Lessons 1-10

Lesson 1 你是中国人吗? Are you Chinese?

老师 Lǎoshī teacher / 是 shì Is / 中国 zhōngguó China / 美国 měiguó USA

中国 means "China". The word is made up of two characters, 中 zhōng meaning "middle" and 国 guó meaning "country". Thus, the literally translation of 中国 Zhōngguó is "Middle Country", although a more meaningful translation might be "The Central Country". You sometimes see China referred to as "The Middle Kingdom", this is why.

The character 国 guó appears quite often, such as in the name of another country, 美国 or "the USA".  美 měi means "beautiful" and is another high-frequency word. So in Chinese, the name for the United States, 美国 Měiguó, literally means "Beautiful Country".

To say that someone is from a country, simply add 人 rén to the end of the country's name. The character 人 rén means "person" or "people" depending on the context, and looks similar to a profile of a person walking one foot in front of the other. Thus, 中国人 Zhōngguórén means "Chinese person" or "Chinese people", and 美国人 Měiguórén means "American person" or "American people".

Example sentences:

他 是 我 的 老板。He is my boss.
Tā shì wǒ de lǎobǎn.
He is I-of old-boss.

我 爸爸 是 商人。My father is a businessperson.
Wǒ bàbɑ shì shāngrén.
My papa is commerce-person.

你 是 中国人 吗? Are you Chinese?
Nǐ shì Zhōngguórén ma?
You are middle-country-person?

你 的 同事 是 美国人 吗? Is your coworker an American?
Nǐ de tóngshì shì Měiguórén ma?
You-of same-affairs is beautiful-country-person question?

老师 是 中国人。The teacher is Chinese.
Lǎoshī shì Zhōngguórén.
Old-master is middle-country-person.

陈 先生 不 是 美国人。Mr. Chen is not American.
Chén xiānsheng bú shì Měiguórén.
Chen first-born not is beautiful-country-person.

 那些  学生 是 韩国人。Those students are Korean.
Nàxiē xuéshēng shì Hánguórén.
Study-born-plural are han-country-people.

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Sound files for the example sentences:

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A 你爸是商人吗?
   Nĭ bà shì shāngrén ma?
   Is your father a businessperson?

B 不是。是医生
   Bú shì. Shì yīshēng.
   No, he's not. My father is a doctor.

A 你是医生吗?
   Nĭ shì yīshēng ma?
   Are you a doctor?

B 不是。我是老师。
   Bú shì. Wŏ shì lǎoshī.
   No, I'm not. I'm a teacher.

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Sound files for the dialogue:

>> Download RL teacher and SS teacher performing this dialogue (right click to save)

>> Download MQ teacher and VG teacher performing this dialogue (right click to save)

Lessons 11-20
Lessons 21-30
Lessons 31-40
Lessons 41-50
Lessons 51-60
Lessons 61-70
Lessons 71-80
Lessons 81-90
Lessons 91-100
Lessons 101-110
Lessons 111-120
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The Mandarin language is not as difficult as you might think. There’s a reason why it’s the world’s most spoken language! A lingua franca for much of Northern China since the Yuan dynasty, Mandarin has a simple, no-nonsense grammatical system and a vocabulary that builds upon itself. So don’t be daunted! You too can speak this beautiful language.