Vocabulary (Review)

Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Amber: Hey everyone. Welcome back to ChineseClass101.com, our All About Chinese Series. I am Amber.
Victor: 大家好 (dàjiā hǎo), I’m Victor.
Amber: And today is All About Chinese Lesson 14, the top five classroom phrases for learning Chinese. So we’re not in a classroom, however these phrases will come on very useful not just for a classroom but even…
Victor: Outside of classrooms, definitely.

Lesson focus

Amber: Ok, so here they are. The top five phrases for you. As you begin to learn Chinese, some things that will come in very handy. Let’s just give first an overview, Victor. What are the top five phrases. The first phrase is “Please repeat that”.
Victor: 请再说一次 (qǐng zàishuō yīcì).
Amber: The second one is “How do you say…”
Victor: 中文怎么说 (zhōngwén zěnme shuō)
Amber: The third one is “May I ask…”
Victor: 请问 (qǐngwèn)
Amber: The fourth one is “I don’t understand”.
Victor: 我听不懂 (wǒ tīng bù dǒng)
Amber: And the fifth one, “Can you speak a bit slower?”
Victor: 你可以说得慢一点儿吗? (nǐ kěyǐ shuō dé màn yīdiǎnr ma?)
Amber: Good. So what we’re going to discuss take each phrase, break it down for you so that you can learn this phrase in and out, and you’re going to use it nonstop in your Chinese language learning journey. So let’s go to the first one, Victor. This one’s so useful cause you can use it anytime. In the classroom…
Victor: You’ll probably use it a lot.
Amber: Outside the classroom. Chines people tend to speak very quickly sometimes, so you might want to have someone repeat something. So can you tell us the phrase again, Victor?
Victor: 请再说一次 (qǐng zàishuō yīcì)
Amber: So the first word we hear it’s …
Victor: 请 (qǐng)
Amber: 请 (qǐng) is third tone and it means “please”. So of course, when you butter people up like this, they’re going to repeat the word for you. The next word is…
Victor: 再 (zài)
Amber: 再 (zài) means “again”. It’s fourth tone. And then the next one is our verb, “to speak”.
Victor: 说 (shuō)
Amber: 说 (shuō) is first tone. And last but not least we hear 一次 (yīcì).
Victor: 一次 (yīcì) means “one time”.
Amber: Right. So put it all together. Can you say it very slowly, Victor?
Victor: 请再说一次 (qǐng zàishuō yīcì)
Amber: Ok, so next phrase is “How do you say…” something, a word? So let me just take a word I want to know how to say in Chinese, Victor. How about I’ll say “How do you say tree?” in Chinese.
Victor: Sure. So in Chinese you will say, when you ask this question, you will say TREE中文怎么说? (zhōngwén zěnme shuō)
Amber: Right. So opposite from the English. You put the word you want to know first. It’s not “How do you say tree?” You say “Tree how do you say?” in Chinese. So can we hear that sentence again?
Victor: TREE中文怎么说? (zhōngwén zěnme shuō)
Amber: So we hear the word 中文 (zhōngwén) which is the word for “Chinese” in Chinese. What are the tones on what, Victor?
Victor: 中 (zhōng) is first tone, 文 (wén) is second tone.
Amber: 中文 (zhōngwén)
Victor: 中文 (zhōngwén)
Amber: Then we hear the word for “how” in Chinese.
Victor: Which is 怎么 (zěnme). 怎 (zěn) is third tone, 么 (me) is the neutral tone.
Amber: 怎么 (zěnme)
Victor:怎么 (zěnme)
Amber: And then we hear again the verb for “to speak”.
Victor: 说 (shuō)
Amber: Which was first tone.
Victor: Yes.
Amber: So put it all together. Can you tell us again?
Victor: 中文怎么说? (zhōngwén zěnme shuō)
Amber: So literally, the translation is the English word first and then Chinese “how to say”.
Victor: Correct.
Amber: Good. Ok, now you got a couple of questions here, but maybe you want to be more polite. So you’re going to need our third phrase. In order to preface your question, to ask someone “Can I ask you a question”…
Victor: Right. I think this sounds a little weird in English, when you say “Can I ask?” but Chinese actually use it a lot. It’s one of the standard phrases of the language, I would say.
Amber: It’s true. It’s almost equivalent to “excuse me” or “do you mind”. And the word is.
Victor: 请问 (qǐngwèn)
Amber: 请问 (qǐngwèn) So we heard 请 (qǐng), third tone, in the first phrase, which was “Please repeat that”, right? And that means “please”.
Victor: And 问 (wèn) is “to ask”.
Amber: And that’s fourth tone.
Victor: 请问 (qǐngwèn)
Amber: So “please ask me” and it’s basically…
Victor: “Can I ask?”
Amber: “May I ask?”
Victor: When you’re trying to get someone’s attention or things like that. So you just say whatever you need to say after that. So you say 请问 (qǐngwèn) “how do I get to a certain place” or whatever.
Amber: Yeah, yeah. It’s very polite form of address. So probably you’re going to have times where you’ve asked someone to repeat something, maybe you’ve asked what the word is in Chinese and maybe you don’t understand. How are you going to tell people? Well, that’s our fourth phrase.
Victor: It’s all powerful phrase, you just say 我听不懂 (wǒ tīng bù dǒng).
Amber: Ok, so let’s break that down. The first word is…
Victor: 我 (wǒ)
Amber: Which means “I”.
Victor: And it’s third tone. 我 (wǒ)
Amber: Then we hear…
Victor: 听 (tīng)
Amber: 听 (tīng) means “to hear”.
Victor: And that is the first tone.
Amber: Right. Then we have…
Victor: 不 (bù)
Amber: 不 (bù) which is our word that negates a word.
Victor: Right, it’s the fourth tone. 不 (bù)
Amber: And then the last word is…
Victor: 懂 (dǒng)
Amber: 懂 (dǒng)
Victor: It’s the third tone, it kind of dips. 懂 (dǒng).
Amber: And it basically means “to understand”
Victor: Correct.
Amber: So put it all together.
Victor: 我听不懂 (wǒ tīng bù dǒng).
Amber: Right. Basically means “I hear, but I don’t understand”.
Victor: Right.
Amber: So the problem is not that you can’t hear them. You’ve heard them, but you have no idea what the heck they’re talking about.
Victor: So they use hand gestures…
Amber: Yes, that comes next. So this is a thing that’s very useful. Cause sometimes Chinese people will assume, because you said 你好 (nǐ hǎo) very well, that you learned here with us.
Victor: Or other cool phrases.
Amber: Other cool phrases. But they might assume that you know Chinese, and then they might speak very quickly or say a bunch of things that you don’t understand. So this will get you out of awkward situation. So make sure you keep the 听不懂 (tīng bù dǒng) up your sleeve.
Victor: 听不懂 (tīng bù dǒng)
Amber: Yeah, people will forgive you for that blank look that’s on you face.
Victor: Yeah, so 我听不懂 (wǒ tīng bù dǒng) is “I don’t understand”.
Amber: Even after you say “I don’t understand”, if you’re the type of person who’s very persistent, you can use our fifth phrase, right, Victor?
Victor: Yes.
Amber: Don’t give up, we recommend, don’t give up.
Victor: Just keep going.
Amber: Ok, this one’s a bit longer but it’s worth the effort because it’s the phrase for “Could you say that a little bit slower?”
Victor: Yes. So that would be 你可以说得慢一点儿吗? (nǐ kěyǐ shuō dé màn yīdiǎnr ma)
Amber: Ok, so there are some words that we’ve learned in here. It’s not too hard, but let’s just go through it slowly. The first word is…
Victor: 你 (nǐ)
Amber: Which is the word for “you”.
Victor: And it’s the third tone. 你 (nǐ)
Amber: The next word is “can”.
Victor: That’ll be 可以 (kěyǐ).
Amber: Which is third tone, third tone. But here it’s pronounced second tone, third tone. 可以 (kěyǐ).
Victor: Right. 可以 (kěyǐ).
Amber: Next is bonus word, we’ve already learned it twice in this lesson. The word for “to speak”.
Victor: 说 (shuō).
Amber: Good. So what do we have so far?
Victor: 说 (shuō).
Amber: Right. Now here comes the clincher. The part about speaking slower.
Victor: So the next particle is 得 (dé). It is usually used to modify verbs, but we’ll talk about that later in our future lessons. So for now you just know that it modifies the verb 说 (shuō) or “to speak” here.
Amber: So we have 得 (dé). And then…
Victor: 慢 (màn)
Amber: 慢 (màn) is the word for “slow” or “slowly”.
Victor: Fourth tone 慢 (màn)
Amber: And then 一点儿 (yīdiǎnr). What does that mean?
Victor: “A little bit”, “just a little”. 一点儿 (yīdiǎnr)
Amber: And last, to make it a question, we have our particle…
Victor: 吗 (ma)
Amber: 吗 (ma)
Victor: The neutral tone.
Amber: So 吗 (ma) is the verbal question mark. Tells us this person we are asking a question of this person. Put it all together, Victor.
Victor: 你可以说得慢一点儿吗? (nǐ kěyǐ shuō dé màn yīdiǎnr ma)
Amber: So “You can speak slowly a little, ok, please?”
Victor: 你可以说得慢一点儿吗? (nǐ kěyǐ shuō dé màn yīdiǎnr ma)
Amber: Exactly. And the nice part is, when you say this, people will definitely speak very slowly for you. I feel like I go by to kindergarten or like I'm a baby again. They’re like. 你好,我是什么 (nǐ hǎo, wǒ shì shénme)...
Victor: They want to make sure you understand them.
Amber: It’s very cute.
Victor: It’s very effective.
Amber: I think Chinese people are very helpful when helping you learn the language, definitely. Very non intimidating. Ok, so let’s have a review of the five phrases, Victor. Victor’s going to do for us first at slow speed, then at natural speed so you can make sure you get it. The first one is “Please repeat that”.
Victor: 请再说一次 (qǐng zàishuō yīcì).
Amber: Good. Next phrase, phrase number two. “How do you say ‘tree’?”
Victor: ’Tree’ 中文怎么说 (zhōngwén zěnme shuō)?
Amber: The third one is “May I ask?” or “Please, can I ask?”
Victor: 请问 (qǐngwèn).
Amber: The fourth one. “I don’t understand.”
Victor: 我听不懂 (wǒ tīng bù dǒng).
Amber: And last but not least, “Can you speak a bit slower?”
Victor: 你可以说得慢一点儿吗? (nǐ kěyǐ shuō dé màn yīdiǎnr ma)
Amber: Wow, Victor! 你可以说得慢一点儿吗? (nǐ kěyǐ shuō dé màn yīdiǎnr ma). Ok everyone, the great thing about these phrases is that you can use them right away.
Victor: Very helpful.


Amber: Yeah, so we hope they helped everybody, whether you’re in Chinese class or on the streets of China, or in your local Chinatown. Go try them out.
Victor: Yes, I think people will be pleasantly surprised.