Beginners’ Chinese: a taster course
Beginners’ Chinese: a taster course

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Beginners’ Chinese: a taster course

3 Introducing oneself

In this section, you will learn about Chinese names, how Chinese people address each other and how profession titles are used.

When a Chinese name is given in full, the family name always precedes the given name. To take the former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping as an example, the family name Dèng goes before the given name 小平 Xiǎopíng.

It is very common for Chinese people to address each other by their full names, even amongst friends or family. The most common Chinese family names have only one character. Chinese given names typically consist of two characters.

The titles 先生 xiānsheng (Mr), 小姐 xiăojie (Miss) and 女士 nǚshì (Madam) are popular in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and since the 1980s have been catching on in mainland China, too, especially in the business sector. They tend to be used on formal occasions when you are unsure of another person’s position or profession. The term 太太 tàitai (Mrs) is also used to address a married foreign woman but is not an appropriate way to address a married Chinese woman because Chinese women do not change their family names after marriage.

To say ‘My name is’ you say: Wŏ jiào我叫...

Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 10
Skip transcript: Audio 10

Transcript: Audio 10

我叫...
Wŏ jiào
End transcript: Audio 10
Audio 10
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

To ask a person’s name you can say:

  • Nĭ jiào shénme? 你叫什么?
Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 11
Skip transcript: Audio 11

Transcript: Audio 11

你叫什么?
Nĭ jiào shénme?
End transcript: Audio 11
Audio 11
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

or:

  • Nĭ jiào shénme míngzi? 你叫什么名字?
Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 12
Skip transcript: Audio 12

Transcript: Audio 12

你叫什么名字?
Nĭ jiào shénme míngzi?
End transcript: Audio 12
Audio 12
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Practice these expressions a few times to consolidate it and then move on to Activity 7.

Activity 7 Names

Part A

Listen to the audio track below to hear how these two people say their names, and how they address each other, then answer the following questions.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 13
Skip transcript: Audio 13

Transcript: Audio 13

NARRATOR:
How do you greet someone and introduce yourself? Have a listen.
WANG JING:
你好。
Nǐ hăo.
LI XIAOYING:
你好。
Nǐ hăo.
WANG JING:
你叫什么?
Nĭ jiào shénme?
LI XIAOYING:
我叫李小英。
Wŏ jiào Lǐ Xiǎoyīng.
你呢
Nǐ ne?
WANG JING:
我叫王京。
Wŏ jiào Wáng Jīng.
End transcript: Audio 13
Audio 13
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

What is the woman’s full name?

a. 

a) Wang Xiaoying


b. 

b) Wang Jing


c. 

c) Li Xiaoying


The correct answer is c.

Part B

What is the man’s full name?

a. 

a) Wang Xiaoying


b. 

b) Wang Jing


c. 

c) Li Xiaoying


The correct answer is b.

CHN_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371