Weekly target: Introduce and describe yourself

4 Feb

Here’s something we can hopefully agree on: if you want to meet new people, you’re probably going to have to introduce yourself and answer a few basic questions. Whether it’s a Chinese friend, a family member, or maybe a random stranger, introductions will come in handy sooner rather than later. After this lesson, we should be able to describe ourselves and carry on short introductory dialogue in perfect Mandarin. Get excited!

Here’s what I want to be able to say about myself and ask about others. The words that are underlined are the ones that you’ll probably have to replace.

Nice to meet you. I’m Rene Ding. I am a student. I’m from America, from the state of California. I’m an American-born Chinese, and my family is from Beijing. I started formally learning Chinese last yearMy Chinese is not very good – I’m still in a learning stage. It was very nice to meet you. Good-bye, see you again some time.

Pretend that’s a two-way conversation with questions, and I’d say that’s a pretty solid base.

Let’s jump straight to it.

______________________________________________________________

Hello, nice to meet you.

你好,很高兴认识你。

Nǐ hǎo, hěn gāoxìn rènshì nǐ. 

Very handy to know. There are several variations off of “nice to meet you”, but this is the most commonly used one. You can use it in meeting everyone from a friend’s friend to a casual business acquaintance.

File:Handskakning.png

______________________________________________________________

What do you do?/What is your job? I am a student.

什么工作? 我是学生

shì zùo shénme gōngzùo? Wǒ shì xúeshéng.

It sounds a little strange in a word-by-word translation (which is of course normal), but this is the most often-used, casual version of this question and response. Of course there are variations, but I chose this one because you can use it in the broadest range of situations. “I am (profession here),” is quite correct grammatically in Chinese.

And if you’re not a student, here are a few other common professions that we should all know. (If yours isn’t listed, sorry!)

Doctor – 医生 – yīshēng

Farmer – 农民 – nóngmín

Lawyer – 律师 – lǜshī

Businessman – 商人 – shāngrén (Bear in mind that you’d usually also say which company you belong to.)

Secretary -秘书 – mìshū

And last but not least:

Blogger – 博客 – bókè

______________________________________________________________

Where are you from? I’m from America, from the state of California.

你是从哪里/哪儿来的? 我从美国来的,从加州来的。

Nǐ shì cóng nǎlǐ / nǎer lái de? Wǒ cóng měigúo lái de, cóng jīazhōu lái de.

哪里 is more formal/written, while 哪儿 is more casual or spoken. I would say 哪儿, but that might be because I’m surrounded by Beijingers.

Some other countries to know:

China – 中国 – zhōnggúo

England – 英国- yīnggúo

Australia – 澳大利亚 – àodàlìyà

India – 印度 – yìndù

Sorry for neglecting you, Europe (欧洲 – ōuzhōu), but I had to keep it short and this blog is in English. Try ThePureLanguage.com if you need a translator!

File:World Map.jpg

(Image thanks to DATABASE at the Wikimedia Commons.)

______________________________________________________________

What country are you from? / Are you American? I’m Chinese-American.

你是哪国人? / 你是美国人吗? 我是美国生的中国人 / 汉人

Nǐ shì nǎ gúo rén? / Nǐ shì měigúo rén ma? Wǒ shì zhōnggǔo shēngde měigúorén / hànrén.

Any questions? Strictly speaking, “你是哪国人?”actually means “Which country’s people are you?”, but the meaning is spot-on. I added the option of “汉人” in case the question is actually something like, “What race are you? ( I get that question a lot, though I’m 100% Han. Apparently I don’t look it?) Most urban Chinese will also understand “ABC”.

For nationality, the general rule is to just stick after the name of your country. For example, Indian would be 印度 + 人 =  印度人。

Ethnicity is a little more complex. For now, let’s just stick to the basics.

Caucasian – 白人 – báirén

Literally means “white people.” You shouldn’t often need to state this unless you’re Caucasian and don’t look it, or are just really tan.

Han – 汉人 – hànrén  

The ethnic term for the “standard” Chinese. Just a note: if you don’t know what kind of Chinese you are, the probability is extremely high that you’re Han.

European – 欧洲人 – ōuzhōurén

This does not mean “white/Caucasian”, this means “European”. As in you’re personally from Europe. Just so we’re clear; I’ve seen some misunderstandings arise from misuse of this term.

African/Black – 黑人 – hēirén  

Literally means “black people”, and seems to be mostly interpreted as “African” outside of America. If you’re African-American, that would be 非裔美国人 – fēi yì měiguórén.

______________________________________________________________

My family is from Beijing.

我的家庭是北京人

Wō dè jīatíng shì Běijīng rén.

I speak Chinese with a bit of a Beijing accent, so I do occasionally need this response. 北京人 could be replaced with any other Chinese region or city (or actually any in general). As with nationalities, just stick 人 after the name of the region or city. For example, if your family is from Fújìan, they could be called 福建人 (fújìanrén).

File:Beijing traffic jam.JPG

______________________________________________________________

I began to formally study Chinese last year.

去年开始正式学中文/汉语。

 Wǒ qùnían kāishì zhèngshi xúe zhōngwén / hànyǔ.

汉语 and 中文 are officially interchangeable, but I feel like 汉语 might be said just a smidgen more. Might just be me. In any case, you should be perfectly fine with either of those.

Two years ago would be 两年前 - lǐang nían qían. Follow the pattern for any amount of years greater than one. For example, 70 years ago (that would be true persistence!) would be 七十年前 – qīshí nían qían.

______________________________________________________________

My Chinese skill is not very good – I’m still in a learning stage.

我的中文水平还不高,还是在学习阶段中。

Wǒ de zhōngwén shǔepíng hái bùgāo, hái shì zài xúexí jiēduàn zhōng.

Ok, that’s not at all a word for word translation, but it definitely captures the idea. It often comes in handy to be able to say that your Chinese isn’t perfect yet. Here’s the vocabulary from this one: 水平 – shǔepíng – level, 阶段 – jiēduàn – stage.

______________________________________________________________

It was very nice to meet you. Good-bye, see you again some time.

很高兴认识你。再见,以后见。

Hěn gāoxìn rènshì nǐ. Zàijìan, yǐhòu jìan.

While 再见 literally means, “We’ll see each other again,” it doesn’t have the same implication that you actually want to see the person again. If that’s the message you want to convey, go with 以后见。

😀 Feeling successful from getting through that? Remember, I had to type it. 😀

Yeah, there’s a lot of vocab here, but it should mostly be review. There’s a whole week! My plan is now to post a weekly vocab list every Sunday or early Monday, and something grammatical every Friday or early Saturday. Like the rebel I am, though, I might switch it up sometimes.

Thanks for reading, best of luck this week!

Vocab from this post:

  • Very nice to meet you. – 很高兴认识你。- Hěn gāoxìn rènshì nǐ.
  • What is your job? – 你是做什么工作?- Nǐ shì zùo shénme gōngzùo?
  •  I am a student. – 我是学生。- Wǒ shì xúeshéng.
  • Doctor – 医生 – yīshēng
  • Farmer – 农民 – nóngmín
  • Lawyer – 律师 – lǜshī
  • Businessman – 商人 – shāngrén
  • Secretary -秘书 – mìshū
  • Blogger – 博客 – bōkè
  • Where are you from? – 你是从哪里/哪儿来的?- Nǐ shì cóng nǎlǐ / nǎer lái de?
  •  I’m from America. – 我从美国来的. – Wǒ cóng měigúo lái de.
  • China – 中国 – zhōnggúo
  • England – 英国 – yīnggúo
  • Australia – 澳大利亚 – àodàlìyà
  • India – 印度 – yìndù
  • Europe – 欧洲 – ōuzhōu
  • What country are you from? – 你是哪国人?- Nǐ shì nǎ gúo rén?
  • Are you American? – 你是美国人吗?- Nǐ shì měigúo rén ma?
  • I’m Chinese-American. – 我是美国生的中国人 / 汉人。- Wǒ shì zhōnggǔo shēngde měigúorén / hànrén.
  • Caucasian – 白人 – báirén
  • Han – 汉人 – hànrén
  • European – 欧洲人 – ōuzhōurén
  • African/Black – 黑人 – hēirén
  • My family is from Beijing. – 我的家庭是北京人。- Wō dè jīatíng shì Běijīng rén.
  • I began to formally study Chinese last year. – 我去年开始正式学中文/汉语。- Wǒ qùnían kāishì xúe zhōngwén / hànyǔ.
  • Two years ago – 两年前 - lǐang nían qían
  • My Chinese skill is not very good. – 我的中文水平还不高. – Wǒ de zhōngwén shǔepíng hái bùgāo,
  • I’m still in a learning stage. 还是在学习阶段中. Hái shì zài xúexí jiēduàn zhōng.
  • Good-bye, see you again some time. – 再见,以后见。- Zàijìan, yǐhòu jìan.

 

 

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2 Responses to “Weekly target: Introduce and describe yourself”

  1. James Tai June 14, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    Have you ever tried ChinesePod, I think it’s a fantastic resource and community for Mandarin learning. I’m in the same boat as you, but from Canada

    • TheZingR June 14, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

      I actually really love ChinesePod, even though I only use their free recordings on the iPhone “Podcasts” app. (Yes, I’m cheap. Full-time student here. 😀 ) I’ve heard from other learners that it’s a great resource, and I hope it proves handy for you. Keep on truckin’, ABCs – and CBCs.
      Also, thank you for the follow.

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