Chinese Language Blog

A Little Bit of Review Posted by on Sep 4, 2010 in Vocabulary

Having already posted six videos to the blog, I think it’s best that I take some time to go over the vocabulary and sentence structures that were introduced in said videos.  When studying a foreign language, it’s a good idea to go over your classes (复习功课 – fù xí gōng kè) every so often to make sure you fully understand what you have learned.  That being said, let’s start from the beginning. For this post, I’ll review my first three videos.

VIDEO POST #1 – “A Rainy Day in Beijing” (北京的雨天)

For the first video post, I took a tour of the Beijing Planning and Exhibition Hall.  Although I prefer the great outdoors, the weather kept me inside on that particular day.  Speaking of weather, the first phrase I introduced was today is a rainy day (今天是雨天 -jīn tiān shì yǔ tiān). Let’s break that down to understand it more…

今天 – jīn tiān – today

是 – shì – to be/is

雨天 – yǔ tiān – rain day

As I mentioned before, Chinese is a language without articles, so there is no word for “a”.  Also, to describe the weather, you simply say rain/wind/snow/cloud + day.  In English, you have to use a different word (rainy, windy, snowy, cloudy), but this is not necessary in Chinese.

The next phrase was “it’s the weekend, so I don’t want to stay at home” (这是周末, 所以我不想呆在家里- zhè shì zhōu mò, suǒ yǐ wǒ bù xiǎng dāi zài jiā lǐ).

这是 – zhè shì – this is

周末 – zhōu mò – weekend

所以 – suǒ yǐ – so

我不想 – wǒ bù xiǎng- I don’t want (lit. I no want)

呆 – dāi – stay

在家里 – zài jiā lǐ – at home inside

That’s a big sentence, so it’s best to break it down piece by piece.  This sentence actually translates pretty well from English to Chinese, so it shouldn’t be too hard to understand.  The phrase “在家里 – zài jiā lǐ” is very useful, as it is a good example of how to describe location.  The word 在 means “at” or “again”, 家 means “home” or “family”, and 里 means “inside.”  Given the context, the three characters combined mean “at home inside.”  Since it was the weekend, I wasn’t too keen on staying inside, and that’s why I used this phrase!

Since it was a rainy day, I said “I have my umbrella and my rain coat” (我有我的雨伞和我的雨衣 – wǒ yǒu wǒ de yǔ sǎn hé wǒ de yǔyī).  Again, this sentence translates pretty directly, so it’s not too difficult to break down.

我有 – wǒ yǒu – I have

我的 – wǒ de – my/mine

雨伞 – yǔ sǎn – umbrella

和 – hé – and

雨衣 – yǔ yī – rain coat

Prepared to head out into the rain, I said “Let’s go!” (我们走吧 – wǒ men zǒu ba).  我们 can mean “we” or “us”, 走 can mean “walk” or “move”, and 吧 is used to make a suggestion.  吧 is a very useful character to know, as you’ll hear it very often in China.  When you combine these words, you are saying “let’s go”, and you can use this to motivate your lazy friends who don’t want to get off the couch…

Another very useful phrase used in this post was Qianmen subway station (前门地铁站 – qián mén dì tiě zhàn).  When telling a taxi driver which subway stop you want to go to, it’s quite simple.  First, say the name of the stop.  In this case, it would be 前门.  Then, say the Chinese for “subway” – 地铁.  Finally, say the word for “station” – 站.  This last character is also useful when you are looking for a gas station (加油站 – jiā yóu zhàn).

Before we move on to the second video, let’s review one more phrase.  Inside the Exhibition Hall, you definitely realize that Beijing is a very big city (北京是非常大的城市 – Běi jīng shì fēi cháng dà de chéng shì).

北京是 – Běi jīng shì – Beijing is

非常 – fēi cháng – very/extremeley

大的 – dà de – big

城市 – chéng shì – city

In this sentence, I used 非常 to represent “very” or “extremely”.  This word is basically a step up from 很 (hěn).  Think of it this way… In English, you could say something is “very big”, and you could also say something is “huge.”  By using 非常 here, I am pretty much saying that Beijing is huge.  Speaking of big, one of the easiest Chinese characters to learn is 大.  In this sentence, I added the particle 的, which is used because I said “Beijing is a very big city.”  If I just wanted to say “Beijing is very big”, I could just say 北京很大 (Běijīng hěn dà).  Together, 大的 is used to show that it is a big city.

VIDEO POST #2 – “Summer Has Already Arrived (夏天已经来了)”

For the second video, I got outside to show some of the many fun summer activities in Beijing.  To start, I said “In Beijing, summer has already arrived” (在北京夏天已经来了 – zài běi jīng xià tiān yǐ jīng lái le).

在北京 – zài běi jīng – in/at Beijing

夏天 – xià tiān – summer

已经 – yǐ jīng – already

来 – lái – come

了 – le – used after an action that has taken place

Most of those translations are self-explanatory, so let’s focus on the combination of 来 and 了.  Used by itself, the word 来 means “come” or “happen.”  When we attach 了, we show the past tense form of the verb, so the two together can translate to “came” or “arrived.”  For example, every time I get to the home of my private students, the kids will yell” 老师来了! (lǎo shī lái le)”, which means “Teacher has arrived!”

Due to the scorching hot temperature, I said “The weather is getting hotter and hotter” (天气越来越热 – tiān qì yuè lái yuè rè).

天气 – tiān qì – weather

越来越 – yuè lái yuè – more and more

热 – rè – hot

I introduced this vocabulary mainly because the phrase 越来越 is quite useful.  My hope is that my videos will help your Chinese get better and better (你的中文越来越好 – nǐ de zhōng wén yuè lái yuè hǎo).

As you probably noticed in this video, I used the word 玩 (wán) quite a bit. This is a great word to know, as it literally translates to “play.”

牌戏 – wán pái xì – play cards

玩跳棋 – wán tiào qí – play checkers

玩毽子 -wán jiàn zi – play Chinese hackey-sack

If you like to have fun like I do, 玩 is a great word to know.  Very often, my neighbors will ask me, “Where are you going?” (你去哪 – Nǐ qù nǎ), to which I will simply respond, “To play” (去玩 – qù wán).  It should be noted that, since I live in Beijing, I attach an “r” to the end of lots of words, so wán is actually pronounced wánr.

In the first video, I talked about how Beijing is really big.  Well, since we already learned the word for “big”, we might as well learn the word for “small.”

小狗 – xiǎo gǒu – small dog

This one is super easy – 小 means small, and 狗 means dog.

Finally, I showed one of the most popular activities in Beijing – singing and dancing (歌舞 – gē wǔ).  In Chinese, the word “sing” is 唱歌 (chàng gē) and “dance” is 跳舞 (tiào wǔ).  As we all know, singing and dancing go hand in hand, so when you talk about doing both, you simply shorten the phrase and say 歌舞.

VIDEO POST #3 – The Summer Palace (颐和园)

For the third post, I took a trip to the beautiful Summer Palace (颐和园 – yí hé yuán), which is probably my favorite place in Beijing.  As you’ve probably realized by now, Beijing has many tourist attractions. For example, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven (北京有很多名胜. 比如故宫、和天坛等. – Běijīng yǒu hěn duō míng shèng. Bǐ rú gù gōng, hé tiān tán děng).

北京有 – Běijīng yǒu – Beijing has

很多 – hěn duō – very many

名胜 – míng shèng – tourist attractions/famous places

比如 – bǐ rú – for example

故宫 – gù gōng – Forbidden City

天坛等 – tiān tán děng – Temple of Heaven

Again, there is a lot of useful vocabulary contained in this sentence.  The word 多 (duō) means “many” or “more.”  The opposite is 少 (shǎo), which means “few” or “less.”  When you combine these words, you get one of the most useful phrases in Chinese, 多少钱?(duō shǎo qián) which means “How much?”, as in “How much does it cost?”  It is sort of a funny translation, as it means “more less money”, but sometimes languages just don’t translate directly…

At one point in the video, I found a guy enjoying an afternoon nap (午睡 – wǔ shuì).  If you are planning on visiting or living in China, you should get yourself ready by participating in the custom of taking a rest after lunch.  Time permitting, people in China love to take a short nap in the afternoon.  Maybe it’s because they wake up at 5 a.m., or maybe it’s because of all the MSG in the food.  Either way, who doesn’t love a good nap?

Before we call it quits for today, let’s review one more phrase – Chinese traditional instruments (中国传统的乐器 – zhōng guó chuán tǒng de yuè qì).

中国 – zhōng guó – China

传统 – chuán tǒng – tradition

乐器 – yuè qì – instrument

Obviously, it is pretty important to know the name of the country in the local language.  中国 literally means “middle country,” and it seems to be a pretty fitting name these days, as not a day goes by where China is not in the headlines.  In a country that has thousands of years of history, there are obviously tons of traditions.  Whether it be eating dumplings (饺子 – jiǎo zi) or drinking tea (茶 – chá), there are plenty of things that China has been doing for a long, long time, and will continue to do long into the future.

Tags: , , , ,
Keep learning Chinese with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.

Leave a comment: