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Lesson Transcript

Hēi , dàjiā hǎo , wǒ jiào Mǎ Yànrú. Hi everybody! I’m YanruMa.
Welcome to ChineseClass101.com’s “Sān fēnzhōng Hànyǔ”. The fastest, easiest, and most fun way to learn Chinese.
In the last lesson, we learned how to use the verb qù which means "to go" in Chinese.
In this lesson, we will continue our lesson series dedicated to common Chinese verbs.
The second verb in our series is zuò, which means "to do." But like in English, you’ll see that the meaning of this verb is quite broad and it can be found in many different situations.
So imagine someone asks you Nǐ xiànzài zài zuò shénme?
That means "What are you doing?"
So if you are doing your homework, for example, you will say in Chinese Wǒ zài zuò zuòyè.
[slowly] Wǒ zài zuò zuòyè.
So let’s break down this answer-
First we had-
Wǒ zài zuò which is "I am doing"
We can see that there is a word zài. What does this word mean? Well, as we learned, zuò means “to do”, but here the question is in present progressive form, so we need to answer accordingly. Yes, that’s why we use the word zài here. It is an adverb, meaning that some action is in progress. Finally we had zuòyè which is a noun and means "homework."
Note that in Chinese, you can use the present indicative form to mean that you are doing something right now.
Take the example sentence above for example. You can also answer Zuò zuòyè. But here you say it without Wǒ. If you say Wǒ zuò zuòyè, it is just the present indicative form which means “I do homework”. Zuò zuòyè is a very easy way to answer, but remember it’s informal. So pay attention to the people who you are talking to.
So now, let’s have a broader look at what you can say with the verb zuò in Chinese,
Basically it is maybe the most useful verb in China since you say almost everything with it!
It can mean "to make", but it can also stand for "to play" or "to cook," as in Wǒ zài zuò yóuxì or Wǒ zài zuò fàn which are "I’m playing a game" and "I’m cooking a meal."
Sometimes, it can also stand for "to work" as in Wǒ zài zuò yánjiū which is "I’m working on some research."
It can also replace a lot of other verbs, for example "to act as" as in Wǒ zuò dōng which means "I will act as a host." Or Wǒ zài zuò yǎnjiǎng which is "I am giving a speech.’’
This verb can also express the meaning "to make" or "to create" in English, as in Wǒ zuò yīfú which is "I make my clothes." Also you can use it in Wǒ zuò diāoxiàng for "I make a sculpture."
Now it’s time for Yanru’s Tips.
In Chinese, we often say Nǐ zài gàn má? which means, “what are you doing?” instead in a very informal way. It means the same but is always used in a very relaxed situation between friends or families. And it is closer to “What’s up?” than “What are you doing?”
For example,
If your friend asks Nǐ zài gàn má? , you can answer Wǒ zài kàn diànshì ”I am watching TV”, or Kàn diànshì in a very informal way too.
In this lesson, we learned how to use the verb
zuò in many different contexts and I’m sure it will help you a lot!
Next time we’ll learn another very useful and romantic verb, xǐhuān.
Do you know what this Chinese verb means? I’m sure you have an idea!
I’ll be waiting for you in the next Sān fēnzhōng Hànyǔ lesson.
Zài jiàn !