7 Lesson 2 Dialogue 1: Talking About a Photo




Chinese Pinyin English
zhè pron., this
pron., that
shéi/shuí question word, who, whom
kàn v., to look
wèn v., to ask
介绍 jiè shào v., to introduce
一下 yí xià adv., a little bit, briefly
adj., female
nán adj., male
朋友 péng yóu n., friend
哥哥 gē ge n., elder brother
弟弟 dì di n., younger brother
coordinating conjunction, and
de possession particle
yǒu v., have/has, there be
照片 zhàopian n., photo
zhāng measure word for objects with flat and thin surface like photo, paper, ticket, table
measure word for most nouns
孩子 hái zi n., child, kid
女孩子 nǚ hái zi n., girl

Supplementary Vocabulary Words:

爷爷yé ye, grandpa on father’s side (n.)
奶奶nǎi nai, grandma on father’s side (n.)
爸爸bà ba, father (n.)
妈妈mā ma, mother (n.)
姐姐jiě jie, elder sister (n.)
弟弟dì di, younger brother (n.)
妹妹mèi mei, younger sister (n.)
先生xiān sheng, husband (n.)
太太tài tai, wife (n.)
女儿 ér, daughter (n.)
儿子ér zi, son (n.)

Grammar Notes:

    1. The question pronoun (shéi/shuí, who, whom):
      This question pronoun can be used as an object, as in the example 他是谁?(Who is he?) 那个女孩子是谁?(Who is that girl?)
      It can also be used as a subject, as in the sentence 谁是老师?(Who is a/the teacher?) 谁是李贵?(Who is Li Gui?)
    2. Pronouns (zhè) and ():
      and are used like “this” and “that” in English. For example,
      这是什么? What is this?
      那是什么? What is that?
      那张名片是我的! That name card is mine!
      When followed by nouns or noun phrases, measure words should be added after /. The structure is “这/那 + measure word + Noun”. For example, “this student” is translated to Chinese “这个学生”. “That boy” is “那个男孩“. “This photo” is “这张照片“.
  1. Measure words:
    Measure words are also called “classifiers” in Chinese. They are used to classify objects or people. Classifiers are also used in English. For example, you would say a “loaf” of bread or a “pair” of shoes. But different from English, Chinese has many more classifiers or measure words. They are very important in Chinese grammar as they are needed before every noun. For instance, in English you say, “three people”, but in Chinese, we need to say “三个人”. The general structure for measure words in general is: “Number + measure word + Noun”. Below are the two measure words in this lesson:
    Measure word ():it can be used with most nouns in Chinese, either objects or people. For example, the English phrase “a student” is translated into 一个学生 in Chinese. More examples are 一个老师,一个哥哥,一个弟弟。
    Measure word :It can be used for things that have a flat surface such as photo, table, desk and bed. “A photo” is translated into “一张照片” in Chinese.
  2. The verb (yǒu):
    This character has two meanings:
    First, it means “to have/has”. For example, “I have an elder brother”. In Chinese we say “我有一个哥哥”.
    Second, it means “there be”. For example, “There are four people in my family” is “我家有四个人”.
  3. Possession marker (de):
    It is used in a similar way to “apostrophe-s” in English, but is used much more broadly. The structure is “Noun 1 + + Noun 2“, meaning “Noun 1’s Noun 2“. For instance, 我的老师 means “my teacher”, but sometimes when close relationships or kinships are involved, it’s more natural to drop the . For example, “my girlfriend” can be translated into “我女朋友” or “我的女朋友”. It is the same with 我爸爸/我的爸爸,他妈妈/他的妈妈.
  4. The adverb phrase 一下 (yí xià):
    It is often used after a verb to express that the verb is carried out briefly or “a little bit”. Sometimes 一下 can be used to soften the tone. The structure is: “Subj. + Verb + 一下 + Obj.“. For example, 你看一下 means “take a look”. As 一下 is used, the action verb is carried out very briefly. Below are two more examples:
    你介绍一下。You introduce briefly.
    我说一下。I speak briefly.
    我打一下球。I play ball briefly.

Culture Notes:

Family is very important in Chinese culture. The character for family “家”, is comprised of a top part “宀”, indicating “cave” or “house”, and a bottom part “豕” (shǐ), meaning “pig”. To Chinese people, “家” (home) is the place where they can stay safe and have food inside. The Chinese notion of family is also tied to their country and philosophy. For instance, in Chinese, a country is called 国家 (guó jiā), which literally translates as “state family”. Confucianism is 儒家 (rú jiā), which translates to “Confucian family”.

Within the traditional Chinese family structure, each family member has a specific form of address in Chinese, with different forms of address for an older and younger brother, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandfathers, and grandmothers on both the maternal and paternal sides of a family. For example, my mother’s brothers are called 舅舅 (jiù jiu), while my father’s older brother is called 伯伯 (bo bo) and the younger brother is called 叔叔 (shū shu).

Traditionally, Chinese culture values elders over younger ones, and males over females. When pairing up kinship terms, those that involve elders are put before the younger ones, such as 哥哥弟弟 (gē ge dì di, elder brother and younger brother), 姐姐妹妹 (jiě jie mèi mei, big sister and little sister); those that involve males are put before females such as 爸爸妈妈 (bà ba mā ma, father and mother), 爷爷奶奶 (yé ye nǎi nai, grandpa and grandma).

In addition, Chinese people address others as though they are family members. For example, you may hear Chinese people call a woman of similar age to their mothers 阿姨 (ā yí) “auntie” and an older man “uncle”. When seeing a slightly older boy or a girl, they use 哥哥 (gē ge) “brother” 姐姐 or (jǐe jie) “sister”.


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Elementary Chinese I Copyright © 2022 by Wenying Zhou is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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