Posts Tagged ‘ verbs ’

(#35) How / 怎么

We had covered ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘why’ previously, so we are left with 2 more interrogatives.

Today we will go through ‘how’. It is translated as 怎么 in the most basic manner, but when you hear 怎么 in mandarin conversation, it may not necessarily mean ‘how’.

Depending on context, there is different ways to use 怎么zen3 me4. First you need to know 怎么zen3 me4, which is the “root” to the other variations.

The first variation is 怎么样 zen3 me4 yang4 or 怎样 zen3 yang4 for short.

Let me digress and explain the word 样子 yang4 zi3. It means ‘looks’, or ‘appearance’. But it has no direct association with this word 怎么样.

怎么样 is used in situations when you are enquiring on the well-being, or if you want to ask a very general ‘how’.

If I am sick, you can ask me 你怎么样?ni3 zen3 me4 yang4? . If I tripped and fell, you can ask me 你有没有怎么样ni3 you3 mei2 you3 zen3 me4 yang4. In short, is it to ask ‘How are you’ in a concerned manner, or maybe you can understand it as ‘Are you ok?’

If you ask me a question and I’m taking ages to answer, you can ask me 怎么样?? to express ‘How??’ and if I still don’t give you the reply you are waiting for, you can emphasize by saying 到底怎么样?? dao4 di3 zen3 me4 yang4?? which means ‘In the end, how??’

The second variation of 怎样 is when you used it with a verb.

怎么zen3 me4 qu4 How do you go
怎么知道 zen3 me4 zhi1 dao4 How do I know
怎么可以 zen3 me4 ke3 yi3 How can you
怎么zen3 me4 hui4 How would she (but depending on context it might mean ‘why would she…’)
我们怎么zen3 me4 ban4 How~?? (Or you can understand it as ‘what do we do?’)

怎么办 is a set phrase. Depending on tone and expression it can bring across different meanings. It can be directly translated as ‘how-settle’, meaning you are in a fix and can say 怎么办 to ask for help or suggestions how to settle your problem.

Woot. The word 怎么 is seriously far more difficult than I imagine. Thank you for making it thru to this point. Well done! 🙂


(#23) ..done it/ ..是 .. 的

I have a hard time trying to name the title for this post because the grammar structure cannot be directly translated into english, but since it is frequently used in daily life, so there is a need to go through the usage here. It is a little like passive voice, but yet not exactly. Bear with me, guys.

Remember? We went through the following example before:
杯子谁打破bei1 zi3 shi4 shui2 da3 po4 de4? directly translated: (The) glass, it is who, broke it?

But for simplicity’s sake let’s assume I’d confessed to the crime:
杯子我打破bei1 zi3 shi4 wo3 da3 po4 de4.   directly translated: (The) glass, it is me, broke it

The grammar structure is Pronoun/Noun + 是/不是 + Pronoun + Verb + 的.

In this example

Noun = 杯子 bei1 zi2 glass
Pronoun = 我 wo3 me
Verb = 打破 da3 po4 broke

You should still recall that 是/不是 shi4/bu4 shi4 is the verb for ‘am’, ‘are’, ‘is’/’am not’, ‘are not’, ‘is not’. You probably can also recall 的 is used as apostrophe-s, but in this case, it is added to the back of a verb, modifying the verb to give it a ‘done-it’ meaning.

By the way, 杯子我打破 bei1 zi3 shi4 wo3 da3 po4 de4 is a sentence form.  During a conversation, you can answer (a little) more concisely with 是/不是 + Pronoun + Verb + 的.

杯子谁打破bei1 zi3 shi4 shui2 da3 po4 de4?  Who broke the glass?
我打破shi4 wo3 da3 po4 de4.  It is me who broke it.

More examples:

苹果我吃. ping2 guo3 shi4 wo3 chi1 de4. It is me who ate the apple.

电视机她关. dian4 shi4 ji1 shi4 ta1 guan1 de4. It is her who switched off the television

谁说shi4 shui2 shuo1 de4? Who said so?

我说! shi4 wo3 shuo1 de4! It is I who said so!

这些苹果妈妈买zhe4 xie1 ping2 guo3 shi4 ma1 ma1 mai3 de4. It is Mother bought these apples.

妹妹妈妈接回来mei4 mei4 shi4 ma1 ma1 jie1 hui2 lai2 de4. It is Mother brought sister home.


New Vocabulary:

  • 苹果 ping2 guo3 apple
  • 电视机 dian4 shi4 ji1 television
  • guan1 shut down, close, switch off
  • xie1 some
  • mai3 buy
  • 妹妹 mei4 mei4 younger sister
  • 接回来 jie1 hui2 lai2 fetch back, brought back

(#22) Past tense / 了

One great thing about learning chinese, is that there is no complicated past tenses to learn. As a matter of fact, it is so simple that I don’t even need to explain much.

To express a verb in past tense, you just need to add 了 le4. Sometimes in conversation we pronounce it as liao3 too, because it is a bit more colloquial, and it is cute sounding.

Ok, examples next.

zuo4 do        做 zuo4 le4 did
chi1 eat        吃 chi1 le4 ate
he1 drink      喝 he1 le4 drank
qu4 go          去 qu4 le4 went
mai3 buy      买 mai3 le4 bought
shuo1 say    说 shuo1 le4 said

I think it is extremely clear how to form past tenses in Chinese, I’ll take the chance to introduce some new vocabulary, why don’t you practice forming past tenses with them?

ting1 listen, hear
lai2 come
kan4 see, watch
zou3 walk (in certain contexts, go)
xiao4 smile
ku1 cry

(#17) Want, Don’t want / 要,不要

As seen in the previous post’s examples, to say you ‘want to’, you say ‘要’ yao4. On its own, it means ‘want’, and when used beside pronouns, it becomes clear someone wants something.

我要 wo3 yao4 I want
他们要 ta1 men2 yao4 They want

The usage is similar to English. You can say want + verb, or want + noun, or want + pronoun, but using it with verbs is probably the most commonly used.

吃午餐。wo3 yao4 chi1 wu3 can1. I want to eat lunch.
喝啤酒。wo3 yao4 he1 pi2 jiu3. I want to drink beer.
买新的高跟鞋。wo3 yao4 mai2 xin1 de1 gao1 gen1 xie2. I want to buy new heels.

To express the opposite, add ‘不’ bu4 to the front of ‘要’ and it becomes ‘不要’ bu4 yao4 – don’t want.

不要听!wo3 bu4 yao4 ting! I don’t want to to listen!
忘记做功课。bu4 yao4 wang4 ji4 zuo4 gong1 ke4. Don’t forget to do homework.
你们这么吵。ni3 men2 bu4 yao4 zhe4 me4 chao3. (You guys) Don’t be so noisy.

If you need to ask a question, there is two ways to form it.

吃苹果吗?ni3 yao4 chi1 ping2 guo3 ma1? Do you want to eat apple?

要不要吃苹果?ni3 yao4 bu4 yao4 chi1 ping2 guo3? Do you want or don’t want to eat apple?

In the first case, you simply add a ‘吗?’ ma1 to the end of sentence. Remember ‘你好吗?’ ni3 hao3 ma1?

In the second, even though the translated version sounds weird, it is really how we speak it in mandarin! As you can see, the ‘要不要’ yao4 bu4 yao4, which is directly translated as “want or dont want”, had turned into a “yes or no?” modifier to the sentence.

New Vocabulary:

  • 午餐 wu3 can1 lunch
  • xin1 new
  • 高跟鞋 gao1 gen1 xie2 high heels, stilettos
  • ting1 listen
  • 苹果 ping2 guo3 apple

(#15) Do, Eat, Drink / 做,吃,喝

Let’s start learing some common verbs!
This post will be full of vocabulary, but don’t get distracted away from the main points, which are the verbs.

‘To do’ is 做 zuo4. It can also mean ‘to make’ in certain contexts.

zuo4 gong1 to work
我星期六得工。 wo3 xing1 qi2 liu4 dei2 zuo4 gong1. I have to work this saturday.

zuo4 meng4 to dream
我昨晚了个噩梦。wo3 zuo2 wan3 zuo4 le4 ge4 e4 meng4. I had a nightmare last night.

功课 zuo4 gong1 ke4 to homework
我忘记功课! wo3 wang4 ji4 zuo4 gong1 ke4! I forgot to do (implied: my) homework
To eat is 吃 chi1. Nuff said.

chi1 fan4 literally it means ‘eat rice’; but it generically means to have a meal.
饭了吗? ni3 chi1 fan4 le4 ma1? Have you eaten?

早餐 chi1 zao3 can1 literally it means ‘eat breakfast’, but it is just means to have breakfast.
我忘记早餐 wo3 wang4 ji4 chi1 zao3 can1. I forgot to eat breakfast.
To drink is 喝 he1.

he1 shui3 drink water
一天要八杯水 yi4 tian1 yao4 he1 ba1 bei2 shui3 should drink eight glasses of water a day

啤酒 he1 pi2 jiu3 drink beer

New Vocabulary:

  • 星期六 xing1 qi2 liu4 saturday
  • 昨晚 zuo2 wan3 last night
  • 噩梦 e4 meng4 nightmare
  • 忘记 wang4 ji4 forgot
  • 早餐 zao3 can1 breakfast
  • 一天 yi4 tian1 a day
  • 八杯水 ba1 bei1 shui3 eight glasses of water
  • 啤酒 pi2 jiu3 beer

(#6) Am not, aren’t, isn’t / 不是

Previously I’d mentioned that, in replacement of am, are, is, the word 是 shi4 is used. Today I’m going to introduce the opposite. To say ‘am not’, ‘are not’, ‘is not’, as well as their respective past tenses, you can use 不是 bu4 shi4.

不是我 bu4 shi4 wo3 it’s not me
这个不是书 zhe4 ge4 bu4 shi4 shu1 this is not a book
他不是我的哥哥 ta1 bu4 shi4 wo3 de4 ge1 ge1 he is not my elder brother
不是这样的 bu4 shi4 zhe4 yang4 de4 it’s not like this (situation)

New Vocabulary:

  • shu1 book
  • 哥哥 ge1 ge1 elder brother

(#4) Am, are, is / 是

‘Am’, ‘is’, ‘are’, as well as the respective past tenses, are all represented by "是"(shi4) in Chinese.

我是 wo3 shi4 : I am
你是 ni3 shi4 : you are
他是 ta1 shi4: he is
他们是 ta1 men2 shi4: they are

In the same manner as you would in English, you can draw parallel when using 是 shi4. For example you can say

这是 zhe4 shi4: this is
那是na4 shi4: that is

On its own, 是 shi4 means something else too. But that’s for next time.

New Vocabulary

  • shi4 am, is, are (in this case; this character has other meaning)
  • zhe4 this
  • na4 that