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Lesson Transcript

Victor: 大家好(Dàjiā hǎo),我是(Wǒ shì) Victor.
Amber: And I’m Amber. Welcome back to ChineseClass101.com. This is our Absolute Beginner lesson series, and this is Season 1, Lesson 14, More Chinese Essentials.
Victor: And today we’re going to talk about “Can you write that down?”
Amber: Yeah, another essential thing to learn for your trip to China.
Victor: Definitely, especially for taxi, addresses, right?
Amber: That’s right. So we’re going to teach you today how to get where you need to go even if you cannot speak enough Chinese yet.
Victor: And the key to this is, well, you better listen to the dialogue and then you’ll soon know.
Amber: Way to beat them, Victor. Okay. So in this lesson, you’re going to learn how to ask someone to write something down for you.
Victor: This conversation takes place in the hotel.
Amber: Yeah. And it’s between a clerk and a tourist. Okay. But before we listen to the conversation, we want to remind everybody to stop by ChineseClass101.com if they have any questions after the lesson and leave us a comment and we’ll do our best to answer or clarify anything that you need.
Victor: Right. And if you have a question, the chances are, other people probably think the same.
Amber: Yes.
Victor: So, you know, asking the question not just help yourself but helps other people as well.
Amber: Yeah. So now let’s listen to the conversation.
Victor: 我们想去北海公园,你知道在哪儿吗?(Wǒmen xiǎng qù Běihǎi Gōngyuán, nǐ zhīdào zài nǎr ma?)
Amber: 知道。(Zhīdào.)
Victor: 你可以写一下吗?(Nǐ kěyǐ xiě yíxià ma?)
Amber: 当然。(Dāngrán.)
Victor: 谢谢。(Xièxie.)
Amber: One more time, a little slower.
Victor: 我们想去北海公园,你知道在哪儿吗?(Wǒmen xiǎng qù Běihǎi Gōngyuán, nǐ zhīdào zài nǎr ma?)
Amber: 知道。(Zhīdào.)
Victor: 你可以写一下吗?(Nǐ kěyǐ xiě yíxià ma?)
Amber: 当然。(Dāngrán.)
Victor: 谢谢。(Xièxie.)
Amber: One more time with the English.
Victor: 我们想去北海公园,你知道在哪儿吗?(Wǒmen xiǎng qù Běihǎi Gōngyuán, nǐ zhīdào zài nǎr ma?)
Amber: We want to go to Beihai Park, do you know where that is?
Amber: 知道。(Zhīdào.)
Amber: Yes.
Victor: 你可以写一下吗?(Nǐ kěyǐ xiě yíxià ma?)
Amber: Can you write it down?
Amber: 当然。(Dāngrán.)
Amber: Of course.
Victor: 谢谢。(Xièxie.)
Amber: Thanks.
Amber: So you know, Victor, this is something people should know, it is nothing to be ashamed of, even Chinese people do this because a lot of Chinese words sound alike. So sometimes the best way to avoid confusion is to ask to get something written down.
Victor: Right. A lot of Chinese characters are homophones, meaning that they have the same pronunciation but are actually a different Chinese character. So they have a different meaning.
Amber: So having it written down can decode a lot.
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: Okay. But now we’re going to decode the vocabulary for you. So let’s take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
Victor: And now the vocab section.
Victor: 北海公園(Běihǎi
Amber: Beihai Park.
Victor: 知道(zhīdào)
Amber: To know.
Victor: 在(zài)
Amber: At.
Victor: 哪兒(nǎr)
Amber: Where?
Victor: 可以(kěyǐ)
Amber: May, can.
Victor: 寫(xiě)
Amber: To write.
Victor: 一下(yíxià)
Amber: A while.
Victor: 當然(dāngrán)
Amber: Of course. Indeed.
Victor: 想(xiǎng)
Amber: Would like, to want.
Victor: 去(qù)
Amber: To go.
Amber: Okay. Let’s take a closer look at the usage for some of these words and phrases. We know from this dialogue that there was someone that would like to do something here because we heard the verb for “to want” or to express desire to do something “would like,” and that was...
Victor: 想(Xiǎng) and it’s a third tone.
Amber: Yeah. And the thing that they wanted to do was...
Victor: To visit a very cool spot in Beijing.
Amber: You would know, Victor.
Victor: Yes.
Amber: And the thing that they would like to do is, what Victor?
Victor: To visit a very cool spot in Beijing.
Amber: And you would know all about that, of course.
Victor: It’s very famous. Yes. It’s called 北海公园.(Běihǎi gōngyuán.)
Amber: Yes.
Victor: ‘公园’(Gōngyuán)
Amber: So the first two words Beihai is the name of the park. What are the tones on that, Victor?
Victor: Bei is a third tone, hai is a also third tone.
Amber: And then because of the tone change rule, the first third tone turns the second. So it’s actually pronounced...
Victor: Beihai, as in second tone and third tone.
Amber: Right. Everyone, get that straight because you definitely want to see it. The second two words, are the words for park.
Victor: Right, and it’s 公(Gōng) is first tone, 园(Yuán) is second tone.
Amber: Yeah. And parks in China are so cool because they’re so much more than a park. Don’t you think, Victor?
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: There’s so much action.
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: Lots of activity definitely worth seeing.
Victor: Yeah, from morning to evening, the whole day is just very busy.
Amber: That’s right. And I mean because most people don’t have a yard, so, you know, if they want to go exercise, they want to go sing karaoke, they want to dance, they want to do Tai Chi, they go to the park. So, Victor, tell us about this park, what do you know about it? Have you been to this park?
Victor: I have not personally.
Amber: You lived in Beijing. You’re just too busy eating or something. I’ve been to this park.
Victor: Yeah, how did you like it?
Amber: It’s beautiful.
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: Yeah. I was there for the Olympics, actually.
Victor: Oh, okay.
Amber: And do you know what I was doing when I was there? I was interviewing tourists about their feelings about being in Beijing for the Olympics. So it’s quite interesting.
Victor: Oh, okay.
Amber: But there’s a big tower, right?
Victor: Right. There’s a big white tower overlooking a lake and you can boat in the lake.
Amber: Do they have those inflatable hamster balls in the lake?
Victor: I don’t know.
Amber: I think they do. Okay, if you don’t know what I’m talking about you haven’t been to Chinese Park.
Victor: Oh, it sounds a little bit, I don’t know.
Amber: You can roll around in them like a giant human hamster.
Victor: Oh.
Amber: Okay. So back to the dialogue, most people do know this park because it’s very famous in Beijing. That’s why the clerk when asked if they knew where the place was, they answered, what?
Victor: ‘知道’(Zhīdào)
Amber: Right, being the verb, to know.
Victor: The affirmative 知(Zhī) is first tone and 道(Dào) is fourth tone.
Amber: Yeah. So this ‘zhidao’ basically can be used just to acknowledge that you know something. So, like, if you noticed in the question there, like, “Do you know this spot?” The person just answered, as Victor mentioned, in the affirmative by repeating 知道.(Zhīdào.)
Victor: Right.
Amber: The main verb of the sentence. It’s one way to say yes in Chinese, which we’ll talk more about in a minute.
Victor: In Chinese, you don’t even need to say “I know,” you can just leave off the subject.
Amber: Yeah, that’s the cool thing about Chinese; you can always shorten everything, it seems.
Victor: Yeah, because you are talking, right, so you don’t have to say, “I know.” You just say, “Know.”
Amber: Yeah, know, I know.
Victor: No as in knowing.
Amber: To know, yes. Okay. So next, we have, next comes what I’d like to call “the ancient Chinese secret” as we found out in our dialogue, which is, to write down the name of something, make your life much easier.
Victor: Yes.
Amber: So maybe if you’re just a beginning learner, you may not be able to write it down yourself. So we use the sentence to get helpful Chinese people everywhere to help us out, right, Victor?
Victor: Yes.
Amber: And the sentence was?
Victor: 你可以写一下吗?(Nǐ kěyǐ xiě yíxià ma?)
Amber: Right. So for this sentence, there's two key verbs to know to understand the sentence. They are?
Victor: Which is 可以 / 可(Kěyǐ/ kě) is third tone and 以(Yǐ) is also third tone.
Amber: Of course, tone change rule, changes the second, third, and that means “can.”
Victor: Right. And the other one after 可以(Kěyǐ) is 写(Xiě) and it’s third tone.
Amber: Yeah, and that’s the verb for to write. So we’ll have more on that sentence in the grammar section in a minute.
Victor: Now, hopefully if you run into someone, just as helpful. No, hopefully you will run into someone just as helpful as this person, right?
Amber: Yes, hopefully.
Victor: Somebody armed with a pen and paper.
Amber: Paid to do this job of telling tourists where to go.
Victor: Right because they’ll help you to 写(Xiě) the name of the place in Chinese characters.
Amber: Yeah, and I find most Chinese people very helpful in these kinds of cases.
Victor: Yes, definitely.
Amber: And in this case, the clerk is so helpful that they actually responded with ‘当然’(Dāngrán) .
Victor: 当然(Dāngrán) and 当(Dāng) is first tone. 然(Rán) is second tone.
Amber: Yeah, and it’s kind of like “indeed,” “of course.”
Victor: Yes.
Amber: Like a very enthusiastic “Sure!” in Chinese.
Victor: Certainly. Yes.
Amber: Yeah.
Victor: Yeah. If someone asks me, you know, if I know Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, I will say ‘知道’(Zhīdào)..But if I really wanted to emphasize, I could say ‘当然知道。’(Dāngrán zhīdào.)
Amber: Right. Remember 知道(Zhīdào) was to know. So you could just say “Oh, I know,” right? or “know.” Or if you really want to add some emphasis, 当然(Dāngrán)
Victor: 当然(Dāngrán) of course. It’s like “Do you know who Barack Obama is?” 当然知道(Dāngrán zhīdào)
Amber: Do you know who Hu Jintao is? 当然知道(Dāngrán zhīdào)
Victor: Right.
Amber: Okay, good. So now you are armed with this piece of paper someone helped you write down the name of the place to, honestly, Victor, I think you have nothing to fear, do you?
Victor: Yeah, no, you’re all set.
Amber: You just take that paper and show it everywhere.
Victor: Just don’t lose the paper, unless it gets blown away by the wind.
Amber: Yes, hold on tight. So yeah.
Victor: And you can ask somebody else.
Amber: That’s true. More chance to practice. But, yeah, use the paper show a taxi driver, show someone in the street. That’s going to help a lot. Oh yeah, and maybe a side tip too, Victor, which I think comes in really handy is while you’re at it, maybe get that clerk to write down the name and address of your hotel so that on the way back you can find your way back or you can just take the business card.
Victor: Right, not just outgoing so you can actually come back.
Amber: Yeah, that’s right. See, we cover all your basis. We don’t want you wandering around lost.
Victor: So now let’s move to the grammar.
Amber: Okay. So we ease you into grammar today with, again, another 以下 (Yǐxià) appearance. Remember we learned that in the last lesson.
Victor: Right. With all of its glory, in this case we, in this case, we use the verb for “to write,” which is 写 So we have 写一下(Xiě yīxià)
Amber: Right. So the 一下(Yīxià) makes it less like “Write this down!”
Victor: Instead of 写(Xiě) you know.
Amber: It softens the verb and it’s more like, “Hey, could you write this down for me?” kind of like you sound less bossy. You’re more likely to get a favor if you probably add this 一下(Yīxià) onto the end.
Victor: Definitely. Now another grammar issue, since there’s not really a universal yes in Chinese, there are a few ways you can agree or acknowledge. One of the most common ways we see in this dialogue, one of the most common ways we see in this dialogue today.
Amber: That’s right. To say yes or to agree, what they do in Chinese quite often is just repeat the main verb in the question back in the affirmative.
Victor: Right.
Amber: So for example, our question was what, Victor?
Victor: 你知道在哪儿吗?(Nǐ zhīdào zài nǎ'er ma?)
Amber: Right, which is literally “You know, at, where” or “Do you know where it is?” So here definitely the main verb in the sentence is 知道(Zhīdào). “to know.”
Victor: And therefore to answer in the affirmative, all you have to do is to say 知道.(Zhīdào.)
Amber: Right. Now, here’s the question. We heard about this already, Victor, the 知道.(Zhīdào.) What if you don’t agree or you don’t know if you want to say it in the negative, you don’t know.
Victor: Very simple, negating verbs. There are a couple of ways, and the most common way is to use the negating word 不(Bù).
Amber: Right. So all you do is take the 不(Bù) in front of the verb.
Victor: Yeah. For example, if I didn’t know where Beihai Park Park is, I could say 不知道(Bù zhīdào).
Amber: Just like that.
Victor: Right? And you probably get that a lot too, I feel like, in China.
Amber: Yeah, you probably would.
Victor: Sometimes not so pleasantly also.
Amber: And the thing is, it’s a big place. They really may not know. However, if it’s somewhere like a main tourist site, chances are if they say 不知道(Bù zhīdào) is because they don’t want to be bothered. Okay. Well, that’s it for today’s lesson.
Amber: We’re going to listen to the dialogue one more time. But just before we go, we want to tell you guys that there is a way to test what you just learned.
Victor: Right. Make these lessons vocabulary stick by using lesson specific flash cards in the learning center.
Amber: That’s right. So in our learning center, you can find some flash cards for this very lesson, Victor.
Victor: Right. And they work.
Amber: They do, especially for Chinese characters.
Victor: Yeah, definitely.
Amber: So go to ChineseClasses101.com to check that out, and have another listen to the dialogue.


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Please to leave a comment.
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ChineseClass101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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Lots of Chinese words are homophones; sometimes the best way to avoid confusion is to have something written down for you.

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Monday at 01:25 PM
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Hello Scenery,

Thank you for your comment! Yes your sentence also works, the meaning is the same.

Let us know if you have any questions.


Team ChineseClass101.com

Sunday at 04:03 PM
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About this dialogue "你知道在哪儿吗" , can I change the sentence into 北海公园在哪儿? 你知道吗 ?

Is that mean the same?

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Friday at 03:52 PM
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Hello Y.A.,

Thank you for your comment.

The tones of kěyǐ xiě change to kéyí xiě.

How the tones change depends on the meaning, we want to make it easy to understand and to avoid confusion. e.g. mǐlǎoshǔ (Mickey Mouse), would change to mǐláoshǔ, because the meaning of lǎoshǔ is more closely related.

Let us know if you have any questions.


Team ChineseClass101.com

Thursday at 07:45 PM
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Hi there

Could you tell me how the tone changes in the following sentence?

kěyǐ xiě

I know we pronounce 'kěyǐ' with second tone and third tone, but 'yǐ' becomes second tone because it is followed by the word 'xiě' which is also third tone? Or this tone change rule works only in ONE word (only reflected to on word kěyǐ)?

Thank you in advance,


ChineseClass101.com Verified
Monday at 02:30 PM
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Hello Hilal,

Thank you for your comment. You heard it right, the speaker said gōngyuánr. Both are correct. People in northern China likes to add the 儿 ér sound at the end of words, it's called 儿化音 érhuàyīn, it's like a northern accent.

Let us know if you have any questions.

Ngai Lam

Team ChineseClass101.com

Sunday at 07:37 AM
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Hello, I keep hearing gongyuar/gongyuanr but it is listed as "gongyuan" in the vocab list. Are both of these true or is there a reason why it is different?

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 01:10 AM
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Hello Gonzalo,

Thank you for your comment. 都 has a variety of uses and it also appears in some sentence patterns. Yes you can add 都 dōu to make it 我们都想去 Wǒmen dōu xiǎng qù. 都 means "all" in this case, the new sentence means "We all want to go".

It depends on the context and the meaning you want to convey. For example, when you want to say that every one in the group does an action. e.g. 谁想去公园?Shéi xiǎng qù gōngyuán? Who wants to go to the park? 我们都想去。 Wǒmen dōu xiǎng qù. We all want to go.

Hope it helps, let us know if you have any questions.

Ngai Lam

Team ChineseClass101.com

Saturday at 11:10 AM
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Can one add "dou" to "Wǒmen xiǎng qù" to make "Wǒmen dou xiǎng qù"? when do we use/not use "dou"?

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Monday at 01:22 AM
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你好 robert groulx!

谢谢 for commenting. We are very happy to have you here. Let us know if you have any questions.

Kind regards,

雷文特 (Levente)

Team ChineseClass101.com

robert groulx
Saturday at 12:29 AM
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thank you for the lesson transcript

favorite phrase is : Definitely, especially for taxi, addresses, right?