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Victor: 大家好,我是 Victor。 (Dàjiā hǎo, wǒ shì Victor.)
Amber: Hey, and I’m Amber. Welcome back to Gengo Chinese. This is Lesson 20.
Victor: You better ask before you do this in China.
Amber: Mm-hmm. So what’s this gonna be all about? Well, today, our traveller has decided to get himself a little cultured.
Victor: Yep. So Mike took the advice and is checking out the museum in Shanghai.
Amber: Yes, which is something I’m ashamed to say, Victor, that I never did during my entire time living there.
Victor: Mm, that’s too bad.
Amber: Terrible. But before he does that, we’ll just do a little review of a couple of things we learned in the last lesson.
Victor: Right.
Amber: Now, we know that he ended up going to the museum because he was on the way to The Bund. He was going to go on the way. And what was the word again for “on the way,” to do something on the way?
Victor: 顺便 (Shùnbiàn), 顺便 (shùnbiàn).
Amber: Which is…
Victor: 4th tone and 4th tone.
Amber: And we also learned about ordinal numbers. How to say, for example, “first, second, third”? Remember, Mike was saying on the first day, he was going to do this. How do you say that?
Victor: You will put the word 第 (dì) in front of the number you’re trying to say. So the “first day” will be 第一天 (dì yī tiān).
Amber: Right, which is “The first day.” And one other cool thing we learned was how to say the word for “totally cool, totally awesome.” What was that, Victor?
Victor: 棒 (bàng)
Amber: Right.
Victor: 很棒 (hěn bàng)
Amber: And we learned a way to emphasize an adjective is by putting it in a little sentence pattern package which was…?
Victor: 太棒了 (tài bàngle)
Amber: Right, which means “totally awesome.” Good! Okay. So, today, we’re going to hear, since all of us missed the museum in Shanghai, we’re going to hear about it today for the first time. So, in this lesson, you’re going to learn how to ask about opening times, also, how to ask permission to do something.
Victor: This conversation takes place in a museum.
Amber: Right! It’s between the museum employees and Mike. Let’s listen to the conversation.
Mike: 请问,博物馆几点开门? (Qǐng wèn, bówùguǎn jǐ diǎn kāimén?)
Staff: 上午十点。 (Shàngwǔ shí diǎn.)
Mike: 现在几点了? (Xiànzài jǐ diǎn le?)
Staff: 九点五十。 (Jiǔ diǎn wǔshí.)
Mike: 好吧,我在这儿等。 (Hǎoba, wǒ zài zhèr děng.)
10 minutes later...
Staff: 先生,您要几张票? (Xiānshēng, nín yào jǐ zhāng piào?)
Mike: 一张。 (Yì zhāng.)
Staff: 20块钱。 (Èrshí kuài qián.)
Mike: 给你。 (Gěi nǐ.)
Mike: 不好意思,我可以在这里拍照吗? (Bùhǎoyìsi, wǒ kěyǐ zài zhèlǐ pāizhào ma?)
Security: 对不起。这里不可以拍照。 (Duìbùqǐ. Zhèlǐ bù kěyǐ pāizhào.)
Victor: 重复一次, 慢速。 (Chóngfù yīcì, màn sù.)
Amber: One more time, a little slower.
Mike: 请问,博物馆几点开门? (Qǐng wèn, bówùguǎn jǐ diǎn kāimén?)
Staff: 上午十点。 (Shàngwǔ shí diǎn.)
Mike: 现在几点了? (Xiànzài jǐ diǎn le?)
Staff: 九点五十。 (Jiǔ diǎn wǔshí.)
Mike: 好吧,我在这儿等。 (Hǎoba, wǒ zài zhèr děng.)
Staff: 先生,您要几张票? (Xiānshēng, nín yào jǐ zhāng piào?)
Mike: 一张。 (Yì zhāng.)
Staff: 20块钱。 (Èrshí kuài qián.)
Mike: 给你。 (Gěi nǐ.)
Mike: 不好意思,我可以在这里拍照吗? (Bùhǎoyìsi, wǒ kěyǐ zài zhèlǐ pāizhào ma?)
Security: 对不起。这里不可以拍照。 (Duìbùqǐ. Zhèlǐ bù kěyǐ pāizhào.)
Victor: 重复一次, 加英文翻译。 (Chóngfù yīcì, jiā yīngwén fānyì.)
Amber: One more time, with the English.
Mike: 请问,博物馆几点开门? (Qǐng wèn, bówùguǎn jǐ diǎn kāimén?)
Amber: Excuse me, what time does the museum open?
Staff: 上午十点。 (Shàngwǔ shí diǎn.)
Amber: 10 A.M.
Mike: 现在几点了? (Xiànzài jǐ diǎn le?)
Amber: What time is it now?
Staff: 九点五十。 (Jiǔ diǎn wǔshí.)
Amber: 9:50
Mike: 好吧,我在这儿等。 (Hǎoba, wǒ zài zhèr děng.)
Amber: All right, I'll wait here.
(10 minutes later)
Staff: 先生,您要几张票? (Xiānshēng, nín yào jǐ zhāng piào?)
Amber: Sir, how many tickets do you want?
Mike: 一张。 (Yì zhāng.)
Amber: One ticket.
Staff: 20块钱。 (Èrshí kuài qián.)
Amber: 20 RMB.
Mike: 给你。 (Gěi nǐ.)
Amber: Here you are.
Mike: 不好意思,我可以在这里拍照吗? (Bùhǎoyìsi, wǒ kěyǐ zài zhèlǐ pāizhào ma?)
Amber: Excuse me, can I take a photo here?
Security: 对不起。这里不可以拍照。 (Duìbùqǐ. Zhèlǐ bù kěyǐ pāizhào.)
Amber: Sorry, you can't take photos here.
Amber: Well, Victor, it sounds like they run a tight ship at the Shanghai Museum.
Victor: A little strict.
Amber: You know, they have all those jade bok choy cabbages to protect and stuff. I don’t blame them. Okay, well, before we get to the museum, we’re going to need to know some important words, before we can even enter, apparently. So, let’s take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
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: 博物馆 (bówùguǎn) [natural native speed]
Amber: museum
Victor: 博物馆 (bówùguǎn) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 博物馆 (bówùguǎn) [natural native speed]
Victor: 现在 (xiànzài) [natural native speed]
Amber: now
Victor: 现在 (xiànzài) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 现在 (xiànzài) [natural native speed]
Victor: 几 (jǐ) [natural native speed]
Amber: how many (under ten), a few
Victor: 几 (jǐ) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 几 (jǐ) [natural native speed]
Victor: 几点 (jǐ diǎn) [natural native speed]
Amber: what time
Victor: 几点 (jǐ diǎn) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 几点 (jǐ diǎn) [natural native speed]
Victor: 好吧 (hǎoba) [natural native speed]
Amber: all right
Victor: 好吧 (hǎoba) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 好吧 (hǎoba) [natural native speed]
Victor: 这儿 (zhèr) [natural native speed]
Amber: here
Victor: 这儿 (zhèr) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 这儿 (zhèr) [natural native speed]
Victor: 等 (děng) [natural native speed]
Amber: to wait
Victor: 等 (děng) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 等 (děng) [natural native speed]
Victor: 分 (fēn) [natural native speed]
Amber: minute
Victor: 分 (fēn) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 分 (fēn) [natural native speed]
Victor: 后 (hòu) [natural native speed]
Amber: after
Victor: 后 (hòu) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 后 (hòu) [natural native speed]
Victor: 张 (zhāng) [natural native speed]
Amber: measure word
Victor: 张 (zhāng) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 张 (zhāng) [natural native speed]
Victor: 不好意思 (bùhǎoyìsi) [natural native speed]
Amber: sorry
Victor: 不好意思 (bùhǎoyìsi) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 不好意思 (bùhǎoyìsi) [natural native speed]
Victor: 可以 (kěyǐ) [natural native speed]
Amber: may, can
Victor: 可以 (kěyǐ) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 可以 (kěyǐ) [natural native speed]
Victor: 拍照 (pāizhào) [natural native speed]
Amber: to take a photograph
Victor: 拍照 (pāizhào) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 拍照 (pāizhào) [natural native speed]
Victor: 对不起 (duìbùqǐ) [natural native speed]
Amber: sorry
Victor: 对不起 (duìbùqǐ) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 对不起 (duìbùqǐ) [natural native speed]
Victor: 这里 (zhèlǐ) [natural native speed]
Amber: here
Victor: 这里 (zhèlǐ) [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Victor: 这里 (zhèlǐ) [natural native speed]
Amber: Okay, let's have a closer look at some of these words and phrases in this lesson.
Victor: We start out with Mike arriving at the museum bright and early.
Amber: Yeah, and he finds the doors closed. So, of course, he wants to know if he has time to grab a youtiao for breakfast, right, so he asks...
Victor: 几点开门? (Jǐ diǎn kāimén?)
Amber: Right. Now, today’s lesson will be all about time. We’re going to learn a lot of time words and phrases in a moment, but let just first start with 几点 (jǐ diǎn) and learn that that is how we ask what time is it.
Victor: 几 (Jǐ) 3rd tone, 点 (diǎn) 3rd tone.
Amber: Right. And when you put it together, with the tone-change rule, it’s pronounced…
Victor: 几点 (jí diǎn)
Amber: 2nd tone, 3rd tone.
Victor: Yeah. It means “what time.”
Amber: Right. And so next, we hear the word for “to open.”
Victor: 开门 (Kāimén); 开 (kāi), 1st tone, and 门 (mén), 2nd tone.
Amber: Right. And this literally means “to open” is 开 (kāi), 门 (mén) literally means “the door.” So basically, it’s “What time does the door open?”
Victor: Right, so 几点开门 (jǐ diǎn kāimén)?
Amber: Right. And just as a side point, you can use this to ask almost anywhere, even if it’s a store or an office, “What time do you open?” you say…
Victor: 几点开门? (Jǐ diǎn kāimén?)
Amber: Okay. So, next, we hear the staff tell Mike, hmm, it looks like he has to wait, and he uses my favorite little particle, which is...
Victor: 吧 (ba)
Amber: Right. Now, before we learned this 吧 (ba), does everyone remember? It was a suggestion particle, but this little 吧 (ba) can be used for so much more too!
Victor: Yes, in this case it is a little bit of a reluctant particle.
Amber: Yeah. It’s expressing a feeling, a little bit of disappointment. What does Mike say again?
Victor: 好吧 (hǎoba)
Amber: Right.
Victor: That’s like, “Oh, I see, okay.”
Amber: Right! When he knows he has to wait, he’s like 好吧 (hǎoba).
Victor: 好吧 (Hǎoba), yeah.
Amber: He’s like, “Okay...”
Victor: Yeah, and it seems like it’s a day of disappointments, because later, we hear another disappointment from Mike.
Amber: Right. Well, before we know what that was, we have to learn what it was that he was trying to do.
Victor: Ah yes, he wanted to 拍照 (pāizhào).
Amber: Right.
Victor: 拍 (Pāi) is 1st tone and 照 (zhào) is 4th tone.
Amber: Right, which means “to take a picture.”
Victor: Yeah, such a useful vocab word for a tourist!
Amber: Yes! So, Mike wants to take a photo in the museum, he’s not allowed, so he could take the opportunity and take photos of other things, right? So, he could use this phrase in another time.
Victor: Yes, so you could use this phrase, for example, to ask permission to take a photo anywhere.
Amber: Yeah! You could just say…
Victor: 我可以拍照吗? (Wǒ kěyǐ pāizhào ma?)
Amber: Right. “Can I take a picture?” As simple as that.
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: Okay. So we promised you time and we are going to give you time in today’s grammar.

Lesson focus

Victor: Yean, so we first heard about time when the plane was landing in Shanghai.
Amber: Yeah. Remember, it was a nice even 3 o’clock.
Victor: 三点 (sān diǎn)
Amber: Right. We also can say 三点钟 (Sān diǎn zhōng).
Victor: Right. Then we heard a lot of times and times of the day in Mike’s itinerary.
Amber: Yeah. Remember his business meeting day?
Victor: If you’re feeling rusty, you can go back and review the lesson. It is lesson number 14 in the series.
Amber: Yeah, but it seems apparently, Mike has been lucky so far in his life in China because everything seems to land on the hour, every hour. But sooner or later, he’s going to run into a “10 to 10” or like, heaven forbid, “a quarter past two.”
Victor: Oh, no. The more tricky times.
Amber: Right. So, let’s start with the basics, Victor. First of all, let’s just review, how do you ask for the time?
Victor: Well, we know the word for “o’clock,” which is 点 (diǎn), so you can simply say 几点 (jǐ diǎn), or the longer version is 几点钟 (jǐ diǎn zhōng).
Amber: Right. So, if you wanted to ask a passerby, what time is it, what would you say?
Victor: You could say, 请问,现在几点钟 (qǐngwèn, xiànzài jǐ diǎn zhōng)?
Amber: Which means, “May I ask, excuse me? Now, what time is it?”
Victor: Exactly.
Amber: Now, if we wanted to know what time something is happening, then what would we say?
Victor: Just like in the dialogue, 博物馆几点开门 (bówùguǎn jǐ diǎn kāimén)?
Amber: Right. So that’s “Museum, what time” and the thing it’s doing is “opening,” opening the doors.
Victor: Yeah, or say, I want to ask what time you will come, I will say, Amber, 你几点来 (nǐ jǐ diǎn lái)?
Amber: Ah, which is “You, what time come?” So this word 几 (jǐ), what does it mean, exactly, Victor?
Victor: It’s actually the word for “how many.”
Amber: And did anyone notice that it comes a couple of lines later in the dialogue as well, when the clerk asks how many tickets he wants?
Victor: That’s right. It’s pretty quick, Amber.
Amber: Yes.
Victor: 您要几张票? (Nín yào jǐ zhāng piào?)
Amber: Right, so “You want how many tickets?” And this is also familiar from the bus ticket buying episode, remember, Victor?
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: The clerk there was just as direct, you know. In China, the clerks don’t mess around. They just generally say, “What do you want?”
Victor: Right.
Amber: It’s very efficient.
Victor: Let me help you and that’s it.
Amber: Okay, so back to the times. Let’s take a few little oddball times and see how we would put them together in Chinese. What do you say?
Victor: Sure. Okay, throw me some, Amber. How about, “What time is it now?”
Amber: Okay. Right now , it is exactly 12:23. Let’s hear it.
Victor: Okay. You say 十二点二十三 (shí'èr diǎn èrshísān).
Amber: Okay. So, there’s a lot of numbers in here, but there are very specific points that will tell us about time. So, basically, what you’re doing is just saying the hourly time, then the minutes. So, we heard 十二点 (shí'èr diǎn), that is “12 o’clock.” Remember 点 (diǎn) means “o’clock.” Then following that, we just say the minutes, which was “23” so it was…
Victor: 十二点二十三 (shí'èr diǎn èrshísān)
Amber: Right! Now, do we have, what’s the word for “minutes,” Victor? We said 点 (diǎn), which means “o’clock.” Do we have to say the word for “minutes”?
Victor: You can. It is 分 (fēn). However, it can also be omitted.
Amber: So you could say 十二点二十三分 (shí'èr diǎn èrshísān fēn).
Victor: Correct.
Amber: But you don’t have to.
Victor: Yeah. It’s just more common to say 十二点二十三 (shí'èr diǎn èrshísān).
Amber: Okay. Now, what if you wanna get a little crazy and start saying stuff like “a quarter past 2”? How would you say that, Victor?
Victor: There is a special phrase for that, and it’s just this, 两点一刻 (liǎng diǎn yí kè).
Amber: Okay. So, first off, this time you said 两 (liǎng), instead of 二 (èr) for “2.” Is that normal?
Victor: Yeah. Remember back to the bootcamp lesson on numbers, the “2” is odd in that there are two ways you can say it.
Amber: Right. Sometimes, it’s 二 (èr), sometimes it’s 两 (liǎng). And if you wanna get that straight in your head about the rules of when, go back to the bootcamp lesson and you will learn that again. But meanwhile, the word for “quarter after” is…?
Victor: 一刻 (yīkè)
Amber: Which means, literally, “one quarter.”
Victor: One quarter
Amber: Good. What if it was “half past 5”?
Victor: We have a word for “half past” as well. It’s the word for “half” in Chinese, 半 (bàn).
Amber: Okay, so let me guess, “half past 5” would be 五点半 (wǔ diǎn bàn).
Victor: Correct!
Amber: So “5 o’clock half.”
Victor: Yes, so 半 (bàn) “half” is the 4th tone.
Amber: All right. So, what if it was something like 12:05 then?
Victor: That’s a little different, but still easy. You can just say 十二点零五 (shíèr diǎn líng wǔ).
Amber: So, if there’s a zero in there, you need to say it.
Victor: Correct.
Amber: Kind of like we do in English, 12:05.
Victor: So back to our dialogue, same thing. It was 9:50.
Amber: Right and that in Chinese is…?
Victor: 九点五十 (jiǔ diǎn wǔshí)
Amber: Yeah. So basically, if you know your numbers, if you get the numbers down, you can do time in Chinese. It’s not too hard. Oh, there’s one more thing I just thought of. What about “noon”?
Victor: 中午 (zhōngwǔ)
Amber: Hmm, “midnight”?
Victor: 半夜 (bànyè)
Amber: So that’s literally like “half night.”
Victor: Okay, so one more grammar point to bring out briefly.
Amber: Mm-hmm. It’s about asking permission.
Victor: So, let’s look at the sentence in the dialogue.
Amber: It’s when he’s asking if he can take a photo.
Amber: He says, 我可以在这里拍照吗 (wǒ kěyǐ zài zhèlǐ pāi zhào ma)?
Amber: Right! So the key verb here is 可以 (kěyǐ) which we’ve learned about before, it means “can.”
Victor: Right. So you can use this structure to ask permission. This one has a location within it, 在这里 (zài zhèlǐ), but to simplify even more, you could just say, 我可以拍照吗 (wǒ kěyǐ pāizhào ma), as we mentioned earlier.
Amber: Right. So, could you also say 这儿 (zhèr), in this case, Victor? We know there’s two words for “here,” right?
Victor: Right.
Amber: Either way.
Victor: Either way.
Amber: Okay. So, if I wanted to ask permission to do something else, can you tell me how we would say it in Chinese? I’ll ask you and then you tell us the Chinese.
Victor: Of course.
Amber: Okay. How about, “Can I smoke here?”
Victor: Amber, do you smoke?
Amber: No!
Victor: No?
Amber: But a lot of people in China do, so you might need to ask and you’re allowed to smoke indoors there.
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: So you might even, actually, you might not need to ask permission, but hey, it could be the nice thing to do.
Victor: Exactly.
Amber: So, if you wanted to say, “Can I smoke here?” what would you say?
Victor: Well, for that, you will say 我可以抽烟吗 (wǒ kěyǐ chōuyān ma)? Or, if you want to add the “here,” 我可以在这里抽烟吗 (wǒ kěyǐ zài zhèlǐ chōuyān ma)?
Amber: Now, the word for “to smoke” is 抽烟 (chōuyān).
Victor: 抽烟 (chōuyān)
Amber: Both 1st tone. Okay. And then literally translated this sentence is, “I can here smoke a cigarette” question mark.
Victor: Right. And please note that the location word doesnt ever come at the end like it does in English.
Amber: Yeah. Look again. Where is it again?
Victor: 我可以在这里抽烟吗?(Wǒ kěyǐ zài zhèlǐ chōuyān ma?)
Amber: “I can at here smoke a cigarette.”
Victor: Right. It never goes at the end of a sentence.
Amber: Okay, yeah, right. All that grammar, I’m ready to go for a smoke, Victor. Just kidding! Okay. Well, one thing for sure is that cigarettes are a lot cheaper in China.
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: I’ve heard. I think they’re like $2 a pack, instead of $10.
Victor: Well, a lot of things are cheaper in China.
Amber: Yeah. But actually, I did smoke a Chinese cigarette once and it was really terrible.


Amber: Okay, well, smokers or not, we don’t know if you are, but we’ll leave our listeners at that to go listen. You can have a smoke over the dialogue if you smoke.
Victor: Right.
Amber: We hope that you don’t smoke.
Victor: And we’ll have to ask permissions.
Amber: Yeah! And have another listen to the dialogue and we will see you next time on Gengo Chinese.
Victor: Yeah. 再见! (Zàijiàn!)
Amber: 再见! (Zàijiàn!)