Archive for March, 2013

(#45) Counters / 碗,杯,份

When you need to order food, of course you can point at the menu and gesture with one finger to indicate you want one of this, or else you will need to accumulate some vocabulary, as well as some counters before you can order naturally.

wan3 as a vocabulary, it refers to ‘a bowl’, and the same word is used as a counter to indicate ‘a bowl of xx’. There is a separate counter to say ‘a plate of xx’, and Chinese food may come in bowl forms or plate forms, but one thing at a time.

yi4 wan3 mian4 A bowl of noodles
yi4 wan3 tang1 A bowl of soup

Regardless you want to order ‘a glass of xx’ or ‘a cup of xx’ or a ‘mug of xx’, you can just use 杯 bei1 to express.

牛奶 yi4 bei1 niu2 nai3 A glass of milk
果汁 yi4 bei1 guo3 zhi1 A glass of fruit juice
咖啡 yi4 bei1 ka1 fei1 A cup of coffee
茶 yi4 bei1 cha2 A cup of tea
啤酒 yi4 bei1 pi2 jiu3 A mug of beer
香槟 yi4 bei1 xiang1 bin1 A flute of champage

One last general counter to share, and this word literally means ‘a portion of xx’, but ‘portion’ may not be small bites or appetitizers, or small snacks, it may also be used to simply represent an order of one item. The word in question here is 份 fen4.

Example, if you want to order a bowl of noodles, you can say 一碗面 yi4 wan3 mian4 like I explained earlier. Or! You can even just point, and say “这个请给我一份。” zhe4 ge4 qing3 gei3 wo3 yi4 fen4 to generically say ‘give me one of this’.


(#44) Past, Now, Future / 以前,现在,以后

There will be other ways to express ‘past’, ‘now’, and ‘future’, but for now I’m going through the basic version.

When you need to refer to something that happened in the general past, you can use 以前 yi3 qian2 to build your sentence.

我以前住在这里。 wo3 yi3 qian2 zhu4 zai4 zhe4 li3. In the past, I stayed here. (Or I used to stay here.)
我和他以前是朋友,现在不是了。wo3 he2 ta1 yi3 qian2 shi4 peng2 you3, xian4 zai4 bu4 shi4 le4 He and I were friends in the last, not now.

I sneakily put in 现在 in the last example, did you notice it?

现在 means ‘now’, and it can be now as in this general time frame, or right now.

我现在没有空。wo3 xian4 zai4 mei2 you3 kong4 I am not free now.
现在几点?xian4 zai4 ji3 dian3 What is the time now?
她现在在学校教书。ta1 xian4 zai4 zai4 xue2 xiao4 jiao1 shu1. She is currently a teacher in a school (literal translation: ‘she now at school teaching’ – but the meaning is to say she is currently a teacher.)

To refer to the future you use 以后.

以后不要这样了。yi3 hou4 bu4 yao4 zhe4 yang4 le4 Don’t be like this in the future.
这件事以后再说。zhe4 jian4 shi4 yi3 hou4 zai4 shuo1. Let’s talk about this at a later stage.