Friday, December 31, 2010

Understanding the Chinese Language (Basic vocabulary and grammar)

I had made this primarily for my girlfriend and my Italian buddy, but I guess I should share it here because I think this might be of great assistance to those who are to learn this language.

Please be aware that there are many variants in this language, and what you learn in this lesson is Mandarin Chinese. Among the variants, there are Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien, Minnan, Shanghai and hundreds more. Mandarin Chinese is the standard Chinese language, and it’s used at most Chinese places such as Taiwan and China. Cantonese is mostly used in Hong Kong, and there are several differences between the two languages such as the pronunciation of certain words.
In Mandarin Chinese, there is a system in pronunciation of words, here to make it simple, it’s four tones in speaking, sound 1, 2, 3 and 4.
For easy reference, listen to the four Chinese words below at Google Translate can help you understand the four pronunciations,
An example for,
Sound 1, 一 [yi1]
Sound 2, 移 [yi2]
Sound 3, 以 [yi3]
Sound 4, 意 [yi4]
This system is similar to a, e, I, o and u in English, and a, I, u, e, o in Japanese.
Here are a few translations:
1. You- 你 [ni3]
2. He/ She/ It- 他/ 她/ 它 [All read as: ta1]
3. I/ Me- 我 [wo3]
4. Them/ They- 他们 [ta1 men2]
(们 signifies that you are addressing to a Group of people)
5. We/ Us- 我们 [wo3 men2]
6. Mine/ Yours/ Theirs/ His/ Hers/ Its- 我的/ 你的/ 他们的/ 他的/ 她的/ 它的 [wo3 de4/ ni3 de4/ ta1 men2 de4/ ta1 de4/ ta1 de4/ ta1 de4]
(的 is usually used to signify something’s owner or someone’s stuff)
7. Those/ These- 那些/ 这些 [na4 xie1/ zhe4 xie1]
(那means something afar, 这 usually means something near to you. 些 means an amount of things. With the two words combined, 那些/ 这些 mean those things and these things respectively)
8. That/ This- 那个/ 这个 [na4 ge4/ zhe4 ge4]
(个means a singular thing)
9. Yes/ No- 是/ 不是 [shi4/ bu2 shi4]
(不usually means “no”. It can be used to answer a question, for instance: Do you smoke? 你抽烟吗?No! 不
No, you can’t do that. 不,你不能这么做。[Bu4, ni2 bu4 neng2 zhe4 me4 zuo4])
10. Can/ Can’t- 能/ 不能 [neng2/ bu4 neng2]
For instance: 你<能> <不能>安静? or keep quiet? Where 安静 [an1 jing4] means quiet
you go? 你<能>去吗?[ni3 neng2 qu4 ma1]
I can. 我能。[Wo3 neng2]
I can’t. 我不能。[Wo3 bu4 neng2]
11. There is (are) or have/ There isn’t (aren’t) or haven’t- 有/ 没有 [you3/ mei2 you3]
有usually means that “You Own Something”
没usually means “to not have something”, for instance, I don’t have a dog- 我没有狗, where 狗means dog [wo3 mei2 you3 gou3]
For instance: 我<有>一双翅膀。I a pair of wings. [Wo2 you3 yi4 shuang1 chi4 bang3]
<有>两个人逃走。 two people who escaped. [You2 liang3 ge4 ren2 tao2 zou3]
你<有> <没有>在听? or listening? [Ni2 you3 mei2 you3 zai4 ting1]
12. Want/ Don’t want- 要,不要 [yao3/ bu2 yao4]
For instance, I a dog 我<要>一只狗 [wo3 yao4 yi4 zhi1 gou3]
I to die! 我<不要>死![wo3 bu2 yao4 si3]
I a cup of coffee, thank you. 我<要>一杯咖啡,谢谢。[wo3 yao4 yi4 bei1 ka1 fei1, xie4 xie4]
Do you want to go out together? 你要一起出去吗?
13. Know/ Don’t know- 知道/ 不知道 [Zhi1 dao4/ Bu4 zhi1 dao4]
For instance: Do you about this? 你<知道>这件事吗?
No, I about this. 不,我<不知道>这件事。
*这件事= This matter
14. Good/ Bad- 好/ 不好 (adjective) [hao3/ bu4 hao3]
Generally, 好 [hao3] is used to describe anything good.
For instance: 好吃, delicious, literally “good to eat” [hao3 chi1]
好事,good things, i.e. 每天都有<好事>发生 happen every day. [Mei3 tian1 dou1 you2 hao3 shi1 fa1 sheng1]
Sometimes, 好is also used to describe an extremity, such as “very” in English.
For instance, 好聪明! Very clever! [hao3 cong1 ming2]
好厉害!Terrific! [Hao1 li4 hai4]
天气很好!The weather is very good! [Tian1 qi4 hen2 hao3]
15. Expressing extremity, using the word “Very”
Usually, the word “very” is 很 [hen3]. 好[hao3]is another way of saying “very” but 很 is used in formal conversation. For instance, 你<很>好,you are good.
Another way of expressing extremity is 非常 [fei1 chang2]. It literally means something “not normal”, meaning extraordinary. For instance, <非常>生气 angry [fei1 chang2 sheng1 qi4]
There are sometimes when people would use, 那么 [na4 me4]. 那么means “so much” or “then” depending on the sentence. For instance, 你<那么>爱她。You love her [ni3 na4 me4 ai4 ta1]
For an example of a sentence of “then”, 你很厉害,<那么>这就交给你做。Since you’re so good, you will do this (a job, responsibility etc.)
As said above, 那means something afar. Nevertheless, it also means “then” as in, “Since…, then…”
Take note, if you’re asking a question that involves 有没有,要不要,能不能,可以不可以,好不好,知不知道,you won’t have to add in 吗 to signify that your sentence is a question.
For example, 你要不要喝杯茶?Do you want to drink a cup of tea?
Alternative: 你要喝杯茶吗?Do you want a cup of tea?
Wrong sentence: 你要不要喝杯茶吗? (The listener will be confused)

Here’s a conversation for example:
A: 你好吗?今天的天气很好。要不要一起出去兜兜风?
B: 好啊,我们去Marina的家吧。
A: 好啊。我们现在去吗?
B: 不,我还有一些事要忙,你等我一下,好不好?
A: 好的,没问题。
Translation in English:
A: How are you? The weather today is very good. Do you want to hang out together?
B: Sure, let’s go to Marina’s house.
A: Sure, shall we go now?
B: No, I still have some things to be busying with, wait for me, okay?
A: Sure, no problem.

In the Chinese numbers, some may confuse 两 and 二。
The Chinese numbers are,
十一, 十二,二十,二十一,二十二,三十
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten
Eleven, twelve, twenty, twenty one, twenty two, thirty
One hundred, one thousand, one million
[Yi1, er4, san1, si4, wu3, liu4, qi1, ba1, jiu3, shi2
Shi2 yi1, shi2 er4, er4 shi2, er4 shi2 yi1, er4 shi2 er4, san1 shi2
Yi1 bai3, yi1 qian1, yi1 wan4]
二is generally used and understood as two. For instance, 二号房间 Room Number 2
两is used for telling an amount of something in two. 两个人 two person, 两只鸟 two birds, 两点 two o’clock.

1 comment:

  1. Try to insert audio for the word so that people can understand them more