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Lesson Transcript

Taiwanese Mandarin Survival Phrases Lesson 7: I Don't Understand
In this lesson, you’ll learn how to say "I don’t understand."
In Chinese, “I don’t understand” is 我不懂 (Wǒ bù dǒng).
Let’s break it down by tone:
First we have 我(wǒ). This is in third tone.
Next we have 不(bù). This is in fourth tone.
Last we have 懂(dǒng). This is in third tone.
Next, let’s break it down by meaning:
我(wǒ) means “I” or “me.”
不(bù) means “no.”
懂(dǒng) means “understand.”
Literally, the phrase means “I no understand,” but in English, it translates to “I don’t understand.”
Altogether, we have 我不懂(Wǒ bù dǒng).
Listen again, one more time, slowly:
[Slow] 我不懂(Wǒ bù dǒng).
[Normal] 我不懂(Wǒ bù dǒng).
To be more polite, you can add “I’m sorry” or “Excuse me” before “I don’t understand.”
In Chinese, “I’m sorry” is 不好意思(Bù hǎo yìsī).
Let’s break it down by tone:
First we have 不(bù). This is in fourth tone.
Next we have 好(hǎo). This is in third tone.
Then we have 意(yì). This is in fourth tone.
Last we have 思(si). This has no tone.
Next, let’s break it down by meaning:
不(bù) means "no."
好(hǎo) is "good."
意思(yìsi) means "meaning."
Literally, it means “no good meaning.” But it translates to “I feel bad” or “I’m sorry.”
Let’s put both phrases together: 不好意思, 我不懂(Bù hǎo yìsī, Wǒ bù dǒng).
This whole phrase means “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”
Listen again, one more time, slowly:
[Slow] 不好意思,我不懂(Bù hǎo yìsī, Wǒ bù dǒng).
[Normal] 不好意思,我不懂(Bù hǎo yìsī, Wǒ bù dǒng).
The way to say “I don’t speak Chinese” is 我不會說中文(Wǒ bù huì shuō zhōngwén).
Let’s break it down by tone:
First we have 我(wǒ). This is in third tone.
Next we have 不(bù).
Next we have 會(huì). This is in fourth tone.
Next we have 說(shuō). This is in first tone.
Next we have 中(zhōng). This is in first tone.
Last we have 文(wén). This is in second tone.
Please note, usually, 不(bù) is in fourth tone. But because it is followed by another fourth tone, it becomes second tone.
Next, let’s break it down by meaning:
我(wǒ) means “I” or “me.”
不會(búhuì) means "cannot" or "I am not able to."
說(shuō) means "to speak."
中文(zhōngwén) means "Chinese."
Literally, this means “I cannot speak Chinese.”
Altogether we have 我不會說中文(Wǒ bù huì shuō zhōngwén).
Listen again, one more time, slowly:
[Slow] 我不會說中文(Wǒ bù huì shuō zhōngwén).
[Normal] 我不會說中文(Wǒ bù huì shuō zhōngwén).

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When traveling do you always ask the meaning of words or customs you do not understand?