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Talking About Family in Chinese Posted by on Sep 25, 2017 in grammar, Vocabulary

The Chinese family tree can be quite complicated, as we learned in our last post. Go back and check that one out if you need to brush up on your Chinese family vocabulary. Now that you’ve got all the Chinese words you’ll need for familial relationships, it’s time to go a step further. In this post we’ll practice talking about family in Chinese.

How Many People?

Talking About Family in Chinese

这是我家

First up, let’s learn how to ask and answer about the amount of people in your family. In Chinese, there are two ways to ask “How many people are in your family?”:

你家有几个人?
nǐ jiā yǒu jǐ gè rén

你家有几口人?
nǐ jiā yǒu jǐ kǒu rén

As you can see, the only thing that’s different between those two questions is the measure word. Many textbooks will teach you to use 口 as the measure word for people, but it’s perfectly fine to use the catch-all measure word 个. In fact, I’ve had Chinese teachers tell me it’s more common to use 个. So, how many people are in your family?  Here’s my answer:

我家有九个人.
wǒ jiā yǒu jiǔ gè rén
There are 9 people in my family.

Try to use the words we learned in the last post to introduce them. Here’s the list of people in my family:

爸爸,妈妈,四个弟弟,两个妹妹,和我
bà ba, mā ma, sì gè dì di, liǎng gè mèi mei, hé wǒ
dad, mom, 4 younger brothers, 2 younger sisters, and me

Now let’s move on to some more Q&A about family members so you can get even more practice.

Family Members Q&A

Here are some common questions that you might encounter when talking about family in Chinese, as well as examples of how to answer them:

1. 你结婚了吗?
nǐ jié hūn le ma
Are you married?

是的,我已经结婚了.
shì de, wǒ yǐ jīng jié hūn le
Yes, I’m already married.

没有,我还没结婚.
méi yǒu, wǒ hái méi jié hūn
No, I’m not married yet.

2. 你有孩子吗?
nǐ yǒu hái zi ma
Do you have children?

有的,我有一个儿子.
yǒu de, wǒ yǒu yī gè er zi
Yes, I have a son.

我没有孩子.
wǒ méi yǒu hái zi
No, I don’t have children.

3. 你的父母住在哪里?
nǐ de fù mǔ zhù zài nǎ lǐ
Where do your parents live?

他们住在我的老家.
tā men zhù zài wǒ de lǎo jiā
They live in my hometown.

4. 你的爸爸做什么工作?
nǐ de bà ba zuò shén me gōng zuò
What does your dad do?

我爸爸是医生.
wǒ bà ba shì yī shēng
My dad is a doctor.

5. 你的弟弟几岁了?
nǐ de dì di jǐ suì le
How old is your little brother?

他十七岁.
tā shí qī suì
He’s 17.

6. 你的妹妹叫什么名字?
nǐ de mèi mei jiào shén me míng zì
What’s your little sister’s name?

她叫凯蒂.
tā jiào kǎi dì
Her name is Katie.

 

You can easily change any of the above questions by using a different family member. Keep the sentence structure the same but just use different vocabulary. Go ahead and practice! See if you can come up with five or so questions, and then just answer them yourself. Better yet – find someone you can chat with. It’s great to practice reading and writing, but there’s nothing better than actually talking with someone! If you want some more reading practice, try to get through this post I wrote in Chinese about my family a while back.

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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.


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