Transcript

lang-zh-Latn
Hi, I'm Fame Ketover of Lenguin.com and this is Mandarin Chinese. Are you Chinese? No? Are you English? No? Are you German? No? Why do I feel like I'm playing 20 questions?
So last time we looked at asking yes/no questions about nationality.
Now listen to a question asking which country someone is from.
  • What's your nationality?
  • Nǐ shi něiguo rén?
  • Nǐ shi něiguo rén?
  • I'm an American.
  • Wǒ shi Měiguo rén.
  • Wǒ shi Měiguo rén.
The word for "which" is:
  • něi
  • něi
  • něi
The word for "which" - "něi" - is a bound word, which means it can't stand by itself. If you add another bound word "guó" - meaning country - you have a free word meaning "which country".
Listen.
  • něiguo
  • něiguo
  • něiguo
Now add "person" - "rén" - to "which country" - "něiguo" - and you have "which country person", - "něiguo rén".
Notice that
  • "guó"

loses its tone.
  • něiguo rén
  • něiguo rén
  • něiguo rén
Listen for "něiguo rén" -
"which country person" - in the exchange.
  • What's your nationality?
  • Nǐ shi něiguo rén?
  • Nǐ shi něiguo rén?
  • I'm American.
  • Wǒ shi Měiguo rén.
  • Wǒ shi Měiguo rén.
We translate it as "what's your nationality" since the word for word translation sounds a bit off, "you are which country person?"
Here it is live.
  • Nǐ shi něiguo rén?
  • Wǒ shi Měiguo rén.
Here's a new live exhange.
  • Nǐ shi něiguo rén?
  • Wǒ shi Zhōngguo rén.

Here it is with the English following.
  • Nǐ shi něiguo rén?
  • What's your nationality.
  • Wǒ shi Zhōngguo rén?
  • I'm Chinese.
Here's another live dialogue. Listen carefully.
  • Mǎ Xiānsheng shi Měiguo rén ma?
  • Bú shi. Tā bú shi Měiguo rén.
  • Tā shi něiguo rén?
  • Tā shi Zhōngguo rén.

Try translating it.
  • Mǎ Xiānsheng shi Měiguo rén ma?
  • Is Mr. Ma an American?
  • Bú shi. Tā bú shi Měiguo rén.
  • No, he isn't an American.
  • Tā shi něiguo rén?
  • What's his nationality?
  • Tā shi Zhōngguo rén.
  • He's Chinese.
"American" - "Měiguo rén" -, and "which country person" - "něiguo rén"-, are confusingly alike. Sometimes you may not catch whether it was an M as in "mother" or an N as in "nephew". But notice that "are you an American?" is a yes/no question, and so it has the yes/no question marker "ma" at the end. While "what's your nationality?" is not a yes/no question and so doesn't have "ma" at the end. The interrogative element in "what's your nationality?" is the word "něi" - "which".
Let's compare the two questions. The English will follow the Chinese after a pause to give you a chance to decide for yourself which question is being asked.
  • Nǐ shi něiguo rén?

What's your nationality?
  • Nǐ shi Měiguo rén?

Are you an American?
  • Nǐ shi něiguo rén?

What's your nationality?
  • Nǐ shi Měiguo rén?

Are you an American?
Once you've established someone's nationality, you may want to ask what part of the country they come from. For example, what province or major city of China.
Listen to this exchange.
  • Where are you from?
  • Nǐ shi nǎr de rén?
  • Nǐ shi nǎr de rén?
  • I'm from Shanghai.
  • Wǒ shi Shànghǎi rén.
  • Wǒ shi Shànghǎi rén.
Let's look at the answer first. You already know the word "rén" ("person") as in "Zhōngguo rén" (literally, "China person"). You can also add "rén" to the names of cities and provinces.
Listen to "Shanghai person".
  • Shànghǎi rén
  • Shànghǎi rén
  • Shànghǎi rén
What Miss Hu is saying is, "I'm a Shanghai person".
Listen to her reply.
  • Where are you from?
  • Nǐ shi nǎr de rén?
  • Nǐ shi nǎr de rén?
  • I'm from Shanghai.
  • Wǒ shi Shànghǎi rén.
  • Wǒ shi Shànghǎi rén
"Where are you from?" is an idiomatic but rather free translation of the question "nǐ shi nǎr de rén?". The Chinese is actually something like "You are a person of where?"
The word for "where" is:
  • nǎr
  • nǎr
  • nǎr
Listen for
  • "nǎr"

meaning "where".
  • Where are you from?
  • Nǐ shi nǎr de rén?
  • Nǐ shi nǎr de rén?
  • I'm from Shanghai.
  • Wǒ shi Shànghǎi rén.
  • Wǒ shi Shànghǎi rén.
Be sure to associate the low tone with the word for "where" ("nǎr"), since the word for "there" is "nàr", in the falling tone. This is one of the best illustrations of the importance of tones in Chinese. The possibilities for confusion between "nǎr" ("where") and "nàr" ("there") are obvious.
Here's the word for "where" again.
  • nǎr
  • nǎr
  • nǎr
The weak syllable "de" in "nǎr de rén" is a marker of the possessive. We translate "nǎr de rén" as "a person of where", using "of" for the possessive marker "de". But in the process we reversed the order. In Chinese the word for "where" comes first and the word for "person" last. So a closer, although even less idiomatic, translation is with the English possessive ending: apostrophe - S, "where's person". Here's a somewhat more straightfoward example of the possessive marker "de". You need to know that "Xiānsheng" can mean "husband" as well as "Mr." and "sir".
Listen:
  • He's Fang Baolan's husband.
  • Tā shi Fāng Bǎolán de xiānsheng.
  • Tā shi Fāng Bǎolán de xiānsheng.
In the phrase "Fāng Bǎolán de xiānsheng" (Fang Baolan's husband), it's clear that the marker "de" is working like our possessive apostrophe-S. Now let's go back to the exchange with "nǎr de rén" ("where's person" or "a person of where").
Listen.
  • Where are you from?
  • Nǐ shi nǎr de rén?
  • Nǐ shi nǎr de rén?
  • I'm from Shanghai.
  • Wǒ shi Shànghǎi rén.
  • Wǒ shi Shànghǎi rén.

Here it is live.
  • Nǐ shi nǎr de rén?
  • Wǒ shi Shànghǎi rén.
Here's a similar exchange. Listen.
  • Where is he from?
  • Tā shi nǎr de rén?
  • Tā shi nǎr de rén?
  • He's from Shandong.
  • Tā shi Shāndōng rén.
  • Tā shi Shāndōng rén.
Shandong is one of the provinces in North China.
Listen to "Shandong person".
  • Shāndōng rén
  • Shāndōng rén
  • Shāndōng rén
Here's the exchange live.
  • Tā shi nǎr de rén?
  • Tā shi Shāndōng rén.
If the question "where are you from?" is asked of an American, the expected answer is the name of a state. In Chinese there's a phonetic approximation for the name of each American state.
Here's California for example.
  • Jiālìfúníyǎ
  • Jiālìfúníyǎ
  • Jiālìfúníyǎ
Several states, among them California, have abbreviated names consisting of the first syllable of the phonetic version and the syllable "zhōu", or "state".
Here's the abbreviated name for California.
  • Jiāzhōu
  • Jiāzhōu
  • Jiāzhōu
Listen to this exchange.
  • Where are you from?
  • Nǐ shi nǎr de rén?
  • Nǐ shi nǎr de rén?
  • I'm a Californian.
  • Wǒ shi Jiāzhōu rén.
  • Wǒ shi Jiāzhōu rén.

Here it is live.
  • Nǐ shi nǎr de rén?
  • Wǒ shi Jiāzhōu rén.
Alright, that's the end of this lesson. Remember to head over to Lenguin.com to do the exercises. That's Lenguin as in Lenguin the Penguin. Thanks for watching! I want to thank all of our supporters who have helped make these courses possible. We want to keep these courses free, and with your help we can do that. So be sure to head over to our Patreon page, where in exchange for as little as a dollar, you'll get BONUS stuff. Until next time, stay cool.
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