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Lesson Transcript

Hēi, dàjiā hǎo, wǒ jiào Mǎ Yànrú. Hi everybody! I’m Mǎ Yànrú.
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 lái.
In this lesson, we will jump into our lessons dedicated to interrogative words in Chinese. Our first one will be the one that is most commonly used to ask a question, but also one of the most difficult in Chinese, and that is the one used to say "What." You’ll see that there are many ways to translate it in Chinese.
So imagine you want to ask your friend "What is he doing?" How will you do it?
You will ask- Tā zài zuò shénme ?
[slowly] Tā zài zuò shénme ?
So let’s break down this answer-
Tā is word for "he"
zuò means “to do” and zài means the sentence is in present progressive tense, which we have already studied.
Finally, we have the word shénme which is "What" in Chinese.
So, all together it is Tā zài zuò shénme?
“What is he doing?”
As you can see, in Chinese, "What" is mainly translated as shénme. “What color” is shénme yánsè, “what language” is shénme yǔyán, and so on. Let’s make some sentences here.
“What color do you like?” could be Nǐ xǐhuān shénme yánsè?
“What language do you speak?” could be Nǐ jiǎng shénme yǔyán ?
The rule of the structure of the sentence is simple- subject + verb + what + question or subject + verb + what + noun + question.
Let’s see some more examples.
"What do you want?" will be Nǐ xiǎng yào shénme?
We can change the verb “want” to “eat”. So it will be - Nǐ chī shénme?
Before nouns, "What" in Chinese stays the same. Let’s review the sentences above.
Nǐ xǐhuān shénme yánsè?
Nǐ jiǎng shénme yǔyán?
Now it’s time for Yanru’s tips.
When the answer for the “what” question sentence can be answered with numbers, you can use another word, jǐ, instead of shénme. As in "What number are you?" In this case, you should say Nǐ shì jǐ hào?
In this lesson, we learned how to translate "What" based on its basic meaning.
I know it is not always simple but I am sure you will remember these short rules!
Next lesson, we will talk about the Chinese for the interrogative word "Where".
Do you know it already? I can promise it’s easier than "what"!
I’ll be waiting for you in the next “Sān fēnzhōng Hànyǔ” lesson.
zàijiàn !

11 Comments

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ChineseClass101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
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Hi listeners! So, what's your favorite food?

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Thursday at 09:33 PM
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你好 robert groulx,


谢谢 for posting and studying with us. If you have any questions, please let us know.😄


Kind regards,

雷文特 (Levente)

Team ChineseClass101.com

robert groulx
Wednesday at 11:21 PM
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thank you for the lesson transcript


favorite phrase is Tā zài zuò shénme ?


robert

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Monday at 11:01 PM
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Hello Lewis,


Thank you for your comment. The pronunciation of 什么 is "shénme", but in some dialects some people tend to pronounce it as "mo" instead of "me".


We're sorry for the confusion, let us know if you have any questions.


Ngai Lam

Team ChineseClass101.com

Lewis
Sunday at 05:21 PM
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At 1:33, she pronounced shen-mah ... and normally 什么 sounds like 'shen-mah'

But At 1:38-1:41: she pronounced shen-mua (this sound strange !)


Which is correct? can you explain more?


Thanks


ChineseClass101.com
Monday at 10:20 PM
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Hello Vida,


Thank you for your comment. By 'what number are you?', it's not asking about the age or grade. Depending on the context, for example it can be a question about the seat number.


Thank you for learning with us, let us know if you have any questions.


Ngai Lam

Team ChineseClass101.com

Vida
Sunday at 03:25 PM
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By "what number are you?" does that mean "how old are you?" or "what grade are you?"

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Sunday at 01:23 PM
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Hi, G. Erdem,


You are welcome.:smile:


Cho

Team ChineseClass101.com

G.Erdem
Sunday at 12:53 PM
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Thanks.

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Sunday at 11:41 PM
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Hi, Simon,

Right.

说 and 讲 can be replaced by each other in many cases.


Cho

Team ChineseClass101.com

Simon
Wednesday at 08:16 PM
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Wouldn't it be 你说什么语言? instead of 你讲什么语言??