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

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Beginners’ Chinese: a taster course

3.1 Nationalities

In Chinese, many countries can be identified as they have ‘guó 国’ at the end. For example:

  • Zhōng guó 中国 = China
  • Yīng guó 英国 = Britain
  • Fā guó 法国 = France
  • Dé guó 德国 = Germany

There are, however, other countries and cities that do not have ‘guó ’ at the end, such as:

  • Xī bān yá 西班牙 = Spain
  • Yì dà lì 意大利 = Italy
  • Lúndūn 伦敦 = London
  • Bĕi jīng 北京 = Beijing

Once you know the name of the country, nationalities in Mandarin Chinese are quite easy to learn. To say the nationality you only need to add the word ‘rén’ – which, as you’ve already learned, means ‘person’ – to the country name.

To find out someone’s nationality you would ask:

  • 你是哪国人? Nĭ shì nǎ guó rén? = Where are you from?
Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 14
Skip transcript: Audio 14

Transcript: Audio 14

你是哪国人?
Nĭ shì nǎ guó rén?
End transcript: Audio 14
Audio 14
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The reply to this question would then be:

  • 我是中国人 Wǒ shì Zhōngguórén = I’m Chinese.
Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 15
Skip transcript: Audio 15

Transcript: Audio 15

我是中国人
Wǒ shì Zhōngguórén
End transcript: Audio 15
Audio 15
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
  • 我是英国人 Wǒ shì yīngguórén = I am British.
Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 16
Skip transcript: Audio 16

Transcript: Audio 16

我是英国人
Wǒ shì yīngguórén
End transcript: Audio 16
Audio 16
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
  • 我是西班牙人 Wǒ shì Xībānyárén = I’m Spanish.
Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 17
Skip transcript: Audio 17

Transcript: Audio 17

我是西班牙人
Wǒ shì Xībānyárén
End transcript: Audio 17
Audio 17
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Then, if you want to know the specific area in the country someone is from you would ask:

  • 你是中国什么地方人? Nĭ shì Zhōngguó shénme dìfang rén? = What place in China are you from? (lit. you are China what place person?)
Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 18
Skip transcript: Audio 18

Transcript: Audio 18

你是中国什么地方人?
Nĭ shì Zhōngguó shénme dìfang rén?
End transcript: Audio 18
Audio 18
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
  • 您是英国什么地方人? Nín shì Yīng guó shénme dìfang rén? = Whereabouts in the UK are you from? (lit. You are UK what place person?)
Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 19
Skip transcript: Audio 19

Transcript: Audio 19

您是英国什么地方人?
Nín shì Yīng guó shénme dìfang rén?
End transcript: Audio 19
Audio 19
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

In response to this, you may hear Chinese people say:

  • 我是北京人Wǒ shì Bĕijīngrén = I’m from Beijing (lit. I’m Beijing person).
Download this audio clip.Audio player: Audio 20
Skip transcript: Audio 20

Transcript: Audio 20

我是北京人
Wǒ shì Bĕijīngrén
End transcript: Audio 20
Audio 20
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

The question 什么地方... shénme dìfang means ‘What part of’. As you can see, the word order in Chinese differs to that of English, but you will learn more of that as you develop further learning of the language.

Activity 8 Names and nationalities

Listen to the audio extract below in which Mr Wang ( 王先生 Wáng xiānsheng ) and Miss Li ( 李小姐 Lĭ xiǎojie ) talk about their places of origin. Identify their nationalities and the name of the city you hear, in the order you hear them. Do not worry if you do not understand the whole conversation

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Answer

Well done!

  • 中国 Zhōngguó (China) - is first
  • 北京 Běijīng (Beijing) - is second
  • 英国 Yīngguó (UK/Britain) - is third
  • 伦敦 Lúndūn (London) – is fourth
CHN_1

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