In this lesson, we observe a rather one-sided
conversation between our host Tongtong and a young guest. Let’s start by looking at
how Tongtong approaches the guest at the ice skating rink. Tongtong calls the guest xiǎo péng you, literally meaning “little friend”. Kids
in China can be addressed as xiǎo péng you if you don’t know their name. After addressing
the guest as xiǎo péng you, Tongtong asks her how old she is. nǐ jīn nián jǐ suì
le? What did xiǎo péng you say？ bā suì. eight years old. nǐ shì dì yī cì huá bīng ma? The literal translation of this question is “you are
// the first time // ice skating?” nǐ shì // dì yī cì // huá bīng ma? First, huá
bīng means ice-skating. Huá means “slip” or “slide” and bīng means “ice”.
So, huá bīng is literally “sliding on ice”, or ice-skating. It’s a verb-object
verb. How about “huá xuě”, sliding on snow? Well, right, that’s skiing. Xuě is
snow. huá xuě。 In the beginner conversational Chinese lesson
76, we learned that to say “this is my first time doing something”, we say zhè shì
wǒ dì yī cì doing something. This is my first time ice-skating” should be zhè shì
wǒ dì yī cì huá bīng. So to ask “is this your first time ice skating”, you can
say “zhè shì nǐ dì yī cì huá bīng ma”. This is a bit different from the sentence
Tongtong is using here. Tongtong says “nǐ shì dì yī cì huá bīng ma?”, By beginning
her question with nǐ shì, Tongtong allows herself a moment’s time to decide what she
wants to ask the guest, because the words nǐ shì could be followed by nearly any question
or comment! It’s like saying “So, you are…here for the first time” in English.
So you may hear Chinese people ask you “nǐ shì dì yī cì lái zhōng guó ma”? That’s
just a different way of asking you “is this your first time coming to China”?
So what did xiáo péng you say? The xiáo péng you simply says bú shì,
without elaborating, so Tongtong has to scramble to come up with a way to keep the conversation
going. She buys a moment’s time by beginning with a long and slow nà..nǐ It’s like
saying “Oh…so then…” This time, Tongtong decides to ask an open-ended
question, rather than a yes-or-no question. She says, “When do you usually come ice
skate?” nǐ dōu // píng shí // shén me shí jiān // guò lái // huá bīng // ne?
Let’s look at this question piece by piece from the beginning. She begins with nǐ dōu.
The word dōu here should not be thought of as meaning “all” or “both”, as it
usually means. Here, it holds no real meaning, but is added simply to make the sentence sound
a bit “softer” or more pleasant. It can be omitted without changing the meaning of
the sentence. Next, we come across an old way to say “usually” or “generally”:
píng shí. We learned this word in our previous intermediate lesson 13. píng shí is often
followed by shén me shí jiān or shén me shí hòu, to form the question “what time
(or when) do you usually do something?” Now for the action parts of the sentence—“come
to ice skate”: guò lái huá bīng. The guò here can be omitted. The difference between
lái and guò lái is like the difference between saying “come” and “come over”. Actually,
the formation of the phrase guò lái contains a very useful grammar point “complement
of direction”. You can find more details in our grammar lesson 34-36.
And finally, she ends the question with the particle ne. Using the ne here is another
way to “soften” the sentence and make it sound a bit more pleasant. Remember, the
whole sentence can be shortened to nǐ píng shí shén me shí hòu lái huá bīng?
Let’s say the whole question together once more: nǐ dōu píng shí shén me shí jiān
guò lái huá bīng ne？ lǐ bài rì， Sunday. For different ways
of saying Sunday and other days in a week, please refer to our lecture notes. Now, let’s
see what question Tongtong was able to come up with next: Tongtong asks, “So, who did you come with today?” Here, we come across the shì de
sentence structure. You may remember that a sentence using the shì de pattern is talking
about details from an even that has already happened. If you’re a little fuzzy on this,
do go back to Grammar Lessons 22 and 23, as well as Chinese Learning Tips Lesson 33 to
review. But I really want you to memorize this sentence “who did you come with”,
nǐ gēn shuí lái de？or you can say nǐ gēn shuí yì qǐ lái de? Repeat after me,
nǐ gēn shuí lái de？or nǐ gēn shuí yì qǐ lái de.
Now, let’s see if Tongtong is able to get more than a single-word answer out of our
young guest this time: This xiǎo péng you is too funny! If she
insists on single-word answers, we’ll have to create a full sentence answer on our own.
How should we answer the question nǐ jīn tiān shì gēn shuí lái de? // wǒ jīn
tiān shì gēn mā ma lái de. Remember, for “content word questions”, questions
mirror the answers. You can also add a yì qǐ to make it even more complete: nǐ jīn tiān
shì gēn shuí yì qǐ lái de？ Answer wǒ jīn tiān shì gēn mā ma yì qǐ lái de.
Next, Tongtong asks if the little girl’s mother knows how to ice-skate: mā ma huì huá bīng ma？Can mom ice skate? Yet another single-word answer! bú huì,
cannot. Let’s see what Tongtong comes up with next: nǐ jué de huá bīng nán ma？Do you think ice-skating is hard? Will the xiǎo péng
you give us another single-word answer? Finally! A more complex answer from our xiǎo
péng you! She says yì diǎn // dōu // bù nán，not difficult at all. Please please
memorize this phrase structure， yì diǎn dōu bù+adjective. yì diǎn dōu bù is
literally “a little all not” and it means “not at all”. For example, not busy at
all, yì diǎn dōu bù máng. Not tired at all, yì diǎn dōu bú lèi. not difficult
at all, yì diǎn dōu bù nán. Please note that yì diǎn dōu bù can also work with
verbs. For example, you might express your dislike for something by saying wǒ yì diǎn
dōu bù xǐ huān. I don’t like it at all. Or “I don’t want to go at all”. wǒ
yì diǎn dōu bù xiǎng qù. Please note here that in this “yì diǎn
dōu bù” structure, the dōu can be replaced by yě without changing the meaning We’re
going to do more drills on this in our “audio lesson review”. xiǎo péng you wèi shén me xǐ huān huá bīng? Why does the little kid like to ice skate? She says bú shì wèi shén me . No reason. She could also have said méi yǒu wèi shén
me to mean the same thing. Then she explains, saying that jiù jué de shì yì zhǒng kuài
le. Literally, she “just feels that it is a type of happiness”. Of course, you would
never express it that way in English, but in Chinese, you can say that something that
brings you happiness is yì zhǒng kuài le. And since it has come up, you should learn
the word zhǒng. Zhǒng is a measure word used in much the same way that the words “type”
or “kind” are used in English. For instance, “Basketball is a type of sports” in Chinese
is “lán qiú shì yì zhǒng yùn dòng”. You should already know that kuài lè means happy
or happiness as in zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè, remember the happy birthday song in chinese?
zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè, zhù nǐ shēng rì kuài lè Ok, so fēi cháng hǎo! That’s all for this lesson. xià cì jiàn. Bye bye.