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. I’m Amber.
Victor: 大家好! (Dàjiā hǎo!) I'm Victor.
Amber: And today it’s our Basic Bootcamp series lesson 3; today, we are learning Useful Phrases for learning Chinese.
Victor: This 5-part series will help you ease your way into Chinese.
Amber: We’ll go over all the basics that will get you on the right track to learning quickly.
Victor: Including today’s lesson, you will learn several essential phrases to use in Chinese to help you learn Chinese.
Amber: Yeah, you can use today’s phrases when you are at a loss for words.
Victor: Yes, to ask anyone, any time, how to say anything.
Amber: OK so what we have is a little ‘Chinese dream sequence’ for you.
Victor: It’s a really common situation a learner will be in.
Amber: Yes, the case of ‘the lacked word’
Victor: You want to say something, but don’t have the vocab for it.
Amber: Yes for some of us, it’s not maybe a dream… maybe more like a recurring nightmare… However...
Victor: But now the nightmare is over!
Amber: Yes! So please just close your eyes and listen to this dialogue. It’s a Chinese student in a Chinese class, asking the teacher a few questions.
老师,“tree” 用中文怎么说? (Lǎoshī, “tree” yòng zhōngwén zěnme shuō?)
慢一点儿,好吗? (Màn yīdiǎnr, hǎo ma?)
请帮我写一下,好吗? (Qǐng bāng wǒ xiě yīxià, hǎo ma?)
Victor: 重复一次,慢速。(Chóngfù yīcì, màn sù.)
Amber: One more time, a little slower.
老师,“tree” 用中文怎么说? (Lǎoshī, “tree” yòng zhōngwén zěnme shuō?)
慢一点儿,好吗? (Màn yīdiǎnr, hǎo ma?)
请帮我写一下,好吗? (Qǐng bāng wǒ xiě yīxià, hǎo ma?)
Victor: 重复一次,加英文翻译。(Chóngfù yīcì, jiā yīngwén fānyì.)
Amber: One more time, with the English.
老师,“tree” 用中文怎么说? (Lǎoshī, “tree” yòng zhōngwén zěnme shuō?)
Teacher, how do you say "tree" in Chinese?
慢一点儿,好吗? (Màn yīdiǎnr, hǎo ma?)
A little slower, could you?
请帮我写一下,好吗? (Qǐng bāng wǒ xiě yīxià, hǎo ma?)
Could you write it down for me?
Amber: So you will never be at a loss for words again, after you know these phrases. Right, Victor?
Victor: Yeah, they’re powerful.
Amber: Ok, so let's take a closer look at the details of these phrases for learning Chinese, Victor. Let’s start with the most important part, which is, of course, the teacher.
Victor: Teacher, yes. So in a Chinese classroom, the teacher is much revered and much respected.
Amber: Yes, and we’re not just saying that because we’re your teachers. Though you should revere and respect us, we hope. But yeah, actually, in China, the teacher has a very special status, even historically
Victor: So you always refer to them using the title of “teacher”, which is lǎoshī.
Amber: Right, so what tones are those?
Victor: lǎo is third, shī is first.
Amber: Right, so as in our dialogue, you can just use the title for teacher when you’re addressing your teacher, you just say lǎoshī, that’s fine, right? You don’t actually have to use their last name. Right, Victor?
Victor: Right, though you can if you like. You can just add their last name before the lǎoshī.
Amber: So it’s a little different than English though, if you were going to use their last name with the title “teacher.” Right, Victor?
Victor: Right, in Chinese, we don’t say - lǎoshī Wáng
Amber: No no no, you have to turn it around, you have to say...
Victor: Wáng lǎoshī
Amber: So the last name comes before the title. And it’s actually the same for Mr. and Mrs now.
Victor: And Wáng, in this case, is the last name, so you say Wáng lǎoshī.
Amber: Right. Ok, so now that you have the teacher’s attention, you’ve cried out lǎoshī lǎoshī, now what?
Victor: And hopefully not everyone is staring at you.
Amber: I know. The pressure is on. But you’re about to impress everyone because you’re going to use the next phrase, which is...
Victor: “tree,” or whatever you want to say, 用中文怎么说?(yòng zhōngwén zěnme shuō?)
Amber: Ok, so we know “tree” is English, so that’s easy. So you put the word first, and then, what do we say? We have to break down these characters for everybody, Victor.
Victor: Yeah, 用 (yòng) is fourth tone.
Amber: And 用 (yòng) is the word for “to use.”
Victor: “To use.” And 中文 (zhōngwén) is “Chinese.”
Amber: 中 (zhōng) is first tone, 文 (wén) is second tone, and it’s the word for “Chinese language.”
Victor: Correct. 怎么说 (zěnme shuō)
Amber: Now this little phrase means “how do you say it?” Can you break down the character and the tone for us?
Victor: 怎 (zěn) is the third tone, 么(me) is neutral.
Amber: And that means, basically, “how”
Victor: “How,” 怎么 (zěnme). And 说 (shuō) is first tone.
Amber: And it means “to say” or “to speak.” Altogether…
Victor: 用中文怎么说?(yòng zhōngwén zěnme shuō?)
Amber: If your teacher, hopefully speaks English, you can put an English word in there, or whatever you’re asking “what is this word,” and then follow it with 用中文怎么说?(yòng zhōngwén zěnme shuō?)
You can learn a lot of words this way. Right, Victor?
Victor: Yeah, definitely.
Amber: And of course, there’s always… If you can’t remember this phrase, hopefully after you try and practice it a lot, you can learn this phrase. But if not, you could also just point and be like... although, you know, even if the person doesn’t know English, you can use the pointing method; just to go... point!
Victor: A simplified version of it.
Amber: ((Point)) 用中文怎么说?(yòng zhōngwén zěnme shuō?), if they can’t speak English.
Amber: OK so now you’ve pointed, they’ve obliged, you’ve got your word… just like in our dialogue. What did we hear the word for “tree” was?
Victor: 树。(Shù.)
Amber: Yes
Victor: 树。(Shù.) So it’s kinda like “shoes”
Amber: Yeah.
Except no S for 树。(Shù.)
Amber: Except that it’s a “tree,” not a “shoe”
Victor: Righ, it’s a “tree,” not a “shoe”
Amber: So just remember, the word for “tree” is 树。(Shù.) Ok. Now this one was easy because it was only one word. But in real life, maybe your reply is going to be longer and maybe you won’t catch it the first time. So is that gonna be a problem, Victor?
Victor: Not gonna be a problem at all, because we have the phrase…
Amber: The next phrase…
Victor: 请再说一遍 (Qǐng zàishuō yībiàn)
Amber: Ok, now let’s break it down. The first word is a very important word to learn, to butter the person up…
Victor: 请 (qǐng)
Amber: It’s third tone, and it means “please.”
Victor: 请 (qǐng)
Amber: Now, the next word is…
Victor: 再 (zài)
Amber: And 再 (zài) is fourth tone, and it means “again.”
Victor: “Again.” 说 (shuō)
Amber: Now remember, we just learned this word in the earlier phrase, it means “to speak” or “to say.”
Victor: And then it’s first tone. 一遍 (yībiàn)
Amber: So 一遍 (yībiàn) means “one time”. What are the tones?
Victor: 一遍 (yībiàn), in this case, 一 (yī) is the second tone when you speak it, but actually, officially, it’s the first tone. When you speak it here, you just say 一遍 (yībiàn). And 遍 (biàn) is fourth tone.
Amber: So “one time”. So put together, it literally means “please again say one time.”
Victor: 请再说一遍 (Qǐng zàishuō yībiàn)
Amber: Good. So that’s gonna come in very handy, I’m sure. Many many Chinese speak too quickly, you can ask them to repeat themselves, say it again.
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: Ok, so maybe there maybe times though that you still can’t quite get it. Don’t be discouraged because you can use the next line in our little dialogue, which will be handy since Chinese people, as we mentioned, speak quite quickly.
Victor: So to slow them down, you can ask - 慢一点儿,好吗?(Màn yīdiǎnr, hǎo ma?)
Amber: Good. So 慢 (màn), let’s break it down, 慢 (màn) is the word for ‘slow’
Victor: And it’s fourth tone, 慢 (màn).
Amber: And then 一点儿(yīdiǎnr), what does that mean?
Victor: It means “a little bit”.
Amber: “A little bit”. And what are the tones on that?
Victor: 一 (yī), again, is...
Amber: officially first tone, but here it’s pronounced
Victor: fourth.
Amber: Yes.
Victor: 点儿 (diǎnr) is actually 2 words here. 点 (diǎn) is third tone, it means “a bit”; and usually when you say 一点 (yīdiǎn), we kinda just add a little 儿 (er) in the end.
Amber: And some people in Southern China will just say 慢一点 (màn yīdiǎn) “a little bit”
But in Northern China, maybe they will say 慢一点儿(màn yīdiǎnr), it’s just sort of an accent thing.
Victor: Right. So either way… 慢一点儿(màn yīdiǎnr). 好吗?(hǎo ma?)
Amber: Right. We know we’ve learned 好 (hǎo) before because it’s the word for “good,” third town.
And we also heard about this 吗 (ma) question particle. This 吗 (ma) at the end of sentence just signifies it as a question.
Victor: So 好吗?(hǎo ma?) means “good?” “Are we good?” “Ok?”
Amber: Exactly. So put it altogether, it’s literally “slow a little, ok?/ Is it ok?/ Please?”
Victor: Yes. 慢一点儿,好吗?(Màn yīdiǎnr, hǎo ma?)
Amber: Right, actually I really like this little 好吗?(hǎo ma?) at the end because you can really ask anyone anything and just slip in the little coy 好吗?(hǎo ma?)
Victor: Yeah, it just means “is it ok?”
Amber: So, I don’t know about you, Victor, but I don’t have a very good memory. So once I’ve gone to all this trouble to find out what this thing is that I’m asking about, I definitely want a way to remember it. And I want to be able to sometimes ask people. Because you know maybe you hear something but you don’t know what character it is, or you might immediately forget after you hear it. So the next one in the dialogue is to the rescue.
Victor: Yes, you can ask 请帮我写一下,好吗?(Qǐng bāng wǒ xiě yīxià, hǎo ma?)
Amber: Right, so we hear the 好吗?(hǎo ma?) again, sounds like you’re making a request. And we hear it starts out with the word 请 (qǐng)
Victor: 请 (qǐng) “please”
Amber: Please. third tone.
Victor: The next word is 帮 (bāng), and it is first tone.
Amber: And that means “to help”
Victor: Yes. And 我 (wǒ), which is “me” in this case
Amber: which is third tone. And the next word is…
Victor: 写一下 (xiě yīxià)
Amber: Right, now, 写 (xiě) is the word, third tone, for “to write”. The 一下 (yīxià) just basically softens it, it doesn’t have any meaning but it’s kind of like, you’re asking for a favor, as nice little tone. So what are the tones for 一下 (yixià)?
Victor: 一(yi) is second tone, 下 (xià) is fourth tone.
Amber: Right, and then of course the 好吗?(hǎo ma?), third tone, neutral tone. “Would it be ok?”
Victor: 请帮我写一下,好吗?(Qǐng bāng wǒ xiě yīxià, hǎo ma?)
Amber: Yeah, so literally it’s “Please help me write, is it ok?”
Victor: Yes.
Amber: So basically the translation is “please write it down for me” in a very polite way. I don’t think anyone can refuse you if you said this.
Victor: Definitely not, especially if you’re trying to learn.
Amber: Yeah, kind of like the magic word. And actually, I have a little study tip, Victor. It’s very useful to carry a notebook for this purpose. Otherwise you’d have a billion scraps of paper and you wouldn’t know where anything is. But any time you have a spare moment… I used to just… when I take the bus or the subway, I would look back to these things that I’d asked people to help me write, or things that I had written down myself, and it really helps retain what I’d learned.
Victor: Yes, especially when you’re beginning to learn a language. I actually did the same when I was learning Engish. So, it helps, definitely.
Amber: And once you’ve encountered the words in a few circumstances, it really stays in your mind. Ok, everyone, just to make sure you’ve burned this dialogue into your brain, we will play it one more time for you before we go. We’ll see you next time on our Basic Bootcamp lesson. For now, 再见 (zàijiàn).
Victor: Thanks for listening, bye!
老师,“tree” 用中文怎么说? (Lǎoshī, “tree” yòng zhōngwén zěnme shuō?)
慢一点儿,好吗? (Màn yīdiǎnr, hǎo ma?)
请帮我写一下,好吗? (Qǐng bāng wǒ xiě yīxià, hǎo ma?)


Chinese Grammar Made Easy - Unlock This Lesson’s Grammar Guide

Easily master this lesson’s grammar points with in-depth explanations and examples. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?