Lesson 1 – Greetings

Welcome To Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin is the official language of China, and Taiwan. Although there are many dialects, every Chinese person you meet will speak and understand Mandarin. It is officially classified as a “difficult” language, but in some ways it is easier than English.

The lack of irregular verbs, lack of verb endings and the presence of consistent pronouns are among the reasons why it could be considered easier. In Mandarin, once you learn a word, its yours. 

Mandarin is written in Chinese characters, which are not phonetic. In order to learn the language we will use pinyin, a phonetic representation. Each Chinese character is pronounced as a single syllable and represented phonetically as a pinyin syllable. The table below uses an example to illustrate this relationship.

Pinyin Chinese English Audio
Ní hǎo 你好 Hello

The main goal of the first ten lessons is learn pronunciation. Using a phonetic representation, instead of characters, makes this easier to achieve.  In addition to pronunciation, learning pinyin has other benefits as well: such as Looking up words in a dictionary and typing Chinese characters on a keyboard or mobile phone


Tone Chart

Mandarin has only 409 distinct syllables. Compared to more than 5000 English syllables, this is a small number. Once you master these 409 sounds, you can pronounce any word in Mandarin.

Mandarin is a tonal language, where “tone” is actually a change in pitch that occurs during the pronunciation of a syllable. Tone marks are placed above the vowels as guide to pronunciation. The table below illustrates how tones change the meaning of words that sound like “ma”.

Tones are not optional.  If you use the wrong tone, you said the wrong word.  Missing the tone generally confuses your listener. So, unless you have a musician’s ear, it is a good idea to memorize the tone when you learn a word.

Some words will take a different tone depending on the tone of the word that follows. This is called tone change, or “spoken tone”. There are just three types of tone change, which will be explained later. Standard text books do not show spoken tone. However this courseware does, in order to make the expected pronunciation more clear.

1stma1high levelMother
3rdma3falling then risingHorse
  • 4 tones: mā má mǎ mà
  • Mother scolds a horse: māma mà mǎ
  • Click on bolded pinyin in the chart to hear the differences.


How are you?

Note: In the first column of the table below 王 (Wáng) and 张 (Zhāng) are common family names in China.

Ní hǎo ma?你好吗?How are you?
Wǒ hén hǎo.我很好。I am fine (very good).

Are you busy?

Nǐ máng ma?你忙吗?Are you busy?
Wǒ bù máng, nǐ ne?我不忙,你呢?I’m not busy, how about you?
Wó yě bù máng.我也不忙。I am also not busy.

Good Morning!

Zǎoshang hǎo!早上好!Good morning!
Nǐ máng ma?你忙吗?Are you busy?
Wó hěn máng, nǐ ne?我很忙,你呢?I am very busy, and you?
Wǒ yé hěn máng.我也很忙。I am also very busy.


youPronoun, second person singular.
hǎogoodAdjective, generally indicating a positive quality.
你好ní hǎohelloA greeting, not a question.
I or mePronoun, first person singular. Note: wǒ can be used as a subject (“I”) or an object (“me”).
hěnveryAdverb of degree
maParticle, used to request confirmation. Similar to a rising tone in English.
newhat about ..?Particle, used to request more information.
alsoAdverb, expressing similarity
notAdverb of negation
早上zǎoshangmorningNoun, early in the day
晚上wǎnshangeveningNoun, late in the day
再见zàijiàngood byeExpression, taken separately the characters mean “again” “meet”.

Tone Change

When two 3rd tone syllables occur in sequence, the first syllable is usually pronounced with a 2nd tone. This makes the sentence easier to say. For example “nǐ hǎo” (the written form) is normally pronounced “ní hǎo” (the spoken form). Unfortunately, all books published with pinyin use the written form and let you figure out how to say it. In contrast, this courseware will display the spoken form at all times, so you don’t have to guess about the pronunciation.

Grammar Patterns

Grammar is the patterns of a language. Although every pattern has exceptions, recognizing the language patterns improves our feel for the language.


All the sentences in this lesson describe conditions: good, bad, busy, not busy. It is interesting to note that they do not contain any form of the verb “is”. Mandarin does have a verb that is similar to “is”, which we will learn in the 3rd lesson. The table below illustrates the structure of sentences that express conditions.

subject adjective phrase meaning
hén hǎo. I am very good
bù máng You are not busy



Particles, like ma and ne in Chinese, are structural words. They are used to indicate the purpose of a sentence (such as question or statement) without effecting the content.

  • When ma occurs at the end of a sentence it is asking for confirmation. For example “Nǐ máng” is the statement “You are busy”, while  “Nǐ máng ma?” asks for confirmation of that statement.
  • When ne occurs at the end of a sentence it indicates a more open ended question. For example “nǐ ne?” means “what about you?” and “wǒ ne” means “what about me?”.

Seeking Confirmation

We learned two sentences that seek confirmation in this lesson: “Nǐ máng ma?” and “Ní hǎo ma?”. All confirmation questions have the same structure: a statement, followed by “ma”. This is much easier than English, where we change the order of subject and verb.

Statement “?” Answer
Wǒ máng ma? Máng
Ní hǎo ma? Hén hǎo
Nǐ máng ma? Máng

Confirming the question also differs from English. Chinese does not have a simple “yes” and “no”;. Instead, the Chinese speaker uses the verb or adverb of the sentence in its positive or negative form.

Here are some examples of answers to “Nǐ máng ma?”.

  • Wó hěn máng. – affirmative response
  • Bù máng. – affirmative response
  • Wǒ máng. – omitting any adverbs
  • Máng. – brief and succinct

After answering you can use “Nǐ ne?” to return the question. And, if the second answer is consistent with the first you can add to the response

  • Wǒ yé hěn máng.
  • Yé hěn máng.
  • Wó yě máng.
Statement “?” Answer
Wó hěn máng, nǐ ne? Wǒ yé hěn máng
Bù máng, nǐ ne? Wó yě bù máng
Máng, nǐ ne? Wó yě máng


Just as in English, a response to a greeting is usually the same as the greeting.

Greeting Response
Zǎo Zǎo
Ní hǎo. Ní hǎo.
Zǎoshang hǎo. Zǎoshang hǎo.
Wǎnshang hǎo. Wǎnshang hǎo.
Zàijiàn. Zàijiàn.


There are two types of flashcards to choose from. Each type has two sides. Both types will provide valuable practice opportunities.

  • Pinyin to English Flashcards will display the pinyin first and give you the opportunity to remember the English meaning.
  • Chinese to English Flashcards will display a Chinese character first. When the character is displayed you will hear the word pronounced. Don’t worry about reading the character, your job is to listen to the word and remember the pinyin and tone mark.



Also check out …

See this page for Sentence Practice

See this website more general pinyin practice

Lesson 2 – Teacher and Students

Mr Wang () approaches a group of college students visiting a local museum.

Nǐ shì lǎoshī ma?你是老师吗?Are you the teacher?
Bú shì。Wǒ bú shì lǎoshī。Wǒ shì xuésheng。不是,我不是老师。我是学生。No. I am not the teacher. I am a student.
Shéi shì lǎoshī?谁是老师?Who is the teacher?
Tā shì lǎoshī。Tā shì Zhāng lǎoshī。她是老师,她是张老师。She is the teacher. She is teacher Zhang.
Tā shì Yīngguó rén ma?她是英国人吗?Is she British?
Bú shì,tā shì Měiguó rén.不是,她是美国人。No, she is American.
Tāmen shì Zhāng lǎoshī de xuésheng ma?他们是张老师的学生吗?Are they teacher Zhang’s students?
Qǐng wèn, tāmen shì nǎguó rén?请问,他们是哪国人?What nationality are they?
Tāmen dōu shì Zhōngguó rén。他们都是中国人。They are all Chinese.
Improve your pronunciation! After listening to the audio, try recording your own voice. Click here to repeat the last audio played


shìam/isVerb “to be”, but never used with adjectives
老师lǎoshīteacherNoun or title depending on context
guócountryNoun, often used as part of a country name
美国MěiguóAmericaProper noun
英国YīngguóEnglandProper noun
中国ZhōngguóChinaProper noun
whichInterrogative pronoun (question word), for example nǎguó means “which country”
rénpeopleNoun, meaning people
menpluralSuffix, indicating more than one, for example wǒmen (we/us) and lǎoshīmen (teacher)
dewhoparticle, indicating a relationship between two nouns
shéiwhoInterrogative pronoun, seeking the identity of someone
dōualladverb, this word must precede a verb
他,她him/her/she/he/itPronoun, third person singular
请问qǐngwènMay I ask ..Expression used to preface a question

Pinyin and Pronunciation

Each lesson will cover about 40 pinyin in a chart similar to the one below. Pinyin are composed of two parts: “initials” and “finals”. Initials are all consonants and the finals are vowels or vowel-like

  • initials: b, p, m, f, d, t, n, l, k, g, h, zh, ch, sh, j, q, x, z, c, s, r
  • finals: a, e, i, o, u, ü, n, ng, (and 29 other combinations of these 8)

These initials and finals combine to form 402 pinyin syllables. Which is very small number compared to over 5,000 in English. Not all pinyin syllables have initials. Here are some examples of initial and final combinations:

Pinyin Initial Final Chinese English
wo (none) o me
ni n i you
hao h ao good

In the pinyin chart below you can see how each pinyin syllable is composed of an initial part (in the top row) and a final part (in the left column).

Click on the pinyin syllable to hear its pronunciation.

owobopomofo whoa
ee me detenelegekehemud
iyibipimi ditinili need
üyu         few


  • The first column contains a list of finals, the first row contains the initials. Together these two parts combine to make a single pinyin sound.
  • The second column contains pinyin which have no initial. Some of these syllables start with a “w” or “y” to make them easier to read, but it does not indicate a change in pronunciation. For example “yi” is pronounced “ee” not “yee”, the “y” is just decoration.
  • To hear the difference between ü and u, try saying phew and foo.
  • To pronounce ü, try saying “ee” and then protrude your lips. In other words, your tongue teeth and throat are in the same position when you pronounce “ee” and “ew”, only your lip position differs.

Pinyin Practice:

Listen, and circle the correct choice

1 ba – bo, me – mi, ta – tu, fa – fo
2 he – ke, nu – nü, ga – ka, ku – hu

Listen, and add the tone marks

1 mang, lei, hao, lao shi, xue sheng
2 Ying guo, Mei guo, Zhong guo, na guo
3 Zhong guo ren, ta men, wo men, ni men

Grammar Patterns

The verb “shì”

This verb is similar to the English verb “to be”, with two notable differences

  1. It is regular. No matter how it is used, it is aways “shì”. Chinese has no irregular verbs.
  2. It is never used with adjectives.

For example, “Tā máng” expresses “He is busy” without using shì, or any other verb.

Shì is not used with adjectives but it is used with nouns.

  • Tā shì Yīngguó rén
  • Wǒ shì lǎoshī

Basic sentence pattern

The basic sentence structure in Chinese is subject – verb – object. Chinese does use the subject – object – verb pattern found in Japanese and German, but it will not be introduces until the level 3 series.

subject verb object
shì Měiguó rén.
xìng Lǐ.
jiào shénme míngzi?

This sentence structure is also used when asking questions. For example, to solicit confirmation of a statement, the statement is simply followed by a ma. This is a lot easier than the English pattern of inverting the subject and verb.

statement ma
Nǐ shì Měiguó rén ma?
Tā xìng Lǐ ma?


The particle de can be used to indicate possessive. This particle de is equivalent to the apostrophe-s suffix in English.

  • tāmen de lǎoshī – Their teacher
  • lǎoshī de xuésheng – Teacher’s students

Answering Confirmation Questions

Providing confirmation in Chinese requires more attention than English, because the answer depends on the words in the question. Typically, the response is a positive or negative form of the verb or adjective. But “Shì”/”Shì de” and “Bú shì” can be used like the English “yes” and “no” respectively. There are no rules regarding this, but Chinese speakers tend to use the main verb or adjective when it obvious from structure of the question sentence.

sentence type question answer
affirmative negative
adjective Nǐ máng ma? Máng. Bù máng
verb Nǐ shì Zhōngguó rén ma? Shì. Bú shì
complex   Shì de. Bú shì

Answering specific questions

Other questions, not ending with ma, will contain an interrogative pronoun, also known as a question word. This type of question requests specific information. Paying attention to the word order will improve your listening and speaking skills.

Note that the word order of the answer will be the same as the question. And the requested information will occupy the same position in the sentence as the question word. You can think of the interrogative pronoun as a place-holder for the answer (which is what pronouns do). Compare the questions and answers of the following 3 exchanges.

  Questions Answers
1 Shéi shì lǎoshī? shì lǎoshī.
2 Tā xìng shénme? Tā xìng Lǐ.
3 Nǐ shì nǎ guó rén? Wǒ shì Yīngguó rén.

Listening for the sentence patterns will help you answer questions more easily.

Classroom activities

art3_china.bmp art3_japan.bmp art3_uk.bmp art3_usa.bmp
(张) Zhāng Mǐn (李) Lǐ Mǎlì (尚) Shàng Dàwei (王) Wáng Mǎkè



Check this link for Sentence Practice 


This recording

omits two words from the dialogs transcript. See if you can pick them out. To download the recording right click here , and select “save as”.

Voice recording courtesy of Jo Ding, https://joding1212.blog.sohu.com

Lesson 3 – Introductions

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Lesson 4 – Family Members

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Lesson 5 – Ordering drinks

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Lesson 6 – Pens and Paper

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Lesson 7 – Ordering Food

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Lesson 8 – Going Places

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Lesson 9 – Going Tonight

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Lesson 10 – Time for Dinner

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Sentence Practice 1

Pinyin Chinese English   Pinyin Chinese English
you   also
hǎo good   máng busy
ní hǎo 你好 hello   not
I or me   zǎoshang 早上 morning
hěn very   wǎnshang 晚上 evening
ma (confirm)   zàijiàn 再见 good bye
ne what about ..?        

These sentences can be used to practice conversation. Students alternate taking the prompt and response roles, until they are comfortable with the words.

# Question Response
1 ní hǎo ma? wǒ hén hǎo
2 nǐ ne? wó yě hén hǎo
3 ní hǎo ma? wǒ hén hǎo, nǐ ne?
wó yě hén hǎo hǎo
4 nǐ máng ma? [hěn/bù] máng
5 nǐ máng ma? wǒ [hěn/bù] máng, nǐ ne?
wó yě [hěn/bù] máng  
6 zǎoshang hǎo zǎoshang hǎo
7 wǎnshang hǎo wǎnshang hǎo
8 zàijiàn zàijiàn
9 wǎnshang hǎo wǎnshang hǎo
nǐ máng ma? wó hěn máng, nǐ ne?
wǒ yé hěn máng zàijiàn

Sentence Practice 2

Mandarin Chinese English   Mandarin Chinese English
shéi  谁 who   nǎ guórén  哪国人 Which nationality
shì  是 Is/am   yīngguó  英国 England
lǎoshī  老师 Teacher   měiguó  美国 America
xuésheng  学生 Student   zhōngguó  中国 China
rén  人 person   rìběn  日本 Japan
 他/她 he/she   (wǒ/nǐ/tā)men  我们 We/you-all/they
lèi tired   dōu  都 all
[person] = lǎoshī, xuéshēng, tā, wǒ, nǐ
[adjective] = hǎo, lèi, máng
[country] = yīngguó, měiguó , zhōngguó , rìběn

# Question Response
1 Nǐ shì lǎoshī ma?
(Are you the teacher?)
Shì, (wǒ shì lǎoshī.)
Búshì, (wǒ shì xuésheng.)
2 Shéi shì [lǎoshī/xuésheng]?
(Who is the teacher/student?)
Wǒ shì [lǎoshī/xuésheng].
Nǐ shì [lǎoshī/xuésheng].
Tā shì [lǎoshī/xuésheng].
3 Lǎoshī [adjective] ma?
(Is the teacher good/tired/busy?)
Shì. Lǎoshī hěn [adjective]
Búshì. Lǎoshī bù [adjective]
4 Nǐ shì [country] rén ma?
(Are you Chinese/American?)
Búshì, wǒ shì [country] rén.
5 Nǐ shì nǎ guó rén?
(What nationality are you?)
Wǒ shì [country] rén.
6 Shéi shì [country] rén?
(Who is English/Japanese?)
[person] shì [country] rén.
[person] yě shì [country] rén.

7 Nǐ shì xuésheng ma?
(Are you a student?)
Shì, wǒmen dōu shì xuésheng.
8 Nǐmen shì nǎ guó rén?
(What nationality are you?)
Wǒmen dōu shì [country] rén.

Sentence Practice 3

MandarinChineseEnglish  MandarinChineseEnglish
xìngfamily name  jiàonamed/called
lèiTired  qǐng wèn请问May I ask …
xiānsheng先生Mr  shénme什么What
xiáojiě小姐Ms  wènAsk
Nín guì xìng您贵姓What’s your family name  míngzi名字Name (given or full)
[adjective] = lèi, máng, hǎo    [family] = Chinese family name (ex. Chen)

[-title] = xiānsheng, xiáojiě    [given] = Chinese given name 

# Question Response
1 Nǐ [adjective] ma?
(Are you [adjective]?)
Wǒ [hěn/bù][adjective].
2 (introduce: Nǐ wèn tā, Wǒ wèn nǐ, etc )
3 Nín guì xìng?
(What’s your family name?)
Wǒ xìng [family].
4 Qǐng wèn, nín guì xìng?
(May I ask your family name?)
Wǒ xìng [family].
Ní hǎo [family] [-title] Ní hǎo.
5 Qǐng wèn, nǐ jiào shénme?
(Excuse me, what are you called?)
Wǒ jiào [full name]
Ní hǎo [full name]  Ní hǎo.
6 Shéi xìng [family]?
(Who’s family name is [family])
[given] xìng [family]
7 Qǐng wèn, tā xìng shénme?
(Exuse me, what’s his family name.)
Tā xìng [family].
[family] [-title], zǎoshang hǎo
(Good morning)
Zǎoshang hǎo.
8 Qǐng wèn, nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?
(Exuse me, What is his name?)
Wǒ xìng [family] jiào [given name]
9 Ní hǎo [family] [-title] Ní hǎo [asker’s name]
10 Shéi shì [country] rén?
(Who is [nationality])
[family][-title] shì.

Sentence Practice 4

Mandarin 中文 English   Mandarin 中文 English
jiā home, family   bàba 爸爸 dad
yǒu to have   māma 妈妈 mom
méi not   gēge 哥哥 older brother
how many   dìdi 弟弟 younger brother
(classifier)   jiějie 姐姐 older sister
liǎng a couple   mèimei 妹妹 younger sister
líng zero   and
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
líng èr sān liù jiǔ shí shí yī shí èr
[Role] = lǎoshī,xuéshēng
[country] = yīngguó, měiguó , zhōngguó , rìběn
[relation] = bàba, māma, gēge, dìdi, jiějie, mèimei

# Prompt Response
1 Read a ten digit number Write down the numbers, read back
2 Use fingers indicate number [number] gè, [number] gè [member]
3 Ní yǒu [relation] ma? Yǒu. / Méi yǒu.
4 Nǐ yóu jǐ gè [relation] ? Wó yǒu [number] gè [member]
Wǒ méiyǒu [member]
5 Nǐ [relation] shì xuésheng ma? Shì, tā shì xuésheng.
Búshì, tā shì lǎoshī.
6 Qǐng wèn, Nǐ jiā yóu jǐ gè rén? Wǒ jiā yǒu [number] gè rén.
7 Shéi yǒu [relation] ? [classmate] yǒu [relation].
8 Nǐ [relation] jiào shenme?  Tā jiào [make up a name].
9 Nǐ hé [classmate] shì [country] rén ma? Shì, wǒmen dōu shì [country] rén.
10 Nǐ [relation] shì nǎ guó rén Tā shì [country] rén.

Sentence Practice 5

Mandarin 中文 English   Mandarin 中文 English
drink   píjiǔ 啤酒 beer
bēi cup   kāfēi 咖啡 coffe
píng bottle   kělè 可乐 cola
diǎn a little   shuǐ water
háishì 还是 Or (question)   chá tea
děng wait   绿 green
yí xià 一下 a little   hóng red
yào want   Xièxie 谢谢 thank-you
[drink] = píjiǔ, kāfēi, chá, shuǐ, kělè, lǜ chá, hóng chá
[class] = bēi, píng, diǎn

# Prompt Response
1 Nǐ hē shénme? Wǒ hē [drink]
2 Qǐng wèn, nǐ yào shénme? Wǒ yào [drink]
3 Nǐmen yǒu [drink] ma? Yǒu.
Wǒmen méiyǒu [drink]
4 Nǐ yào hē shénme? Wǒ yào hē yì bēi [drink]
Wǒ yào hē yì píng [drink]
5 Nǐ yào [drink1] háishì [drink2]? Wǒ yào ([number] [class]) [drink]
6 Ní yǒu jǐ [class] [drink]? Wó yǒu [number] [class] [drink]
7 Shéi yǒu [drink]? [name] yǒu [drink]
8 Qǐng wèn, nǐ yào hē shénme? Wǒ yào hē yì [class] [drink]
Qíng děng yí xià. Hǎo de.
9 ask each person: nǐ yào hē shénme? each responds: [Wǒ yào hē [drink]]
read back: [order1],…,[orderN] Hǎo de, Qíng děng yí xià.
10 Nǐ de [drink] hǎo hē ma? Hǎo hē! Nǐ hē yí xià.
13 Tā yǒu shénme? Tā yǒu yì bēi [drink]

Sentence Practice 6

Mandarin English   Mandarin English
yì běn shū One book   zhè this
yì zhāng zhǐ One piece of paper   that
yì zhī bǐ One pen   Yīngwén English
gěi give   Zhōngwén Chinese (language)
Duì bu qǐ Excuse me   huānyíng Welcome
[item] = shū, bǐ, zhǐ

# Prompt Response
  Practice counting 1-10 and 0 1-10
1 Read a 4 digit number Write down the numbers, read back
2 Zhè shì shénme? (holding item) Nà shì [shū, bǐ, zhǐ]
3 Wó yǒu jí běn shū? (holding 1-5 books) [number] běn.
[number] běn shū.
Ní yǒu [number] běn shū.
4 Nǐ yào jí běn shū? [number] běn shū.
5 Wǒ gěi nǐ [number] běn. Xiè xie.
6 Qǐng wèn, Nǐ yào jí běn shū? Wǒ yào [number] běn shū.
Wǒ géi nǐ [number] běn shū. Xiè xie.
7 Nǐ yóu [liǎng] běn shū ma? Yǒu/méiyǒu.
8 Nǐ yào jǐ zhāng zhǐ? [number] zhāng
[number] zhāng zhǐ.
Wǒ yào [number] zhāng zhǐ.
9 Wǒ géi nǐ [number] zhāng zhǐ. Xiè xie.
10 Qǐng wèn, Ní yóu jǐ zhāng zhǐ? Wó yǒu [number] zhāng zhǐ.
11 Huānyíng, huānyíng nǐ yào shénme? Wǒ yào Yīngwén shū.
Wǒ yào Zhōngwén shū.
12 Nǐ yào zhè běn háishì zhè běn? Nà běn. (pointing)
13 Nǐ yào jí běn Yīngwén shū? [number] běn.
14 Qǐng wèn, Ní yǒu [number] běn shū ma? Méi yǒu, wǒ yǒu [number] běn

Sentence Practice 7

Mandarin 中文 English   Mandarin 中文 English
xiǎng would like   miàntiáo 面条 noodles
chī eat   báifàn 白饭 white rice
nàlǐ 那里 there   jiǎozi 饺子 dumplings
zhèlǐ 这里 here   qīngcài 青菜 vegetables
péngyou 朋友 friend   wǎn bowl
wǔfàn 午饭 lunch   fèn portion

drinks = píjiǔ, kāfēi, chá, shuǐ, kělè, lǜ chá, hóng chá

# Prompt Response
1 Nǐ chī shénme? (What do you eat?) Wǒ chī miàntiáo. (I eat noodles)
2 Zhèlǐ yǒu báifàn ma?
(Do you have white rice  here?)
Yǒu  (Have.)
Méi yǒu  (Don’t have.)
3 Ní xiǎng chī shénme?
(What would you like to eat?)
Wó xiǎng chī jiǎozi 
(I would like to eat dumplings.)
4 Qǐng wèn, nǐ yào shénme?
(Excuse me, what do you want?)
Wǒ yào liáng fèn qīngcài
(I want a two helpings of green vegetables)
5 Nǐ péngyou yào shénme?
(What does your friend want?)
Tā yào sān wǎn báifàn.
(He wants three bowls of rice.)
6 Qǐng wèn, nǐ xiǎng hē shénme?
(Excuse me, what would you like to drink?)
Wó xiǎng hē kāfēi.
(I would like to drink coffee)
Yì píng kāfēi háishì yì bēi kāfēi
(A bottle of coffee or a glass of coffee?)
(A bottle.)
7 Nǐmen yào jǐ fèn jiǎozi?
(How many portions of dumplings do you all want?)
 fèn jiǎozi.
(Seven portions of dumplings.)
8 Shéi yǒu qīngcài (Who has green vegetables) Zhāng xiānsheng yǒu . (Mr Zhang.)
9 Qǐng wèn, ní xiǎng yào shénme?
(Excuse me, what would you like?)
Wǒ yào wú wǎn miàntiáo  
(I want 5 bowls of noodles)  
Qíng děng yí xià. (Please wait a moment.) Hǎo, wó děng nǐ. (Okay, I will wait.)
10 Nà gè jiǎozi hǎo chī ma?
(Are those dumplings tasty?)
Hén hǎo chī! Nǐ chī ba.
(Very tasty! Have some.)
11 Zhèlǐ shénme hǎo chī?
(Here what is tasty?)
Báifàn hǎo chī. Nǐ yào ma?
(Our rice is tasty.  Do you want some?)

Sentence Practice 8

Pinyin 中文 English   Pinyin 中文 English
ná 哪里 where   xuéxiào 学校 school
nàlǐ 那里 there   bàngōngshì 办公室 office
go   shāngdiàn 商店 store
lái come   fàndiàn 饭店 restaurant
zài at   ké 可以 can
ba (none)   jiàn meet

place = xuéxiào, bàngōngshì, shāngdiàn, fàndiàn, zhèlǐ
city = Běijīng, Shànghǎi, Xī’ān
drink = píjiǔ, kāfēi, chá, shuǐ, kělè, lǜ chá, hóng chá
Note: Underlined words are substitutions

# Prompt Response
1 Nǐ qù nálǐ?
(Where are you going?)
Wǒ qù xuéxiào.
(I’m going to school.)
2 Nǐ lái bàngōngshì ma?
(Are you coming to the office?)
Bù, wǒ bú qù. Wǒ qù shāngdiàn.
(No, I’m not going.  I’m going to the store.)
3 Wǒmen zài nálǐ jiàn?
(Where should we meet?)
Zài fàndiàn, hǎo bù hǎo?
(At the restaurant, okay?)
4 Nǐ kéyǐ lái zhèlǐ ma?
(Can you come to here?)
Duì bu qǐ, bù kéyǐ。 Wǒ yóu diǎn máng.
(Sorry, its not possible. I’m a little busy.)
5 Ní xiǎng lái xuéxiào ma?
(Would you like to come school?)
Xiǎng. Wǒ yào qù.
(Yes.  I want to go.)
6 Nàlí yǒu méiyǒu kāfēi?
(Do they have coffee there?)
Yǒu. wǒmen qù ba!
(Yes.  Let’s go!)
7 Nálí yǒu píjiǔ?
(Where has beer?)
Fàndiàn yǒu.
(The restaurant has it.)
8 Wǒmen qù nálǐ chī fàn?
(Where should we go to eat lunch?)
xuéxiào ba.
(Let’s go to school.)

Telephone simulation …

1 Wéi ní hǎo Ní hǎo. Zhè shì [name]. [name2] zài ma?
2 Zài. Wǒ jiǔ shì. Ní hǎo, nǐ máng ma?
3 Bù máng。Nǐ ne? Wó yě bù máng. Wǒmen qù chī fàn ba.
4 Hǎo. Qù nǎli? Qù [place1] hǎo ma?
5 Hǎo de. Nǐ zài nálǐ?
6 Wǒ zài [place2] Wǒmen zài [place1] jiàn hǎo ma?
5 Hǎo de. Zài [place1] jiàn.  

Sentence Practice 9

Pinyin 中文 English   Pinyin 中文 English
shénme shíhòu 什么时候 when   gēn with
jīntiān 今天 today   xiànzài 现在 now
zuótiān 昨天 yesterday   then
míngtiān 明天 tomorrow   xiàwǔ 下午 afternoon
shàngwǔ 上午 late morning   zhōngwǔ 中午 noon
[time], [day] = jīntiān, míngtiān, zuótiān, xiànzài
[time], [part] = shàngwǔ, xiàwǔ, zhōngwǔ, zǎoshang, wǎnshang
[place] = xuéxiào, bàngōngshì, shāngdiàn, fàndiàn, zhèlǐ
[city] = Bě]ijīng, Shànghǎi, Xī’ān
[drink] = píjiǔ, kāfēi, chá, shuǐ, kělè, lǜ chá, hóng chá

# Prompt Response
1 Nǐ shénme shíhòu [qù]? Wǒ [time] [qù].
2 Nǐ míngtiān shénme shíhòu [lái]? Wǒ míngtiān [part] [lái].
3 Nǐ shénme shíhòu [qù] [place]? Wǒ [time] [qù] [place].
4 Wǒmen shénme shíhòu jiàn? Wǒmen [day] [part] jiàn ba.
5 Nǐ kéyǐ [time1] qù chī fàn ma? Bù kéyǐ. [time2] ba.
6 Ní xiǎng [day] lái ma? Xiǎng. wǒ yào [day] [time] lái.
7 Wǒmen shénme shíhòu hē [drink]? [time] ba
8 Ní xiǎng gēn wǒ qù [place] ma? shénme shíhòu qù?
[time] hǎo ma? Hǎode. Nà, [time] jiàn

Suggestions for Usage

Tell the students about some events you have planned for today and tomorrow. They will fill in a planner. Use this format for your question:

[day] [time of day] [time] wǒ [activity] [activity] = qù [place], chī [food], hē [drink], jiàn [person]

Optional alternatives: zài [place] [activity], gēn [person] [activity]

Planner 1 jīntiān míngtiān
zǎoshang 7 7
8 8
shàngwǔ 9 9
10 10
11 11
zhōngwǔ 12 12
xiàwǔ 1 1
2 2
3 3
4 4
wǎnshang 5 5


Planner 2 jīntiān míngtiān
zǎoshang 7 7
8 8
shàngwǔ 9 9
10 10
11 11
zhōngwǔ 12 12
xiàwǔ 1 1
2 2
3 3
4 4
wǎnshang 5 5

Sentence Practice 10

Pinyin 中文 English   Pinyin 中文 English
gànshénme 干什么 what are you doing?   shì matter, affair
xīngqī 星期 week   kǎoyā 烤鸭 roast duck
xīngqī jǐ 星期几 which day   diǎnzhōng 点钟 hour o’clock
bàn half   yíkè 一刻 one quarter hour
zǎo yìdiǎn 早一点 a little earlier   wǎn yìdiǎn 晚一点 a little later
[time] = [day] = jīntiān, míngtiān, zuǒtiān, xiànzài, xīngqīyi – xīngqītian
[time] = [part] = shàngwǔ, xiàwǔ, zhōngwǔ, zǎoshang, wǎnshang
[time] = [hour] = yì diǎnzhōng, … , shí er diǎnzhōng, X diǎn bàn, X diǎn (yí/sān) kè
[place] = xuéxiào, bàngōngshì, shāngdiàn, fàndiàn, zhèlǐ
[city] = Běijīng, Shànghǎi, Xī’ān
[drink] = píjiǔ, kāfēi, chá, shuǐ, kělè, lǜ chá, hóng chá

# Prompt Response
1 Nǐ jí diǎn qù? Wǒ [hour] diǎn qù.
2 Nǐ míngtiān shénme shíhòu lái? Wǒ míngtiān [hour] diǎn lái.
3 Nǐ jí diǎn qù [place]? Wǒ [hour] diǎn qù [place].
4 Nǐ [time] gàn shénme? Wǒ méi shì / Wó yǒu shì / Wǒ qù [place]
5 Wǒmen shénme shíhòu jiàn? Wǒmen [part] [hour] diǎn jiàn ba.
6 Nǐ kéyǐ [time1] chī fàn ma? Bù kéyǐ. [time2] ba.
7 Ní xiǎng [time] lái ma? Xiǎng. wǒ yào [time] qù.
8 Wǒmen shénme shíhòu hē [drink]? [day] [time] diǎn ba?
9 Nǐ míngtiān shénme shíhòu qù [place]? Míngtiān [time] qù.

Suggestions for this activity

Tell the participants about some events you have planned for next week. They will fill in the planner. Then ask the questions about the events.

Use this type of sentence to describe the activities:

  • Xīngqī [day] [time of day] [time] wǒ [activity]
  • [activity] = qù [place], chī [food], hē [drink], jiàn [person]
  • more complex activities: zài [place] [activity], gēn [person] [activity]

Then query the students with these questions:

  • Wǒ shénme shíhòu [activity] ?
  •  Wǒ xīngqī [day] [time] gànshénme?
  •  Wǒ xīngqī [day] gànshénme?
    qiántiān zuótian jīntiān míngtiān hòutiān  
xīngqī tiān xīngqī yī xīngqī èr xīngqī sān xīngqī sì xīngqī wǔ xīngqīl iù
zǎoshang 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
8 8 8 8 8 8 8
shàngwǔ 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
10 10 10 10 10 10 10
11 11 11 11 11 11 11
zhōngwǔ 12 12 12 12 12 12 12
xiàwǔ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
2 2 2 2 2 2 2
3 3 3 3 3 3 3
4 4 4 4 4 4 4
wǎnshang 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
6 6 6 6 6 6 6
7 7 7 7 7 7 7