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Lesson Transcript

Canaan: Hello and welcome back to chineseclass101.com where we study modern Chinese in a fun and educational format.
Jane: Brush up your Chinese today or start learning fresh.
Canaan: Thanks for being here with us for this lesson. Jane, what are we looking at today?
Jane: Today we have Absolute Beginner, season 3, lesson 14.
Canaan: Finding important places in China.
Jane: So Canaan, where do you think is the most important place in China?
Canaan: Well that of course depends on when and the exact conditions.
Jane: But in this lesson, we will learn how to ask where someone is.
Canaan: Which might be the most important sentence you need to know under certain conditions.
Jane: 是的。(shì de .) And the conversation takes place in a restaurant.
Canaan: Between two friends
Jane: And of course, they are speaking in casual Mandarin.
Canaan: Now before we take you to the dialogue, once again, we would like to remind you about our online premium PDF files in which you can find the full transcript line by line.
Jane: So in case you’ve missed out anything or didn’t understand anything we said,
Canaan: You can always refer back to it and that will make learning even more enjoyable.
Jane: For now, let’s go to the dialogue.
洗手间在哪儿?(Xǐshǒujiān zài nǎr?)
我看不见。(Wǒ kànbùjiàn)
就在那儿!后面。(Jiù zài nàr! Hòumian.)
Canaan: And now with the English translation.
洗手间在哪儿?(Xǐshǒujiān zài nǎ'er?)
Where is the washroom?
在后面。(Zài hòumiàn.)
It's at the back.
我看不见。(Wǒ kàn bùjiàn.)
I can't see.
就在那儿!后面。(Jiù zài nà'er! Hòumiàn.)
Just over there! At the back.
Canaan: Honestly, I think it’s impossible to overestimate the importance of learning this dialogue.
Jane: So what do you think of Chinese toilet?
Canaan: I like them actually. I think the design is better one than the western toilets because nothing actually touches anything else. The only problem is that nobody here bothers to keep toilets clean.
Jane: I think I much prefer the western toilet too and a small tip. If this is your first time to China and you are not too sure about the Chinese toilet and you can always head to the KFC or the big hotels where you can find rather comfortable and a clean toilet to do your business.
Canaan: Today’s vocabulary has been collected to help you find the bathroom as well as other useful locations in Beijing.
Jane: Let’s take a look. 洗手间 (xǐshǒujiān)
Canaan: Washroom.
Jane: 洗手间 洗手间 (Xǐshǒujiān xǐshǒujiān)
Jane: 厕所 (cèsuǒ)
Canaan: Toilet.
Jane: 厕所 厕所 (Cèsuǒ cèsuǒ)
Jane: 超市 (chāoshì)
Canaan: Supermarket.
Jane: 超市 超市 (Chāoshì chāoshì)
Jane: 药店 (yàodiàn)
Canaan: Drugstore, pharmacy.
Jane: 药店 药店 (Yàodiàn yàodiàn)
Jane: 银行 (yínháng)
Canaan: Bank.
Jane: 银行 银行 (Yínháng yínháng)
Jane: 前面 (qiánmian)
Canaan: In front.
Jane: 前面 前面 (Qiánmiàn qiánmiàn)
Jane: 卫生间 (wèishēngjiān)
Canaan: Toilet.
Jane: 卫生间 卫生间 (Wèishēngjiān wèishēngjiān)
Canaan: All right. Now let’s look at the usage of some of the words and phrases from the vocabulary.
Jane: And the first word is 洗手间 (xǐshǒujiān)
Canaan: Washroom, actually means wash hand room.
Jane: 洗手间 (xǐshǒujiān) This is a euphemism for toilet.
Canaan: Right and you will probably see the characters for this name being used in a lot of indoor public places like shopping malls or hotels.
Jane: 这里没有洗手间。(zhèli méiyǒu xǐshǒujiān .)
Canaan: There is no washroom here.
Jane: 这里没有洗手间。(zhèli méiyǒu xǐshǒujiān .)
Canaan: Now there is another name for the toilet which also ends with 间 jiān
Jane: 卫生间 (wèishēngjiān)
Canaan: Toilet. Now this is a slightly more old fashioned name for toilet but it’s still perfectly useful now.
Jane: 卫生间 (wèishēngjiān)
Canaan: Now the first two characters.
Jane: 卫生 (wèishēng)
Canaan: Form a very, very Chinese word meaning sanitation or hygiene and this word is much more widely used here in China than in the west.
Jane: For example 他很卫生。(tā hěn wèishēng .)
Canaan: He is very hygienic, he is very clean.
Jane: 他很卫生。(tā hěn wèishēng .)
Canaan: Now we are going to teach you another way to say toilet.
Jane: 他很卫生。(tā hěn wèishēng .)
Canaan: Toilet.
Jane: 厕所 (cèsuǒ)
Canaan: Now this generally refers to outside toilets like the ones which you will find in Beijing’s narrow allies, the 胡同 (hútòng)
Jane: And they are the Chinese style ones. So sometimes 不很卫生 (bùhěn wèi shēng.) 这里有厕所吗? (zhèli yǒu cèsuǒ ma ?)
Canaan: Is there a toilet around here.
Jane: 这里有厕所吗? (zhèli yǒu cèsuǒ ma ?)
Canaan: Okay. Can we talk about something else?
Jane: 好的 (hǎo de。) The next word is 银行 (yínháng)
Canaan: Bank.
Jane: 银行 (yínháng)
Canaan: Indeed an important place, one that many foreigners have to go to first thing after we get into China.
Jane: 我要去银行。(Wǒ yào qù yínháng.)
Canaan: I am going to the bank.
Jane: 我要去银行。(Wǒ yào qù yínháng.)
Canaan: And when you do go, remember to bring a book or your iPod or something to distract you because you will probably spend a lot of time in line there. Anyway, here is another place that you should know.
Jane: 药店 (yàodiàn)
Canaan: Drugstore or pharmacy.
Jane: 药店 (yàodiàn)
Canaan: There are a lot of 药店 (yàodiàn) in China that are actually open for 24 hours. So it’s very convenient especially if you know you find yourself sick in the middle of the night.
Jane: 他去药店了。(tā qù yàodiàn le .)
Canaan: He went to the drug store.
Jane: 他去药店了。(tā qù yàodiàn le .)
Canaan: Now the next place is probably one of Jane’s favorite I think.
Jane: One of them 超市 (chāoshì)
Canaan: Supermarket.
Jane: 超市 (chāoshì)
Canaan: Supermarket.
Jane: 超市里有很多人。(chāoshì lǐ yǒu hěn duō rén .)
Canaan: There are a lot of people in the supermarket.
Jane: 超市里有很多人。(chāoshì lǐ yǒu.)
Canaan: Yeah 很多人 (hěn duō rén) that’s the problem with China, isn’t it?
Jane: Well you get used to it.
Canaan: Yeah I am pretty much there now. Now our last word is a position word.
Jane: 前面 (qiánmian)
Canaan: In front.
Jane: 前面 (qiánmian)
Canaan: Pretty straightforward. Sometimes you will hear people say
Jane: 前边 (qiánbiān)
Canaan: Which is basically the same as 前面 (qiánmian) and now the opposite of 前面 (qiánmian) which is in our dialogue is
Jane: 后面 (hòumian)
Canaan: Right. At the back of or behind. It can also be called
Jane: 后边 (hòubiān)
Canaan: Again
Jane: 后边 (hòubiān)
Canaan: Right. Now we want to make some sentences with these position words in conjunction with what we are going to learn in the next grammar point.
Jane: It’s fairly easy and useful.

Lesson focus

Canaan: Yeah let’s take a look. It’s grammar time. So what’s our grammar point for today?
Jane: Today we are going to learn one word 在 (zài)
Canaan: Oh 在 (zài) to exist in a specific location which in colloquial English we would probably translate as to be at.
Jane: 在 (zài)
Canaan: To exist, to be at.
Jane: A very simple example 王老师在吗?(wáng lǎoshī zài ma ?)
Canaan: Is teacher Wong there? A commonly used sentence when you are on the phone asking to talk to someone.
Jane: 王老师在吗?(wáng lǎoshī zài ma ?) A question sentence 他在哪?(tā zài nǎ ?)
Canaan: Where is he?
Jane: 他在哪?(tā zài nǎ ?)
Canaan: So here 在 (zài) is a simple verb meaning to exist in a specific location and of course the negative form adds 不 (bù) in front of 在 (zài.)
Jane: 是的。(shì de .) 妈妈不在家。(māma bú zài jiā .)
Canaan: Mom is not home.
Jane: 妈妈不在家。(māma bú zài jiā .) 洗手间在超市后面。(xǐshǒujiān zài chāoshì hòumian .)
Canaan: The toilet is at the back of the supermarket.
Jane: 洗手间在超市后面。(xǐshǒujiān zài chāoshì hòumian .)
Canaan: The toilet is at the back of the supermarket. Now in this sentence, the word 在 (zài) seems to be a combination of the verb and the position where the [ph 0:08:05] proposition and I noticed that the sentence orders in Chinese and in English are direct opposites.
Jane: 是的。(shì de .) We say 超市后面 (chāoshì hòumian)
Canaan: Supermarket back while we say the back of the supermarket. Right, one more sentence.
Jane: 药店在前边。(yàodiàn zài qián biān .)
Canaan: The drugstore is up ahead.
Jane: 药店在前边。(yàodiàn zài qián biān .)
Canaan: Now apart from being used as a simple verb 在 (zài) can also be used as a preposition.
Jane: 是的。(shì de .) It’s like at or in to indicate where a certain action takes place.
Canaan: Right. Now can we have a sample of 在 (zài) as a preposition?
Jane: 他在银行工作。(tā zài yínháng gōngzuò .)
Canaan: He works at a bank.
Jane: 他在银行工作。(tā zài yínháng gōngzuò .)
Canaan: So here the phrase 银行 (yínháng) refers to the location where the action 工作 (gōngzuò) takes place.
Jane: 没错儿 (méicuòr)
Canaan: Now I notice also that the phrase 在银行 (zài yínháng) is placed right after the subject and before the verb.
Jane: 是的。(shì de .) Which is once again quite different from the sentence order in English.
Canaan: Okay. Let’s have one more sentence.
Jane: 我在电影院等你。(Wǒ zài diànyǐngyuàn děng nǐ .)
Canaan: I will wait for you at the cinema.
Jane: 我在电影院等你。(Wǒ zài diànyǐngyuàn děng nǐ .) or you can be more specific 我在电影院前面等你。(Wǒ zài diànyǐngyuàn qiánmian děng nǐ)
Canaan: I will wait for you in front of the cinema. So now our sentences are getting longer and longer.
Jane: Now 在 (zài) not only can follow by a specific place and it can also lead a time phrase.
Canaan: Right. So one last example.
Jane: 他在半小时前出去了。(tā zài bànxiǎoshí qián chūqu le .)
Canaan: He went out about a half an hour ago.
Jane: 他在半小时前出去了。(tā zài bànxiǎoshí qián chūqu le .)
Canaan: And the same here. Even if it’s a time phrase, it’s still placed before the verb and after the subject and I would really like to emphasize this again. In a longer sentence, you will be looking at subject, time phrase, location if you have both and then the predicate. This is a pattern in China that you will see constantly and it very rarely changes and it will tell you a lot about the way of thinking that lies behind the construction of the language. Now talking about time, I think that should probably be it for today.


Jane: We hope you liked our podcast.
Canaan: Right but if you don’t, please let us know.
Jane: We are open for any comments or feedbacks.
Canaan: Just send us an email at contactus@chineseclass101.com, for now, this is Canaan
Jane: And Jane.
Canaan: 在北京 (zài Běijīng) Signing off, see you next time.
Jane: Bye.


Please to leave a comment.
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ChineseClass101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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How do you find Chinese style toilets compared to the western style ones?

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Monday at 05:31 AM
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你好 robert groulx!

不用谢。(Bú yòng xiè.) = No need for thanks. You're welcome. 😇

谢谢 (Xièxie) for studying with us, it's great 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 11:30 PM
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thank you for the lesson transcript

favorite phrase is 他在半小时前出去了


ChineseClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 01:22 PM
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Hi Jonathan,

Thanks for pointing that out! And sorry for the confusion. We have edited the contents to have them all appears as "mian" without the accent.

Technically both with and without the accent are both correct, hòumian is the toneless final syllable variant of hòumiàn. More examples:

后面 (hòumian)

前面 (qiánmian)

外面 (wàimian)


Team ChineseClass101.com

Wednesday at 01:07 AM
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Also, the PDF has "in back" as both hòumiàn and hòumian. Which one is correct?

Wednesday at 12:50 AM
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The PDF and vocabulary section have "in front" as both qiánmiàn and qiánmian. Can you tell me which one is correct?

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Friday at 05:03 PM
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Hi Erik,

Thank you for sharing your experience!

I've never tried the Chinese toilets, but it seems really different!

Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback.

We are always positive in receiving constructive criticism, so I will forward your thoughts to the correspondent team who take decisions about how to design our future lessons.

Kind regards,


Team ChineseClass101.com

Monday at 02:39 AM
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Toilets really are a story for visiting westerners. I was on a train - soft sleeper - and the western toilet was so foul I opted for the Chinese style. Much better air quality, a challenge on a moving train for someone not used to them!

Anyway, not the reason for the comment. I would really love it if you guys had some longer conversations, not even with notes or lessons, but 2-5 minute conversations that put together learnings. I am hunting them down on YouTube and they are really making a difference. It is the listening and interpretation that is slowest so conversations really help that.

Just a thought. I do enjoy the program, and my progress is really good. I do some other things, but this is my source of structured progress and learning.

Keep up the great work, thanks!

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 09:40 AM
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Hi Dal,

Could you please let me know what are you unable to download? Everything seems to be working fine (I'm using Firefox browser).

If you're trying to download the Lesson Notes, please try to download the "Lesson Notes Lite." It might fix the problem.

We're updating our Lesson Notes so soon you won't need the Lite version anymore.

Please let us know if you're still having problems.



Team ChineseClass101

Tuesday at 04:53 PM
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I am having difficulty accessing the lesson. There is a message which comes up as "error opening files", this happened in lesson 13, 14 and 15.

Can you give me some advice as to what is occurring here please?

Wednesday at 11:27 AM
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Hi Casey,

It's all been fixed now. Thanks for pointing that out. Enjoy your lesson.