|家人||jiā rén||n., family members|
|老公||lǎo gōng||n., husband, often used by wives to call their husbands in oral Chinese|
|买||mǎi||v., to buy|
|起床||qǐ chuáng||v., to get out of bed|
|起来||qǐ lái||v., to get up|
|已经||yǐ jīng||adv., already|
|上网||shàng wǎng||v., to go online|
|刷牙||shuā yá||v., to brush teeth|
|洗脸||xǐ liǎn||v., to wash face|
|正在||zhèng zài||adv., in the process of doing something|
|到||dào||v., to arrive|
|用||yòng||v., to use|
|作业||zuò yè||n., homework, assignment|
|发音||fā yīn||n., pronunciation|
|一边…，一边…||yī biān…yī biān…||adv., at the same time|
|电脑||diàn nǎo||n., computer|
|带||dài||v., to bring, to take|
|食堂||shí táng||n., dining hall|
|最近||zuì jìn||n., recently|
|还||hái||adv., used to tone down the adjective after it, as in 还行, meaning “pretty good”|
|…的时候||de shí hòu||conj., when|
- 就 in the sentence “李文美给家人买了早饭以后就回了家”
This is an adverb, used before the verb phrase 回家 to indicate “quickness or immediacy” of the actions. One more example:
吃了饭以后就去买电脑。(Right after eating, let’s go to buy a computer.) In this sentence, 就 is used before the verb phrase 去买电脑 to indicate the action 去买电脑 will occur immediately after 吃饭.
- The verb 用 in the sentence 他用它做作业做到很晚
In the sentence above, 用它 literally means “use it” or “with it”, indicating an instrument or tool, which is placed before the verb phrase 做功课. The structure is “Subject + 用 sth. + Verb phrase”. Note that in this structure, 用 sth. is placed BEFORE verbs. For example:
我们用电脑打字。(We type with computers.)
他用一支笔写字。(He writes with a pen.)
- The adverb 正在 in the sentence 他正在刷牙、洗脸
It is an adverb, used before the verb phrases 刷牙、洗脸 to express that the two actions are ongoing or in progress. You may consider it as “the present continuous tense” in English. 正在 is often shortened to 在 or 正 in everyday Chinese. For example:
爸爸正在开会。=爸爸在开会。=爸爸正开会。(Dad is having a meeting.)
- The particle 了 in the sentence 时间不早了
We already learned 了 used to indicate “completion of an action”, as in the sentence 昨天我做了作业 (Yesterday I did my homework.)
In this dialogue, 了 has two other usages.
One is used together with 已经 to indicate “already” in Chinese, as in the sentence 已经七点半了. The structure is “Subject + 已经 + event + 了“. For example,
我已经做了作业。(I already did my homework.)
今年我已经22岁了。(I am already 22 years old this year.)
The other usage is to express “change of status”, as in the sentence “时间不早了” (“Time is not early”, indicating that the time has changed from early to not early). The structure is “Subject + adj./verb + 了“. Below are some more examples:
我累了。(I am tired.) The 了 in this sentence indicates that my status changed from “not being tired” to “being tired”.
你有女朋友了？(Do you have a girlfriend now?) So 了 here means the change of status from “not having a girlfriend” to “having a girlfriend”.
- 一边…，一边… in the sentence 他们一边吃早饭一边聊天
This pattern is used to describe simultaneous actions, equivalent to “doing thing 1 while doing thing 2” in English. The structure is “Subject + 一边 + Verb 1 (，) + 一边 + Verb 2“. For example:
妈妈一边吃饭一边看书。(While mom is eating, she is reading.)
我常常一边做作业，一边听音乐。(I often listen to the music while doing my homework.)
Note: In conversational Chinese, people sometimes shorten 一边 to 边. Therefore, you may hear Chinese people say 我们边吃边说 (Let’s talk while eating)。
- …的时候 in the sentence 吃饭的时候，别看电脑
This phrase is used after a time or event phrase or clause to express events that happened at or during a particular time, equivalent to “when” in English. It is attached to the time word or event phrase that indicates the time. As in the sentence 吃饭的时候，别看电脑, “吃饭” is the event phrase that indicates the time. “的时候” is used after it. The structure is “time word/event phrase 的时候，main clause...”. For example:
七点钟的时候，我在看书。(When it was 7, I was reading.)
我看书的时候，妈妈正在做饭。(When I was reading, my mom was cooking.)
Here 还 is used to tone down 行, indicating that the speaker is being modest. The structure is “Subject + 还 + 行.” For example, if you ask me “你考试考得怎么样 (How did you do in the exam)”, I can respond with 还行 (pretty good but not great). In this structure, the adjective 行 can also be replaced with 好，不错，可以.
- 能 in the sentence 我能跟外国人说一点儿英文
This verb can be translated into “can” in English, indicating “capability”. The structure is “Subject + 能 + verb phrase.” For example:
我能喝两瓶酒。(I can drink two bottles of wine.)
我的电脑能上网。(My computer can go online.)
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. For example,
九点以前，我起床了。(preposition, meaning “before”. “Before 9:00, I got up.”)
你去上课以前，来一下我的办公室。(conjunction, meaning “before”. “Before you go to take classes, please come to my office.”)
Chinese people typically have their breakfast between 7-9 AM. Some people make their own breakfast, some buy it from street vendors to take home, and some order delivery. Most people will buy food from breakfast vendors on the street and eat on the spot. However, many of them don’t have time to sit down, so they will just finish their food on their way to catch the bus, subway, or taxi. This is especially true for the people who live in the cities.
As China is a very big country, breakfast dishes differ significantly from place to place. The difference between northern and southern China is even greater. To name a few: deep-fried dough sticks 油条 (yóu tiáo), steamed buns 馒头 (mán tóu), steamed buns with meat or vegetables 包子 (bāo zi), tofu pudding 豆腐脑 (dòu fǔ nǎo), congee 粥 (zhōu), egg crepe 鸡蛋饼 (jī dàn bǐng), dumplings 饺子 (jiǎo zi), wheat noodles 面条 (miàn tiáo), rice noodles 米粉 (mǐ fěn), bread 面包 (miàn bāo), eggs 鸡蛋 (jī dàn), soybean milk 豆浆 (dòu jiāng). These are all popular breakfast dishes in both northern and southern China. However, different regions, or even different cities have their own featured breakfast dishes. For example, in Tianjin, a mega-city close to Beijing, people prefer to eat Chinese savory crepes 煎饼果子 (jiān bǐng guǒ zi), while in Wuhan, a mega-city in the center of China, people like to eat hot-dry-noodles 热干面 (rè gān miàn) together with rice wine 米酒 (mǐ jiǔ). To learn more about what Chinese people eat for breakfast, please watch this interesting video.
It is also interesting to note that eating breakfast is very different in Guangdong Province where local people normally enjoy a long breakfast time, called 早茶 (zǎochá, literally ‘morning tea’). They enjoy leisurely eating dimsum (点心 diǎnxīn, literally, ‘touch heart’) for breakfast in restaurants and chat for a long time, especially on weekends. If you are interested in learning about what dimsum is, please watch this video.