Archive for the ‘ Lessons ’ Category

(#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.

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(#43) Please hold on / 请稍等

Time for another set phrase and today I’m starting with the more formal phrase before moving to the casual version.

To ask someone to ‘please hold on’ you say 请稍等 qing3 shao1 deng3 and you can use it when you are answering the phone and you need to transfer the line, or you might hear it from waiters and waitresses when they are trying to arrange a table for you.

As mentioned, this is a more formal way of asking someone else to hold on, alternative you can say 等一下 deng3 yi4 xia4.

deng3 as seen in both examples mean ‘wait’, but it has another meaning as ‘etc’, which I will cover in the next entry.

When someone need your help but you need a moment before you can spare your attention, or you saw someone leaving the seat with the umbrella still hanging off the back of the chair, you can ask that someone to ‘hang on’ or ‘hold on’ or ‘wait a moment’ with the phrase 等一下.

You can pair 不好意思 and 等一下 to become 不好意思,请等一下 bu4 hao3 yi4 si4, qing4 deng3 yi4 xia4 to first get the attention by saying ‘excuse me’ and then quickly add on to ask that someone to ‘hang on a moment’.

Do you still remember about 不好意思? Are you still following well? 🙂

(#42) Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow / 昨天,今天,明天

This is a vocabulary post, I probably need not even dedicate a post to it, but well.

This entry tells you what to say if you need to refer to a certain day.

When I was learning new languages, this is one of the first thing that I will check the dictionary for.

今天 jin1 tian1 today
昨天 zuo2 tian1 yesterday
明天 ming2 tian1 tomorrow

前天 qian2 tian1 day before yesterday
后天 hou4 tian1 day after tomorrow

大前天 da4 qian2 tian1 2 days before yesterday
大后天 da4 hou4 tian1 2 days after tomorrow

这个星期 zhe4 ge4 xing1 qi1 this week
上个星期 shang4 ge4 xing1 qi1 last week
下个星期 xia4 ge4 xing1 qi1 next week

这个月 zhe4 ge4 yue4 this month
上个月 shang4 ge4 yue4 last month
下个月 xia4 ge4 yue4 next month

今年 jin1 nian2 this year
去年 qu4 nian2 last year
明年 ming2 nian2 next year

What a lot of new vocabulary. Have fun making new sentences with them.

Suggestions please

I think I’d went through the most fundamental mandarin conversation points, and I can’t think of what else to write about. 😦

If you have any suggestions, do let me know.

(#41) When / 几时,什么时候

Finally we are at the last interrogative, and if you are keeping tabs, the last interrogative is ‘when’.

To say when, you say 几时 ji3 shi2. Individually, 几 can mean ‘a few’ but right here it means ‘how many’. 时 is the same 时 in 时间 shi2 jian1, which means time.

Quick interjection for vocabulary:
时钟 shi2 zhong1 clock
时代 shi2 dai4 generation
时尚 shi2 shang4 fashion

Another way of asking ‘when’ is by saying 什么时候 shen3 me4 shi2 hou4. 时候 sshi hou4 also means time, but it is because the English word ‘time’ is more accommodating, while Chinese is a bit more particular in this case. 时候 shi2 hou4 can more accurately be understood as ‘a general frame of time’, and together with 什么, you are basically asking ‘generally what time frame’.

几时 and 什么时候 can be used interchangeably, if you prefer to say 4 words instead of 2, you can choose the latter.

你几时有空?ni3 ji3 shi2 you3 kong4? When are you free?
你什么时候有空?ni3 shen3 me4 shi2 hou4 you3 kong4? When are you free?

我几时这样说过?wo3 ji3 shi2 zhe4 yang4 shuo1 guo4? When did I say that?
我什么时候这样说过?wo3 shen2 me4 shi2 hou4 zhe4 yang4 shuo1 guo4? When did I say that?

This few posts will be all time relating date related again. Stay tune!

(#40) Happy / 开心,快乐

I had a good weekend and I was in a good mood, hence I thought I can introduce how to use different words and phrases to express happiness.

开心 kai1 xin1 happy, slightly more causal than the word below
快乐 kuai4 le4 just as commonly used, but this word is slightly more formal.

So I can easily say things like:
我很开心 wo3 hen3 kai1 xin1
我很快乐 wo3 hen3 kuai4 le4

If instead I want to say I’m in a good mood, there is no direct translation, but the nearest is 好心情 hao3 xin1 qing2 which directly means ‘good feeling’.

Sometimes if you see certain Taiwanese / chinese drama etc, there is another word that is often translated into ‘happiness’, and the word is 幸福 xing4 fu2. But if I want to be accurate, this Chinese word is closer to the meaning of ‘blissful’. It means the bliss in, for example, love.

But if you are feeling very ‘blessed’, you can say 我很幸福 wo3 hen3 xing4 fu2 instead of I’m happy, even if it fundamentally means a good feeling.

Are you feeling happy?

(#39) Excuse me / 不好意思

Today I’m introducing a set phrase.

It may not enough to know how to say ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ when you are beginning to learn a new language, knowing how to say ‘excuse me’ will come in handy.

When you want to say ‘excuse me’ you say 不好意思 bu4 hao3 yi4 si4.

If you want to pass and someone is blocking your path, you can say 不好意思,请借过 bu4 hao3 yi4 si4, qing3 jie4 guo4 Excuse me, please let me pass.

If you did something slightly wrong, like bumping into someone on the road, you can choose to say excuse me instead of sorry. In this case, it is perfectly well to say 不好意思.

But of course the degree of seriousness is decided by you isn’t it, if you ate ALL the cake I bought, I might want to strangle you, but you might feel only slightly apologetic and only say 不好意思 too. But I can feel you are not that sincere since you didn’t say 对不起 dui4 bu4 qi3 instead.

The broken-down meaning of 不好意思 explained below. It is a little confusing, so as the irresponsible teacher I am, I’ll say, leave it for another time if you want to, not knowing the broken-down meaning doesn’t hurt anyone in this case.

Combined, it means ‘not having a good feeling’, but 意思 does not mean feeling. We should actually break it up into 不 and 好意思. 好意思, when used as this particular 3 character word, means ‘unashamed’. It is mostly a negative word, used when you want to be sarcastic.

把我的蛋糕都吃完,你真好意思。
You finished all my cake, you are really unashamed eh?

But when used with 不 to become 不好意思, it became a double negative. It basically means ‘not having a good feeling.