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Lesson Transcript

David: Welcome to chineseclass101.com. I am David.
Echo: Hi, 大家好, 我是Echo。(Dàjiā hǎo, wǒ shì Echo.)
David: And we are here with lower beginner, season 1, Lesson 7.
Echo: What’s the Obvious Solution in China?
David: Right. The answer is there is no obvious solution to anything, the easiest, easiest problem. Anyway, Echo, where does this dialogue take place? Who is in it?
Echo: It takes place in an office and there are two colleagues. One of them is having a computer problem.
David: The solution I think is to pass the buck but we are going to get to that. For now, we are going to go to the dialogue. As always, casual colloquial Mandarin.
Echo: That’s right. Let’s have the listen.
A: 哎呀,电脑打不开了! (Āiya , diànnǎo dǎbù kāi le !)
B: 你试试重启? (Nǐshìshi chóngqǐ?)
A: 也不行。 (Yěbù xíng .)
B: 要不就是没电了? (Yàobù jiùshì méidiàn le ?)
A: 对呀,我怎么没想到呢!(Duì ya , wǒzěnme méi xiǎngdào ne !)
David: Once more, a bit slower.
A: 哎呀,电脑打不开了! (Āiya , diànnǎo dǎbù kāi le !)
B: 你试试重启? (Nǐshìshi chóngqǐ?)
A: 也不行。 (Yěbù xíng .)
B: 要不就是没电了?(Yàobù jiùshì méidiàn le ?)
A: 对呀,我怎么没想到呢!(Duì ya , wǒzěnme méi xiǎngdào ne !)
David: And now with an English translation.
Echo: 哎呀,电脑打不开了! (Āiya , diànnǎo dǎbù kāi le !)
David: Oh my! The computer won’t start.
Echo: 你试试重启? (Nǐshìshi chóngqǐ?)
David: Try to restart it.
Echo: 也不行。(Yěbù xíng .)
David: That also doesn’t work.
Echo: 要不就是没电了?(Yàobù jiùshì méidiàn le ?)
David: Can it be that there is no power?
Echo: 对呀,我怎么没想到呢!(Duì ya , wǒzěnme méi xiǎngdào ne !)
David: Right. Why didn’t I think of that?
David: Why didn’t they think of that? That’s the first thing you check. Is the power on?
Echo: Well hard to say.
David: Echo says this having worked in the Chinese office. The answer is that people don’t want to work. So….
Echo: Yeah my computer 打不开了!不能工作。(Dǎ bù kāile! Bùnéng gōngzuò.)
David: So anyway, our vocab today, it’s about getting things done, trying things out, let’s get to it.
Echo: 哎呀! (āiya!)
David: 哎呀!(āiya!) Sorry.
Echo: 哎呀, 哎呀, 电脑。(Āiyā, āiyā, diànnǎo.)
David: Computer.
Echo: 电脑,电脑, 打开。(Diànnǎo, diànnǎo, dǎkāi.)
David: To turn on.
Echo: 打开, 打开,试试。(Dǎkāi, dǎkāi, shì shì.)
David: To try.
Echo: 试试,试试, 重启。(Shì shì, shì shì, chóngqǐ.)
David: To reboot.
Echo: 重启, 重启,要不。(Chóngqǐ, chóngqǐ, yào bù.)
David: Otherwise, why not.
Echo: 要不, 要不, 没电。(Yào bù, yào bù, méi diàn.)
David: To have no power.
Echo: 没电,没电,死机。(Méi diàn, méi diàn, sǐjī.)
David: For a machine to be dead.
Echo: 死机 死机,想到。(Sǐjī sǐjī, xiǎngdào.)
David: To think of.
Echo: 想到,想到。(Xiǎngdào, xiǎngdào.)
David: Okay. The first word we want to look at isn’t really a word. It’s more of an exclamation.
Echo: Yeah 哎呀! ((Āiyā!))
David: 哎呀! (Āiyā!)
Echo: 哎呀! (Āiyā!)
David: 哎呀! (Āiyā!)
Echo: It’s very, very Chinese.
David: Yeah you don’t – there is no translation for this.
Echo: It’s to express like something happened unexpectedly, surprisingly.
David: Yeah and this is the 哎呀 (Āiyā). There is also the 哎唷!(Āi yō!)
Echo: 哎唷!(Āi yō!)
David: Right?
Echo: Yeah.
David: So there is a slight difference there.
Echo: Yes 哎呀 (Āiyā) is like surprisingly.
David: Yeah.
Echo: 哎唷 (Āi yō) is like to complain about something.
David: There is a huge number of these. You are going to hear them as we keep going into these lessons but for now, just toss this out. It’s going to sound really Chinese.
Echo: Yeah.
David: You will surprise people. Moving on Echo, what’s our next word?
Echo: 打开。(Dǎkāi.)
David: To turn on.
Echo: 打开 (Dǎkāi) But it actually has two meanings. First one is to turn on, another one is to open.
David: Yeah. What can you 打开? (Dǎkāi?)
Echo: 你可以打开电脑。(Nǐ kěyǐ dǎkāi diànnǎo.)
David: The computer?
Echo:打开手机。(Dǎkāi shǒujī.)
David: Cell phone
Echo: 打开电视。(Dǎkāi shǒujī.)
David: TV. Yeah it’s electronics. Things that you have to literally switch on.
Echo: Right or on the other hand, you can 打开门。(Dǎkāi mén.)
David: Open a door.
Echo: 打开窗户。(Dǎkāi chuānghù.)
David: Open the window. Yeah so either electronics or things like doors and windows you physically open.
Echo: Right both okay 打开。(Dǎkāi.)
David: The next thing I want to point out is this word we used for to try.
Echo: 试试。(Shì shì.)
David: To try.
Echo: 试试。(Shì shì.)
David: Just because this is, it’s reduplicated. We are going to get to this later but what’s happening here, it’s just try for a little bit.
Echo: Right. It sounds like more polite.
David: Yes.
Echo: 试试。(Shì shì.)
David: Right. So you are repeating the – repeating the verb, it becomes two character phrase and it means do it for a little bit.
Echo: Right. 你试试这个。(Nǐ shì shì zhège.)
David: Yeah we see this otherwise with things like look, look at this a bit.
Echo: 看看。(Kàn kàn.)
David: Right and if you really want to be fancy, you can say
Echo: 试一试。(Shì yī shì.)
David: Which means the same thing.
Echo: 试一试。(Shì yī shì.)
David: Okay. Echo, what’s next on your list?
Echo: 要不。(Yào bù.)
David: This is a tough one. That’s a really tough one to translate. How do we hear this in the dialogue?
Echo: 要不就是没电了?(Yào bù jiùshì méi diànle?)
David: Can it be that there is no power?
Echo: Yeah or it’s like otherwise…
David: Yeah.
Echo: There’s no power.
David: Yeah it’s coming from a longer word.
Echo: 唔, 要不然。(Wú, yào bùrán.)
David: Which means otherwise but it’s being used to kind of make a suggestion.
Echo: Right. Usually you’ve made one suggestion.
David: Yeah.
Echo: And then for the second suggestion.
David: That didn’t work.
Echo: Yeah 要不 你试试。(Yào bù nǐ shì shì.)
David: Right like kicking, it didn’t work, why don’t we try plugging it in?
Echo: Right.
David: So yeah, so this is difficult but I think you know in the dialogue, the emotions make it pretty clear. Right, so let’s just have one or two sentences with this as well.
Echo: Okay 要不 你先试试 ? (Yào bù nǐ xiān shì shì?)
David: Right. I’ve tried, well, why don’t you try first? Which isn’t really 先的(Xiān de) but you know.
Echo: No, no, no yeah it’s like you know if you don’t want me to try first, 要不 你先试试 ? (Yào bù nǐ xiān shì shì?)
David: Okay my suggestion has been turned down. What about one more?
Echo: 要不让他来帮忙?(Yào bù ràng tā lái bāngmáng?)
David: Yeah. The two of us aren’t enough. So why don’t we invite our friend over?
Echo: 对 。(Duì.)
David: Okay. So that’s our vocab. There is actually a lot of tricky, more advanced stuff but we are starting to get up there. With that, let’s move on to our grammar point. It’s grammar time. Our grammar point today is about an old familiar friend. Right?

Lesson focus

Echo: Umm you all know it.
David: Yes only today your friend walks in and…
Echo: With the new clothes.
David: New clothes and you go Mike, I didn’t recognize you and Echo, who is this friend of ours?
Echo: 怎么? (Zěnme?)
David: Yes and in previous lessons, we’ve taught you that this is how.
Echo: Like 怎么办? (Zěnme bàn?)
David: How can we do this?
Echo: 你怎么来的? (Nǐ zěnme lái de?)
David: How did you come? Right but let’s take a look at it in our dialogue for today.
Echo: 我怎么没想到呢!(Wǒ zěnme méi xiǎngdào ne!)
David: Why didn’t I think of this?
Echo: 我怎么没想到呢! (Wǒ zěnme méi xiǎngdào ne!)
David: It’s being used as why, not how.
Echo: That’s right.
David: Right and in Chinese, there are lots of these why questions that people will naturally use.
Echo: 怎么? (Zěnme?)
David: To ask.
Echo: Right. You don’t always say 为什么? (Wèishéme?)
David: Yes and in fact saying 为什么 (Wèishéme) sometimes, it’s…
Echo: Not natural yeah.
David: It’s unnatural. So…
Echo: And it sounds very, very serious.
David: Yeah like in textbooks, people will always go为什么, 为什么,(Wèishéme, wèishéme) you know, why, why, why. In real life, 怎么 (Zěnme) is
Echo: Yeah we say 怎么?(Zěnme?) more.
David: Yeah. So let’s go through some examples of this just to hear it in action.
Echo: Okay 你今天怎么来了? (Nǐ jīntiān zěnme láile?)
David: Why did you come today?
Echo: 你今天怎么来了? 可能是星期天 。(Nǐ jīntiān zěnme láile? Kěnéng shì xīngqítiān.)
David: Right like literally it would be you today how to come. We don’t care about the how. Now I want to know why you showed up at work on Saturday.
Echo: Right. You should answer like, 因为我上班 。(Yīnwèi wǒ shàngbān.)
David: Yes. If you literally say I took the subway.
Echo: Yeah it’s no…
David: You will get the 为什么. (Wèishéme.) Moving on
Echo: 电脑怎么死机 了? (Diànnǎo zěnme sǐjīle?)
David: Why is the computer not working?
Echo: 电脑怎么死机 了? (Diànnǎo zěnme sǐjīle?)
David: Why is the computer not working and again this is why, it’s not how.
Echo: Yeah you need to answer 为什么 .(Wèishéme.)
David: Right. We don’t want…
Echo: Answer 因為....(Yīnwèi....)
David: We don’t want technical details, I just want to know why is it broken.
Echo: Right 你怎么不试试? (Nǐ zěnme bù shì shì?)
David: Why don’t you try?
Echo: It’s like if you are thinking 我做得不好, 你怎么不试试? (Wǒ zuò dé bù hǎo, nǐ zěnme bù shì shì?)
David: Yeah and that’s good because we can’t really translate that as how. Like you how to try.
Echo: No.
David: No it doesn’t make any sense.
Echo: Yeah it’s like if you don’t like what I did, why don’t you try?
David: Yes this is 哎唷,(Āi yō,) this is entering 哎唷 (Āi yō,) territory.
Echo: 哎唷! 你怎么不试试? (Āi yō! Nǐ zěnme bù shì shì?)
David: Right. I’ve had enough of this, why don’t you give it a try. So this is a quick grammar point. It’s a pretty easy one. It’s just a heads up.


Echo: Yeah.
David: Because there are so many people. They study in classrooms and they never leave a classroom and it’s 为什么, 为什么, 为什么 .(Wèishéme, wèishéme, wèishéme.) In real life which might…
Echo: We don’t say 为什么 (Wèishéme) so much.
David: You see it written down but when people speak, they are much more likely to say
Echo: 怎么? (Zěnme?)
David: So keep your ears on. For now, that is all the time we have.
Echo: Yeah.
David: As always, a reminder before you leave. You’ve heard this before but it takes seven seconds to get an account on our site at chineseclass101.com
Echo: Right 你怎么不试试呢? (Nǐ zěnme bù shì shì ne?)
David: Right. Your email address, it’s really easy and it will let us give you free stuff and an account you can use to comment and that kind of….
Echo: That’s right.
David: Okay. For now though, thank you for listening. From Beijing
Echo: 我是Echo 。 (Wǒ shì Echo.)
David: And I am David.
Echo: Bye bye.


Please to leave a comment.
😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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What do you do when your computer is not responding?

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Monday at 01:11 AM
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你好 robert groulx!

不用谢。(Bú yòng xiè.) = No need for thanks. You're welcome. 😇

谢谢 (Xièxie) for studying with us, it's great to have you here!

Let us know if you have any questions.

Kind regards,

雷文特 (Levente)

Team ChineseClass101.com

Thursday at 04:21 PM
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Hallo robert groulx,

Danke schön for taking the time to leave us a comment. 😇

Let us know if you have any questions.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,


Team GermanPod101.com

robert groulx
Tuesday at 10:14 PM
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thanks for the lesson

my favorite words are 你怎么不试试呢?


ChineseClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 07:31 PM
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Hello Reneshia,

Thank you for your comment.


If you have any questions, please let us know.

Ngai Lam

Team ChineseClass101.com

Wednesday at 05:46 AM
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Friday at 12:59 AM
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Hello Lì Shàn 立善,

Thank you for your positive comment.

It depends on the context and the tone when we're speaking, usually it is not ambiguous. When we use 怎么 as 'why', it carries a wondering tone, that something is unusual and strange. For example “why are you at work today? 你今天怎么来上班了?”, the speaker finds that it is weird that this person appeared at work today, while in “how did you get to work today? 你今天怎么去上班?”, the speaker wants to know how this person managed to go to work.

Keep going and let us know if you have any questions.

Ngai Lam

Team ChineseClass101.com

Lì Shàn 立善
Monday at 05:15 AM
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Hello Echo and David! Thank you for your lessons!

If you are using “zên me”, how do you distinguish between “why are you at work today”? And “how did you get to work today”? Or is it just an ambiguity that we have to live with?

Thanks again! A month in and learning lots!

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Thursday at 10:17 PM
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Hi Scott,

Generally speaking, 要不 (yao4 bu4) means "or else; otherwise", and 所以 (suo3 yi3) means "therefore", so they are not the same.


Team ChineseClass101.com

Thursday at 07:32 PM
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In some situations is yao4 bu4 the same as suo3 yi3?

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Friday at 11:46 AM
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Hola Alejandro,

¡Muchas Gracias!

打开的反义词是关掉 (guān diào)

关掉电脑 = to turn off computer (apagar la computadora)



Team ChineseClass101.com