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Amber: Hey everybody, welcome back to ChineseClass101.com. I’m Amber.
Victor: 大家好(Dàjiā hǎo),我是(Wǒ shì) Victor.
Amber: And this is our Absolute Beginner Series, Season 1, continuing Lesson 16. And we’re changing to a new subject now, Victor, also essential. But the next few lessons are going to be about getting around.
Victor: Oh, very important also.
Amber: Yes. And today is...
Victor: Finding the subway.
Amber: Yes, one of the major ways to get around...
Victor: Right.
Amber: In a Chinese city, definitely. The bigger cities all have subways. But before you can get on a subway, the first step is to find one. And you might need help with this...
Victor: Right.
Amber: When you’re in a new place. So today you’re going to learn how to ask someone. So in this lesson you’ll learn how to ask directions to the subway stop.
Victor: This conversation takes place on the street.
Amber: And it’s between a tourist and a local. Now, we’re going to listen to the conversation. But just before we do, we want to remind the basic and premium subscribers that if you have a 3G phone, what can you do, Victor?
Victor: You can see the lesson notes in your favorite browser in your phone.
Amber: That’s right.
Victor: As you’re listening to this class.
Amber: Which helps a lot to see something visual while you listen. So stop by ChineseClass101.com to find out more.
Victor: Yeah, just not when you’re driving.
Amber: Yeah. But now we’ll listen to the conversation.
Amber: 请问,地铁在哪儿?(Qǐngwèn, dìtiě zài nǎ'er?)
Victor: 在前面。(Zài qiánmiàn.)
Amber: 远吗?(Yuǎn ma?)
Victor: 不远。(Bù yuǎn.)
Victor: One more time, a bit slower.
Amber: 请问,地铁在哪儿?(Qǐngwèn, dìtiě zài nǎ'er?)
Victor: 在前面。(Zài qiánmiàn.)
Amber: 远吗?(Yuǎn ma?)
Victor: 不远。(Bù yuǎn.)
Victor: One more time with English.
Amber: 请问,地铁在哪儿?(Qǐngwèn, dìtiě zài nǎ'er?)
Amber: Excuse me, where is the subway?
Victor: 在前面。(Zài qiánmiàn.)
Amber: Up ahead.
Amber: 远吗?(Yuǎn ma?)
Amber: Is it far?
Victor: 不远。(Bù yuǎn.)
Amber: Not far.
Amber: Oh, Victor, he’s on the brink of his first Chinese subway experience. We all remember our first time.
Victor: Sometimes you kind of have to mentally prepare ourselves.
Amber: Yes, to get up-close and intimate with people on the subway.
Victor: With hundreds, if not thousands of people.
Amber: Yes. And you know, you don’t really think about these things. But there’s a lot of things to learn, like you have to hone your subway skills when you’re in China or you might not be able to get out at your stop.
Victor: Yes. It’ll be an experience on its own, right?
Amber: Yeah. But first you have to find one. So let’s break down the vocab for this lesson so you can see how that is done.
Victor: And now the vocab section.
Victor: 請問(qǐng wèn)
Amber: May I ask?
Victor: 地鐵(dìtiě)
Amber: Subway.
Victor: 在(zài)
Amber: At.
Victor: 前面(qiánmiàn)
Amber: In front.
Victor: 遠(yuǎn)
Amber: Far.
Amber: Okay. So let’s take a closer look at the usage for some of these words and phrases. So the first thing you’re going to have to do is, like in our dialogue, get someone’s attention. Right, Victor?
Victor: Right.
Amber: I mean, there’s definitely no shortage of people on the street to ask. However, things move very quickly.
Victor: Yes.
Amber: So you’re going to have to find a way to jump in there really quick to get someone’s attention.
Victor: So good attention getter is the phrase we hear in the beginning of our dialogue 请问(qǐng wèn). 请(Qǐng) is a third tone and 问(Wèn) is fourth tone.
Amber: Yeah. And remember we learned that 请(Qǐng) means “please,” 问(Wèn) means “to ask.” So this phrase literally means “please ask.”
Victor: Right.
Amber: Who could say no to that? And if someone came up to you in the street, “Please ask.”
Victor: Yes please, may I ask?
Amber: Yeah. So literally it’s like, “Can I ask you something?” And you can use this 请问(Qǐngwèn) to preface almost any question. It’s kind of a way to be polite.
Victor: Yes. Like, I can say 请问(Qǐngwèn) Amber, 请问(Qǐngwèn),你几岁?(Nǐ jǐ suì?)
Amber: That was not polite at all, Victor. You cannot ask that.
Victor: People will probably ask that in China too, like, it’s very...
Amber: Yeah. Actually, it’s not impolite in China. So, yes, we’ll give you that.
Victor: Right. We have a cultural context there.
Amber: They may not give you the answer, but – well, I give you that, but yeah. And another good way to use 请问(Qǐngwèn) is if you say you want to ask your teacher a question, maybe in class or your tutor. What could you say?
Victor: You can say 老师(Lǎoshī), 请问(Qǐngwèn).blah, blah, blah, whatever.
Amber: Yeah, whatever the question is. Yeah. And we heard there the word for teacher being 老师(Lǎoshī) third tone, first tone.
Victor: And now, next, the key to everything, the word for subway, of course.
Amber: Crucial.
Victor: 地鐵 / 地(Dìtiě/ de) is fourth tone and 鐵(Tiě) is third tone.
Amber: Yeah. And those characters, literally, what do they mean, Victor? It’s, of course, very logical.
Victor: Yeah. It means – well, 地(De) means the ground and 鐵(Tiě) means iron.
Amber: Right. So it’s kind of like railway, iron in the ground.
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: 地鐵(Dìtiě)
Victor: Ground metal.
Amber: Yeah. And then we have the keyword, our first direction word which is in our dialogue today which means up ahead. What was that?
Victor: The word for up ahead or in front is 前面。(Qiánmiàn.) 前(Qián) is second tone and 面(Miàn) is fourth tone.
Amber: Right. And we’re going to talk a little bit more about directions in the grammar section in a moment.
Victor: But one last question of our direction giver, and that was 远吗?(Yuǎn ma?)
Amber: Okay. So now we hear the 吗(Ma) at the end. We know that’s our question marker particle, right?
Victor: Right.
Amber: So that gives us a hint that this is a question. Now the word 远(Yuǎn) means, what?
Victor: Means far and it’s third tone 远吗。(Yuǎn ma.)
Amber: So 远吗(Yuǎn ma) means “Is it far?”
Victor: “Is it far?” Very simple.
Amber: Two Chinese fashion, just two words, far question. Good. And then what is the very reassuring answer we get?
Victor: It was 不远。(Bù yuǎn.) Remember the ‘bu’ makes it negative, so we know it’s not far.
Amber: Right. Good news. And on that note, we can just throw in something extra here if you wanted to go so far as to say it’s near. What’s the word for near, Victor?
Victor: It’s 近(Jìn) ,and it’s fourth tone.
Victor: It’s grammar time.
Amber: Okay. So now we’ll go to the grammar section and have some more on these direction words.
Victor: So we learn a word for “in front.” And as we heard in this dialogue, if you tell someone the location of something, you use the preposition ‘在(Zài)’ “in front,” which is kind of like “at” in English.
Amber: Right. So for up ahead, we heard him say ‘在前面(Zài qiánmiàn)’. And the tone for 在(Zài) is fourth tone. Okay. Now, what about some other direction words, Victor? Because maybe the subway is behind us, what would you do then?
Victor: In that case, you can say ‘在后面(Zài hòumiàn)’. And 后(Hòu) fourth tone is the opposite of 前(Qián) and it means “behind” or “back.”
Amber: Yeah, 后面(Hòumiàn) “behind you.” Now, notice then both of these, to talk about a specific location, we use the preposition 在(Zài), plus the actual location word, which was in one case qia前(Qián) being front, 后(Hòu) being back. And then we hear this location word combined with 面(Miàn).Basically 面(Miàn). fourth tone, it means like a side of something or a dimension. So when we say 前面(Qiánmiàn) it’s just basically saying like up ahead, like that location.
Victor: Right. Like, the front region.
Amber: Yeah, the front region.
Victor: Or the back region.
Amber: That’s right. Okay. Now, imagine maybe we want to say something that’s on the left, how would we say that, Victor?
Victor: The word for left is 左(Zuǒ) and it’s third tone. So, that is our location word. Now, for the directions, left and right, when giving directions, we don’t combine it with 面(Miàn). Instead we say ‘左边(Zuǒbiān)’ for left side.
Amber: And the 边(Biān) more means like “side”. So when it’s your left or your right, you don’t use 面(Miàn) you use 边(Biān)
Victor: Right.
Amber: So what’s...if we wanted to say right side then, Victor, what’s the word?
Victor: The word for “right” is 右(Yòu) and it’s fourth tone. So right side is 右边(Yòubiān).
Amber: Right. So if you wanted to specifically say, “The subway is on the left, we want to use side,” right? So I would say, 地鐵在哪兒?(Dìtiě zài nǎ'er?) And say it’s on the left, what would you say?
Victor: You can say, 在左边(Zài zuǒbiān).
Amber: And if it was on the right.
Victor: 在右边(Zài yòubiān)
Amber: Great, so easy. So there are some direction words for you. So let’s review, Victor. In front.
Victor: 在前面(Zài qiánmiàn)
Amber: Behind.
Victor: 在后面(Zài hòumiàn)
Amber: On the left.
Victor: 在左边(Zài zuǒbiān)
Amber: On the right.
Victor: 在右边(Zài yòubiān)
Amber: Yes, so we’ll leave you with that today. And we, me and Victor will sleep well, peaceful with the thought that our listeners are not wandering and lost hopefully. We hope. So that just about does it for today. You’re going to listen to the dialogue one more time but before we go, we want to remind premium members that there is a review track that you can use to review this lesson. So, basically, it gives you vocab and phrases we learned today with a pause as you listen so it gives you a chance to repeat the words out loud to try and recall them to mind.
Victor: So until next time.




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