Lesson 1: Making an Appointment—Dialogue I

Purpose

In this lesson, you will learn how to make a phone call or appointment and how to use functional expressions in conversations. The grammar sections will introduce the preposition gěi (to, for), the verb zài (to be present, to be located), the auxiliary verb yào (will), and the conjunction yàoshi (if). The cultural notes will describe aspects of Chinese etiquette.

Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson, you should be able to accomplish the following:

  1. Use the functional expressions wèi (hello), méi wèntí (no problem), xièxie (thanks), duìbuqǐ (sorry), and bú kèqi (you are welcome) in conversations.
  2. Use fāngbiàn (convenient) and yǒu kòng (free time) in sentences.
  3. Use the preposition gěi (to, for) and its negative form to make sentences.
  4. Use the verb zài (to be present, to be located) and its negative form to make sentences.
  5. Use the auxiliary verb yào (will) and its negative form to make sentences.
  6. Use the conjunction yàoshi (if) to make conditional sentences.
  7. Use yǐhòu or yǐqián to make sentences.
  8. Use the measure words jié, mén, and wèi.
  9. Talk about Chinese etiquette.
  10. Memorize and reproduce basic Chinese characters.

Reading Assignment

English Grammar for Students of Chinese

In addition to the pages below, the commentary will reference other pages; the book will be a very helpful resource as you complete the course.

  • Chapter 1, pages 1-8
  • Chapter 9, pages 31-34

Integrated Chinese (textbook)

  • Making Appointments, Sections 1-3, pages 140-155

Your lesson commentary refers to specific pages within this textbook. There will be assignments from the workbook at the end of the lesson. Sound files for the course are within the lessons.

Commentary

Grammar

The Use of the Preposition Gěi 给 (to, for)

In Chinese sentences, the prepositional construction consists of the preposition and the nouns or pronouns. A prepositional construction is usually followed by a verb or verb phrase. The preposition gěi means "to (somebody)" or "for (somebody)."

Example

Wǒ gěi Lǐ lǎoshī dǎ diànhuà. (I gave Teacher Li a call.)
  In this sentence, is a verb; gěi Lǐ lǎoshī is a prepositional phrase, which is placed before the verb .

When a sentence containing a prepositional construction is converted to a negative sentence, the negative word is placed before the preposition rather than in front of the verb.

Example

Wǒ bù gěi Lǐ lǎoshī dǎ diànhuà. (I did not give Teacher Li a call.)
  is placed before the preposition gěi rather than in front of the verb dǎ.

When a sentence containing a prepositional construction is converted to an affirmative-negative sentence, the sentence format is "…Preposition + + Preposition…?"

Example

Wǒ gěi bù gěi Lǐ lǎoshī dǎ diànhuà? (Shall I give Teacher Li a call or not?)

Now turn to your textbook and read page 154 (Section 1).

To continue your studies effectively, please reread the following information found in the recommended text for this course, English Grammar for Students of Chinese:

  1. Pages 1–4. The section suggests the best ways to approach studying Chinese pronunciation and Chinese characters (written language.) Pronunciation varies greatly from ordinary English speech, and since the language is tonal, Chinese depends on proper tones to give meaning to spoken language. Chinese characters are dependent entirely on memorization and accuracy when writing.
  2. Pages 7–8 of chapter one, "What's in a Word." Even though you have read this material before, you might not remember all that is covered in these two sets of readings.
  3. Pages 31–34 of chapter 9, "What is Meant by Tense?" Pay particular attention to the discussion of "aspect," which differs greatly from the English concept of tense.

One more tip: Occasionally glance through the grammar text to remind yourself about parts of speech and the functions they serve.

The Use of the Verb Zài (at, on)

When zài (to be present) is used as the main verb in a sentence, it means "to be present" or "to be located in a certain place."

Please read the information concerning the uses of (zài, defined as [1] "in the process of" or [2] "location") found in the recommended text for this course, English Grammar for Students of Chinese.

  1. Page 36 suggests one way to use (zài, "in the process of") as a marker indicating that you are right now in the act of reading, writing, walking, etc.
  2. Examples

    他 在 念 书。 Tā zài niàn shū. He's reading now.
    他 正 在 念 书。 Tā zhèng zài niàn shū. He's reading right now.
  3. Page 98 discusses prepositions. (zài) is a preposition indicating location and position.
  4. Here you can see that the sentence word order is like that of English (Subject + Verb), but there is one major difference: In short Chinese sentences such as "Beijing is in China," there is no stative verb (is) to link the subject with the rest of the sentence (predicate). Instead, zài acts as the verb. The sentence would correctly be written:

    北京 在 中国。This is a sentence using (zài) as a preposition of location.

    Another sentence might be "The book is under the table." Once again, there is no stative verb. (zài) is used as a preposition of position: 书 在 桌子 下 Shu zai zhuozi xia. The character (shang, "on top of") states the exact position. (zài) also indicates the position but is less specific.

  5. Page 99 expands the idea of (zài) having more than one meaning: "at, in, on."
  6. Please read carefully.

    Going back to 他 在 念 书。, study the sentence Ta zài nian shu. He's reading now.

    Now rethink about sentences using 他 在 北 京Ta zài Beijing. He is in Beijing.

Examples

Tā zài zhèr. (He is here).
Bàba zài jiā. (Dad is at home).

When a sentence with zài as the main verb is converted to a negative form, the negative word is placed before zài.

Example

Bàba bú zài* jiā. (Dad is not at home).
  * Because zài is the fourth tone, should be pronounced as second tone .
The Auxiliary Verb Yào (will, be going to)

Yào (will, be going to), when placed before the verb in a sentence, can have different meanings. Yào can be used to express an intention to do something; it can also be used to indicate a plan for the future. In this lesson, the function of yào expresses a future action.

Example

明天 我 要 去跳舞。Míngtiān wǒ yào qù tiào wǔ. (I will go dance tomorrow.)

  In this sentence, "go dance," an action that hasn't happened yet, is a plan for tomorrow. The auxiliary yào is placed before the verb .

The negative form of yào is bú yào.

Example

明天 我 不 要 去跳舞。Míngtiān wǒ bú yào qù tiào wǔ. (I will not go dance tomorrow.)

Now turn to your textbook and read page 154 (Section 2).

The Use of the Conjunction Yàoshi

The construction 要是 yàoshi (if) … jiù is used to form a conditional sentence. The condition is placed after the clause containing yàoshi, and the consequence is placed after jiù. Sometimes jiù is omitted.

Example

要是我不看电视,我就听音乐 Yàoshi wǒ bú kàn diànshì, wǒ (jiù) tīng yīnyuè. (If I do not watch TV, I listen to music.)
  In this example, yàoshi wǒ bú kàn diànshì is a condition; tīng yīnyuè is the consequence of the condition.

Vocabulary and Practice

Next, turn to your textbook and read the following sections as you listen to the sound files. You are encouraged to listen to the dialogue many times and imitate the pronunciation of the Chinese speakers. The English translation of Dialogue I is on page 163 of your textbook.

Also, be sure to read the Notes and Functional Expressions on pages 144–148.

Pattern Drills

Throughout the lessons, there will be practice exercises designated "Pattern Drills." The purpose of pattern drills is to review grammar forms given in the lessons and to practice your Chinese characters.

Complete Pattern Drill A on pages 158–159. Click the "show" button below to view sample responses.

Gěi as a Preposition

The verb "to give" is generally used as a verb indicating moving one object from one person to another; however, the verb is also used in slang such as "give me a call." We understand that we are to use the telephone and that we are not actually "giving" the telephone to another person. Chinese grammar works the same way. A Chinese person may say "give me an introduction" or "give me a call" in just the same way we might in English. One difference is that Chinese grammar calls those two phrases "prepositional phrases." "Give me a look" is another such prepositional phrase.

In the pattern drill, you are to copy the sentences in Chinese characters using the phrase "give you" as part of each sentence. Don't forget to underline the phrase and translate the entire sentence.

Example

我 给 你们 介绍 一下 (I'll introduce you.) ("A bit" is not translated.)

Try these exercises on your own, and then select the "click to show" link below to show the correct answers and check your work.

Here are the six sentences of Exercise A (page 158) done correctly for you:

  1. gěi nǐmen jièshào yí xià.
    给 你 们 介 绍 一 下。
    I'll introduce you. Or, Let me give you an introduction, etc.
  2. Lǐ Lǎoshi gěi nǐmen kàn tā de shū.
    李 老 师 给 你 们 看 她 的 书。
    Professor Li let you look at her book.
  3. Xiǎo Gāo gěi nǐmen kàn tā bàba māma de zhàopiàn.
    小 高 给 你 们 看 他 爸 爸 妈 妈 的 照 片。
    Little Gao let you look at his Dad's and Mom's photograph.
  4. Xiǎo Wáng gěi nǐmen tīng Zhongguo yinyue.
    小王 给你们听中国音乐。
    Little Wang let you listen to Chinese music. 
  5. gěi nǐmen jièshào yí ge péngyou. 
    她 给你们介绍 一个朋友。 
    She introduced you to a friend.
  6. Gāo Xiǎoyin gěi nǐmen hē Zhōngguó chà.
    高 小 音 给你们 喝 中国 茶。
    Gao Xiao yin gave you Chinese tea to drink.

Yào Indicating a Future Action

The verb "to want" or "will" ( yào) has several meanings—one of which indicates a future action. Such a verb is known as a helping verb or auxiliary verb. It is used with main verbs to express shades of time. The word is not always translated but is understood as necessary to facilitate the rest of the sentence by letting the reader know that this is something that will happen in the future. In the pattern drill, you are to copy the sentences in Chinese characters using the word "yào " as part of each sentence. Don't forget to underline the phrase and translate the entire sentence.

Try these exercises on your own, and then select the "click to show" link below to show the correct answers and check your work.

Here are the nine sentences of Exercise B (page 159) done correctly for you:

  1. Míngtiān wǒ yào qù tiào wŭ.
    明 天 我 要 去 跳 舞。
    Tomorrow I'll go dancing.
  2. Zhège zhōumò wǒ yào qù zhǎo Gāo Xiǎoyīn.
    这 个 周 末 我 要 去 找 高 小 音。
    This weekend I'm going to go look for Gao Xiao-yin.
  3. Jīntiān wǎnshang wǒ yào qǐng Wáng Péng hē kāfēi.
    今 天 晚 上 我 要 请 王 鹏 喝 咖 啡。
    Tonight I plan to invite Wang Peng to drink coffee.
  4. Míngtiān xiawu wǒ yào qù Li Laoshi de bangongshi.
    明 天 下 午 我 要 去 李 老 师 的 办 公 室。
    Tomorrow afternoon I will go to Professor Li's office.
  5. 今 天 下 午 我 要 问 小 白 一 个 问 题。
    Jīntiān xiawu wǒ yào wen Xiǎo Bái yí ge wèntí.
    This afternoon I want to ask Xiao Bai a question.
  6. 明 天 晚 上 我 要 去 小 张 的 学 校 看 电 影。
    Míngtiān wǎnshang wǒ yào qù Xiǎo Zhang de xuexiao kan dianying.
    Tomorrow night I want to go to Xiao Zhang's school to see a movie.
  7. 明 天 上 午 我 要 去 小 高 家 练 习 中 文。
    Míngtiān shàngwŭ wǒ yào qù Xiǎo Gāo jiā liànxi Zhōngwén.
    Tomorrow afternoon I plan to go to Xiao Gao's house to practice Chinese.
  8. 这 个 周 末 我 要 给 王 老 师 打 电 话。
    Zhège zhōumò wǒ yào gěi Wáng Lǎoshī dǎ diànhuà.
    This weekend I will call Professor Wang.
  9. 这 个 周 末 我 要 给 小 高 介 绍 一 个 朋 友。
    Zhège zhōumò wǒ yào gěi Xiǎo Gāo jièshào yí ge péngyou.
    This weekend I plan to introduce Xiao Gao to a friend.

要 是 (Yàoshi, if) Used with 怎 么 样 (Zěnme Yang)

There is nothing magical about this grammatical construction. It is a simple "if…then." The phrase (zěnme yang 怎 么 样) means something akin to "what will happen." In the pattern drill, you are to copy the sentences in Chinese characters using the phrase "if…then what will happen" as part of each sentence. Don't forget to underline the phrase and translate the entire sentence.

Try Exercise C (pages 160–161) on your own, and then select the "click to show" link below to show the correct answers and check your work.

  1. Yàoshi nǐ jīntiān méiyǒu kòngr, míngtiān zěnmeyàng?
    要 是 你 今 天 没 有 空 儿, 明 天 怎 么 样 ? (
    If you have no free time today, then what will happen tomorrow?
  2. You'll notice that the phrase 怎 么 样 is not easily translated word-for-word. The literal meaning is "How is the type?" or "How is the kind?" As stated before, it really means something like "What will happen?" or "What's to be done?"

  3. Yàoshi nǐ bù xiǎng kàn diànshì, wǒmen tīng yīnyue, zěnmeyàng?
    要 是 你 不 想 看 电 视, 我 们 听 音 乐, 怎 么 样?
    If you don't plan to watch TV, we could listen to music. What do you think?
  4. Yàoshi nǐ juéde dǎ qiú méiyǒu yìsi, wǒmen qù kàn diànyǐng, zěnmeyàng
    要 是 你 觉 得 打 球 没 有 意 思, 我 们 去 看 电 影, 怎 么 样
    If you think soccer is boring, let’s go see a movie, OK?
  5. Yàoshi nǐ bù xǐhuan tiào wŭ, wǒmen liáo tiānr, zěnmeyàng
    要 是 你 不 喜 欢 跳 舞, 我 们 聊 天 儿, 怎 么 样
    If you don’t want to dance, we could talk, all right?
  6. Yàoshi jīntiān bù fāngbiàn, míngtiān zěnmeyàng
    要 是 今 天 不 方 便, 明 天 怎 么 样? 
    If today isn’t convenient, how about tomorrow?
  7. Yàoshi bù xǐhuan he cha, wǒmen hē pijiu, zěnmeyàng?
    要 是 不 喜 欢 喝 茶, 我 们 喝 啤 酒, 怎 么 样 
    If you don’t want to drink tea, we could drink beer, OK?
  8. Yàoshi nǐ jīntiān qǐng wǒ he kafei, wǒ míngtiān qǐng nǐ kàn diànyǐng, zěnmeyàng
    要 是 你 今 天 请 我 喝 咖 啡, 我 明 天 请 你 看 电 影, 怎 么 样? 
    If you invite me to drink coffee today, I’ll invite you to a movie tomorrow, what do you think?
  9. Yàoshi nǐ xiǎng wèn wǒ wèntí, xiàwŭ lái wǒ de bàngōngshì, zěnmeyàng?
    要 是 你 想 问 我 问 题, 下 午 来 我 的 办 公 室,怎 么 样
    If you have a question to ask me, come to my office this afternoon, OK?
Dialogue

Now listen to the dialogue between Wang Ke and Teacher Li. Wang Ke is calling his teacher on the phone. After you have listened carefully, practice repeating what you hear.

Dialogue Transcript (in Chinese) Translation (in English)

Wáng Kē: Wèi, qǐng wèn, Lǐ lǎoshī zài ma?
Lǐ Lǎoshī: Wǒ jiù shì. Nín shì nǎ wèi?
Wáng Kē: Wǒ shì Wáng kē. Lǐ Lǎoshī, nín míngtiān shàngwù yǒu kòng ma?
Lǐ Lǎoshī: Duìbuqǐ, míngtiān shàngwù wǒ yào kāihuì. Míngtiān xiàwǔ, xíngma?
Wáng Kē: Hǎode. Wǒ zài sān diǎn bàn dào nín de bàngōngshì qù. Xièxie.
Lǐ Lǎoshī: Bú kèqi.

王 Ke:  喂, 请问, 老师 吗?
老师:我 是。  您是 那位?
王 Ke:  王 Ke老师, 明天 上午 吗?
老师:对不起, 明天 上午 开会。 明天 下午, 吗?
王 Ke:  好得。 我在 三点半 办公室 去。  谢谢。
老师:不 客气。

Wang Ke: Hello, is Teacher Li in?
Teacher Li: It is me. Who is this please?
Wang Ke: This is Wang Ke. Teacher Li, will you have time tomorrow morning?
Teacher Li: I am sorry. I have to go to a meeting tomorrow morning. What about tomorrow afternoon?
Wang Ke: Good. I will go to your office at 3:30 p.m. Thank you.
Teacher Li: You are welcome.

Spoken Language Practice
Not sure how to make a digital recording?
Take a look at this tutorial on recording and saving audio with Audacity:Go to tutorial on recording and saving audio with Audacity

After you have practiced the dialogue above, make a recording of yourself voicing both parts in the dialogue below. You can learn more about making audio recordings by clicking on the tutorial link at right and visiting the Audio-Recording Tools section of the Overview.

Note: You do not need to announce the names of the speakers; just read aloud their lines of dialogue.

Wáng Kē: Wèi, qǐng wèn, Lǐ lǎoshī zài ma?
Lǐ Lǎoshī: Wǒ jiù shì. Nín shì nǎ wèi?
Wáng Kē: Wǒ shì Wáng kē. Lǐ Lǎoshī, nín míngtiān shàngwù yǒu kòng ma?
Lǐ Lǎoshī: Duìbuqǐ, míngtiān shàngwù wǒ yào kāihuì. Míngtiān xiàwǔ, xíngma?
Wáng Kē: Hǎode. Wǒ zài sān diǎn bàn dào nín de bàngōngshì qù. Xièxie.
Lǐ Lǎoshī: Bú kèqi.

Note: You will turn this recording in to your instructor for evalution at the end of Lesson 3, and it will be worth points toward your total course grade. Therefore, it is important to make sure your work is clearly labeled. To do this, begin your recording by stating your name, the course title (Chinese I, Second Half Unit), the lesson number, and the section heading ("spoken language practice").

Cultural Notes

Chinese Etiquette, Part One
Chinese man presenting his business card with two handsFigure 1.1. Chinese people exchange business cards with both hands to show repect.

Confucius, China's greatest philosopher, thinker, and educator, established a set of basic rules for Chinese etiquette, teaching people how to communicate and deal with relationships with each other. These rules were set up around four concepts and five relationships. The four concepts include Guanxi (relationship), Mianzi (face), Li (courtesy), and Keqi (modesty). The five relationships are ruler-subject, husband-wife, father-son, older brother-younger brother, and friend-friend. In the next two lessons, you will learn about common Chinese etiquette.

Forms of Address

In China, people do not call others by their first name unless they are family members or close friends. People are usually called by their last names, followed by a professional title. For example, if Mr. Liu is a professor, people will call him "Liu Professor." If someone does not have a professional title, people may call him or her "Ma Xiansheng" (Mr. Ma) or "Ma Xiaojie" (Miss Ma). In other words, one must always include some title with the last name when calling others.

Greetings

Chinese people do not like to hug or receive a slap on the back. A handshake is a common greeting when two people meet or when one person is introduced to another. A slight nod is also a way of greeting. People should stand up and usually remain standing when they are introduced. Chinese people are taught not to show much facial emotion; instead, they seem very serious, so Chinese people may be thought not friendly. Chinese people present and receive business cards by using two hands to show respect.

Study Questions

Before you take the Lesson 1 quiz, test your understanding of the material by completing the study questions for Lesson 1 (linked below). These questions are for practice only and should not be submitted to your instructor for grading.

Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader version 6 or higher to view and use all of the features in this lesson's Study Questions document. Visit the Overview page for more information about downloading and installing Acrobat Reader.

Use the audio files below to complete Part I: Listening in the Lesson 1 Study Questions document.

Lesson Quiz

When you can accomplish the learning objectives for this lesson, you should take the online quiz covering this material. This quiz is composed of 22 multiple-choice questions worth 4 points each, for a total of 88 points. Questions will cover listening and comprehension, vocabulary, grammar, and culture. You may use any assigned readings, your notes, and other course-related materials to answer the questions.

How to answer computer-evaluated questions:
  1. Preview all questions by clicking the button below. Be sure to print or otherwise mark your answers using the preview—questions on the preview are exactly the same as those you will submit.
  2. When you are ready, submit your answers for evaluation by clicking the button below. All students are automatically logged off after 20 minutes of inactivity for security purposes. You will have 60 minutes to enter and submit your answers.
  3. Review any feedback received after submitting your answers. For missed questions, feedback generally helps explain why the answer you selected is incorrect and/or provides associated page references. If the feedback still does not help explain questions you find troublesome, contact Mizzou K-12 Online / MU High School, describing your specific difficulty. Be sure to identify the course and keycode (four-digit number on the front page of the course), lesson or unit number, and question number(s). All inquiries concerning evaluated work must be submitted before you take each exam.

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