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Victor: 大家好,我是Victor。 (Dàjiā hǎo, wǒ shì Victor.)
Amber: And I am Amber and welcome back to Gengo Chinese. This is Lesson 13, and today, our lesson is about…
Victor: Learn the Proper Way to Do Business in China
Amber: Very important. Many of our students are learning Chinese for business.
Victor: Yeah, getting deep here.
Amber: So, Mike has survived the taxi ride, which is a good thing, and now, he’s ready for work.
Victor: Yes. He’s on a business trip and is arriving for an appointment.
Amber: Right. But first, he has to use his Chinese to get past the receptionist, which could be a feat.
Victor: Right. Before he does that, let's do the recap of his successful taxi ride... so we can have one too some time, right?
Amber: Yeah. So first and foremost, he had the very essential key to the taxi ride, which is he had the address of where he was going written down.
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: Remember our tip? If you can write down the address. It helps a lot.
Victor: Definitely. And the word for address again is 地址 (dìzhǐ).
Amber: And also, we learned how to talk about ability and in this case, it was the ability to speak a language.
Victor: Right. The taxi driver said 不会说英文 (Bù huì shuō yīngwén).
Amber: Which meant, “I can’t speak English.” So here, the verb for to be able to do something, in this case, speak English is 会 (huì).
Victor: Yeah. And we also learned how to ask for something very essential when on a business trip.
Amber: Yes, a receipt!
VIctor: Yeah. And “I want a receipt” in Chinese is 我要发票。 (Wǒ yào fāpiào.)
Amber: Good. Well, the rest of the ride went pretty smoothly, and so now, Mike is on time and ready for his first appointment. So, in this lesson, you’ll learn how to use Chinese in a somewhat more formal setting, a business setting.
Victor: Yep. And this conversation takes place in an office.
Amber: And it’s between the receptionist and Mike. And then later on, also between Mike and a colleague he knows, so let’s listen in.
Receptionist: 早上好,欢迎您来国美。 (Zǎoshàng hǎo, huānyíng nín lái Guóměi.)
Mike: 你好,我和王经理约了9点见面。 (Nǐhǎo, wǒ hé Wáng Jīnglǐ yuē le jiǔ diǎn jiànmiàn.)
Receptionist: 请问您贵姓? (Qǐngwèn nín guì xìng?)
Mike: 我姓孙。 (Wǒ xìng Sūn.)
Receptionist: 请稍等。 (Qǐng shāoděng.)
Receptionist again: 请这边走。 (Qǐng zhèbiān zǒu.)
Manager Wang: 迈克,好久不见! (Màikè, hǎojiǔbújiàn!)
Mike: 好久不见。我从美国给你带了礼物。 (Hǎojiǔbújiàn. Wǒ cóng Měiguó gěi nǐ dài le lǐwù.)
Manager Wang: 谢谢。 (Xièxie.)
Mike: 你最近怎么样? (Nǐ zuìjìn zěnmeyàng?)
Manager Wang: 非常忙。今天我们有很多工作要做。 (Fēicháng máng. Jīntiān wǒmen yǒu hěn duō gōngzuò yào zuò.)
Mike: 当然。 (Dāngrán.)
Victor: 重复一次, 慢速. (Chóngfù yīcì, màn sù.)
Amber: One more time, a little slower.
Receptionist: 早上好,欢迎您来国美。 (Zǎoshàng hǎo, huānyíng nín lái Guóměi.)
Mike: 你好,我和王经理约了9点见面。 (Nǐhǎo, wǒ hé Wáng Jīnglǐ yuē le jiǔ diǎn jiànmiàn.)
Receptionist: 请问您贵姓? (Qǐngwèn nín guì xìng?)
Mike: 我姓孙。 (Wǒ xìng Sūn.)
Receptionist: 请稍等。 (Qǐng shāoděng.)
Receptionist again: 请这边走。 (Qǐng zhèbiān zǒu.)
Manager Wang: 迈克,好久不见! (Màikè, hǎojiǔbújiàn!)
Mike: 好久不见。我从美国给你带了礼物。 (Hǎojiǔbújiàn. Wǒ cóng Měiguó gěi nǐ dài le lǐwù.)
Manager Wang: 谢谢。 (Xièxie.)
Mike: 你最近怎么样? (Nǐ zuìjìn zěnmeyàng?)
Manager Wang: 非常忙。今天我们有很多工作要做。 (Fēicháng máng. Jīntiān wǒmen yǒu hěn duō gōngzuò yào zuò.)
Mike: 当然。 (Dāngrán.)
Victor: 重复一次, 加英文翻译. (Chóngfù yīcì, jiā yīngwén fānyì.)
Amber: One more time, with the English.
Receptionist: 早上好,欢迎您来国美。 (Zǎoshàng hǎo, huānyíng nín lái Guóměi.)
Amber: Good morning. Welcome to Guomei.
Mike: 你好,我和王经理约了9点见面。 (Nǐhǎo, wǒ hé Wáng Jīnglǐ yuē le jiǔ diǎn jiànmiàn.)
Amber: Hello. Manager Wang and I have an appointment arranged for nine o'clock.
Receptionist: 请问您贵姓? (Qǐngwèn nín guì xìng?)
Amber: May I have your name please?
Mike: 我姓孙。 (Wǒ xìng Sūn.)
Amber: My surname is Smith.
Receptionist: 请稍等。 (Qǐng shāoděng.)
Amber: One moment, please.
Receptionist again: 请这边走。 (Qǐng zhèbiān zǒu.)
Amber: Please come this way.
Manager Wang: 迈克,好久不见! (Màikè, hǎojiǔbújiàn!)
Amber: Mike, long time, no see!
Mike: 好久不见。我从美国给你带了礼物。 (Hǎojiǔbújiàn. Wǒ cóng Měiguó gěi nǐ dài le lǐwù.)
Amber: Long time, no see. I brought you a gift from America.
Manager Wang: 谢谢。 (Xièxie.)
Amber: Thank you.
Mike: 你最近怎么样? (Nǐ zuìjìn zěnmeyàng?)
Amber: How have you been lately?
Manager Wang: 非常忙。今天我们有很多工作要做。 (Fēicháng máng. Jīntiān wǒmen yǒu hěn duō gōngzuò yào zuò.)
Amber: Extremely busy. We have a lot of work to do today.
Mike: 当然。 (Dāngrán.)
Amber: Of course.
Amber: So, if any of you have done business in China before, you might find this a little different than the West. So, this will be your first introduction to see what the business environment is in China. And as we go on, you’re going to get introduced to even more of the subtleties of doing business in China.
Victor: Yeah. It’s all right here.
Amber: Yeah. But first, let’s look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
Victor: 来 (lái) [natural native speed]
Amber: to come
Victor: 来 (lái) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 来 (lái) [natural native speed]
Victor: 经理 (jīnglǐ) [natural native speed]
Amber: manager
Victor: 经理 (jīnglǐ) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 经理 (jīnglǐ) [natural native speed]
Victor: 请 (qǐng) [natural native speed]
Amber: please
Victor: 请 (qǐng) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 请 (qǐng) [natural native speed]
Victor: 这边 (zhèbiān) [natural native speed]
Amber: here, around here
Victor: 这边 (zhèbiān) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 这边 (zhèbiān) [natural native speed]
Victor: 礼物 (lǐwù) [natural native speed]
Amber: gift
Victor: 礼物 (lǐwù) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 礼物 (lǐwù) [natural native speed]
Victor: 带 (dài) [natural native speed]
Amber: to bring
Victor: 带 (dài) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 带 (dài) [natural native speed]
Victor: 给 (gěi) [natural native speed]
Amber: to give
Victor: 给 (gěi) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 给 (gěi) [natural native speed]
Victor: 从 (cóng) [natural native speed]
Amber: from
Victor: 从 (cóng) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 从 (cóng) [natural native speed]
Victor: 好久不见 (hǎojiǔbújiàn) [natural native speed]
Amber: long time no see
Victor: 好久不见 (hǎojiǔbújiàn) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 好久不见 (hǎojiǔbújiàn) [natural native speed]
Victor: 稍等 (shāoděng) [natural native speed]
Amber: to wait a moment
Victor: 稍等 (shāoděng) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 稍等 (shāoděng) [natural native speed]
Victor: 姓 (xìng) [natural native speed]
Amber: surname
Victor: 姓 (xìng) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 姓 (xìng) [natural native speed]
Victor: 贵 (guì) [natural native speed]
Amber: expensive, precious
Victor: 贵 (guì) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 贵 (guì) [natural native speed]
Victor: 请问 (qǐng wèn) [natural native speed]
Amber: may I ask
Victor: 请问 (qǐng wèn) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 请问 (qǐng wèn) [natural native speed]
Victor: 见面 (jiànmiàn) [natural native speed]
Amber: to meet
Victor: 见面 (jiànmiàn) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 见面 (jiànmiàn) [natural native speed]
Victor: 最近 (zuìjìn) [natural native speed]
Amber: recently, lately
Victor: 最近 (zuìjìn) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 最近 (zuìjìn) [natural native speed]
Victor: 怎么样 (zěnmeyàng) [natural native speed]
Amber: how is it
Victor: 怎么样 (zěnmeyàng) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 怎么样 (zěnmeyàng) [natural native speed]
Victor: 非常 (fēicháng) [natural native speed]
Amber: extremely
Victor: 非常 (fēicháng) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 非常 (fēicháng) [natural native speed]
Victor: 忙 (máng) [natural native speed]
Amber: busy
Victor: 忙 (máng) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 忙 (máng) [natural native speed]
Victor: 多 (duō) [natural native speed]
Amber: many, much
Victor: 多 (duō) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 多 (duō) [natural native speed]
Victor: 工作 (gōngzuò) [natural native speed]
Amber: work
Victor: 工作 (gōngzuò) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 工作 (gōngzuò) [natural native speed]
Victor: 做 (zuò) [natural native speed]
Amber: to do
Victor: 做 (zuò) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 做 (zuò) [natural native speed]
Victor: 当然 (dāngrán) [natural native speed]
Amber: of course, indeed
Victor: 当然 (dāngrán) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 当然 (dāngrán) [natural native speed]
Victor: 走 (zǒu) [natural native speed]
Amber: to walk, to go
Victor: 走 (zǒu) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 走 (zǒu) [natural native speed]
Victor: So one term we hear in this dialogue is another title for people.
Amber: Right. We heard “mister” at the hotel which was…
Victor: 先生 (xiānshēng)
Amber: Right, but in China, in business, if a person has a title, like for example, “manager,” they actually use that title instead of “Mr.” when addressing them. I find that Chinese people really love the titles, don’t they, Victor?
Victor: Yeah. It sounds good, right? In China, this actually became kind of a running joke since the reforms, economic reforms, because there’s been a lot of, you know, entrepreneurs opening their own companies, so everyone is a 经理 (jīnglǐ).
Amber: A manager.
Victor: Right. A few years ago, there’s been a running joke about, you know, if you randomly select 10 people on the street, you know, 10 people, the chances are 9/10 will be a 经理 (jīnglǐ).
Amber: Yes.
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: They love being 经理 (jīnglǐ)s. Everyone and their dogs seem to be a 经理 (jīnglǐ).
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: So, Mr. Wang is also a 经理 (jīnglǐ), a “manager.” What are the tones on 经理 (jīnglǐ).
Victor: 经 (jīng) is 1st tone, 理 (lǐ) is a 3rd tone, 经理 (jīnglǐ).
Amber: Right. And just like the other titles, for example, “mister” or “miss,” the last name will actually come before the title.
Victor: Correct.
Amber: Opposite for English.
Victor: Yeah. Your family name always comes first.
Amber: Right. So in this case, it was…
Victor: 王经理 (Wáng jīnglǐ)
Amber: So Mike, obviously, has an appointment with 王经理 (Wáng jīnglǐ), so he tells the receptionist this, and how does he do it?
Victor: Yep. He used the verb 约 (yuē).
Amber: Right, which means “to arrange.”
Victor: Yep, and it’s 1st tone, 约 (yuē).
Amber: Right. So, this 约 (yuē) is quite multifunctional, I think, Victor.
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: Because you can use it to talk about arranging an appointment, like we did here in the dialogue, but it can be used for dating as well, right?
Victor: Yeah, exactly, yeah. So in that case, you can say…
Amber: Like I say I wanna take someone on a date, what would I say?
Victor: 约会 (yuēhuì), 约会 (yuēhuì). Yeah, that’s mainly used in dating situations, but sometimes, it can also imply just a meeting with someone else, but mostly for dating.
Amber: Okay, so how would I say like, “I wanna go on a date with you?” I’m not asking you, Victor, but just in case, you never know.
Victor: Say, Amber and I have a date.
Amber: Yeah.
Victor: We can say, Amber和我有一个约会 (Amber hé wǒ yǒu yīgè yuēhuì).
Amber: Oh…
Victor: Yes.
Amber: So in this case, it’s a noun.
Victor: Yeah. Yeah. It can be a noun and a verb.
Amber: Okay. Well, Manager Wang and Mike are obviously not doing that kind of ‘yue-ing’.
Victor: Right.
Amber: But in this case, o what did they arrange or 约 (yuē)?
Victor: They arranged to meet which is 见面 (jiànmiàn).
Amber: So, the word for “to meet” is…
Victor: 见面 (jiànmiàn), 见 (jiàn) is a 4th tone and 面 (miàn) is also a 4th tone.
Amber: Right. So, remember, we learned in Lesson 3, the phrase “nice to meet you,” we used the verb 认识 (rènshi).
Victor: Right.
Amber: Which is “to know.”
Victor: Correct. And we also learned another way to say the same thing using the verb 见到 (jiàn dào), which is “to see.”
Amber: Right. So all of these, like in that kind of a phrase, basically, are the equivalent of the English, “Nice to meet you.”
Victor: Right.
Amber: However, if you really want to say “to meet” as a standalone verb, you will use 见面 (jiànmiàn).
Victor: 见面 (jiànmiàn), yeah.
Amber: So, the sentence we heard using 见面 (jiànmiàn) in the dialogue was…
Victor: Yeah. 我和王经理约了9点见面 (Wǒ hé Wáng Jīnglǐ yuē le jiǔ diǎn jiànmiàn).
Amber: So, it was, “I was Mr. Wang arranged to meet at nine o’clock.” So, back to this 见面 (jiànmiàn). Say, Victor, if we wanted to say to our friend, “meet me at the park,” what would we say?
Victor: You can say, 我们在公园见面 (Wǒmen zài gōngyuán jiànmiàn).
Amber: Good. “Us at park meet.” Okay. Now, the receptionist uses another phrase that you will hear all the time in China.
Victor: Yes. Please wait a moment. 请稍等。 (Qǐng shāo děng.)
Amber: Hmm, so three words here. The first one…
Victor: Is 请 (qǐng) “please,” which is the third tone; and 稍等 (shāo děng) is “to wait a little bit.” 稍 (shāo) is 1st tone and 等 (děng) is a 3rd tone.
Amber: Right, and you’ll hear this quite often on the phone, for example, or in the office or anytime someone just wants you to wait a moment.
Victor: And, now, the next phrase we hear is “please come this way” as she takes him to her office. 请 (qǐng), once again, 请这边走。 (Qǐng zhèbian zǒu.)
Amber: So, 请 (qǐng) meant “please.”
Victor: 这边 (zhèbian) is “over here, this way.” 这 (zhè) is 4th tone, 边 (bian) is 1st tone, and 走 (zǒu) is a 3rd tone, “to go.”
Amber: Right, and so literally, 请这边走 (qǐng zhèbian zǒu) means “please here walk.”
Victor: Correct.
Amber: Now, we have, coming up now, something kind of exciting. I think this is the one phrase in English that I swear came from Chinese, because there’s not much overlap, but it sounds like Chinese when you say it in English, and that is…
Victor: 好久不见 (hàojiǔbújiàn)
Amber: Which you can literally translate, "long time, no see."
Victor: Right, exactly, 好久不见 (hàojiǔbújiàn).
Amber: It’s a little bit long, Victor. What are the tones on that
Victor: 好久不见 (hàojiǔbújiàn), 好 (hào) is a 3rd tone, 久 (jiǔ) is also a 3rd tone, 不 (bú) is a 4th tone, and 见 (jiàn) is a 4th tone.
Victor: Right, and in this phrase, it gives us all the nice example of the tone-change rules in Chinese because the first two words are two 3rd tones in a row. When there’s two 3rd tones in a row, the first 3rd tone will change to 2nd, so when we pronounce it, we actually pronounce it 2nd-3rd for 好久 (hàojiǔ).
Victor: Right.
Amber: And then 不见 (bújiàn), actually, 不 (bú) also has a tone-change rule and that is, normally, it’s 4th tone, but when it’s followed by another 4th tone, it changes to 2nd tone. So, “bùjiàn” turns into “bújiàn.”
Victor: Yes, a lot of stuff in this small phrase.
Amber: But if you just basically try and copy how Victor says it, you don’t have to think about the tones too much.
Victor: Yeah. Just 好久不见 (hàojiǔbújiàn) and you use this quite a lot with your friends.
Amber: It has a nice ring to it.
Victor: It does.
Amber: 好久不见 (hàojiǔbújiàn)
Victor: 好久不见 (hàojiǔbújiàn), yeah.
Amber: Or you can just say, “Long time, no see!”
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: And just to break it down too, actually, 好久 (hǎojiǔ) means “a long time.”
Victor: Very long time, yeah.
Amber: Yeah. And then 不见 (bùjiàn) is “not see.” We here this 见 (jiàn) again from 见面 (jiànmiàn) which meant “to see,” so it’s pretty easy to remember.
Victor: Yep.
Amber: Okay. Now, Mike is pretty nice because he brought a gift along.
Victor: And he knows how to do business, yes, in China.
Amber: So, Victor, in China, should you bring a gift when you come for your colleagues or what’s the deal?
Victor: You know, my personal interpretation of this is as long as it’s comfortable. You know, sometimes, people will go out of their way to, you know, to a meeting with a stranger.
Amber: Yes.
Victor: But you don’t even know this person, so it comes out not as genuine.
Amber: So maybe just something small, not like a new car.
Victor: Yeah! Yeah. If you know the person well or know some preferences of the person, bring something small.
Amber: Yeah. A token.
Victor: Just kind of like break the ice, but, you know, as long as genuine, I think is fine.
Amber: Okay. So, speaking of gifts, first of all, how do you say “to bring” coz Mike brought a gift.
Victor: Yeah. “To bring” is 带 (dài). 带 (dài) is 4th tone.
Amber: Hmm, and, you know, I have to say, I have to interject, it’s not an easy thing to bring a gift from America to China, because, you know, I’ve tried before and half, most things in America are made in China.
Victor: That’s what my parents complain all the time when they’re here.
Amber: So like that is really weird. You, like buy an “I love New York” cap and it’s made in China.
Victor: Made in China.
Amber: Probably even all the American flags and things like that too, souvenirs. Okay, so 带 (dài) is “to bring,” 4th tone. Now, what about the crucial word here, “gift”? What is that?
Victor: 礼物 (lǐwù). 礼 (lǐ) is a 3rd tone, 物 (wù) is a 4th tone, so 礼物 (lǐwù).
Amber: Right. So, I think it’s a pretty good thing that he brought the gift, because when we here Wang Jingli speak, he sounds a little bit stressed, don’t you think, Victor?
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: What did he say?
Victor: Yeah. He said, 最近 (zuìjìn) "recently," he has been very busy.
Amber: Right. So this word “recently,” what are the tones on that?
Victor: 最近 (zuìjìn), 最 (zuì) is a 4th tone and 近 (jìn) is also a 4th tone.
Amber: And then, he said the reason for the stress, he’s been very busy. How do we say “busy”?
Victor: Very 忙 (máng). 忙 máng is a 2nd tone.
Ambrer: Okay, but he’s not just busy.
Victor: Yep, he is 非常忙 (fēicháng máng).
Amber: Next-level busy.
Victor: To the next level, 非常忙 (fēicháng máng).
Amber: So, here’s a good word that you can learn, the word for “extremely,” 非常 (fēicháng).
Victor: 非常 (fēicháng). 非(fēi) is 1st tone, 常 (cháng) is 2nd tone, 非常 (fēicháng).
Amber: So you just put that right before the adjective to intensify it.
Victor: Correct.
Amber: So just like in English, we’d say “extremely busy,” 非常忙 (fēicháng máng).
Victor: 非常忙 (fēicháng máng). It’s good, he has a good job, I guess.
Amber: Yeah, well. I mean, economy, you know. It’s not bad. So, the reason is, of course, because of the work. So, the word for “work” is…
Victor: 工作 (gōngzuò), 工作 (gōngzuò). It’s 1st tone and 4th tone, 工作 (gōngzuò).
Amber: And last, but not least, we hear the word for “of course” in Chinese.
Victor: 当然 (dāngrán)
Amber: Hmm, the word for “of course,” 当然 (dāngrán).
Victor: Yeah. 当 (dāng) is 1st tone and 然 (rán) is 2nd tone, 当然 (dāngrán).
Amber: Right. Okay, so there’s lots of vocabulary today and there’s...good news is there’s just a little grammar.

Lesson focus

Victor: Yeah, we do have a couple of really great things to learn.
Amber: Right. So, first of all is an alternative way of asking someone’s name.
Victor: Yeah. We learned before about the less formal way of asking someone’s name.
Amber: Right! Remember, when Mike met Lili on the plane, right?
Victor: Right.
Amber: But now, we’re going to learn the formal way, which would be much better to use in business.
Victor: 您贵姓? (Nǐn guì xìng?) 您贵姓? (Nǐn guì xìng?)
Amber: So first of all, 您 (nǐn) is the formal word for “you” which most of us know.
Victor: Right.
Amber: It’s a 3rd tone. Then what’s this 贵姓 (guì xìng)?
Victor: 贵 (guì) is kind of like “precious, honorable.”
Amber: Hmm, 4th tone.
Victor: And 姓 (xìng), right, 4th tone, and 姓 (xìng) is also 4th tone, it’s your last name.
Amber: Ah, surname.
Victor: So 您贵姓 (nǐn guì xìng), yeah. So, it’s more formal. You don’t ask the person’s first name yet. You just ask their last name. So what is your honorable family name?
Amber: Yeah. I mean it’s kind of cheap, because this word 贵 (guì), actually, is also used for the word for to mean “expensive.”
Victor: Right.
Amber: Or “valuable,” so you’re kind of like asking them, what is your expensive, valuable surname? It’s very respectful.
Victor: It’s very, it’s very polite, yes.
Amber: So, to this question then, how would one respond, Victor?
Victor: Well, 姓 (xìng) actually means surname, so unlike 你叫什么名字? (Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì?) which…
Amber: Which is what we learned before.
Victor: Right. This one is really just for your last name, your surname.
Amber: So how, one would just respond…
Victor: 我姓_______ (Wǒ xìng _______)
Amber: 我姓_______ (Wǒ xìng _______) and then your name.
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: So, Victor, 您贵姓? (nǐn guì xìng?)
Victor: 我姓命 (Wǒ xìng Mìng).
Amber: Ah! His 姓 (xìng) is 命 (Mìng). Woah, it’s like a little rhyme. Okay. So that was the easy grammar point. Now for the doozy of the grammar point, talking a little bit about…
Victor: 给 (gěi)
Amber: Yes, 给 (gěi), this verb for “to give.”
Victor: Right.
Amber: Okay. So, 给 (gěi) is definitely used as a verb to mean “to give,” but sometimes, it can also be used as a preposition.
Victor: Right. So, this 给 (gěi) in disguise is used in the following sentence in our dialogue.
Amber: Yes, used as a preposition here.
Victor: It is 我从美国给你带了礼物。(Wǒ cóng Měiguó gěi nǐ dài le lǐwù.)
Amber: Right! So, that’s kind of a long sentence. Let’s just make it simpler to teach this grammar point, Victor, and take out the “from America” part.
Victor: Right.
Amber: Which of course is important, but not necessary.
Victor: So in that case, we’re left with 我给你带了礼物。(Wǒ gěi nǐ dàile lǐwù.)
Amber: Right! So, even though we are talking about gifts here, the 给 (gěi) actually doesn’t mean “to give.”
Victor: Right. Here, it is a preposition that means “for you.”
Amber: Right. So, do something for someone, you use this 给 (gěi). So, literally, if we translate it, this sentence is…
Victor: 我给你带了礼物。(Wǒ gěi nǐ dàile lǐwù.)
Amber: “I for you brought a gift.” That’s what we’re seeing here.
Victor: 我 (wǒ) is “I,” 给你 (gěi nǐ) “for you,” 带 (dài) is “brought,” 礼物 (lǐwù) is “gift.”
Amber: Right! So, when it is a preposition, the word 给 (gěi) indicates who is getting the benefit of an action performed by another.
Victor: Correct.
Amber: So, in our sentence, who is getting the benefit?
Victor: It is Manager Wang, 王经理 (Wáng jīnglǐ). He gets the benefit of a gift that Mike brought him.
Amber: Right! So, "I from America for you brought a gift."
Victor: Yeah, would be…
Amber: I did it for you.
Victor: Right. That will be 我从美国给你带了礼物。 (Wǒ cóng Měiguó gěi nǐ dài le lǐwù.)
Amber: Right. So, if it means you do something for someone else, let’s say, could I say maybe Victor, I go back to China for a trip and I bring you back, let’s say, a pair of socks and I wanna say, “I bought some socks for you?” what would I say?
Victor: Yeah. In that case, we just switch up the verb for “to buy.” You can say, 我给你买袜子 (Wǒ gěi nǐ mǎi wàzi).
Amber: So, the verb for “to buy” is 买 (mǎi), which is 3rd tone. So in this case, 我给你买袜子 (wǒ gěi nǐ mǎi wàzi) means “I for you buy socks.”
Victor: It kind of indicates whom this action is going to.
Amber: Yeah, to the benefit of.
Victor: Right.
Amber: So, Victor, here’s the key. How do we know when 给 (gěi) is acting like a verb and when it’s acting like a preposition? This is important. How do we know?
Victor: Yeah. Well, when the 给 (gěi) is followed by a noun but no verb, you know it is being used as a verb.
Amber: So that’s the key. Let’s hear the difference. If I was just going to say, “She gave me a gift.”
Victor: Yeah, you can say 她给我礼物。(Tā gěi wǒ lǐwù.)
Amber: So you see? There’s a noun which is the gift, 礼物 (lǐwù).
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: But there is no verb.
Victor: Right.
Amber: So, you know that the 给 (gěi) is the verb here.
Victor: Exactly.
Amber: So, in that case, in comparison, how does 给 (gěi), when it’s a preposition, tells us it’s a preposition?
Victor: Right. So when the 给 (gěi) is followed by a noun and a verb, then you know it is acting as a preposition.
Amber: Like in our dialogue.
Victor: Right, for example, 她给我带了礼物。(Tā gěi wǒ dài le lǐwù.)
Ambrer: So here, we hear the 给 (gěi) and then after the 给 (gěi) comes 带 (dài), which is a verb for “to bring” and then a noun, which is the gift, 礼物 (lǐwù). So that sentence means, “She brought a gift for me." Well there you have it. The 给 (gěi) of Chinese has come out of the closet for us, oh no! But a very important word in Chinese.
Victor: 给 (gěi)
Amber: And very easy to remember, using this kind of mnemonic.
Victor: 3rd tone, so remember, it’s 3rd tone.
Amber: 3rd tone
Victor: It’s 给 (gěi), yeah.
Amber: Right


Amber: Okay, so that’s it for today. Have another listen to the dialogue and that is our Gengo Chinese Lesson 13. We hope to see you...we hope to see you next time.
Victor: Yeah, 再见。(Zàijiàn.)
Amber: 再见。(Zàijiàn.)