Beginners' Chinese
Beginners' Chinese

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Beginners' Chinese

2.1 Names and nationalities

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.

Activity 6 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: Names
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Transcript: Names



Nín hǎo, wǒ jiào Wáng Jīng.



Nín hǎo, wǒ jiào Lǐ Xiǎoyīng.


李小姐 , 您是哪国人?

Lǐ xiǎojie, nín shì nǎ guó rén?



Wǒ shì Zhōngguórén.



Nín shì Zhōngguó shénme dìfang rén?


我是北京人。王先生, 您是不是英国人?

Wǒ shì Běijīngrén. Wáng xiānsheng, nín shì bu shì Yīngguórén?



Shì, wǒ zhù zài Lúndūn.

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What is the woman’s name?


a) Wang Xiaoying


b) Wang Jing


c) Li Xiaoying

The correct answer is c.

Part B

What is the man’s name?


a) Wang Xiaoying


b) Wang Jing


c) Li Xiaoying

The correct answer is b.

Activity 7 Nationalities

In the quiz linked below, you will be asked to listen to the audio extract, in which Mr Wang ( 王先生 Wáng xiānsheng ) and Miss Li ( 李小姐 Lĭ xiǎojie ) talk about their places of origin. Number the sentences in the order you hear them.

Click here to open the quiz. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]


Here is a summary of the answers for reference.

  1. 您是哪国人 nín shì n ǎ guó rén
  2. 我是中国人 Wǒ shì Zhōngguórén
  3. 您是不是英国人 nín shì bu shì yīngguórén
  4. 我住在伦敦 wǒ zhù zài Lúndūn

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