(Wang Dazhong and Li Meiying are colleagues in a company. They are drinking coffee in a café. Suddenly, Wang Dazhong’s attention gets snatched.)
Li Meiying：好，我帮你。……. 张小文！
|那儿||nà ér||n./adv., there|
|这儿||zhè ér||n./adv., here|
|美女||měi nǚ||n., pretty lady|
|漂亮||piāo liang||adj., pretty|
|觉得||jué de||v., to feel, to think|
|哪里||nǎ lǐ||question word, where; adv., used to negate predicates|
|嗯||en||filler word, um|
|不错||bù cuò||adj., pretty good|
|同学||tóng xué||n., classmate|
|高中||gāo zhōng||n., high school|
|学习||xué xí||n., study; v., to study|
|有趣||yǒu qù||adj., interesting|
|帮||bāng||v., to help|
|好||hǎo||adv., very, very much (often used in colloquial Chinese)|
|久||jiǔ||adj., very long (time)|
|好久不见||hǎo jiǔ bù jiàn||expression, Long time no see|
|啊||a||interjection to express exclamation, ahh|
|来||lái||v., to come|
|坐||zuò||v., to sit|
|找||zhǎo||v., to look for|
|别人||bié rén||n., other people, another person|
|聊天||liáo tiān||v., to chat|
- The verb 觉得 (jué dé):
This word has two meanings: “feel” and “think”. In the sentence “你觉得怎么样” from the dialogue, here 觉得 expresses a feeling, sensation, or perception. The word 觉得 can also indicate that you are expressing a falsifiable opinion or assertion. You have mulled over a set of facts and have settled on a conclusion. For example,
我觉得她很漂亮。I think she is pretty.
我觉得纽约很大、很美。I think New York is big and pretty.
- The word 哪里:
哪里 is normally used as a question word, equivalent to “where” in English. The structure is “Subj. + Verb + 哪里 ?” 哪里, which is preferred by the Chinese people in the South, can be used to replace 哪儿, which is preferred by the people in the North. Here are some examples:
你们去哪儿/哪里？Where are you going?
他在哪儿/哪里？Where is he?
In addition, 哪里 can also be used to negate a verb or an adjective. In the dialogue, 哪里 is used to respond to 你好漂亮, meaning “no, not really”. It can be used in a statement like this 她哪里漂亮, indicating “She is not pretty.”
- The verb 想 (xiǎng):
This verb is often followed by another verb, indicating “desire or would like to do something”. For example, 我想打球, meaning “I desire to play ball games”.
When followed by a noun or pronoun, it means “to miss”. For example, 我想妈妈, meaning “I miss my mom”.
- The adverb 好 (hǎo):
In colloquial Chinese, people often use 好 to intensify the degree of adjectives, indicating “so” or “really”. The structure is ‘’Subj. 好 Adj.!”. In this dialogue, the sentence 她好漂亮 means “she is really pretty”.
- Adjectives used as predicates:
In the two sentences: 她好漂亮 and 你好, the adjectives “漂亮” and “好” function as predicates. In Chinese, when an adjective functions as a predicate, it is not preceded by the verb 是. It is usually modified by adverbs like 很 or 好. When forming a question with an adjective as a predicate, the adverbs are usually omitted. To turn the statement 她好漂亮 into a question, we say 她漂亮吗？
- The sentence 有什么事 (yǒu shénme shì):
In this sentence, the subject 你 is omitted. It often occurs in regular conversational Chinese, if both the listener and the speaker know who the latter refers to. The sentence (你)有什么事 can be understood literally as “have what matter”, meaning “what’s the matter?” or “what is this about?”. It is used when the speaker has an assumption that the listener has something to say, but doesn’t know what that is.
In China, people often use 老 (lǎo, old) or 小 (xiǎo, little) before surnames instead of their titles. Here are some rules to follow when using them:
- They are only used when addressing friends, colleagues, neighbors, and acquaintances casually or informally.
- In general, use “小 + surname” to a person who is younger than you, and use “老 + surname” to an older person to show respect.
- Generally, “老 + surname” is often used to address a male, while “小 + surname” can be used for both males and females.
- “老 + surname” can be used to a person who is an acquaintance to you (usually both of you have almost the same age), such as a close friend at school. However, in some cases, close friends will use “老 + surname” as nickname without obvious distinction between ages.
- To call a person who is quite a bit older than you, but still in your generation, you can call him “surname + 哥” and her “surname + 姐” rather than “老 + surname”. If he/she is in your parents’ generation, call him “surname + 叔” and her “surname + 姨”.
- In companies, superiors usually call their subordinates “小 + surname”.
- The best way to determine whether to use “老 + surname” or “小 + surname” is to: (1) See what other people call that person. (2) Ask him/her which one he/she likes.
To learn more about how Chinese people address others, please watch this video.