12 Lesson 4 Dialogue 2: Meeting old and new friends


(Wang Dazhong and Li Meiying are colleagues in a company. They are drinking coffee in a café. Suddenly, Wang Dazhong’s attention gets snatched.)
李美英好,我帮你。……. 张小文!


Vocabulary words:

Chinese Pinyin English
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 dé v., to feel, to think
哪里 nǎ  lǐ question word, where; adv., used to negate predicates
en filler word, um
不错 bù cuò adj., pretty good
lǎo adj., old
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
bāng v., to help
hǎo adv., very, very much (often used in colloquial Chinese)
jiǔ adj., very long (time)
好久不见 hǎo jiǔ bù jiàn expression, Long time no see
a interjection to express exclamation, ahh
lái v., to come
zuò v., to sit
zhǎo v., to look for
别人 bié rén n., other people, another person
聊天 liáo tiān v., to chat

Grammar Notes:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 also 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.”
  3. The verb (xiǎng):
    This verb is often followed by another verb, indicating “desire or would like to do something”. For example,
    我想打球。(I would like to play ball).
    你明天想做什么?(What would you like to do tomorrow?)
  4. The adverb (hǎo):
    In colloquial Chinese, people often use to intensify the degree of adjectives, indicating “so” or “really”. The structure is ‘’Subj. Adj.!”. In this dialogue, the sentence 她好漂亮 means “she is really pretty”. Here are more examples:
    今天我们好忙啊!(Today we are so busy.)
    北京好大啊!(Beijing is so big.)
    他这个人好好啊!(He is so nice.)
  5. 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 . It is usually modified by adverbs like or . For example, 那个男人很高、很帅。(That guy is tall and handsome.)
    When forming a question with an adjective as a predicate, the adverbs are usually omitted. For example, to turn the statement 她好漂亮 into a question, we say 她漂亮吗?
  6. The sentence 有什么事 (yǒu shénme shì):
    In this sentence, the subject 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. More examples:

Culture Notes:

In China, people often use (lǎo, old) or (xiǎo, little) before surnames instead of their titles. Here are some rules to follow when using them:

  1. They are only used when addressing friends, colleagues, neighbors, and acquaintances casually or informally.
  2. In general, use “小 + surname” to a person who is younger than you, and use “ + surname” to an older person to show respect.
  3. Generally, “ + surname” is often used to address a male, while “ + surname” can be used for both males and females.
  4. + 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 “ + surname” as nickname without obvious distinction between ages.
  5. To call a person who is quite a bit older than you, but still in your generation, you can call him “surname + ” and her “surname + ” rather than “ + surname”. If he/she is in your parents’ generation, call him “surname + ” and her “surname + 姨”.
  6. In companies, superiors usually call their subordinates “+ surname”.
  7. The best way to determine whether to use “ + surname” or “+ 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.


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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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