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Lesson 049 Asking Questions (1)

07-08-2010 15:30 BJT

Yajie: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the first Chinese Studio of the new week 欢乐汉语. I’m Yajie.
Allen: And I’m Allen. This week, we'll be learning useful sentence structures for asking questions. For example, today we'll be learning how to ask if someone has a certain profession.
Y: Yes. Remember, Allen, when you saw my friend and started asking me all these questions about her? You asked, “Is she a teacher?” because you thought she was so warm and kind? Well, today we'll learn how to ask that question in Chinese. If you learn, maybe I'll tell you the answer.
A: Really, then I'll try my best. Let's get started with the key words of the day.

***************Key Words of the Day
Today, we’ll learn how to deliver a question in Chinese. 她是老师吗?Is she a teacher? 您是医生吗?Are you a doctor? 他是护士吗?Is he a nurse?  All in today’s Chinese Studio.

Y: 她是老师吗? Is she a teacher?
A: 她是老师吗? (Ta shi laoshi ma?)
Y: T-a, first tone, 她, means she.
A: 她 (ta). Interestingly, I found that he in Chinese is also pronounced “ta”, right?
Y: Exactly. They are homonyms. “Ta”, she, and “ta”, he, both sound the same, but the characters are written differently.
A: Oh, I see. No wonder so many Chinese confuse he and she when speaking English. In Chinese, they only have to remember  one word, “ta”.
Y: Right. Now, let's move to the next word, sh-i, fourth tone, 是, which means is.
A: 是, sh-i, is.
Y: Next, 老师, which means teacher. 老师 (laoshi).
A: 老师 (laoshi), teacher.
Y: 她是老师吗? Is she a teacher?
A: 她是老师吗? (Ta shi laoshi ma?)
Y: Then, if she is a teacher, the person you're asking the question to would reply 她是老师 (ta shi laoshi), She is a teacher.
A: 她是老师吗? (Ta shi laoshi ma?) 她是老师 (ta shi laoshi). Oh, the only difference between question and statement, besides tone,  is that with the question you have a 吗 (ma) at the end.
Y: Very observant, Allen. 吗 (ma) is very often the only difference between asking a question and making a statement in Chinese. Putting  吗 (ma) at the end of a statement changes it into a question.
A: 她是老师 (ta shi laoshi) She is a teacher. 她是老师吗? (Ta shi laoshi ma?) Is she a teacher?


A: Yajie, could you please tell me what the Chinese is for doctor?
Y: It’s 医生 (yisheng). Yi, 医; sh-eng, 生. Both are in the first tone.
A: 医生 (yisheng).
Y: 我是医生 (wo shi yisheng), I am a doctor.
A: 我是医生 (wo shi yisheng).
Y: And nurse in Chinese is 护士 (hushi).
A: 护士 (hushi).
Y: H-u, fourth tone, 护, and sh-i, 士.. But here士 is in the light tone. So it’s护士 (hushi).
A: 护士 (hushi).
Y: How do you say, “He is a nurse,” Allen?
A: 他是护士 (ta shi hushi).
Y: How about, “She is a nurse?”
A: Also 她是护士 (ta shi hushi). Come on Yajie, he and she in Chinese are only written differently.


***************Key Words Reminder
她是老师吗?Is she a teacher? 您是医生吗?Are you a doctor? 他是护士吗?Is he a nurse?

Y: Well, it's time to wrap up this edition of Chinese Studio. Now, for our question of the day: How do you say “Is he a doctor?”in Chinese?
A: Please send your answer to  That’s
Y: Or, you can visit us on our website at Just click “Learn Chinese”.
A: Well, class is over. 再见!
Y: 明天见!

Editor:Shi Taoyang |Source: CRI

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