Rocket Chinese 6 Day Course Basic Introductions (text lesson

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Nǐ hǎo, huānyíng lái dào Rocket Chinese!

Hello and Welcome back for Part 4 of the Rocket Chinese 6-Day course!

This is the fourth lesson in your Rocket Chinese course. Our objective in this lesson is to examine some of the pieces of the conversation you heard in the previous lesson. Not only will it help you understand some more elements of Chinese grammar, you'll be getting a whole mouthful of Chinese vocabulary words for common everyday contexts. (Note: you can always revisit earlier lessons by using the link at the very bottom of this page!)

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What's Your Name and Where are You From?

Before we get into the more grammatical side of today's lesson, let's look at the following country names and see if you can recognize them. Some of them you can sound out and guess what they are.

Zhōngguó Měiguó Jiānádà Yīngguó Fǎguó Déguó Yìndù Hánguó Rìběn

China America Canada England France Germany India Korea Japan

Just addrén after each of these country names, and then you have a "person from that country."

Zhōngguórén

= Chinese person

shì[...] is the most basic sentence in Chinese language.

… shì Zhōngguórén can mean:

I am Chinese. You are Chinese. He/she is Chinese. We are Chinese. They are Chinese.

That is what you can say when you introduce yourself to people. Or if you put different subjects in the front, you can use this pattern to introduce your friends. The basic sentence structure is this: [ A ] shì [ B ]. [ A ] = [ B ].

A (I) =

B (Chinese)

Wǒ shì Zhōngguórén.

A (Dave) = A (I) =

B (English) B (Lin)

Dave shì Yīngguórén. Wǒ shì Lin.

One thing you need to bear in mind is that we only use shì if it is followed by a noun. Like in the examples shown above, shì is followed by Zhōngguórén (Chinese person),Yīngguórén (British person) and Lin (name), which are all nouns. Sometimes description words are used after it. For example, instead of "she is American," you want to say "she is nice." In that kind of sentence, we always have to omit shì. And besides that, we always put hěn in front of the description words. So the sentence “she is nice” should be translated into: tā (she ) hěn hǎo ( nice ). As you learned, hěn literally means "very," but in these sentences, it functions more to balance the sentence than to add additional meaning. In summary, when description words are used after shì, the sentence pattern goes like this: [ A ] hěn [ C ]. [A]=[C]

A A A A

(He) = (Dave) = (Today) = (China) =

C (well) C (tall) C (cold) C (big)

Tā hěn hǎo. Dave hěn gāo. Jīntiān hěn lěng. Zhōngguó hěn dà.

Asking Questions To make these into questions, we simply put ma at the end of the sentences.

Nǐ shì Zhōngguórén ma? Dave shì Yīngguórén ma? Nǐ shì Lin ma?

Remember to change wǒ into nǐ.

For sentences with description words, we also put ma at the end to make them into questions. One thing to bear in mind is that, we need to omit hěn when it is changed into a question.

Tā hǎo ma? Dave gāo ma? Jīntiān lěng ma? Zhōngguó dà ma?

Is she nice? Is Dave tall? Is today cold? Is China big?

Next let's go back to the names of the countries and learn to say where you are from. Wǒ láizì Zhōngguó. I come from China.

As usual, you can always change the person at the beginning to talk about where other people come from.

Dave láizì Yīngguó. Tā láizì Jiānádà. Wǒ de péngyou láizì Déguó.

Dave comes from England. She comes from Canada. My friend comes from Germany.

Let's replace the country names with another question word nǎr, which means "where."

A: Dave láizì nǎr? B: Dave láizì Yīngguó.

Where is Dave from? Dave is from England.

Some Cultural Notes Some people find that Chinese people talk quite loudly, even though most Asians speak quietly. When you hear Chinese people talk and you are not yet familiar with the language, you might even think that they are arguing! The reason for that is that the 4th tone in the Chinese language (falling or high-falling) is quite similar to the same tone English speakers use when arguing. The 4th tone is used when you say: Tai bang le! So it might sound like you are upset, but in fact you are saying that something is great!! It is important for Chinese people to pronounce the tones very clearly and therefore speak loudly. Besides that, when Chinese people talk to each other, especially between close friends, they tend to talk loud to show that they are happy to have the chance to see and chat with each other. Greeting people loudly and talking to them loudly can be a very important way to convey your excitement and enhance your relationship. To put it this way, the louder people talk, the closer the relationship might be!

On the other hand, if you greet people and talk to them quiet and calm, that might make the other people feel you are trying to keep certain distance from them. As a result, next time when you see them, they will respond to you in the same quiet and calm way as well, which will make the two parties remain as ordinary acquaintances. So even when you are just starting out, just clear your throat and let her rip!

*** That's all for today's lesson. I think that I must have satisfied whatever appetite you may have had for grammar for one day… At least that's enough grammar and explanations for me! Tomorrow you'll learn how to talk about learning Chinese. It is a whole new and interesting lesson waiting for you. After that, you'll be able to talk about your own Chinese learning experience in Chinese! So tune in next time! Until then... Xià cì jiàn! (See you next time!)

Lin Ping Rocket Chinese

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