò ma?||Do you live in China?.|
Measure Word 个 gè
In Chinese, when talking about how many of something there are, we don’t just add the number before the word, but also put something in between the number and the noun to classify it. The same thing also happens with words like “this” or “that” (demonstrative pronouns).
We do something similar in English, but to a much lesser degree. A few examples are “a plate of spaghetti,” “a bowl of rice,” “a bottle of water,” “a pack of dogs,” etc. In Chinese, you need to use a measure word whenever you use 这 (this), 那 (that), or a number. The most common word used is 个, which is used for people and objects in general. We will look at other measure words later in the course.
|我有两个妈妈。||Wǒ yǒu[yóu] liǎng gè māma.||I have two mothers..|
|你认识三个学生。||Nǐ rènshi sāngè xuéshēng.||You know three students.|
Also remember that 一个 is pronounced yí ge (一 has a rising tone), rather than yī ge.
Chinese is much more specific about family relationships. In English, we talk about our brothers and sisters without knowing whether they are older or younger than us. In Chinese, there are specific words for older brother and younger brother, and the same goes for “sister.”
For people that you have a close relationship with (e.g. family), and for institutions and organization you are involved with (e.g. work, school), you can choose to leave out the 的, but this only happens with pronouns.
|我爸爸不是中国人。||Wǒ bàba bù[bú] shì Zhōngguórén.||My dad isn’t Chinese.|
|她哥哥很高兴。||Tā gēge hěn gāoxìng.||Her (older) brother is happy.|
|我们医院很大。||Wǒmen yīyuàn hěn dà.||Our hospital is big.|
|妈妈的弟弟叫张明。||Māma de dìdi jiào Zhāng Míng||Mom’s (younger) brother’s name is Zhang Ming.|
|老师的学生不在台湾。||Lǎoshī de xuéshēng bù[bú] zài Táiwān.||The teacher’s students aren’t in Taiwan.|
Although 不 bù is used to negate every other verb, there is one exception: 有 yǒu, to have. To say someone does not have something, you do not use 不 bù, instead, you use 没 méi. So "I do not have a telephone" translates as 我没有电话.
The word 再 zài means "again", indicating something will happen again in the future. One common pattern is "再 + verb + number + measure word". This pattern is always used to make requests and orders.
|我要再吃三个。||Wǒ yào zài chī sān gè.||I want to eat three more. (I have already eaten some.)|
|请再问一次。||Qǐng zài wèn yī[yí] cì.||Please ask one more time. (The listener has already asked once.)|
You can place 最 before all adjectives to form the superlative adjectives (the most, the worst, the biggest, etc.).
|我妈妈最高兴。||Wǒ māma zuì gāoxìng.||My mom is the happiest.|
|老师最忙。||Lǎoshī zuì máng.||The teacher is the busiest.|
The verb 要 yào has many uses. One function is to indicate "wanting something". You should follow the pattern "subject + 要 + object". To negate this wanting, you can simply place 不 before 要.
You can also use 要 to express "wanting to do something" via the pattern "subject + 要 + verb".
|我要你的电话号码。||Wǒ yào nǐ de diànhuà hàomǎ.||I want your phone number.|
|我不要他的电话号码。||Wǒ bǔ[bú] yào tā de diànhuà hàomǎ.||I don't want his phone number.|
|学生们要喝水。||Xuéshēng men yào hē shuǐ.||Students want to drink water.|
|老师们不要喝茶。||Lǎoshī men bù[bú] yào hē chá.||Teachers don’t want to drink tea.|
Days of the week and months are very simple to express. For weeks, you simply add the number (Monday = 1, Tuesday = 2, Wednesday = 3, etc.) after the word 星期 Xīngqī (week) to get the day of the week. The only exception is Sunday, where we add 天 tiān or 日 rì.
|星期天/星期日||Xīngqītiān / Xīngqīrì||Sunday|
With months it’s the same, only you add the number before 月 yuè (month).
Chinese has two words for asking “How much?”: 多少 duōshǎo and 几 jǐ. We learned about 多少 when learning how to ask for telephone numbers. 多少 is generally used to ask about larger numbers, whereas 几 is generally used for smaller numbers when it is assumed that the answer will be under ten. The exception to this is dates and hours of the day, where we know there are 12 months and hours and up to 31 days in a month, but we still use 几.
|孩子几岁了？||Háizi jǐ suì le?||How (many years) old is the young child?|
|你有几个孩子？||Nǐ yǒu[yóu] jǐ gè háizi?||How many children do you have?|
|学校有多少个学生？||Xuéxiào yǒu duōshǎo gè xuéshēng?||How many students are there in the school?|
|一年有多少天？||Yī[yì] nián yǒu duōshǎo tiān?||How many days are there in a year?|
We place 几 right where the number would go.
|你有几个妹妹？||Nǐ yǒu[yóu] jǐ gè mèimei?||How many younger sisters do you have?|
|我有一个妹妹。||Wǒ[wó] yǒu yī[yí] gè mèimei.||I have one younger sister.|
|今天是星期几？||Jīntiān shì Xīngqī jǐ?||What day is it today?|
|今天是星期二。||Jīntiān shì Xīngqī'èr.||Today is Tuesday.|
|你哥哥有几个老师？||Nǐ gēge yǒu jǐ gè lǎoshī?||How many teachers does your older brother have?|
|他有六个老师。||Tā yǒu liù gè lǎoshī.||He has six teachers.|
Chinese dates (and addresses) start from biggest to smallest. When saying dates, you start with the year followed by the month and finally the day of the month. Years are also very easy to say, rather than saying “two thousand and seventeen” or “twenty seventeen”, you just say each number individually followed by 年 (year). Thus 2017 would be 二零一七年: èr líng yī qī nián.
To ask yes or no questions, you have learned that you can put 吗 at the end of the sentence. Alternatively, you can repeat the verb and connect the two parts by 不. Of course, the answer to such questions can be “yes” or “no”. Please note there is no specific word for “yes” or “no” in Chinese. The shortest answer for “yes” is to reply with the verb, and that for “no” is the pattern “不 + verb”.
Basically, the two ways of questioning can be safely interchanged. If you use the "verb + 不 + verb" pattern, you should not put 吗 at the end of the question.
|这本书是不是你的？||Zhè běn shū shì bù[bú] shì nǐ de?||Is this book yours?|
|是 / 不是||Shì. / Bù[bú] shì.||Yes, it is. / No, it isn’t.|
|你想不想去书店？||Nǐ[ní] xiǎng bù xiǎng qù shū diàn?||Do you want to go to the bookstore?|
|想 / 不想||Xiǎng. / Bù xiǎng||Yes, I do. / No, I don’t.|
When it comes to words with two or more characters, in the first part, you can just say the first character (of course you can say the whole, though it sounds less natural), as in these cases:
|你知（道）不知道？||Nǐ zhī(dào) bù zhīdào?||Do you know?|
|你明（白）不明白？||Nǐ míng(bái) bù míngbái?||Do you understand?|
In Chinese, if you want to describe the degree or the condition of an action, you can add 得 de (neutral tone) and an adjective phrase to it (what you are describing the subject as). The phrase after 得 serves to further illustrate how the action is and what consequence it brings about.
|我们吃得很好。||Wǒmen chī de hěn[hén] hǎo.||We eat very well. (“well” is to show how we eat.)|
|他走得很快。||Tā zǒu de hěn kuài.||He walks very fast. (“fast” is to show how he walks.)|
Previously, you learned about the “verb + 不 + verb” pattern to ask yes or no questions. In fact, this pattern also applies to adjectives.
The same thing happens to adjectives with two or more characters where you can choose to only repeat the first character or both characters, though it sounds more natural to only repeat the first character.
|她漂不漂亮？||Tā piào bù[bú] piàoliàng?||Is she beautiful?|
|你高不高兴？||Nǐ gāo bù gāoxìng?||Are you happy?|
In Chinese, 了 le (neutral tone) is a commonly seen character with many uses. Here, 了 is used to show the completion of an action. To make a verb or a verb phrase indicate completeness, you just need to add 了 after it. So you can finally express past tense actions! Keep in mind, however, that you can also see this in sentences about the future when 了 is showing that one action was completed before another.
|你吃了吗？||Nǐ chī le ma?||Did you eat?|
|我买了一个苹果。||Wǒ[wó] mǎi le yī[yí] gè píngguǒ.||I bought an apple.|
|他做了作业。||Tā zuò le zuòyè.||He did homework.|
|我到了告诉你。||Wǒ dào le gàosù nǐ.||When I arrive, I will tell you. / I will tell you when I arrive.|
会 huì can be used to indicate future tense. Simply place it before the verb or adjective and it will place the context of the sentence into the future. To say “won’t”, you can use 不会 bù[bú] huì. In many cases, you can also find “next year”, “tomorrow”, and other words referring to the future in the sentence with 会.
|我明天会去学校。||Wǒ míngtiān huì qù xuéxiào.||I will go to school tomorrow.|
|下个星期一不会下雨。||Xià gè Xīngqīyī bù[bú] huì xià yǔ。||It won’t rain next Monday. / Next Monday won't rain.|
Time words such as today, tomorrow, and yesterday usually come after the subject but before the verb. You can also see them come before the subject, but never after the verb.
|他们去年五月在香港。||Tāmen qùnián Wǔyuè zài Xiānggǎng.||They were in Hong Kong last May.|
|我们明年去中国。||Wǒmen míngnián qù Zhōngguó.||We will go to China next year.|
左 zuǒ means being left and 右 yòu means being right. The pattern “A + 在 +B + 的 + 左/右边 biān” simply indicates literal translation: A is on B's left/right side. 的 can be omitted in this structure.
Please note that 在 is used to describe the location in relation to the other object. You have to add 边 (side) after 左/右 when making a sentence. Similarly, to say "A is next to B", you can use the word “旁páng边”.
|老师在我（的）右边。||Lǎoshī zài wǒ (de) yòu biān.||The teacher is on my right side.|
|我的家在学校（的）旁边。||Wǒ de jiā zài xuéxiào páng biān.||My home is next to the school.|
|我在老师（的）左边。||Wǒ zài lǎoshī de zuǒ biān.||I am on the left side of the teacher. (literal translation: I am on the teacher's left side.)|
前 qián refers to being front while 后 hòu means being behind. To make a sentence indicating A is in the front of/behind B, you have to use 前面 miàn/后面. You can use the pattern “A + 在 +B + 的 + 前/后面”.
|老师在我（的）前面。||Lǎoshī zài wǒ (de) qián miàn.||The teacher is in front of me. (literal translation: the teacher is on my front side.)|
|我在老师（的）后面。||Wǒ zài lǎoshī (de) hòu miàn.||I am behind the teacher. (literal translation: I am on the teacher's backside.)|
怎么 (zěnme) means "how". By simply putting 怎么 before verbs, you can create questions to ask how to do something. The subject is not always necessary for this sentence pattern.
|你怎么去学校？||Nǐ[ní] zěnme qù xuéxiào.||How do you go to school?|
|妹妹知道怎么回家吗？||Mèimei zhīdào zěnme huí jiā ma?||Does younger sister know how to go back home?|
|怎么学中文？||Zěnme xué zhōngwén?||How to learn Chinese?|
You can place the “到 + place” pattern to indicate "to arrive". Please note that “去 + place” emphasizes going to a place while “到 + place” is for arriving at a place.
|到家||dào jiā||arrive home|
|到医院||dào yīyuàn||arrive at the hospital|
You can put this pattern before “怎么 + verb” to ask how to get to a place.
|到家怎么走？||Dào jiā zěnme zǒu?||How do I go home? (literal translation: to arrive home, how to go?)|
|到医院怎么坐车？||Dào yīyuàn zěnme zuò chē?||How do I get to the hospital by bus? (literal translation: To arrive at the hospital, how to take bus?)|
The first use of 哪 is to ask "which" questions in the form of “哪个”. 哪里 serves to create “where” questions or to ask about places. It follows the regular rule for the question sentences, replacing the part being asked about. One common pattern is “subject + verb + 哪里？”.
|你的女儿在哪里？||Nǐ de nǚer zài nǎlǐ?||Where is your daughter?|
|她们六月会去哪里？||Tāmen Liùyuè huì qù nǎlǐ?||Where will they go in June?|
When a verb phrase comes after 在 zài, instead of referring to a location, 在 indicates that the action is happening now. You can use 在 in sentences with a vague time that goes beyond the current moment.
|我的朋友在吃早饭。||Wǒ de péngyǒu zài chī zǎofàn.||My friend is eating breakfast.|
|奶奶在跳舞。||Nǎinai zài tiàowǔ.||Grandma is dancing.|
|你在做作业吗？||Ní zài zuò zuòyè ma?||Are you doing homework?|
|他们在学汉语。||Tāmen zài xué hànyǔ.||They are learning Chinese.(now, this week, these months, this semester, etc.)|
The "from...to..." structure in Chinese is “从 cóng…到 dào…”. It can be used for both times and locations. 从 is followed by the starting point and 到 leads the ending point.
To describe everyday routine, you can use the pattern "someone + 每天 (every day) + time 1 + 到 + time 2 + action". Please note that you can place 每天 before the subject.
|从五月到六月||cóng Wǔyuè dào Liùyuè||from May to June|
|从加拿大到美国||cóng Jiānádà dào Měiguó||from Canada to the U.S.|
|我每天九点到五点学习。||Wǒ měitiān jiǔ[jiú] diǎn dào wǔ[wú] diǎn xuéxí.||I study from 9 o'clock to 5 o'clock every day.|
|爸爸每天早上七点到八点吃早饭。||Bàba měitiān zǎoshàng qī diǎn dào bā diǎn chī zǎofàn.||My dad eats breakfast from 7 o'clock to 8 o'clock every day in the morning.|
You learned about 多少 duōshǎo when learning how to ask for people’s phone number. 多少 can also be used to ask “how much” or “how many.” While 几 is used to ask about smaller numbers, 多少 is generally used to ask about numbers when we expect the answer to be larger, generally over ten. The pattern for asking about quantity is “多少 + measure word + noun”.
And to ask “How much does it cost?” or “How much is it?” in Chinese, you can ask “subject + 多少钱？”. 钱 means money and the literal meaning of 多少钱 is “how much money”.
|电脑多少钱？||Diànnǎo duōshǎo qián?||How much does the computer cost? / How much is the computer?|
|学校有多少个学生？||Xuéxiào yǒu duōshǎo gè xuéshēng?||How many students are there in the school?|
To read numbers for quantity in Chinese, similar to English, you can spell them out as number + digit name (thousand, hundred, etc.) + number + digit name. For the numbers 11 through 19, instead of saying 一十一, 一十二, you can omit the leading 一 and say 十一, 十二, etc. When reading a number that is not followed by any measure word, the trailing zero(s) can be omitted. However, you should also spell out the zeros before the unit position. Zero in Chinese is 零 líng.
|一千三百二十一||yī qiān sān bǎi èr shí yī||One thousand three hundred twenty-one / 1,321|
|一千三||yī qiān sān||One thousand three hundred / 1,300|
|一千零三||yī qiān líng sān||One thousand and three / 1,003|
|一千三百二||yī qiān sān bǎi èr||One thousand three hundred twenty / 1,320|
|一千三百零二||yī qiān sān bǎi líng èr||One thousand three hundred and two / 1,302|
When you talk about where something takes place, we use the phrase “在 + location”, which goes after the subject but before the verb.
|你在哪里上班？||Nǐ zài nǎ[ná]lǐ shàngbān?||Where do you work?|
|我在学校学习汉语。||Wǒ zài xuéxiào xuéxí hànyǔ.||I study Chinese at school.|
|我哥哥在饭馆吃饭。||Wǒ gēge zài fànguǎn chī fàn.||My older brother is eating at the restaurant.|
To describe a more specific location in Chinese, you can use the structure “在 + location + 里 lǐ (inside) / 外 wài (outside) / 上 shàng (on) / 下 xià (under)”.
|书在床上。||Shū zài chuáng shàng.||The book is on the bed.|
|狗在桌子下。||Gǒu zài zhuōzi xià.||The dog is under the table.|
|妈妈在门外。||Māma zài mén wài.||Mom is outside the door..|
Previously, you learned about “要 yào + something” to express "wanting something". To say "wanting to do", simply put the verb after 要. “要 + verb + object” can also indicate "be going to do" when the sentence has a time word.
To negate "wanting to do" something, you can just put 不 before 要. You should replace 要 with 不 to show "not going to do" something.
|学生们明天要去美国吗？||Xuéshēng men míngtiān yào qù Měiguó ma?||Are students going to the U.S. tomorrow?|
|学生们明天不去美国。||Xuéshēng men míngtiān bù[bú] qù Měiguó.||Students are not going to the U.S. tomorrow.|
|我要喝咖啡。||Wǒ yào hē kāfēi.||I want to drink coffee.|
|我不要喝咖啡。||Wǒ bù[bú] yào hē kāfēi.||I don’t want to drink coffee.|
The structure “verb + 一下 yī[yí]xià” indicates that the action is conducted in a brief manner. Apart from creating a sense of "a little bit" of an action, this pattern also softens the overall tone and makes Chinese sentences more natural. Other patterns with similar use will be introduced later.
|请看一下。||Qǐng kàn yī[yí] xià.||Please take a look. (It should be a quick one.)|
|我要玩一下游戏。||Wǒ yào wán yī[yí] xià yóuxì.||I want to play games. (I won't play for a long time.)|
When asking small numbers, you should use the word 几 jǐ. Importantly, an appropriate measure word should follow 几. The complete pattern is “几 + measure word + (number)”.
|你有几只*狗？||Nǐ[ní] yǒu jǐ zhī gǒu?||How many dogs do you have?|
|妈妈买了几个苹果？||Māma mǎi le jǐ gè píngguǒ.||How many apples did mom buy?|
*只 zhī is one of the measure words to describe animals.
You can follow the English pattern using the verb 给 gěi (to give) to indicate the action of passing things to someone. The verb 给 by its own is used similarly to how we say “here” or “here you are” when handing something to someone. The pattern is “给 +the recipient + something”. You can also start the sentence with 请 to show your politeness and respect.
|请给我英文菜单。||Qǐng gěi[géi] wǒ yīngwén càidān.||Please give me the English menu.|
|给他们我的手机。||Gěi tāmen wǒ de shǒujī.||Give them my phone.|
|-给我三个苹果。||Gěi[géi] wǒ sān gè píngguǒ.||-Give me three apples.|
|-给。||Gěi.||-Here you are.|
To ask "why" questions, you can start by making a regular statement sentence, then place 为什么 wèishénme(why) after the subject. 为 means "for", 什么 means "what", so that 为什么 literally stands for "for what". Please follow the pattern "subject + 为什么 + description of the subject's action".
|你为什么用手机？||Nǐ wèishénme yòng shǒujī?||Why do you use the cell phone?|
|他们为什么不收信用卡？||Tāmen wèishénme bù shōu xìnyòngkǎ?||Why don't they accept credit cards?|
|妈妈为什么喜欢看书？||Māma wèishénme xǐhuān kàn shū?||Why does mom like reading books?|
The word 去 qù can indicate the action of going to a certain place. "subject + 去 + place" is among the most commonly used construction. In many cases, you can put 要 before 去 to express "going to" or "wanting to go" someplace in the future.
|我星期一到星期五去学校。||Wǒ Xīngqīyī dào Xīngqīwǔ qù xuéxiào.||I go to school from Monday to Friday.|
|我们家六月去了伦敦。||Wǒmen jiā Liùyuè qù le Lúndūn.||Our family went to London in June.|
|爸爸去哪里？||Bàba qù nǎlǐ?||Where does dad go?|
因为 yīnwèi is used to introduce causes, while 所以 suǒyǐ is followed by effects and results. You can use "因为 + reason/cause, 所以 + effect/result" pattern to make a very logical explanation of "because A, so B".
|因为电脑太贵了，所以我没买。||Yīnwèi diànnǎo tài guì le, suǒ[suó]yǐ wǒ méi mǎi.||Since the computer is too expensive, I didn't buy it.|
|因为我很喜欢中国，所以我想学中文。||Yīnwèi wǒ hěn[hén] xǐhuān Zhōngguó, suǒ[suó]yǐ wǒ[wó] xiǎng xué Zhōngwén.||Since I like China very much, I want to learn Chinese.|
In informal settings, similar to English, you can choose to use either 因为 or 所以 in a sentence. Please note that, if you only want to keep 因为, the sentence should follow the result, 因为 + cause/reason" structure.
|电脑太贵了，所以我没买。||Diànnǎo tài guì le, suǒ[suó]yǐ wǒ méi mǎi.||The computer is too expensive, so I didn't buy it.|
|我没买电脑，因为它太贵了。||Wǒ méi mǎi diànnǎo, yīnwéi tā tài guì le.||I didn't buy the computer because it's too expensive|
|我很喜欢中国，所以我想学中文。||Wǒ hěn[hén] xǐhuān Zhōngguó, suǒ[suó]yǐ wǒ xiǎng xué Zhōngwén.||I like China very much, so I want to learn Chinese.|
|我想学中文，因为我很喜欢中国。||Wǒ xiǎng xué Zhōngwén, yīnwéi wǒ hěn[hén] xǐhuān Zhōngguó||I want to learn Chinese because I like China very much.|
There are different ways to say “or” in Chinese. When you want the person to choose between one or the either, you can use the structure “A + 还是 háishì + B” in a question. Notice that there is no need for the 吗 at the end because 还是 implies a question. It can also be used in statements when there is a question implied. Normally the phrase is after “subject + verb”.
|你喜欢牛奶还是咖啡？||Nǐ[ní] xǐhuān niúnǎi háishì kāfēi?||Do you like milk or coffee?|
|你去学校还是回家？||Nǐ qù xuéxiào háishì huí jiā?||Do you go to school or go home?|
|超市收信用卡还是现金？||Chāoshì shōu xìnyòngkǎ háishì xiànjīn?||Does the supermarket take credit card or cash?|
|我不知道这杯咖啡是你的还是我的。||Wǒ bù zhīdào zhè bēi kāfēi shì ní de háishì wǒ de.||I don’t know if this cup of coffee is yours or mine. (Is this cup of coffee yours or mine? I don’t know.)|
有一点儿/有点儿 yǒu[yóu]diǎnr is used to make a complaint in a very polite manner and indicates "a little bit too much of a certain feeling". When you use the pattern "subject + 有点儿 + adjective", please be aware that you should choose adjectives with unpleasant meanings. In southern China, 儿 can be dropped.
|我今天有一点儿忙。||Wǒ jīntiān yǒuyī[yì]diǎnr máng.||I am a little bit too busy today. (probably the speaker is politely refuse an invitation.)|
|那个苹果有点儿贵。||Nà ge píngguǒ yǒu[yóu]diǎnr guì.||That apple is a little bit too expensive. (the speaker is politely suggesting that they buy a cheaper one.)|
Apart from expressing "not wanting something", 不要 bù[bú]yào is also popularly used to command someone not to do something. You can drop the subject (the command recipient) and directly use the structure "不要 + verb".
|（你）不要吃太多糖！||(Nǐ) bù[bú]yào chī tài duō táng.||Don't eat too many sweets.|
|（妈妈）不要走！||(Māma) bù[bú]yào zǒu.||Don't go/leave, mom!|
从 cóng refers to "from" in English and 开始 kāishǐ means "to start". "从 + starting time + 开始" can be placed before the subject or between subject and verb to show that starting from a certain point of time, some action will take place.
|我从明天开始学习中文。||Wǒ cóng míngtiān kāishǐ xuéxí Zhōngwén.||Starting from tomorrow, I will study Chinese.|
|从这个周末开始，我不看电视了*。||Cóng zhè ge zhōumò kāishǐ, wǒ bù[bú] kàn diànshì le.||Starting from this weekend, I will not watch TV.|
*了 here indicates that there is a new condition (I used to watch TV, but starting from this weekend, I will not watch it anymore.)
Previously, you learned about 每天 měitiān (every day) where 每 means "each/every". 每 is normally used in the pattern "每 + measure word + noun + 都 + action/description". Here, 都 dōu refers to "all". Sounds unnatural in English as it is (having both "every" and "all"), 都 serves to emphasize the quantity in a sentence.
Please note that, 天 itself is a measure word so that there is no need to place an extra measure word between 每 and 天.
|每个鸡蛋都很新鲜。||Měi gè jīdàn dōu hěn xīnxiān.||Every egg is fresh.|
|每个服务员都有菜单。||Měi gè fúwùyuán dōu yǒu càidān.||Every waiter has a menu.|
The original meaning of 坐 zuò is "to sit". It can also refer to the action of taking a certain vehicle since people normally sit in the bus, train, and place, to name a few. You have learned about "去 + place" to show "going to a place".
"坐 + vehicle + 去 + place" simply means to take some vehicle to somewhere.
|我会坐火车去上海。||Wǒ huì zuò huǒchē qù Shànghǎi.||We will take the train to Shanghai.|
|他女儿不要坐公车去超市。||Tā nǚér bù[bú]yào zuò gōngchē qù chāoshì.||His daughter doesn't want to take the bus to the supermarket.|
Placing before verbs, 可以 kě[ké]yǐ is used to show the permission to carry out actions, similar to "may" "can (permission not ability)" in English. To negate the permission, you can simply use 不可以 (can't).
|我们可以吃面条吗？||Wǒmen kě[ké]yǐ chī miàntiáo ma?||May we eat noodles?|
|你们可以吃水果。||Nǐmen kě[ké]yǐ chī shuǐ[shuí]guǒ.||You may eat fruit.|
|他们不可以回房间。||Tāmen bù kě[ké]yǐ huí fángjiān.||They can't go back to the room.|
Previously, you learned that to express negation in Chinese, one can add 不 before the verb. However, this construction is for negating present actions and habits. The actions in the past should be negated with 没有 méiyǒu. Both “没有 + verb” and “没 + verb” are commonly used.
|我昨天没(有)锻炼。||Wǒ zuótiān méi(yǒu) duànliàn.||I didn’t work out yesterday.|
|他们没(有)坐地铁。||Tāmen méi(yǒu) zuò dìtiě.||They didn’t take the metro.|
|她没(有)看新闻。||Tā méi(yǒu) kàn xīnwén.||She didn’t read/watch the news.|
Chinese people repeat the same verb twice in a sentence to create an easygoing tone, indicating the brevity of the action. You should pronounce the second verb in this pattern with the neutral tone.
|你要试试吗？||Nǐ yào shì shi ma?||Do you want to have a try?|
|我随便看看。||Wǒ suíbiàn kàn kan.||I am just looking (around).|
一点儿 yī[yì]diǎnr (一点 in southern China) literally means "a little bit". Different from 有点儿 placed before unpleasant adjectives, "adjective + 一点儿" is used to express "a little bit more of a condition". "verb + 一点儿 + object" indicates that the action is conducted on a little bit of the object. You can use it for comparison and show the speaker's expectation. 一 can be dropped.
|爸爸想买（一）点（儿）羊肉。||Bàba xiǎng[xiáng] mǎi (yī[yì])diǎn(r) yángròu.||Dad wants to buy a little bit of lamb. (action on a little bit of the object)|
|我知道（一）点（儿）中文。||Wǒ zhīdào (yī[yì])diǎn(r) zhōngwén.||I know a little bit of Chinese. (action on a little bit of the object)|
|开心（一）点（儿）。||Kāixīn (yī[yì])diǎn(r).||Be a little bit happier. (comparison and wish)|
半 bàn means "half". To make a Chinese sentence using 半, you should follow the pattern "半 + measure word + noun".
|半个苹果||bàn gè píngguǒ||half an apple|
|半碗饭||bàn wǎn fàn||half a bowl of rice|
|半包糖||bàn bāo táng||half a bag of sugar/candies|
"number + measure word + 半 bàn" means "a certain number" and a half.
|六个半西瓜||liù gè bàn xīguā||six watermelons and a half/ six and a half watermelons|
|十二个半小时||shíèr gè bàn xiǎoshí||twelve hours and a half/ twelve and a half hours|
To say 8:58 am/pm in English, you would say "eight fifty-eight" or "two minutes to nine". Similarly, in Chinese, you can choose to say “八点五十八” or use 差 chā. The complete pattern "差 + number + 分/刻 + （到）+ number + 点" simply indicates how many minutes/quarters to the next sharp hour. Please note that 到 can be omitted and 分 is short for 分钟.
This pattern is applicable to every number on the clock face to avoiding using big numbers, for example, 7:16 can be “差四分到七点二十” rather than “差十四分到七点半”.
|差一刻（到）十一点||chā yī[yí] kè (dào) shíyī diǎn||a quarter to 11 o' clock (10:45 am/pm)|
|差三分（到）五点半||chā sān fēn (dào) wǔ[wú] diǎn bān||three minutes to half-past five (5:27 am/pm)|
|差八分（到）四点四十||chā bā fēn (dào) sì diǎn sìshí||eight minutes to four forty (4:32 am/pm)|
In addition to expressing the negation of actions in the past, 没有 can also be placed after a location to show that something does not exist there. Digging a little deeper, you might notice that 没 is used to negate 有, the verb for both “to have” and “there is/are”. Normally present actions are negated with 不, but 有 is an exception. 没有 and 没 are both commonly used.
|冰箱里没(有)苹果。||Bīngxiāng lǐ méi(yǒu) pīngguǒ.||There is no apple in the fridge. / Inside the fridge, there is no apple.|
|这里没(有)商店。||Zhèlǐ méi(yǒu) shāngdiàn.||There is no shop here.|
|椅子上没(有)报纸。||Yǐzi shàng méi(yǒu) bàozhǐ.||There is no newspaper on the chair. / On the chair, there is no newspaper.|
You may remember that to indicate an action’s completion, you should put 了 after the action. You can use the pattern “verb + 了 + duration + 的 + object” to address how long that action took place.
The 的 after the duration is to show how long the action occurred. It may be helpful to think of this 的 as being similar to “’s worth of”, for example, 一天的电视, a day’s worth of TV. Keep in mind that you can only have a noun after 的, if the object of the verb is a pronoun, it must come after 了 and before the time.
|我看了一小时的电视。||Wǒ kàn le yī[yí] gè xiǎoshí de diànshì.||I watched the TV for one hour. / I watched a one-hour worth of TV.|
|我和爸爸坐了八个小时的飞机。||Wǒ hé bàba zuò le bā gè xiǎoshí de fēijī.||Dad and I flew for eight hours. / Dad and I took an eight-hour’s worth of flight.|
|她们听了一天的音乐。||Tāmen tīng le yī[yì] tiān de yínyuè.||They listened to music for a day. / They listened to a day’s worth of music.|
|她等了我三十分钟。||Tā děng le wǒ sānshí fēnzhōng.||She waited for me for thirty minutes.|
Adding 过 guò after the verb can indicate actions that one has experienced in the past. Since 过 refers to the past action, you need to use 没有 or 没 to negate “verb + 过”.
|你见过他吗？||Nǐ jiàn guò tā ma?||Have you ever seen him before?|
|我没（有）去过西班牙。||Wǒ méi(yǒu) qù guò Xibānyá.||I have never been to Spain before.|
|他没（有）玩过电脑游戏。||Tā méi(yǒu) wán guò diànnǎo yóuxì.||He has never played computer games before.|
Another use of 了 is to be placed at the end of a sentence to show there is a new situation or a new situation is about to come.
|我妹妹八岁了。||Wǒ mèimei bā suì le.||My younger sister is eight years old. (she was seven years old last year.)|
|商店没（有）苹果了。||Shāngdiàn méi(yǒu) píngguǒ le.||The shop doesn’t have any apples any more. (The shop used to have apples.)|
|电影开始了。||Diànyǐng kāishǐ le.||The movie is starting. (The movie didn’t start until now.)|
Apart from referring to locations, 在 can also be seen before verbs to show actions in progress. 正在 can also express something is happening. However, slightly different from 在, 正在 emphasizes that the action is in progress RIGHT NOW.
|我弟弟正在踢足球。||Wǒ dìdi zhèngzài tī zúqiú.||My younger brother is playing soccer right now.|
|学生们正在吃面包。||Xuéshēng men zhèngzài chī miànbāo.||Students are eating bread right now.|
完 means “to complete” and “to finish”. If you place 完 after a verb, it emphasizes the action was done to completion. You can also put 了 after 完, which also indicates completion. Different from “verb + 了”, the pattern “verb + 完了” emphasizes the action was totally finished.
|我看完了今天的新闻。||Wǒ kàn wán le jīntiān de xīnwén.||I finished reading today’s news.|
|老师们吃完了午饭。||Lǎoshī men chī wán le wǔfàn.||Teachers finished eating (all the) lunch.|
|他做完了他的工作。||Tā zuò wán le tā de gōngzuò.||He finished (all) his work.|
Chinese uses 比 bǐ to compare things, which is similar to “than”. However, if you want to describe that A is more of something than B in Chinese, you have to place 比 in between those two things with the adjective at the end. You should put the thing with the greater degree in terms of the adjective in your comparison before 比.
|我比爸爸高。||Wǒ bǐ bàba gāo.||I am taller than dad.|
|蛋糕比巧克力甜。||Dàngāo bǐ qiǎokèlì tián.||Cakes are sweeter than chocolate.|
|飞机比船快。||Fēijī bǐ chuán kuài.||Planes are faster than boats.|
又 serves to connect two qualities that don't contrast with each other. “又 + adjective 1 + 又 + adjective 2” is very similar to “both adjective 1 and adjective 2” in English.
|这个苹果又大又甜。||Zhège píngguǒ yǒu dà yòu tián.||This apple is both big and sweet.|
|我的衬衫又舒服又便宜。||Wǒ de chènshān yòu shūfú yòu piányí.||My shirt is both comfortable and cheap.|
|妈妈做的鱼又健康又好吃。||Māma zuò de yú yòu jiànkāng yòu hǎochī.||The fish mom cooked is both healthy and delicious.|
离 lí is the character you need to describe the distance between two places. 离 always shows up with 远 yuǎn(far) and 近 jìn(close) if the distances are not exact numbers.
In English, we say “place A is far from or close to place B”. In Chinese, 离 plays similar role to “from”, placed before the starting point (place B). The pattern is “place A + 离 + place B + adverb + 远/近“”.
|伦敦离香港很远。||Lúndūn lí Xiānggǎng hěn[hén] yuǎn.||London is far away from Hong Kong|
|我家离学校非常近。||Wǒ jiā lí xuéxiào fēicháng jìn.||My home is very close to the school.|
|机场离酒店太远了。||Jīcháng lí jiǔdiàn tài yuǎn le.||The airport is too far away from the hotel.|
|机场离酒店远吗？||Jīcháng lí jiǔdiàn yuǎn ma?||Is the airport far from the hotel?|
离 and 从 cóng are similar to each other since they both mean “from”. Please be aware that 离 is used to illustrate the fixed and static distance between two places and their order doesn’t influence the whole sentence. While 从 is in sentences with certain movements and is placed before the starting point of the action, emphasizing the direction.
|他从伦敦飞到香港。(从 is followed by the starting point of the action 飞)||Tā cóng Lúndūn fēi dào Xiānggǎng.||He flies from London to Hong Kong.|
|从机场到酒店怎么走？(从 is followed by the starting point of the action 走)||Cóng jiǔdiàn dào jīchǎng zěnme zǒu?||How to get to the hotel from the airport?|
|我从中国来。(从 is followed by the starting point of the action来)||Wǒ cóng Zhōngguó lái.||I came from China.|
了 at the end of a sentence sometimes indicates there is a new situation or something new is about to happen. When 快 kuài/快要 kuàiyào/要 yào shows up with 了, and there is a verb between them, it means the action is about to happen very soon.
|我们快/快要/要吃午饭了。||Wǒmen kuài / kuàiyào / yào kāi chī wǔfàn le.||We are almost about to take lunch.|
|周末快/快要/要到了。||Zhōumò kuài / kuàiyào / yào dào le.||It is almost weekend. (Weekend is almost here.)|
|商店快/快要/要开门了。||Shāngdiàn kuài / kuàiyào / yào kāi mén le.||The shop is almost about to open.|
正 zhèng/正在 zhèngzài/在 zài before a verb indicates the action is ongoing. To build on that, the complete way to express actions in progress is to further place 着 zhe (neutral tone) right after the verb and before the object if there is one. The pattern is “正/正在/在 + verb + 着”. In most cases, there is only 着 in a sentence.
|学生们（正/正在/在）吃着午饭。||Xuéshéng men (zhèng/zhèngzài/zài) chī zhe wǔfàn.||Students are eating lunch.|
|爸爸（正/正在/在）开着车。||Bàba (zhèng/zhèngzài/zài) kāi zhe chē.||Dad is driving the car.|
|我（正/正在/在）听着歌。||Wǒ (zhèng/zhèngzài/zài) tīng zhe gē.||I am listening to the music.|
To list a condition and its consequence in English, you use the “if… then…” structure. A formal way to say this in Chinese is “如果 rúguǒ...就 jiù...”. Similar to English, if the subjects of the sentences after 如果 and 就 are the same, you can omit either one or sometimes even both.
|如果我不在家，你就给我打电话。||Rúguǒ wǒ bù[bú] zài jiā, nǐ jiù gěi wǒ[wó] dǎ diànhuà.||If I am not at home, you can call me.|
|如果他有空，我们就去香港。||Rúguǒ tā yǒu kòng, wǒmen jiù qù Xiānggǎng.||If he has time, we’ll go to Hong Kong.|
|如果（你）不知道，就问我。||Rúguǒ (nǐ) bù zhīdào, jiù wèn wǒ.||If you don’t know, just ask me.|
Although it is not common to see both "although" and "but" in an English sentence (just like this sentence), you need to include both 虽然 suīrán (although) and 但是 dànshì (but) in a Chinese sentence.
虽然 is followed by a sentence revealing the truth, and 但是 leads to an adverse reaction to the former statement. You can use both 但是 and 但.
Normally, when the subjects after 虽然 and 但是 are the same, you can place the subject at the very beginning. The pattern is "subject + 虽然 + ..., 但是 + subject + ...". In this case, you can choose to drop either of the subjects.
|虽然今天不下雨，但是明天会下雨。||Suīrán jīntiān méi xià yǔ, dànshì míngtiān huì xiàyǔ.||Although it is not rainy today, it is going to rain tomorrow.|
|他虽然很饱，但是（他）还想吃。||Tā suīrán hěn[hén] bǎo, dànshì (tā) hái xiǎng chī.||Although he is full, he still wants to eat.|
|（他）虽然很饱，但是他还想吃。||(Tā) suīrán hěn[hén] bǎo, dànshì tā hái xiǎng chī.||Although he is full, he still wants to eat.|
To say "not only..., but also..." in Chinese, you can use the pattern "不但 bù[bú]dàn……，而且 érqiě……". 也 and 还 can substitute 而且 without changing the meaning.
If there the subjects for both parts are the same, you should place the subject at the very beginning before 不但. In this case, you can omit the subject for the 而且 part.
If there are two subjects, they should come after both 不但 and 而且. The sentences normal indicate that the two subjects have something in common, so the complete pattern is "不但 + subject A……，而且 + subject B + 也……".
|手表不但便宜，而且很漂亮。||Shǒu[shóu]biǎo bù[bú]dàn piányi, érqié hěn piàoliàng.||The watch is not only cheap, but also pretty.|
|不但手表很贵，而且衣服也很贵。||Bù[bú]dàn shǒubiǎo[biáo] hěn guì, érqiě yīfú yě[yé] hěn guì.||Not only are the watches expensive, but the clothes are expensive too.|
While 红酒 hóngjiǔ only means red wine, 白酒 has two meanings. When there is no specific context, 白酒 báijiǔ refers to Chinese spirits that are made from fermented cereals (sorghum, maize, etc.). White wine distilled from grapes is called 白葡萄酒 bái pútáo jiǔ.
You can also use 白酒 to describe white wine within particular contexts. For example, if the sentence mentions "Italy" where people may drink white wine more often than Chinese spirits, you can use 白酒 to indicate white wine and make the sentence less clumsy.
The very popular structure "subject + 一 + event A, 就 + event B" is used to describe that as soon as event A has taken the place, event B would happen immediately. As usual, you can drop the second one. You can have two different subjects in this pattern.
|他们每天一回家，就睡觉。||Tāmen měitiān yī[yì] huí jiā, jiù shuìjiào.||Every day, as soon as they get home, they sleep.|
|爸爸一说话，我就想笑。||Bàba yī[yì] shuōhuà, wǒ jiù xiǎng xiào.||As soon as dad talks, I want to laugh.|
To express ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc.) in Chinese, you only need to place the word "dì" before a number. If you want to say "the first student" with a noun after the ordinal number, you should follow the pattern "第 + number + measure word + noun".
|第一个学生||dì yī gè xuéshēng||the first student|
|第三袋面包||dì sān dài miànbāo||the third bag of bread|
|第五十天*||dì wǔshí tiān||the fiftieth day|
There is no measure word between 五十 and 天 because 天 is already a measure word. The same case also applies to 周 and 年, but for 月 (month) you have to add 个 (第一个月).
The pattern "好在 + a complete sentence" means "luckily, something happened/didn't happen". The fuller structure is "好在......, 要不然 yàobùrán/否则 fǒuzé......" which expresses "luckily..., otherwise...". When you are only using 好在, you may want to show your gratefulness that the opposite situation didn't happen to influence the schedule.
|今天他没有时间。好在我昨天见了他。||Jīntiān tā méiyǒu shíjiān. Hǎozài wǒ zuótiān jiàn le tā.||Today he doesn't have time. Luckily, I met him yesterday. (Otherwise, the speaker couldn't meet him today.)|
|现在的风很大。好在我们在家里。||Xiànzài de fēng hěn dà. Hǎozài wǒmen zài jiā lǐ.||The wind is very strong now. Luckily, we are at home. (Otherwise, the wind would have blown on us.)|
加油 jiāyóu literally means "to add oil/fuel" in Chinese. Now it is commonly used to encourage someone which is very similar to expressions "come on!", "you can do it!", and "go for it!" in English.
懂 dǒng by itself means “to understand”. You can place it after a verb as a complement to show the subject has the ability to understand something. Those verbs include 听 tīng(listen), 读 dú(read), and 看 kàn(look; read). You have learned about 得 de to connect an action and its degree complement. 得 de (neutral tone) also plays a role here. The positive pattern is “verb + 得 + 懂” and “verb + 不懂” is for negation.
|学生们读得懂这本书。||Xuéshēng men dú de dǒng zhè běn shū.||Students can understand this book? (literal translation: read and understand)|
|学生们听不懂英语。||Xuéshēng men tīng bù dǒng yīngyǔ.||Students can’t understand English. (literal translation: listen but not understand)|
You can also place 懂 directly after the verb, in the “verb + 懂” pattern. This is to show that an action (e.g. listen and read) has resulted in a particular consequence, in our case, understanding something. Mostly, 懂 is followed by 了 as an indicator of the completion. Since this action happened in the past, to negate it, you need to say “没 + verb + 懂”.
|学生们读懂了这本书。||Xuéshēng men dú dǒng le zhè běn shū.||Students understood this book. (literal translation: read and understand)|
|学生们没听懂你的话。||Xuéshēng men méi tīng dǒng nǐ de huà.||Students didn’t understand your sentence. (literal translation: listen but not understand)|
For people that you have a close relationship with (e.g. family), and for institutions and organization you are involved with (e.g. work, school), you can choose to leave out the 的, but this only happens with pronouns.
|我（的）哥哥||wǒ (de) gēge||my older brother|
|老师的哥哥||lǎoshī de gēge||teacher’s older brother|
|他（的）爸爸||tā (de) bàba||his father|
|爸爸的爸爸||bàba de bàba||father’s father|
The pattern “是 + [information to be addressed] + verb +的” is very similar to the “it is/was the … that …” construction in English, trying to emphasize the particular information between 是 and 的. It is a very popular structure when we try to ask questions since questions aim to figure out specific content. We use it more for stating details related to the verb in the past.
|他们是什么时候走的？||Tāmen shì shénme shíhòu zǒu de?||When did they leave/go? (emphasis: when)|
|他们是去年六月走的。||Tāmen shì qùnián Liùyuè zǒu de.||They left last June. (emphasis: last June)|
|你是昨天去的医院吗？/ 你们是昨天去医院的吗？||Nǐ shì zuótiān qù de yīyuàn ma? / Nǐ shì zuótiān qù yīyuàn de ma?||Was it yesterday that you went to the hospital? (emphasis: yesterday)|
|老师不是在学校看见我的*。||Lǎoshī bù[bú] shì zài xuéxiào kàn jiàn wǒ de.||It was not at the school that the teacher saw me. (emphasis: at the school)|
*when the object is a person, e.g.我, 的 should not be placed between the verb and the object.
中间 zhōngjiān means middle. "Between A and B" is described in Chinese as "在A和B（的）中间". You can also use "在A（的）中间" to express "in the middle of A".
|爸爸坐在妈妈和我（的）中间。||Bàba zuò zài māma hé wǒ (de) zhōngjiān.||Dad is sitting between mom and I.|
|老师站在同学们（的）中间。||Lǎoshī zhàn zài tóngxué men (de) zhōngjiān.||The teacher is standing in the middle of students.|
经过 jīngguò can be a verb, a preposition, and a noun. When used as a verb, it means "to pass by" and you always put a place after it.
|昨天我经过了那个商店。||Zuótiān wǒ jīngguò le nà gè shāngdiàn.||I passed by that shop yesterday.|
|公车会经过学校和我家。||Gōngchē huì jīngguò xuéxiào hé wǒ jiā.||The bus will pass by the school and my home.|
To describe you are doing two things together, you can use the construction “一边 + action 1 + 一边 + action 2”. Don’t forget the comma after action 1. Orally, 一 can be omitted.
|他一边吃饭，一边唱歌。||Tā yī[yì]biān chīfàn, yī[yì]biān chàng gē.||He is eating while singing.|
|不要一边看书，一边看电视。 (看书 seems more important in this sentence)||Bù[bū]yào yī[yì]biān kàn shū, yī[yì]biān kàn diànshì.||Don’t watch TV while reading a book.|
|我们一边走，一边想吧。||Wǒmen yī[yì]biān zòu, yī[yì]biān xiǎng ba.||Let’s walk while we think.|
除了 chúle means "apart from", "except" and "besides". The pattern "除了......，也/还......" specifically indicates that "in addition to...., something is also...".
|除了刷牙，我还要洗澡。||Chúle shuāyá, wǒ hái yào xǐ[xí]zǎo.||In addition to brushing teeth, I will also take a shower.|
|除了（打）网球，他也想打排球。||Chúle (dǎ[dá]) wǎngqiú, tā yě xiǎng[xiáng] dǎ páiqiú.||In addition to tennis, he also wants to play volleyball.|
The word "极 jí" means "extreme". The pattern "adjective + 极了" is similar to "太 + adjective +了" to convey exclamatory statement. "极了" can be placed after both positive and negative adjectives to level up the degree of an adjective.
|妈妈漂亮极了。||Māma piàoliàng jí le.||Mom is extremely pretty.|
|北京冬天冷极了。||Běijīng dōngtiān lěng jí le.||Beijing is extremely cold in winter.|
难 means difficult. The construction "subject + 很难 + verb" simply means something is difficult to do. Please note that similar to 我很高兴 (I am happy), "很" here is used to connect the subject and 难.
If the verb has a sensory meaning, such as 看 (to look) and 喝 (to drink), the pattern shows that something has a negative sensory experience.
|他们饭馆的牛肉很难吃。||Tāmen fànguǎn de niúròu hěn nán chī.||The beef from their restaurant tastes bad. (literal translation: Their restaurant's beef is difficult to eat.)|
|地理考试很难准备。||Dìlǐ kǎoshì hěn nán zhǔnbèi.||It is difficult to prepare for the geography test./ The geography test is difficult to prepare.|
"好 + 难 + verb" and "太难 + verb + 了" are also commonly used and they convey a more intensified degree.
比较 as a verb means "to compare". It can also be placed before an adjective as in the pattern "something/someone + 比较 + adjective" to indicate "rather" and "relatively". You use this pattern to compare one thing with a general fact.
"比较 + adjective + 的 + 是 + something/someone" is used to to address the thing/person.
|这个火锅比较辣。||Zhè ge huǒguō bǐjiào là.||This hot pot is relatively/rather spicy.|
|比较辣的是这个火锅。||Bǐjiào là de shì zhè ge huǒguō.||What relatively/rather spicy is this hot pot.|
|他们的饺子比较好吃。||Tāmen de jiǎozi bǐjiào hǎochī.||Their dumplings are relatively/rather tasty.|
|比较难吃的是他们的饺子。||Bǐjiào hǎochī de shì tāmen de jiàozi.||What relatively tasty are their dumplings.|
先 xiān refers to "early" and "first". 然后 ránhòu means "and then" or "and after that". The pattern "先......，然后......" is used to describe actions in sequence and indicates "firstly,...., and then...". Normally, these two parts share the same subject and you should drop the second one. You can make a complicated sentence with two actions by using "先......, 再......, 然后......".
|我先吃饭，然后洗澡。||Wǒ xiān chī fàn, ránhòu xǐ[xí]zǎo.||I eat first and then shower.|
|他们先吃晚饭，再吃水果，然后刷牙。||Tāmen xiān chī wǎnfàn, zài chī shuǐ[shuí]guǒ, ránhòu shuāyá.||They eat dinner first, then eat fruit, and after that brush their teeth.|
直 zhí means "straight". Placed directly after the subject, 一直 yī[yì]zhí means "continuously" and expresses that someone has been doing something all the time, or someone will continuously do something in the future.
Since 在 can express an ongoing action, you can use the pattern "subject + 一直 + 在 + verb" to indicate someone has been/is continuously doing something. You can't add 在 to make a command/suggestion or indicate a future event. 一直 can also be used to describe circumstances and conditions. In this case, you can translate 一直 as "always".
|不要一直看电视。||Bù[bú]yào yī[yì]zhí kàn diànshì.||Don't watch TV all the time.|
|我会一直爱你。||Wǒ huì yī[yì]zhí ài nǐ.||I will always love you.|
|同学们一直在学校。||Tóngxué men yī[yì]zhí zài xuéxiào.||Students has always been at school.|
|爸爸一直在旅游。||Bàba yī[yì]zhí zài lǚyóu.||Dad has been continuously traveling./ Dad has been traveling all the time.|
Normally placed after the subject, 几乎 jīhū expresses that someone almost does something or something almost reaches a particular criterion or condition.
|他昨天几乎没说话。||Tā zuótiān jīhū méi shuōhuà.||He almost didn't talk yesterday.|
|天几乎黑了。||Tiān jīhū hēi le.||The sky is almost dark.|
If you want to express “someone has been doing something for some time”, namely the duration of an ongoing event, you might need to use two 了 in the sentence. The pattern is “subject + verb + 了 + duration + 了”. The first 了 indicates the completion of the action, and the second 了 expresses the meaning of “up until now”.
|我等了三天了。||Wǒ[wó] děng le sān tiān le.||I have been waiting for a long time.|
|他睡了十二个小时了。||Tā shuì le shíèr gè xiǎoshí le.||He has been sleeping for twelve hours.|
If the verb is followed by an object, you should repeat the verb as shown in the new pattern “subject + verb + object + verb + 了+ duration + 了”.
|学生们学中文学了一年了。||Xuéshēng men xué zhōngwén xué le yī[yì] nián le.||Students have been learning Chinese for one year.|
|我弟弟玩游戏玩了一天了。||Wǒ dìdi wán yóuxì wán le yī[yì] tiān le.||My younger brother has been playing games for a whole day.|
"Subject + 看起来......" means the subject looks like or appear to be in a certain circumstance or condition. The pattern is used to address the subjectivity. In many cases, 看起来 is followed by "adverb + adjective".
|那件衣服看起来很贵。||Nà jiàn yīfú kàn qǐlái hěn guì.||That clothes looks/appears to be expensive.|
|爷爷看起来非常健康。||Yéye kàn qǐlái fēicháng jiànkāng.||Grandfather looks/appears to be very healthy.|
地 dì refers to "land" and "earth". When pronounced as "de", 地 can be put after adjectives and change them into adverbs (words describing verbs}. It looks similar to the rule "adding 'ly' to adjectives can make adverbs" in English. You can use the pattern "subject + adjective + 地 + adverb + verb".
|他失望地回家了。||Tā shīwàng de huí jiā le.||He got back home disappointedly./ He disappointedly got back home.|
|我们快乐地过春节。||Wǒmen kuàilè de guò chūnjié.||We spent/celebrated the Spring Festival happily. / We happily spent/celebrated the Spring Festival happily.|
经常 jīngcháng means "frequently" and "regularly". The pattern "subject + 经常 + action" describes that an action frequently happens. You can translate it as "often".
|商场经常打折。||Shāngchǎng jīngcháng dǎzhé.||The mall often has discounts./ The mall is often on sale.|
|我明年会经常去北京。||Wǒ míngnián huì jīngcháng qù Běijīng.||I will frequently go to Beijing next year.|
清楚 qīngchǔ by itself means to be clear. 清楚 can also be used as the complement to verbs like 写 xiě(write), 说 shuō(speak), 看 kàn(look) and 听 tīng(listen). You can use the pattern “verb + 得 + 清楚” to express the subject’s ability to do something clearly. “verb + 不清楚” is the negative pattern. In many cases, you can choose to omit 楚 without altering the meaning.
|我看不清（楚）他写的字。||Wǒ kǎn bù qīng(chǔ) tā xiě de zì.||I can’t see the words he wrote clearly.|
|奶奶听不清（楚）爸爸说的话。||Nǎinai tīng bù qīng(chǔ) bàba shuō de huà.||Grandma can’t hear what dad said clearly.|
|你看得清楚那个人吗？||Nǐ kàn de qīngchǔ nàge rén ma?||Can you see that person clearly?|
|*你看得清那个人吗？(An exception )||Nǐ kàn de qīng nàge rén ma?||Can you tell what kind of people that person is (thoroughly)?|
You can also place 清楚 directly after the verb, in the “verb + 清楚” pattern. This is to show that an action (e.g. write and listen) has resulted in a particular consequence, in our case, being clear about something. Mostly, 清楚 is followed 了 as an indicator of the completion. Since this action happened in the past, to negate it, you need to say “没 + verb + 清楚”.
|你看清（楚）了吗？||Nǐ kàn qīng(chǔ) le ma?||Did you see clearly?|
|我看清楚了他的字。||Wǒ kàn qīng(chǔ) le tā de zì.||I saw his words clearly.|
|我没听清（楚）你说的话。||Wǒ méi tīng qīng(chǔ) nǐ shuō de huà.||I didn’t hear the sentence you said clearly.|
One of the meanings of 对 duì is "to/toward". The pattern "对 + someone + 来说 láishuō" generally expresses "for/to someone" or "from someone's perspective, followed by a statement to show someone's attitudes and ideas. This pattern can also apply to organizations.
|对老师们来说，每个学生都很可爱。||Duì lǎoshī men lái shuō, měi ge xuéshēng dōu hěn[hén] kěài.||For teachers/from teachers' perspectives, every student is lovely.|
|对意大利来说，这个城市太重要了。||Duì Yīdàlì lái shuō, zhè ge chéngshì tài zhòngyào le.||To Italy, this city is too important.|
"有的 + noun" indicates a certain part of a group. You can choose to omit the noun if it has already been mentioned.
|妈妈买了很多苹果，有的是绿色的，有的是红色的。||Māma mǎi le hěn duō píngguǒ, yǒu de shì lǜ sè de, yǒu de shì hóng sè de.||Mom bought many apples, some are green, and some are red.|
|有的眼镜质量不好。||Yǒu de yǎnjìng zhìliàng bù hǎo.||The quality of some glasses is bad./ Some glasses have bad quality.|
You learned about 来 lái and 去 qù as “to come” and “to go”. They can also serve as complements placed after verbs to describe where exactly the movement is heading. Please note that verbs in “verb + 来/去” pattern should imply inherent movements by their own, such as 上 shàng(to go up) and 下 xià(to go down).
|你什么时候下来吃饭？||Nǐ shénme shíhòu xià lái chī fàn?||When will you come down and eat? (the movement is down and towards the speaker)|
|你什么时候下去吃饭？||Nǐ shénme shíhòu xià qù chī fàn?||When will you go down and eat? (the movement is down away from the speaker).|
|儿子，你明天回来吃饭吗？||Érzi, nǐ míngtiān huí lái chī fàn ma?||Son, will you come back (home) tomorrow? (the movement is towards the speaker)|
|妈妈，我明天回去吃饭。||Māma, wǒ míngtiān huí qù chī fàn.||Mom, I will go back (home) tomorrow. (the movement is away from the speaker)|
上来, 上去, 下来, 下去, 出来, and 出去, to name a few, can serve as compound complements and be attached to verbs. The new pattern gives details to what the movement is and where the movement is going.
|这里没有公车。我们只能走上去。||Zhèlǐ méiyǒu gōngchē. Wǒmen zhǐ néng zǒu shàng qù.||There is no bus here. We can only walk all the way up. (the movement is up and away from the speaker)|
|你不要一个人跑出去。||Nǐ bù[bú]yào yī[yí] gè rén pǎo chū qù.||Don’t run out by yourself. (the movement is out and away from the speaker)|
突然 tūrán has a meaning of "suddenly" and "unexpectedly" in a sharper tone. 突然 has many uses. Most commonly, it is placed before verbs or adjectives to show that an action or a condition unexpectedly happens in a short time. Also, you can also put 突然 at the beginning of a sentence.
|我突然发现他不在学校。||Wǒ tūrán fāxiàn tā bù[bú] zài xuéxiào.||I suddenly realize that he is not at school.|
|他们的汉语水平突然提高了。||Tāmen de hànyǔ[yú] shuǐpíng tūrán tígáo le.||Their Chinese level suddenly improved.|
|突然，那只狗不见了*。||Tūrán, nā zhī gǒu bù[bú] jiàn le.||Suddenly, that dog disappeared.|
*了 is to show the change of state (that dog used to be there but not anymore).
多 duō/多么 duōme share a very similar function to 很. They can be put between the subject and the adjective to connect them, serving to intensify the degree of a condition. Differently, 多(么) in the pattern "subject + 多(么) + adjective + (啊)!" can convey exclamatory meanings.
|这个考试多（么）容易（啊）！||Zhè ge kǎoshì duō(me) róngyì (a)!||This test is so easy!/ How easy this test is!|
|黄河多（么）有名（啊）！||Huánghé duō(me) yǒumíng (a)!||The Yellow River is so famous!/ How famous the Yellow River is!|
“Adjective + 死了 sǐ le”, this rather morbid phrase literally means “to death” and is used quite often in Chinese as a way to exaggerate something. It can be used to show the cause of death, eg. 饿死 è sǐ literally means to starve to death, but it is more often used in the sense of “extremely”.
|冷死了！||Lěng sǐ le!||It’s freezing! (It’s cold to death!)|
|热死了！||Rè sǐ le!||It’s scorching hot! (It’s hot to death!)|
|我饿死了！||Wǒ è sǐ le!||I’m starving! (I’m hungry to death!)|
Traditionally it was used mostly for negative things, but nowadays you can hear it for positive things as well. Additionally, sometimes you’ll see the subject pronoun placed in between 死 and 了.
|你的女儿可爱死了！||Nǐ de nǚer kéài sǐ le!||Your daughter is so cute!|
|累死我了！/ 我累死了！||Lèi sǐ wǒ le! / Wǒ lèi sǐ le!||I’m exhausted!|
|笑死我了！||Xiào sǐ wǒ le!||I just couldn’t stop laughing!|
You learned about Chinese also uses the “subject (doer) + verb (action) + object (action recipient)” pattern as in English. 把 bǎ changes the word order into “subject (doer) + 把 + object (action recipient)+ verb (action)”.
By advancing the action recipient, the new pattern intends to concentrate on the influence or the result of an action on the action recipient. It is commonly used to ask people to do something or it can end with 了 to indicate the completion of an action.
|我把他的巧克力吃完了。(completion)||Wǒ[wó] bǎ tā de qiǎokèlì chī wánle.||I finished (all) his chocolate.|
|请把汉字写下来。(order)||Qǐng[qíng] bǎ hànzì xiě xià lái.||Please write down the Chinese characters.|
|妈妈把衣服洗了。||Māma bǎ yīfu xǐ le.||Mom washed the clothes.|
The basic sentence pattern in Chinese is similar to that in English, “doer + verb + action recipient”. The passive pattern makes the action recipient the subject, and the doer into a secondary place, even not included in some cases. 被 sentences are the most common way to create passive verbs in Chinese. Here is the pattern: “action recipient + 被 + doer + verb”.
Reasons to use passive sentences in Chinese include 1) you want to address that the action recipient has been negatively affected; 2) you want to address the action recipient more than the doer; 3) you try not to mention the doer for some reason.
|我吃了他的蛋糕。||Wǒ chī le tā de dàngāo.||I ate his cake.|
|他的蛋糕被我吃了。||Tā de dàngāo bèi wǒ chī le.||His cake was eaten by me.|
|他的蛋糕被吃了。||Tā de dàngāo bèi chī le.||His cake was eaten. (without the doer)|
|妹妹发现了礼物。||Mèimei fāxiàn le lǐwù.||Younger sister found the gift.|
|礼物被妹妹发现了。||Lǐwù běi mèimei fāxiàn le.||The gift was found by younger sister.|
|礼物被发现了。||Lǐwù běi fāxiàn le.||The gift was found. (without the doer)|
Chinese people repeat the same verb twice in a sentence, sometimes with 一 between them, creating an easygoing tone and indicating the brevity of the action.
|我去看一看。||Wǒ qù kàn yī[yí] kàn.||I will go and take a look. (It won’t take long.)|
|你想试一试吗？||Nǐ[ní] xiǎng shì yī[yí] shì ma?||Do you want to try? / Do you want to try a little bit?|
|请讲一讲你的故事。||Qǐng[qíng] jiǎng yī[yì] jiǎng nǐ de gùshì.||Please tell a little bit about your story.|