14 Lesson 5 Dialogue 2: What did you do?





Chinese Pinyin English
昨天 zuó tiān time word, yesterday
约会 yuē huì n., dating; v., to date
准备 zhǔn bèi v., to prepare; n., preparation
披萨 pī sà n., pizza
寿司 shòu sī n., sushi
饮料 yǐn liào n., beverage
shuǐ n., water
adj., thirsty
可乐 kě lè n., cola
K歌 kēi gē v., to sing karaoke songs
wán v., to play, to have fun
好玩 hǎo wán adj., fun, interesting
别的 bié de adj., other
dào prep., to, till
huí v., to go/come back, to return
回家 huí jiā verb phrase, to go home
ba particle, used at the end of a sentence to communicate some level of uncertainty, or to make an educated guess about something.
cái adv., as late as, not…until
白酒 bái jiǔ n., a strong Chinese liquor (around 40-60% alcohol)
hóng adj., red
红酒 hóng jiǔ n., red wine
图书馆 tú shū guǎn n., library
tīng measure word for an airtight container made of tinplate or aluminium

Grammar Notes:

  1. The word 好玩:
    The adjective 好玩 is formed by putting the adverb before the verb, meaning “nice/pleasant to play with”. This is a way to form adjectives in Chinese, i.e., “+ verb”. For example, we have learned 好吃、好喝、好看.
  2. The particle
    is a particle, used after a verb to indicate its completion. In the example 我去了, 了 is used after the verb , meaning the action was completed. More examples:
    上个星期你去了哪里?(Where did you go last week?)
    我去了小张的家。(I went to Xiao Zhang’s home.)
    你们做了什么?(What did you do?)
    我们吃了一点儿菜,喝了一点儿酒,还唱了歌,跳了舞。(We ate a little food, drank a little wine, sang, and danced.)

    Note: The particle  is not equal to the past tense in English because the particle can also be used with future tense to indicate an action completed in the future. For example, 明天你去了北京以后回家。
  3. The adverb :
    It is always used before verbs to indicate “as late as…”, “not… until”. For example, we have this sentence from the dialogue: 我两点才回家。This sentence means “I didn’t come home until 2:00 a.m.”. In this sentence, the word is an adverb, used before the verb phrase 回家 to indicate “as late as”. More examples:
    爸爸昨天晚上七点才回来。(Last night Dad didn’t come back until 7:00 pm.)
    妈妈八点才做早饭。(Mom didn’t prepare breakfast until 8.)
    我晚上十一点半才睡觉。(I didn’t go to bed until 11:30 pm.)
  4. The preposition
    can be used in the prepositional phrase to introduce the time of the action, indicating the status of the action to this time. The structure is “verb + + time”. For example:
    他昨天学到了十一点。(He studied till/to 11:00 PM yesterday.)
    我玩到晚上十点才回家。(I didn’t go back home until I played till 10:00 PM.)
  5. The word 别的:
    This is an adjective, often used before a noun. For example, 别的人 (other people). In the dialogue, there is a sentence containing this word: 没有问我喝了别的酒没有。([You] didn’t ask me whether I had drunken other wine or not.) Here 别的 is an adjective, used before the noun to modify it.

Culture Notes:

  1. In China, partying is normally done on weekends when people are not busy. If you are invited to a Chinese friend’s party, here are a few things to observe:
  • Prepare a small gift. Your Chinese host may tell you not to bring anything. Actually, they’re just being polite. In the Chinese culture, visiting a friend empty-handed is considered impolite. Bringing fruit, chocolates, or souvenir products from your home country would be welcomed.
  • Be on time. In China, showing up on time is a way to show your appreciation and respect to the host.
  • Greet all people in the house. Start from the most senior, proceeding down the social scale, or as many as you can see from where you are. A simple “ni hao” or “hello” would be okay.
  • Take your shoes off and change into a pair of home slippers your host provides. Your host would probably tell you it’s okay to wear your shoes, but it is more polite to take them off.
  • Your Chinese friend might offer to show you around. Don’t look around without informing your friend.

2. In Chinese, there are some borrowed words from English. They are directly transliterated from English pronunciations. They only imitate the English pronunciations but make no sense literally. Given the differences between Chinese and English in phonetic system, they can only take their approximation. Below are some related to food:
咖啡, kā fēi, coffee
可乐, kě lè, cola
可口可乐, kě kǒu kě lè, coco cola
巧克力, qiǎo kè lì, chocolate
披萨, pī sà, pizza
汉堡, hàn bǎo, hamburger
, pài, pie
三明治, sān míng zhì, sandwich
土司, tǔ sī, toasted bread (the translation comes from the pronunciation “toast”)
威士忌, wēi shì jì, whisky
香槟, xiāng bīn, champagne
柠檬, níng méng, lemon


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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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