- Kèqì means 'polite'. Bù kèqì literally 'do not be polite', is the response to xièxie, thank you.
- In Chinese, anything with wheels is called chē. For example, qìchē, vehicle, gōnggòng qìchē, public bus, chūzūchē, taxi, zìxíngchē, bicycle, huǒchē, train. All the above words can be shortened to chē. Therefore, depending on the context, chē can mean a car, bus, taxi, bike, or train.
Duō shǎo qián?
- Literally, it means 'how much money?' If you want to be specific, for example, to find out how much yī jīn pútao, half a kilo of grapes, costs, you can put the phrase for 'half a kilo of grapes' either at the beginning or at the end of the questions: Yī jīn pútao duō shǎo qián? or Duō shǎo qián yī jīn pútao?, lit. how much is it for half a kilo of grapes?
- èr and liǎng both mean 'two'. èr is used for counting, while liǎng is used to quantify things such as liǎng gè mángguǒ, two mangos.
- Literally, huā chá means 'flower tea'. Because Jasmine tea is the most famous flower-scented tea, many people use the term huā chá to refer to Jasmine tea.
- zhāng is a word for measurements that applies to paper and tickets. It is used together with a number, eg. yī zhāng piào, one ticket, liǎng zhāng piào, two tickets.
- nǐ means 'you' in its singular form and wǒ can mean 'I' or 'me'.
- Question words such as 'what' and 'where' don't have to begin the sentence. Eg Nǐjiào shénme? What is your name? (lit. you are called what?) or Nǐxìng shénme? What's your surname? (lit. you are surnamed what?)
- This word indicates a question. By adding ma to the end of a sentence, you turn it into a question, eg. Nǐ jiéhūn le ma?, are you married? Ma is a neutral tone. It means that it does not carry a tone.
- Chinese characters give no indication of how they are pronounced. A Romanization system called Pinyin was therefore devised in 1958 in China, and has since been adopted as a standard form to represent Chinese sounds.
Qǐng lái ...
- A way of ordering in a tea house or restaurant is by saying Qǐng lái ..., Please bring. Please note that the word qǐng, please, is not used as frequently as in English. It never comes at the end of a sentence.
- Literally it means 'please ask', but really it's a polite way of asking a question. It's equivalent to 'Excuse me' or 'May I ask ... ?'
- This is the most commonly used word when giving measurements. It goes between a number and a noun. For example, sān gè mángguǒ, three mangos.
- This is a very important negative word which you can place in front of the word (usually a verb). For example, wǒ bù chī yú means 'I don't eat fish'. Wǒ bù shuō Zhōngwén means 'I don't speak Chinese'.
- Huì means 'can' and goes in front of a verb. If you want to ask 'Can you speak English?', say Nǐ huì shuō Yīngwén ma? If someone asks you Nǐ huì shuō Zhōngwén ma?, Do you speak Chinese?, and you want to say 'Yes', simply say huì, 'can'. Please note that the Chinese phrases for 'yes', shì de, and 'no', bù shì, are not frequently used when answering questions.
- To indicate that something has already happened you can add le after the verb or at the end of the sentence. For example, wǒ jiéhūn le, I'm already married.
- This is a negation word and means 'have not, did not'. It goes before the verb it's making negative, eg. wǒ méi jiéhūn, I 'have not' been married.
- This verb means 'to be'. Chinese verbs do not change their forms whether it is after wǒ, I, nǐ, you or tā, he/she. For example: Wǒ shì Zhōngguórén, I am Chinese, nǐ shì Zhōngguórén, you are Chinese, and tā shì Zhōngguórén, he/she is Chinese.
- Zài means 'at/in' and goes before the noun. So the sentence Wǒ zài gōngsī gōngzuò literally means 'I in a company work'.
- Pǔtōnghuà, literally 'common speech', is the standard form of the Chinese language and is known as Mandarin Chinese. It is based on the Northern dialect. Putonghua is taught in schools and spoken by TV and radio presenters in China. The Northern dialect has many sub-divisions which are spoken by the majority of the population. The differences between northern sub-divisions are not huge, but the differences between southern dialects are enormous. The major southern dialects are Cantonese, Shanghai dialect, Fujian dialect and Zhejiang dialect. All these dialects share the same script.
- Rén means 'person' or 'people'. If you add rén to the name of a country or city, you form the word for the citizen of that country or the resident of that city. For example, add rén to Yīngguó, Britain, Zhōngguó, China and Běijīng, Beijing, and you get Yīngguórén, British, and Zhōngguórén, Chinese and Běijīngrén, Beijinger.
wǎng yòu guǎi
- Literally it means 'toward right turn', turn right. When someone is giving you directions, watch out of the word wǎng, toward. The next word is important. For example, you may hear wǎng dōng guǎi, turn east or wǎng yòu guǎi, turn right.
Yǒu ... ma?
- When you want to ask 'Do you have ... ?' or 'Is there ... ?' simply use the construction yǒu ... ma? To ask for rooms in a hotel say Yǒu fángjiān ma? The answer could be yǒu, we have, or méi yǒu, we haven't. Please note that the Chinese phrases for 'yes', shì de, and 'no', bù shì, are not frequently used when answering questions.
- When you're shopping in China and you're a little unsure of the language you can always use the common trick of pointing and saying 'this' or 'that'. The word for 'this' can be pronounced zhè or zhèi. The word for 'that' can be pronounced nà or nèi. Both are commonly used.
- By adding de to wǒ, I/me, and nǐ, you, you get words such as wǒde, my, and nǐde, your. If the word following wǒde is a person, not an object, de can be dropped. For example, you can say wǒ nǚ'ér, my daughter, but not wǒ shū, my book. It has to be wǒde shū.
" It's wonderful what we can do if we're always doing."
First president of US (1732 - 1799)
Some Important Chinese words 2007/05/23