18 Lesson 7 Dialogue 2: The beginning of a class





Chinese Pinyin English
教室 jiào shì n., classroom
报告 bào gào v., to report
zǎo adj., early
早上 zǎo shàng time word, morning
这么 zhè me adv., so
wǎn adj., late
迟到 chí dào v., to arrive late
v., to get up
以后 yǐ hòu adv., in the future
kuài adj., fast
开始 kāi shǐ v., to start, to begin
对话 duì huà n., dialogue, conversation; v., to converse
语法 yǔ fǎ n., grammar
zhǐ n., paper
zhī measure word for pens, pencils, etc.
n., a general noun for pens, pencils, etc.
xīn adj., new
课文 kè wén n., text
以前 yǐ qián conj., before
测试 cè shì n., test
biàn measure word, indicating “times” like once, twice, three times
录音 lù yīn v./n., to record; recording
niàn v., to read aloud
下面 xià miàn adv./adj., next, the following
如果 rú guǒ conj., interchangeable with 要是 except that it is more used in formal situations
回答 huí dá v., to answer, to respond
v., to raise
shǒu n., hand

Grammar Notes:

  1. Questions with 怎么(zěn me, how; how come):
    We have learned that the question word 怎么 can be used when asking “how?”. For example, 你怎么写这个字? How do you write this character? In this dialogue, there is a sentence 今天怎么没有去上课, where 怎么 is used to ask “why?” or “how come?”. When used this way, it is similar to the question word 为什么 (wèishénme). The structure is: “Subj. + 怎么 (+ 不/没) + Verb + Obj.?“. For instance, 你怎么没做功课?How come you didn’t do your assignments? When using 怎么 to ask why, the speaker conveys an emotion.
    When asking “why?” or “how come?”, 怎么 can also be followed by adjectives, as in the structure: “Subj. + 怎么 (+ 不) + Adj.“. Here is an example: 你怎么不高兴?How come you are unhappy?
    怎么 can also be followed by 这么(zhème)/那么(nàme) plus adjectives to express the feeling of disbelief, as in the structure: “Subj. + 怎么 + 这么/那么 + Adj.“. For example, 你怎么这么好?他怎么那么帅?
  2. The adverb
    It is used before verbs to express that something happened later than expected, translated as “as late as”/”not…until…”. This word is often used with a specific time, as in the structure: “Subj. + Time + + Verb“. For example, 我今天早上九点才起来。I got up as late as 9 a.m. this morning.
  3. Compare (cái) with (jiù):
    Differences: implies a sense of lateness, while indicates a sense of earliness.
    Similarities: (1) both are adverbs used before verbs; (2) both have to do with expressing time.
    Examples: 爸爸晚上十一点才睡觉。(Dad didn’t sleep until 11.) 爸爸晚上九点就睡觉了。(Dad went to bed as early as 9 p.m.) Note that is often used with , while is not.
  4. Differences between 一点儿 and 有点儿:
    有(一)点(儿) is placed before an adjective, expressing a tone of complaint by the speaker, or some other form of negative impression. It doesn’t just mean “a bit,” but rather “a bit too” (for the speaker’s liking). For example, 第七课有点儿难。(Lesson 7 is a bit too difficult.)
    (一)点(儿) is placed before a noun, indicating “some,” “a little,” or “a bit” used in the same way as these words in English. For example, 我想听点儿音乐。I would like to listen to some music.
    Note that when using the two phrases in spoken Chinese, the Chinese people in the North would prefer to add sound, while the people in the South would not.
  5. The conjunction 以前
    This word means “before”. Similar to English, it can be used as either a preposition or a conjunction. However, unlike in English, it is placed after the time phrase or the verb phrase. When using it in a Chinese sentence, the structure is “Event/Action/Time + 以前,…”. For example,
    睡觉以前,我看书。(Before going to bed, I read books.)
    学对话以前,我们学生词。(Before learning the dialogue, we will study the new words.)
    九点以前,你做了什么?(Before nine, what did you do?)
  6. The particle indicating “change of status”
    When the particle is placed after adjectives or non-action verbs, it often indicates a change of status. For instance, in the sentence 你们懂了吗, the particle is put after the non-action verb , indicating the change of status from “not understand” to “understand”. Here are some more examples:

Culture Notes:

Chinese culture values education a lot, and therefore it has a very strict educational system, especially in the 1-12 setting. Here are some behavior etiquettes you should know:

  • A typical class usually starts with the greetings between students and their teacher. The teacher would say “上课”. The whole class would stand up and reply with “老师好”. In more traditional classes, students would do it with a bow, and the teacher bows back. It is believed that this practice demonstrates mutual respect and helps students get into the classroom mode quickly.
  • Class attendance is mandatory in China, and being punctual for class is normally required as a school rule. If a student is late for class, he/she would have to stand at the classroom door and say “报告 bao4 gao4” to get the teacher’s attention and permission to enter the classroom. Normally the teacher would allow the student to go in if he/she is not very late and the reason for being late is reasonable. Otherwise, he/she will be punished by standing at the door or in the back of the classroom for the whole period of class.
  • When answering the teacher’s questions, students are normally required to raise their hands.
  • Leaving in the middle of class to use the restroom or get some drinks is considered VERY rude and disruptive.
  • It is impolite for students to pack their schoolbags before the teacher finishes class. Wait until the teacher says 下课.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Elementary Chinese I Copyright © 2022 by Wenying Zhou is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book