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Lesson Transcript


Hi everybody! Yinru here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Chinese questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: Why do I hear 一下 yíxià and 一点(儿)yì diǎn(ér) a lot?
一下 yíxià and 一点 yì diǎn (or 一点儿 yì diǎnr as people from north China would pronounce it) are used in everyday language to soften the tone in imperatives. 一下 yíxià literally means “one time,” and 一点 yì diǎn literally means “a little bit.”
Just a side note: People in North China like to use 儿化音 ér huà yīn in their speech. 儿化音 refers to the phenomenon of adding the sound of 儿 (ér) at the end of a word. For example, people in the South say 没事 (méishì “it’s ok”). People from the North would say 没事儿 (méishìr). People in the South say 好玩 (hǎowán “fun”), while people in North China like to say 好玩儿 (hǎowánr).
Let’s compare some sentences with and without 一下 yíxià and 一点(儿)yì diǎn (ér).
你过来。Nǐ guòlai. vs. 你过来一下。Nǐ guòlai yíxià.
The first sentence sounds like an order: “Come here.” The second one sounds more like a polite request. “Come here for a second.”
你喝茶。Nǐ hē chá. vs. 你喝一点儿茶。Nǐ hē yìdiǎnr chá.
The first one sounds like a parent commanding you, “Drink your tea.” The second one, on the other hand, is more loving like saying “Have some tea, honey.”
Since nobody wants to sound mean when they don’t have to, you’ll often hear verb + 一下 or 一点儿 in spoken Chinese. Sometimes you can omit the 一 yì in 一点儿 yìdiǎnr.
You can either say, 来一点咖啡吧。(Lái yì diǎn kāfēi ba. “Let’s have some coffee.”) or 来点咖啡吧。(Lái diǎn kāfēi ba.)
Or, as people from North would say it, 儿化音 ér huà yīn: 来点儿咖啡吧。Lái diǎnr kāfēi ba.


If you have any more questions about today’s lesson, please leave a comment below!
See you next time!
我们下次再见!Wǒmen xiàcì zàijiàn!