Mandarin Chinese Lessons (Standard Pinyin)

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These Mandarin Chinese lessons have been designed to provide practical travel vocabulary and a foundation for basic conversational skills. You may also download a complete audio transcript for listening in your car.

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SECTION: CAN (to be able)
English:Can
Pinyin: kě-yǐ
English:Is it okay?
Pinyin: kě-yǐ ma
Literally:can?
English:I can go
Pinyin: wǒ kě-yǐ qù
Literally:(same)
English:Can you go?
Pinyin: nǐ kě-yǐ qù ma
Literally:you can go +?
English:Can you come?
Pinyin: nǐ kě-yǐ lái ma
Literally:you can come +?
English:May I sit down?
Pinyin: wǒ kě-yǐ zuò ma
Literally:I can sit +?
English:I cannot eat this
Pinyin: wǒ bù kě-yǐ chī zhè-ge
Literally:I not can eat this
There is more than one way of saying can in Mandarin. In general you'll find kuh-ee to involve permission issues. The following verb, nung, implies ability because of skills/knowledge. However, this is a very loose rule and these two verbs are often used interchangeably.
English:Can (alternate)
Pinyin: néng
English:Can you speak English?
Pinyin: nǐ néng shuō yīng-wén ma
Literally:you able to speak English?
English:I cannot come
Pinyin: wǒ bù néng lái
Literally:I not able come
SECTION: WHEN
English:What
Pinyin: shén-me
English:When
Pinyin: shén-me shí-hòu
Literally:what times
English:When are we going?
Pinyin: wǒ-men shén-me shí-hòu qù
Literally:we when go?
English:When are you going?
Pinyin: nǐ shén-me shí-hòu qù
Literally:you when go?
English:When is he coming?
Pinyin: tā shén-me shí-hòu lái
Literally:he when come?
English:When can you come?
Pinyin: nǐ shén-me shí-hòu kě-yǐ lái
Literally:you when can come?
English:When are we eating?
Pinyin: wǒ-men shén-me shí-hòu chī
Literally:we when eat?
English:When do you want to eat?
Pinyin: nǐ xiǎng shén-me shí-hòu chī
Literally:you would like when to eat?

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