8 Lesson 2 Dialogue 2: Talking About Family Members





Chinese Pinyin English
大家 dà jiā pron., everybody, everyone
家人 jiā rén n., family members
jiā n., family, house, home
gāo adj., tall, high
shuài adj., handsome
question word, how many
liǎng number, two
医生 yīsheng n., doctor
工程师 gōng chéng shī n., engineer
adj., big, large
大哥 dà gē n., the first eldest brother
二哥 èr gē n., the second eldest brother
méi adv., not, used to negate the verb
大学 dà xué n., college/university
大学生 dà xué shēng n., college student
zuò v., to do
工作 gōng zuò n./v., work, job; to work
dōu adv., both, all
ài v., to love
中学 zhōng xué n., middle school
小学 xiǎo xué n., elementary school

Grammar Notes:

  1. The question word ():
    It is used to ask how many? Note that it is used when asking about small numbers, usually less than 10. In addition, this word is usually followed by a measure word. Example:
    几口人? Jǐ kǒu rén? How many people?(Note: in most cases, is used before to describe how many of people. is only used to describe family members.)
  2. (liǎng) vs (èr):
    The digit “2” is , used generally in numbers, when counting to ten, telling a phone number, and so on. is used to say there are “two” of something, generally followed by measure words. For example, “two girls” is translated as “两个女孩子” rather than “二个女孩子”.
  3. The question phrase 哪个:
    It is used to express “which”. For example, “which is your elder sister” is translated into “哪个(人)是你的姐姐” in Chinese.
  4. The adverb (méi):
    Chinese people use 没  (rather than ) to negate the verb (yǒu). The structure is “Subj. + + + Obj.“. For example, 我没有弟弟(I don’t have a little brother.)
  5. 做什么工作 is a way to ask about a person’s job or occupation, like “what (job) do you do” in English. To respond to such a question, simply answer with “ + occupation”. For example, 你做什么工作?我是老师。
  6. The adverb (dōu): This word may mean “both” and “all”. It is an adverb, always used before verbs. For example, 我们都是美国人。In this sentence, is used before the verb . In addition, Chinese doesn’t have a special pattern like “neither/none” for the negative case. Just add before the negative verbs. For instance, 我们都不是美国人。(Neither/none of us are Americans).

Culture Notes:

  1. Besides the international numbers that are used in the world (including China), Chinese has its own set of characters for writing numbers, and learning to count in Chinese is very easy because it follows very logical rules. Let’s start with the basic numbers from 1 to 10 for now:
    èr two
    sān three
    liù six
    jiŭ nine
    shí ten
  2. Most Chinese children call their dads 爸爸 (bà ba) or, even more casually, (), and call their moms 妈妈 (mā ma) or simply (). When referring to both dad and mom casually, they sometimes combine these words and say 爸妈 (bà mā). In northern China, children also call their dad (diē) and their mom (niáng) in everyday life. 父亲 (fù qīn, father) and 母亲 (mǔ qīn, mother) are more formal words, used in formal situations.
  3. 兄弟姐妹 (xiōng dì jiě mèi , literally elder brother, younger brother, elder sister, younger sister) means “siblings”. The eldest brother is called 大哥, and the eldest sister is 大姐 . The rest are ranked according to their birth order using numerals. For example, the second eldest brother is 二哥, and the third eldest is 三哥. The youngest is 小弟 . Note that Chinese younger siblings normally refer to their elder siblings by their kinship terms rather than their names to show respect.


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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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