Dialogue

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Vocabulary

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你好 [你好] nǐhǎo hello
[你] you
[我] I
[好] hǎo good
[叫] jiào to call for
你呢 [你呢] nǐ ne how about you
张飞 [張飛] Zhāng Fēi Zhang Fei
马丽 [馬麗] Mǎ Lì Ma Li

Lesson Notes

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Grammar

The focus of this lesson is on introducing yourself

我叫张飞。你呢?Wǒ jiào Zhāng Fēi, nǐ ne?
"I am Zhang Fei, how about you?"


The critical verb in our lesson today is jiào. If you look at our sample sentence, you will see that it connects our pronoun 我 (wǒ I, me) with our name 张飞 (Zhang Fei) and translates as "to call" or "to be called". This is the most useful way to introduce yourself in Chinese, since this structure can be used in both casual and formal situations.

There are a number of other verbs that are useful for introducing yourself in other situations. In very informal situations, you can replace the verb jiào with the word shì. shìis a copula, a word that connects two nouns or noun phrases and asserts that they are the same -- think of it as an equals sign. The other way to introduce yourself is to use the verb xìng. You can use this to introduce your family name, but not your given name. jiào is the most common way of introducing yourself by your full name, given name, or nickname.

Tone Sandhi - When Tones Change


You may have noticed that when we pronounce 你好 nǐ hǎo, we pronounce it as níhǎo - a second tone and a third tone - even though 你 nǐ on its own is pronounced with the third tone. The reason for this is a process called 'tone sandhi' -- the way tones change when they interact with each other. For some Chinese languages, the rules of tone sandhi are nightmarishly complex, but for Mandarin the rules are quite simple. The sound change that is turning nǐhǎo into níhǎo happens whenever two third tones occur next to one another: the first word will change to a second tone, while the second word will stay the same.

Cultural Insights

Chinese names are mostly two or three characters -- one character for the surname (like 张 Zhāng or 马 Mǎ), and then one or two characters for the personal name. At some point in your study of Chinese, you may decide to give yourself a Chinese name -- but for now, you can just insert your own name in place of Zhang Fei and Ma Li's in the sentence structures used in the dialogue.

Grammar

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Below is a list of the grammar points introduced or used in this lesson. Click for a full explanation.

shì 是
to be
Introduced

Lesson Transcript

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INTRODUCTION
Frank: Hey, everyone.
Echo: Dàjiā hǎo!
Frank: Welcome to ChineseClass101.com, Season 1, Lesson 1 on our Beginner Series. I'm your host Frank Fradella, and I'm joined in the studio by the beautiful and talented Echo.
Echo: Ni Hao. I'm Echo.
Frank: Speaking of introductions. That's what today's dialog is about. This is your first lesson with us or your first lesson in Chinese. We're going to teach you how to say "hi". We're going to teach you how to introduce yourself.
Echo: Yeah.
Frank: That's what this dialog is about. By the end of this dialog.
Echo: You will start to speak Chinese.
Frank: Just like that. Let's go ahead and go to the dialog.
Echo: But before we do.
Frank: Before we do, Echo has got a good point, we want you to visit ChineseClass101.com.
Echo: Yeah.
Frank: And we want you to comment.
Echo: Yeah, if you have any questions, just leave a comment on the site.
Frank: One of our many trained professional teachers will be there to answer any questions you've got. And we're going to help you learn Chinese.
Echo: Yeah, we'll be always there for you.
Frank: Now, we're going to listen to the dialog. You're going to hear one time fast, one time slow, then we're going to come back and translate it for you. Stick around. Let's do this.

Lesson conversation

张飞:你好。(Zhāng fēi: Nǐ hǎo.)
马丽:你好。(Mǎ lì: Nǐ hǎo.)
张飞:我叫张飞。你呢?(Zhāng fēi: Wǒ jiào zhāng fēi. Nǐ ne?)
马丽:我叫马丽。(Mǎ lì: Wǒ jiào mǎ lì.)
Frank: Let's hear that again, just a little more slowly.
张飞:你好。(Zhāng fēi: Nǐ hǎo.)
马丽:你好。(Mǎ lì: Nǐ hǎo.)
张飞:我叫张飞。你呢?(Zhāng fēi: Wǒ jiào zhāng fēi. Nǐ ne?)
马丽:我叫马丽。(Mǎ lì: Wǒ jiào mǎ lì.)
Frank: Okay, we're back. We're going to listen to that dialog again, except this time, we're going to translate it for you. Echo, take us downtown.
张飞:你好。(Zhāng fēi: Nǐ hǎo.)
Echo: 你好。(Nǐ hǎo.)
Frank: Hello.
Echo: 你好(Nǐ hǎo) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 你好(Nǐ hǎo) [natural native speed].
Frank: Hello.
张飞:我叫张飞。(Zhāng fēi: Wǒ jiào zhāng fēi.)
Echo: 我叫张飞。(Wǒ jiào zhāng fēi.)
Frank: I'm called Zhang Fei.
张飞:你呢?(Zhāng fēi: Nǐ ne?)
Echo: 你呢?(Nǐ ne?)
Frank: How about you?
马丽:我叫马丽。(Mǎ lì: Wǒ jiào mǎ lì.)
Echo: 我叫马丽。(Wǒ jiào mǎ lì.)
Frank: I am called Ma Li.
POST CONVERSATION BANTER
Frank: Okay, we're back.
Echo: Yeah.
Frank: Now, for the absolute beginner, this is probably the most useful dialog in the world.
Echo: It is definitely useful.
Frank: This is great stuff. It's just, "hi, here's my name". You may have noticed during the dialog as we were translating this thing that the name Zhang Fei is pronounced very specifically. Every time, we say it the same way.
Echo: Yeah.
张飞:我叫张飞。(Zhāng fēi: Wǒ jiào zhāng fēi.)
Echo: Zhang Fei.
Frank: Now, that's because Mandarin is a tonal language.
Echo: Yeah.
Frank: You change the tone.
Echo: You change the meaning.
Frank: Exactly. Let's go and listen to those four tones now. This way people can hear what they sound like and then we'll take it through them one by one.
Echo: Okay.
Frank: Here's all four.
Echo: Mā. Má. Mǎ. Mà.
Frank: Did you hear the difference in the tones. There are differences in the pitch.
Echo: Yeah.
Frank: Let's hear it one more time to give people another chance with that one.
Echo: Mā. Má. Mǎ. Mà.
Frank: Great. Now, let's take them one by one. And I'll start with the first tone which is high and flat.
Echo: Mā
Frank: High, flat.
Echo: Mā
Frank: The second tone starts low then rises.
Echo: Má
Frank: Low, rises up.
Echo: Má
Frank: The third tone dips down then comes back up.
Echo: Mǎ
Frank: Down then up.
Echo: Mǎ
Frank: The fourth tone starts high and then declines sharply.
Echo: Mà
Frank: Just short and sharp all the way down.
Echo: Mà
Frank: Great. These are the four tones.
Echo: Mā. Má. Mǎ. Mà.
Frank: Now you've heard the tones. Let's see how good you are. For those of you playing the home game, what we're going to do is we're going to let Echo say the tone first. I'm going to give you a second so you can guess on your own and then I'm going to give you the answer.
Echo: Yeah.
Frank: Let's do it.
Echo: Mǎ
Frank: Third tone.
Echo: Maà
Frank: Fourth tone.
Echo: Mā
Frank: First tone.
Echo: Má
Frank: Second tone. The only one left.
VOCAB LIST
Okay, now we're going to walk you through the key vocab from this lesson. Listen for those tones.
Echo: 我(Wǒ) [natural native speed].
Frank: I or me.
Echo: 我(Wǒ) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 我(Wǒ) [natural native speed].
Echo: 你(Nǐ) [natural native speed].
Frank: You.
Echo: 你(Nǐ) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 你(Nǐ) [natural native speed].
Echo: 好(Hǎo) [natural native speed].
Frank: Good.
Echo: 好(Hǎo) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 好(Hǎo) [natural native speed].
Echo: 你好(Nǐ hǎo) [natural native speed].
Frank: Hello.
Echo: 你好(Nǐ hǎo) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 你好(Nǐ hǎo) [natural native speed].
Echo: 叫(Jiào) [natural native speed].
Frank: To call.
Echo: 叫(Jiào) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 叫(Jiào) [natural native speed].
Echo: 你呢(Nǐ ne) [natural native speed].
Frank: And you?
Echo: 你呢(Nǐ ne) [slowly - broken down by syllable]. 你呢(Nǐ ne) [natural native speed].
KEY VOCABULARY AND PHRASES
Frank: You heard the word in our vocabulary for the word "you".
Echo: Ni.
Frank: And you heard the word for "good".
Echo: Hao.
Frank: You put those two together and it sounds like this.
Male: 你好(Nǐ hǎo)
Echo: Nǐ hǎo
Frank: But you're not saying, "you good".
Echo: No.
Frank: You're saying "hi".
Echo: Yeah, "hello".
Frank: Hello. That's all it is.
Echo: Nǐ hǎo
Male: 你好(Nǐ hǎo)
Echo: Nǐ hǎo
Frank: You would say this to your mother-in-law.
Echo: Nǐ hǎo
Frank: Cab drivers.
Echo: Nǐ hǎo
Frank: That lady in the grocery store.
Echo: Nǐ hǎo
Frank: Dogs in the streets. Anything and everything gets this phrase. It's the all-purpose phrase. It just means, "hi, hello".
Echo: Yeah.
Frank: The other really cool thing in this dialog is - and it's a really interesting cultural difference I think.
Echo: Yeah.
Frank: Is that.
Echo: Chinese name.
Frank: Chinese names. They actually have the family name first.
Echo: Yeah.
Frank: So in our dialog...
Echo: It's pretty important for us.
Frank: Right. So in the dialog, we had the name.
Echo: Zhang Fei.
Male: Wǒ jiào ZhāngFēi.
Frank: Family name is actually.
Echo: Zhang.
Frank: And his given name.
Echo: Fei.
Frank: Exactly. Now, there are some Chinese stars that have crossed over into American movies.
Echo: Yeah.
Frank: And probably the most famous of this right now is an actress named.
Echo: Zhang Ziyi.
Frank: Who was in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and also with my boy, Jackie Chan, she was in Rush Hour 2.
Echo: Yeah.
Frank: What are some other Chinese names for me right now?
Echo: Li Xiaolong.
Frank: Bruce Lee. That was the Chinese name.
Echo: Very famous.
Frank: Yeah, very, very famous. Give me one more.
Echo: Li Lianjie.
Frank: Jet Li.
Echo: Yeah.
Frank: Okay, all of them have the family name Li. That's interesting.
Echo: Li.
Frank: Okay, cool.
Echo: Yeah, now let's move on to my favorite part.
Frank: Your favorite part is grammar.
Echo: Yeah.

Lesson focus

Frank: In this lesson, we learned the verb for "to call".
Echo: Jiào.
Male: Wǒ jiào Zhāng Fēi.
Frank: And we heard a great sentence structure like "I am called".
Echo: Wǒ jiào Zhāng Fēi.
Frank: And the other one we heard?
Echo: Wo jiao Ma Li.
Frank: Okay, so to introduce yourself, you would say, "I am called".
Echo: Wo jiao Echo, Echo,Echo, Echo.
Frank: Or you could identify somebody else.
Echo: Ni jiao Frank.
Frank: Exactly. Now, you notice something really cool about this. There's no conjugation here.
Echo: Yeah.
Frank: This is how easy Chinese is.
Echo: Wǒ jiào, nǐ jiào, tā jiào.
Frank: He or she is called, exactly. The verb doesn't conjugate. It doesn't get any easier than this.
Echo: Yeah.
Frank: So if you ever worried about learning Chinese, you can stop now and -- oh, there was one more thing I want to talk about in this lesson. It was the -- we heard in the lesson, it was a really great way -- if somebody asked you a question and you want to ask them the same question back, you can give your answer and then hit them with this one.
Echo: Nǐ ne?
Frank: It just means, how about you?
Echo: What about you?
Frank: And in the dialog, we heard it like this.
张飞:我叫张飞。你呢?(Zhāng fēi: Wǒ jiào zhāng fēi. Nǐ ne?)
Echo: Wǒ jiào Zhāng Fēi. Nǐ ne?
Frank: He gave his name and then asked for hers.

Outro

Echo: Okay, so we're done today?
Frank: Not quite. We do want to remind folks to stop by ChineseClass101.com.
Echo: Yeah.
Frank: Become a premium subscriber and get access to a whole wealth of benefits.
Echo: Yeah. You'd have the transcript.
Frank: Yeah, we've got…
Echo: Flashcard.
Frank: …classes and lessons and…
Echo: Yeah, accesses.
Frank: …we've got a voice recording tool.
Echo: Yeah.
Frank: Full online support. We've got absolutely everything that you need to learn Chinese, learn it fast and learn it well. That does it for us today. From Beijing, in our studio, I'm Frank Fradella.
Echo: I'm Echo.
Frank: And we're saying Zàijiàn.
Echo: Zàijiàn.