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Lesson Transcript

Hēi , dàjiā hǎo , wǒ jiào Mǎ Yànrú . Hi everybody! I’m Yanru Ma.
Welcome to ChineseClass101.com’s Sān fēnzhōng Hànyǔ”. The fastest, easiest, and most fun way to learn Chinese
In the last lesson, we learned the most common forms of greetings in Chinese. Do you remember them?
In this lesson we’re going to learn a very useful phrase: “Do you speak English?”
If you find yourself in a situation where you need assistance in English, this phrase can be a lifesaver. And because you’re asking it in Chinese, you can be sure that everyone will understand what you’re saying, even if their answer is no.
Here's the usual, slightly informal way to say it.
Nǐ huì shuō Yīngyǔ ma ?
[slowly] Nǐ huì shuō Yīngyǔ ma ?
Let’s break that down
... you: Nǐ
… can: huì
… speak: shuō
…. english: Yīngyǔ
… question marking particle: ma
You’ll notice the word “nǐ” in the beginning of the sentence. Remember that this is the way to say “you”
The next word, huì is like the English “can”:
Then we have the verb ”shuō”, which means to speak.
Next up is Yīngyǔ, the word for English:
And last we have ma, This is used to ask a question. It works just like a question mark. Put it at the end of the sentence with a low tone.
All together it’s
Nǐ huì shuō Yīngyǔ ma?
To learn how to properly use verbs, like huì, please look at our Absolute Beginner series on ChineseClass101.com. You can find very detailed grammar lessons and resources there!”
We’re now going to make this sentence formal. First, we need to use the formal version of “you,” which is “nín”. Even if we change the word for “you,” we don’t need to change the verb huì. Everything stays the same.
Nín huì shuō Yīngyǔ ma ?
“[slowly] Nín huì shuō Yīngyǔ ma ?
Adding , "qǐngwèn", the sentence becomes even more polite: It means, something like “excuse me” here: (slow) qǐngwèn.
Altogether, it’s
Qǐngwèn, nín huì shuō Yīngyǔ ma ?
[slowly] Qǐngwèn, nín huì shuō Yīngyǔ ma ?
The responses you will receive could be one of these three:
Huì. "Yes."
[slowly] Huì.
Huì,wǒ huì shuō yī diǎn ."Yes,i can speak a little."
[slowly] Huì,wǒ huì shuō yī diǎn
Wǒ bù huì shuō . "No, I don’t."
[slowly] Wǒ bù huì shuō .
Since this last one is a negative statement, we need to say a negative word bù before the verb, huì . It’s just that easy.
Now it’s time for Yanru’s Insights.
For those of you who are not only English speakers, you can use this question with any language you need. More and more Chinese people are studying other languages, so maybe you will get lucky! Just substitute Yīngyǔ with…
Yìdàlìyǔ for Italian.
Éyǔ for Russian.
Xībānyáyǔ for Spanish.
Déyǔ for German.
In this lesson we mentioned the expression qǐngwèn. But did you know that this could also be used as an apology? In the next lesson we will learn this and other ways to apologize in Chinese.
I'll see you in our next Sān fēnzhōng Hànyǔ lesson.