16 Lesson 6 Dialogue 2: Calling a Friend





Chinese Pinyin English
jiē v., to pick up
接电话 jiē diàn huà v., to take a phone call
yáng a popular surname in China
shàng v., to go to
年级 nián jí n., grade
用功 yòng gōng adj., hard-working, diligent
n., question/problem items; title, topic
adj., several, a few, a couple of
怎么了 zěn me le question word, used to ask “what’s happened”, “what’s the matter”
练习 liàn xí v./n., to practice/exercise
办公室 bàn gōng shì n., office
开会 kāi huì v., to have a meeting
jiù adv., as early as
adv., used before verbs or prepositional phrases to indicate emphasis
但是 dàn shì conj., but
děi modal verb, have to/must
见面 jiàn miàn v., to meet
xíng adj., alright/okay
上班 shàng bān v., to go to work, to work
下班 xià bān v., to finish work
下课 xià kè v., to finish classes
方便 fāng biàn adj., convenient
kòng n., availability, free time
星巴克 xīng bā kè translation from the English word “Starbucks”
guà v., to hang

Grammar Notes:

  1. The modal verb (děi):
    It is often followed by a verb or a verbal phrase, meaning “need to”, “have to”, or “must”. For example,
    你得好好学中文。(You must work hard on Chinese.)
    现在是八点半,太晚了,我得回家。(Now it’s 8:30 pm. It’s too late. I have to go home.)
    今天是周末,我得给我爸妈打电话。(Today is weekend. I need to call my parents.)
  2. The character
    We have learned this character before. It is often followed by measure words, used to ask quantity questions, meaning “how many”. For example:
    你喝几杯咖啡?(How many cups of coffee do you drink?)
    (How many big sisters do you have?)
    In this dialogue, 他问了我几个问题 is not about quantity questions. Here 几个问题 means “several questions”. More examples:
    上个星期他认识了几个女人。(Last week, he got to know several women.)
    下个月我有几个考试。(Next month I will have a couple exams.)
  3. The adverb (jiù):
    In this dialogue, it has two meanings:
    First, it means “as early as”. It is often used before a verb to indicate that something happened earlier or sooner than expected. For example, 我现在就给他打电话。(I will call him now.) In this sentence, is used before the verb phrase “给他打电话” to indicate that this action will happen soon.
    Second, is often used before verb phrases or prepositional phrases to “add emphasis”. In this sense, it often has an intense or provocative feel to it, similar to “just.” For example, in the sentence 他就是我的爸爸, the character is used before the verb to emphasize the fact 是我的爸爸.
  4. The verb phrase 见面 (jiàn miàn):
    见面 is a “verb + object” structure, where is the verb and is the object. Note: (1) When using this phrase, no objects are needed. (2) 见面 is often used with words like or . For example, 我想跟他见面。(I want to meet him.)
    has the same meaning as 见面; however, is often often by an object. For example, 我想见他。(I want to meet him.) This sentence has the same meaning as 我想和/跟他见面。
  5. The sentence 你(去)忙吧
    This sentence is often used at the end of a conversation, meaning “I won’t bother you. You carry on”. It is another informal way to end a conversation between family members, close friends, and colleagues.
  6. The question expression 怎么了
    It is often used to ask “what has happened”, “what’s up”, “what’s wrong”, or “what’s the problem”. Here is an example:
    A:明天我不能去你家玩。(I cannot go to your home tomorrow.)
    B:怎么了?(What has happened?)
    A:下个星期我有一个考试,明天得在家准备一下。(Next week I will have an exam. Tomorrow I have to stay home to prepare for it.)

Culture Notes:

  1. Telephone numbers in China are organized according to the Chinese Telephone Code Plan. Land lines and mobile phones follow different systems. Land lines use area codes, with the numbers having a two or three-digit area code followed by a seven or eight-digit inner number. However, mobile phones do not use area codes, and the numbers consist of eleven digits in the format 1XX-XXXX-XXXX, in which the first three digits (13X to 19X) designate the mobile phone service provider. For example, 139-1092-8765  is a complete mobile phone number. When people call Chinese number from overseas, they should dial + country code phone number (e.g. (+86) 139-1092-8765).
  2. There are many ways to end a phone call politely. Here are three of them:
    • Apologize, and then end the call: 对不起,我先挂了。(duì bù qǐ, wǒ xiān guà le). Sorry, I’ll hang up first.
    • Explain briefly, and then end the call: 我有事儿,先挂了。(wǒ yǒu shì ér, xiān guà le). I have things to do. I’ll hang up first.
    • Be considerate: 你忙吧,我们以后再聊。(nǐ máng bā, wǒ mén yǐ hòu zài liáo). You carry on. Let’s chat later.

To learn more about other ways to end a call, 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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