My 2nd Week of Learning Mandarin Chinese — to Be or not to Be
In the first week, we have learned together how to say: “Hello and How Are You” in Mandarin and that is the first way to get some attention from a Chinese language speaker. Now we need to follow up and talk about themselfes and ourselves.
For this we really need to learn how to say “to be” or “not to be” in the language. But do not worry, its fairly easy!
The verb – to Be — as in to be somebody or to be something
This is probably the most important verb as it can help you to express many things about yourself, others and other things.
To structure basic sentence using this verb in Mandarin language is as follows:
The Noun + The Verb + Object
So the verb is: 是 and this character is pronounced in pinyin as: shì
To make a sentence using the pattern of noun+verb+object is therefore very easy. Let’s see an examples. I willbe using the ones I am learning myself, you can just switch my words for the ones you want to learn…
1 -Describing the country and nationality: I am Czech –> 我是捷克人 –> Wǒ shì jiékè rén
So if you are american you would use — 我是美国人 –> Wǒ shì měiguó rén. To express what nationality are you is quite easy. You need to combine the name of your country with the word person – 人 （rén）.
The oher coutry names I learned are:
- 加拿大 —》 Jiānádà – Canada
- 英国 —》 yīngguó – England
- 澳大利亚 —》 àodàlìyǎ – Australia
- 新西兰 —》 xīnxīlán – New Zealand
- 法国 —》 fàguó – France
- 西班牙 —》 xībānyá – Spain
- 德国 —》 déguó – Germany
- 意大利 —》 yìdàlì – Italy
- 中国 —》 zhōngguó – China
- 日本 —》 rìběn – Japan
- 泰国 —》 tàiguó – Thailand
- 韩国 —》 hánguó – Korea
- 瑞典 —》 ruìdiǎn – Sweden
- 俄国 —》 éguó – Russia
So now you can say the names of some of the world countries, and even make a nationality by adding the word 人 after the country name.
Another use of the verb to be is to express who you are…
2 – Describing who you are — as in I am teacher, student, doctor etc…
In order for you to learn to speak fluently faster, I would recommend to write down couple nouns that you would need to describe yourself and than put them into your practice. As example I will use the above three nouns…
- 我是老师 — Wǒ shì lǎoshī — I am a teacher
- 我是学生 — Wǒ shì xuéshēng — I am a student
- 我是医生 — Wǒ shì yīshēng — I am a doctor
Now it’s your turn. Try to come up with at least 10 nounse you can use to describe yourself. The point is that as soon as you translate them into Chinese and put them into the simple sentence using the example above, you will be able to remember those words much faster!
You can use words like father, brother, husband, etc…
3 – How to make the verb to be as a negative — not to be
In Mandarin Chinese, in order to make the verb to be negative, all you have to do is to put the word 不 (bù) in front of the verb.
Therefore not to be something or someone in Mandarin would be: 不是 (bù shì)
So how would you say:
- I am not Chinese.
- I am not student.
Yes, thats right….
You see how easy it is???
Now, you can go back to the list of the things you said you are and make them all into negative. This is really cool practice and it will teach you to speak Mandarin right from the start. Yes, eventhough you know only about 20-30 words, you can start using them immediately.
Now if you are wondering how to make the singular verb to be into a plural:
I am (sing.) — we are — 我们是 — wǒmen shì
You are (sing.) — you are — 你们是 — nǐmen shì
He, She, It is (sing.) — they are — 他们是， 她们是，它们是 — tāmen shì
So as you see the pattern, to form “we” from “I” you just add the word 们 to 我，which makes 我们。。。
This is why I really love learning Chinese, because is way easier that English, German or any other language I have ever studied before! This language is very logical and as soon as you get the patterns, you can easily make up your own sentences. No verb declination and other gramatical nonsense!
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