11 Lesson 4 Dialogue 1: Talking about hobbies


(Xie Tian and Zhou Yiwei got to know each other at a party. After a brief self-introduction, they started to talk about hobbies.)
周一为: 那你们在他家做什么?
谢天: 我做饭,他们打游戏、跳舞、唱歌、听音乐。
谢天: 好。



Chinese Pinyin English
爱好 ài hào n., hobby; v., to be keen on
周末 zhōu mò time word, weekend
常常 cháng cháng adv., often
时候 shí hòu n., time
有(的)时候 yǒu (de) shí hòu adv., sometimes
外语 wài yǔ n., foreign language
wán v., to play
滑板 huá bǎn n., skateboard
游泳 yóu yǒng n., swimming; v., to swim
画画 huà hua n., painting/drawing; v., to paint/draw
同事 tóng shì n., colleague
shū n., book
电视 diàn shì n., TV
máng adj., busy
,v., to hit, to beat, to strike
游戏 yóu xì n., game
打游戏 dǎ yóu xì v., gaming
tiào v., to jump, to dance
n., dance
跳舞 tiào wǔ v., to dance
chàng v., to sing
n., song
唱歌 chàng gē v., to sing
tīng v., to listen
音乐 yīn yuè n., music
所以 suǒ yǐ conj., so/therefore
duì adj., right/correct
ya interjectory particle to soften a question
v., to go
电影 diàn yǐng n., movie
请客 qǐng kè v., to treat someone to a meal

Grammar Notes:

  1. Word order in Chinese:
    Chinese word order is very similar to English word order. The basic form is “Subj. + Predicate“, where the “predicate” can be a verb, a verb phrase, or an adjective. For example,
    “I eat” = 我吃, in which “吃” is the predicate.
    “I eat Chinese food” = 我吃中国菜. In this sentence “吃中国菜” is a verb phrase.
    “I am happy” = 我高兴. Here 高兴 is an adjective, used as the predicate in the sentence. Note that predicative adjectives do not require the use of . Here are some more examples:
  2. Placement of time words in Chinese sentences:
    In general, time words are put before predicates in Chinese. For example, “I was happy yesterday” = 我昨天高兴 or 昨天我高兴. As you may have noticed, the time word 昨天 is put before 很高兴, either right before it or before the subject. Another example: 你周末也工作吗, here 周末 is put before the verb phrase 也工作. We can also say 周末你也工作吗.
  3. + action verb:
    The structure means “to go to do sth.”. For example, 我们去上课。(We go to classes.) If a location is involved, we can put it after . For example: 我去他家看电视。(I go to his home to watch TV). Below are more examples:
    我们去北京大学打球。(We go to Beijing University to play ball.)
    你想去纽约玩一下吗?(Do you want to go to New York to play?)
    我们去电影院看电影吧。(Let’s go to the cinema to watch a movie.)
  4. Questions with 好吗:
    It is used to ask for opinions after offering a suggestion, equivalent to the phrase 怎么样. For instance, 我们去唱歌,好吗?(Let’s go to sing, how about it?) Chinese people also use 好不好 to replace 好吗.
  5. The verb phrase 请客 (qǐng kè):
    This phrase is a “verb + object” structure, where is the verb and is the object. It is used to talk generally about “treating”. If we want to be more specific about “who” and “do what”. we need to remove and replace it with detailed information, using the structure “ sb. do sth.”. Compare:
    今天我请客。Today it is on me.
    今天我请你吃晚饭。Today I will treat you to dinner.

Culture Notes:

Mahjong and square dancing are two popular pastimes in China. Mahjong is often played in spare time and is usually an important form of entertainment for Chinese people during traditional festivals, or with family and friends. To learn more about this game, please watch this video. Square dancing or plaza dancing is another popular hobby among middle-aged and senior people in China. People dance to a variety of music in public spaces as not only a way to exercise, but also as a social activity. To learn more about this dance, please watch this video.

Two other popular pastimes in China are the board games Chinese chess and Go. You will often see Chinese people playing these two games in the park or in front of their apartments. The game of Chinese chess is based on the historical story of the last battle between Liu Bang and Xiang Yu. The former became the first emperor of Han Dynasty (202 BC to 220 AD) soon after the battle. When playing the game of Chinese chess, you will lead your army as a general and fight to win the battle conquering your rival. To learn more about this game, please watch this video.

The game of Go, or Weichi (wéiqí, 围棋), was invented in China more than 2,500 years ago. It is an abstract strategy board game for two players, in which the aim is to surround more territory than the opponent. In China, Go was considered one of the four cultivated arts of the Chinese scholars, along with calligraphy, painting, and playing the musical instrument guqin. The game was introduced to Korea and Japan in the 5th and 7th century CE, and then it was slowly spread to the rest of the world. Now there are over 20 million players throughout the world, and most of them are from East Asia.


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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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