Initials (声母)

Jan 25th, 2010 Posted in Audio, Lessons, Pinyin | no comment »

In every syllable, the consonant at the onset is the initial. There are 21 of them. According to their pronunciations, they can be divided into six groups.

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Simple Finals (单元音韵母)

Jan 27th, 2010 Posted in Audio, Lessons, Pinyin | no comment »

The finals which comprise only one single vowel phoneme are called “simple finals”. There are six simple finals.

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Compound Finals (复元音韵母)

Jan 28th, 2010 Posted in Audio, Lessons, Pinyin | no comment »

The finals which comprise two or three vowel phonemes are called “compound finals”. There are 13 of them

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Nasal Finals (鼻韵母)

Jan 28th, 2010 Posted in Audio, Lessons, Pinyin | no comment »

The finals which comprise one or two vowel phonemes with a nasal consonant at the end are called “nasal finals”. There are 16 of them.

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Lesson 1 – Hello! (你好!)

Feb 1st, 2010 Posted in Audio, General, Lessons | no comment »

Lesson’s Main Characters:

Julie Chen – Teacher, Chinese
Helen Li – Student, Chinese

Conversation Situation:

When Julie Chen first meets Helen Li…

Conversation Dialogue:

Helen:
你好!
nǐhǎo!

Julie:
你好!
nǐhǎo!

Helen:
请问 您 贵姓?
qǐngwèn nín guìxìng?

Julie:
我 姓 陈, 你呢?
wǒ xìng Chén​, nǐne?

Helen:
我 姓 李, 叫 Helen. 你 叫 什么 名字?
wǒ xìng Lǐ, jiào Helen. nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?

Julie:
我 叫 Julie.
wǒ jiào Julie.

Vocabulary Words:

你好 (nǐhǎo): hello/hi/how are you
请问 (qǐngwèn): may I ask…
您 (nín): you (polite way)
贵姓 (guìxìng): what is your last name?
我 (wǒ): I
姓 (xìng): family name/surname/last name
你 (nǐ): you
呢 (ne): (question particle for subjects already mentioned)
叫 (jiào): to call/ to be called
什么 (shénme): what?
名字 (míngzi): name

Grammar: Word Order

1. The word order in a Chinese sentence is shown as follows:

Subject + Verb + Object
For example:
a. 你 叫 什么名字?
b. 我 叫 Helen。

***Ms. Hou’s reminder:
In Chinese, the word order remains the same in statements and sentences.

2. 您贵姓? (nín guìxìng) is a respectful and polite way to ask for someone’s last name and normally is used when you speak to someone who is older or a superior (as in Chinese culture we call someone who is older or a superior by their last name to show our respect).

Listen to Ms. Hou’s Mandarin Classroom – Lesson 1 – Hello! (你好!)

Lesson 2 – Where are you from? (你是哪国人?)

Feb 7th, 2010 Posted in Audio, Lessons | no comment »

Lesson’s Main Characters:

Julie Chen – Teacher, Chinese
Helen Li – Student, American

Conversation Situation:

Helen and Julie continue their conversation, asking about where they are from …

Conversation Dialogue:

Julie:
Helen, 你 是 哪国 人?
Helen, nǐ shì nǎ​guó ​rén​?

Helen:
我 是 美国人. 你呢? 你 是 日本人 吗?
wǒ shì Měiguórén. nǐne? nǐ shì Rìběnrén ma?

Julie:
我 不是. 我 是 中国人.
wǒ búshì. wǒ shì Zhōngguórén.

Vocabulary Words:

哪国 (nǎ​guó): Which country
哪 (nǎ​): Which
国 (guó​): Country
是 (shì): to be
美国人 (Měiguórén): American/American person/American people
美国 (Měiguó): United States/USA/US
吗 (ma): (question tag)
日本人 (Rìběnrén): Japanese person or people
日本 (Rìběn): Japan
不是 (búshì): no/is not/not
中国人 (Zhōngguórén): Chinese person or people
中国 (Zhōngguó): China

Grammar: 吗 & 是

1.吗 (ma)

When 吗 is added at the end of the statement so the statement is turned into a yes/no question.

Form: Subject + Verb+ Object + 吗?
For example:
Statement: 你是美国人.
Question: 你是美国人吗?

2. 是 (shì) is a verb that is used to link two nouns, pronouns, or noun phrases.

For example:
Q: 你是中国人吗?
A: 我是中国人.

***Ms. Hou’s reminder:
Please don’t think of “是” as an equivalent English meaning of “am/are/is”. Just simply think “subject = object”.

Tones (声调)

Feb 7th, 2010 Posted in Audio, Lessons, Pinyin | no comment »

The tone marks are used to indicate the pitch as well as the change of tone in the entire syllable. Syllables comprised of the same set of initial and final sound differently in different tones.

In Chinese, there are four basic tones, which can be annotated by using different tone marks.

Let’s use the syllables ma as example, so you can feel the difference between the four tones.

The First Tone features a steady high sound. It is denoted by a macron “-”.
Example:

The Second Tone features a sound that rises from mid-level to high. It is denoted by an acute accent “/”.
Example:

The Third Tone features a sound that starts with a mid-low to low descent which is followed by a rising pitch to high. It is denoted by a hacek “V”.
Example:

The Fourth Tone features a sound that falls sharply from high to low. It is denoted by a grave accent “\”.
Example:

Apart from the four tones, some syllables are pronounced light and short. They are said to have “neutral tone”. Neutral tone has no accent mark at all.
Example: ma

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Where are the tone marks placed?

    Please note the following three points:

  • It shall be added above a vowel.
  • It shall be added above the vowel that has the highest “priority”. The vowels are ordered in the following priority (from the highest to the lowest):
    a o e i u ü
  • When a syllable has both “i” and “u” in it, it shall be added on the one that comes latter. For example: huì

If you would like more practice on the tones, you may practise them in characters, phrases and sentences.

Lesson 3 – What do you do? (你做什么工作?)

Feb 19th, 2010 Posted in Audio, Lessons | no comment »

Lesson’s Main Characters:

Julie Chen – Teacher, Chinese
Helen Li – Student, American

Conversation Situation:

Helen and Julie continue their conversation, asking about each other’s occupation …

Conversation Dialogue:

Helen:
Julie, 你 做 什么 工作?
Julie, nǐ zuò shénme gōngzuò?

Julie:
我 是 老师, 你呢?
wǒ shì lǎoshī, nǐne?

Helen:
我 是 学生.
wǒ shì xuésheng.

Vocabulary Words:

做 (zuò): to do/to be
工作 (gōngzuò): job/work
老师 (lǎoshī): teacher
学生 (xuésheng): student
翻译 (fān​yì​): translator
医生 (yī​shēng​​): doctor
设计师 (shè​jì​shī​​​): designer

Grammar: 呢

When 呢 is used to form a question, there must be some context provided in a preceding sentence. The content of the question is clear from the context.

Form: Noun/pronoun +呢?
For example:
A: 你做什么工作?
B: 我是老师, 你呢?
(Speaker B asks speaker A back the same question- what do you do?)

Lesson 4 – Introduce your friends to each other (介绍朋友认识)

Feb 19th, 2010 Posted in Audio, Lessons | no comment »

Lesson’s Main Characters:

Julie Chen – Teacher, Chinese
Helen Li – Student, American
Linda Lin – Helen’s friend, Chinese

Conversation Situation:

After Julie and Helen became friends, Helen is going to introduce Julie to her friend, Linda …

Conversation Dialogue:

Helen:
来,Julie, 这是 我的 朋友 Linda. Linda, 这是 我的 朋友 Julie.
lái, Julie, zhèshì wǒde péngyou Linda. Linda, zhèshì wǒde péngyou Julie.

Julie:
你好, Linda.
nǐhǎo, Linda.

Linda:
你好, Julie, 很 高兴 认识 你!
nǐhǎo, Julie, hěn gāoxìng rènshi nǐ!

Julie:
我 也 很高兴 认识 你.
wǒ yě hěngāoxìng rènshi nǐ.

Vocabulary Words:

来 (lái): to come/come here
这是 (zhèshì): this is
我的 (wǒde): my/mine
朋友 (péngyou): friend
很 (hěn): (adverb of degree)/quite/very
高兴 (gāoxìng): happy/glad
认识 (rènshi): to know
也 (yě): also/too

Grammar: 的 & 也

1. 的 (de) is equivalent to the structure of “ ‘s” in English.

For example:
Yoshiko 的朋友。
Yoshiko’s friend

2. 也(yě), an adverb, meaning “also or too”

Form: Subject + 也(yě) + verb + object
For example:
我也是学生.

***Ms. Hou’s reminder:
Unlike English, the adverbs in Chinese cannot be put before the subject or at the end of a sentence.

Lesson 5 – Hobby (你喜欢做什么?)

Apr 4th, 2010 Posted in Audio, Lessons | no comment »

Lesson’s Main Characters:

Julie Chen – Teacher, Chinese
Helen Li – Student, American

Conversation Situation:

In this lesson, Julie and Helen talk about their hobbies…

Conversation Dialogue:

Helen:
Julie, 你 周末 喜欢 做什么?
Julie, nǐ zhōumò xǐhuan zuòshénme?

Julie:
我周末喜欢 看电影, 听音乐, 也 喜欢 看书. 你呢?
wǒ zhōumò xǐhuan kàndiànyǐng, tīngyīnyuè, yě xǐhuan kànshū. nǐne?

Helen:
我 不 喜欢 看书, 我 喜欢 玩游戏机.
wǒ bù xǐhuan kànshū, wǒ xǐhuan wányóuxìjī.

Vocabulary Words:

周末 (zhōumò): weekend
喜欢 (xǐhuan): to like/ to be fond of
看电影 (kàn diànyǐng): watch movie
看 (kàn): to look/ to watch
电影 (diànyǐng): movie/ film
听音乐 (tīng yīnyuè): listen to music
听 (tīng): to listen/ to hear
音乐 (yīnyuè): music
也 (yě): also/too
看书 (kànshū): to read / read a book
玩游戏机 (wán yóuxìjī): play video game
玩 (wán): to play/ to have fun
游戏机 (yóuxìjī): video game

Grammar: Word order & 也

1. Word order in Chinese:

Subject Adverb of  Time/Place Verb Object
周末 喜欢做 什么

2. The adverb 也 , meaning “also” or “too”

In Chinese, adverbs are placed after subjects and in front of verbs. Unlike English, adverbs cannot be placed before the subject or at the end of a sentence.
For example:
我也喜欢看书.

Lesson 6 – How have you been? (你最近怎么样?)

Apr 5th, 2010 Posted in Audio, Lessons | one comment »

Lesson’s Main Characters:

Julie Chen – Teacher, Chinese
Helen Li – Student, American

Conversation Situation:

Do Chinese people really say “Ni hao ma (你好吗?) to greet their friends? In this lesson, Julie and Helen use an alternative way to greet each other…

Conversation Dialogue:

Julie:
Helen, 你 最近 怎么样?
Helen, nǐ zuìjìn zěnmeyàng?

Helen:
我 很 忙.
wǒ hěn máng.

Julie:
是吗? 为什么?
shìma? wèishénme?

Helen:
因为 我的 新工作.
yīnwèi wǒde xīngōngzuò.

Vocabulary Words:

最近 (zuìjìn): recent/ recently/ these days
怎么样 (zěnmeyàng): how?/ how about?/ how was it? / how are things
很 (hěn): (adverb of degree)/quite/very
忙 (máng): busy
是吗 (shìma): really?
为什么 (wèishénme): why?/ for what reason?
因为 (yīnwèi): because/ owing to
我的 (wǒde): my/mine
新工作 (xīn gōngzuò): new job
新 (xīn): new
工作 (gōngzuò): job/ work

Grammar: 是吗?

是吗? is not a question here, but an expression of listener’s surprise on hearing something unexpected in a conversation.