Mandarin Skills Lesson 2
Introductions and Farewell


Ni3 gui4 xing1?

What is your (honorable) surname?



Ni3 jiao4 shen2 me ming2 zi*?

What is your name?
(What are you called?)

你叫什么名字 ?

zai4 jian4

See you


bai4 bai4

bye bye



Dialogue Patterns:


Ni3 gui4 xing1?   Question: Ni3 jiao4 shen2 me ming2 zi*?


Wo3 xing1 Response 1: Wo3 jiao4
  Response 2:

Chinese Names

Chinese follow a different pattern than most Western names.  The Chinese first name is the family name (the last name for foreigners) and their last name or names are their given names.

Western names use the following pattern:





Chinese names reverse that order:
the Chinese surname goes first, followed by given names and then the title.




 Wen Wei 

So a Westerner would say Dr. Wen-Wei Chen,
while in Chinese it would be Chen Wen-Wei Dr. 

Formality and Respect

In Chinese, it is polite and customary to first ask a person's surname.  While the translation to English may appear overly formal, Chinese culture demands the honorific "gui4 " when asking a person's surname.  

In Mandarin, "Ni3 gui4 xing1?"  can be shortened to "Gui4 xing1?"  

Question Patterns

As shown in the dialog patterns above, most questions using question words can be answered by:

  1. Changing the subject of the sentence (if necessary), e.g. "I" to "you"
  2. Replacing the question word with the answer.
  3. Omitting any question particles at the end of the sentence

More details on how to form Chinese questions will be covered in a later lesson.  

Learning Hints/Additional Information

1. Mandarin has several "intimate" forms that are very commonly used.  One of these using the pre-fix "xiao3" 小 before the person's surname to show familiarity.  For example: My name is Pei2 Wei3 Xuan1 裴伟轩.  People familiar with me might call me "Xiao3 Pei2".  In addition to "xiao3" (small), you could also use "lao3" (old) for a person who is your senior, or is respected.

2. Chinese has several words borrowed from English.  These are called "transliterations", where a Chinese sound is used to make an English word.  "bai4 bai4" is a prime example as the Chinese sound matches the English word "bye bye" perfectly.  There are extremely few cognates between English and Mandarin, but these borrowed words can help in learning the language.

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