Free Mandarin Chinese Lessons

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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
Chinese:kuh-ee
English:Is it okay?
Chinese:kuh-ee mah
Literally:can?
English:I can go
Chinese:woh kuh-ee tchoo
Literally:(same)
English:Can you go?
Chinese:nee kuh-ee tchoo mah
Literally:you can go +?
English:Can you come?
Chinese:nee kuh-ee lie mah
Literally:you can come +?
English:May I sit down?
Chinese:woh kuh-ee dzoh mah
Literally:I can sit +?
English:I cannot eat this
Chinese:woh boo kuh-ee chih juh-guh
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)
Chinese:nung
English:Can you speak English?
Chinese:nee nung shoh yeeng-wuhn mah?
Literally:you able to speak English?
English:I cannot come
Chinese:woh boo nung lie
Literally:I not able come
SECTION: WHEN
English:What
Chinese:shun-muh
English:When
Chinese:shun-muh-shih-hoh
Literally:what times
English:When are we going?
Chinese:woh-men shun-muh-shih-hoh tchoo
Literally:we when go?
English:When are you going?
Chinese:nee shun-muh-shih-hoh tchoo
Literally:you when go?
English:When is he coming?
Chinese:tah shun-muh-shih-hoh lie
Literally:he when come?
English:When can you come?
Chinese:nee shun-muh-shih-hoh kuh-ee lie
Literally:you when can come?
English:When are we eating?
Chinese:woh-men shun-muh-shih-hoh chih
Literally:we when eat?
English:When do you want to eat?
Chinese:nee see-ahng shun-muh-shih-hoh chih
Literally:you would like when to eat?

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