Days, Ages and Dates and Place of Birth

2.5 Days, Ages and Dates and Place of Birth

In this lesson, you’ll learn to understand questions and answers about dates including date of birth, about place of birth and about ages. In the last lesson, you learned some uses of the shi de construction. This construction may shift the center of interest not only to when or how something happened, but also to where something happened.

Here’s the verb for to be born.

shēngde生的 to be born

Listen for to be born in the exchange.

Āndésēn fūren, nǐ shi zài nǎr shēngde?安德森夫人,你是在哪儿生的 Mrs. Anderson, where were you born?
Wǒ shi zài Dézhōu shēngde.我是在德州生的 I was born in Texas.

Notice that shi comes before the place phrases, zài nǎr, in the question and zài Dézhōu in the answer, identifying them as the center of interest.

Check your comprehension.

You can already talk about yesterday, today and tomorrow. Now let’s learn how to talk about days of the week.

Listen to the word for a week.

Xīngqī星期 week

Now listen to the word for Monday.

Xīngqīyī星期一 Monday

Here’s the word for Tuesday.

Xīngqīèr星期二 Tuesday

What do you think Wednesday might be?

The days for Monday through Saturday are all constructed the same way – by putting the number of the day after the word for week.

Listen to the days of the week from Monday to Saturday.

Xīngqīyī星期一 Monday
Xīngqīèr星期二 Tuesday
Xīngqīsān星期三 Wednesday
Xīngqīsì星期四 Thursday
Xīngqīwǔ星期五 Friday
Xīngqīliù星期六 Saturday
Xīngqītiān星期天 Sunday

In the following exchange, Mrs. Anderson is talking to a Chinese friend in Guangdong. She and her husband are stopping over on their way to Beijing. Listen.

Nǐmen shi Xīngqīsì dàode ma?你们是星期四到的吗 Did you arrive on Thursday?
Bú shi, wǒmen shi Xīngqīwǔ dàode.不是,我们是星期五到的 No, we arrived on Friday.

Here’s the word for Sunday.

Xīngqītiān星期天 Sunday

To ask what day of the week, you put the bound word -jǐ how many at the end of the word for week.

Listen to the phrase for what day of the week.

xīngqījǐ星期几 What day of the week

Now listen as the conversation continues.

Nǐmen xīngqījǐ zǒu?你们星期几走 What day of the week are you leaving?
Wǒmen Xīngqītiān zǒu.我们星期天走 We are leaving on Sunday.

Let’s listen in to a live conversation between two Chinese, reviewing what you’ve had so far.

Now let’s turn to another kind of time expression – dates. Listen to Mrs. Anderson give her year of birth.

Nǐ shi něinián shēngde?你是哪年生的 What year were you born?
Wǒ shi yījiùsānjiù nián shēngde.我是一九三九年生的 I was born in 1939.

Here’s the expression which year.

něinián哪年 What year/which year

You’ve already had the bound word něi, nián means year.

Here’s how you say 1939.

yījiùsānjiù nián一九三九年 1939/1939 year

Remember that in a sequence of digits, the numbers one, seven, and eight keep their basic high tones.

Check your comprehension.

Here’s a similar exchange live.

Notice that in giving a year, the word you used for two is èr.

Check your comprehension.

Here’s the word for month.

yuè Month

The names of the months are numbers from one to twelve followed by the word yuè.

Listen to the speaker say the names of the months through June.

In the word for January, the basic high tone of the word one, changes to rising before the falling tone on the word yuè month. The same tone change usually takes place on the words for July and August.

Listen to July and August.

qíyuè七月 July
báyuè八月 August

Here’s the expression for what month.

jǐyuè几月 what month

Since the months are numbered, the bound word -jǐ how many, is an appropriate question form here just as it was in what day of the week. The in jǐyuè can of course be replaced by a number up to twelve.

yíyuè一月 January
èryuè二月 February
sányuè三月 March
sìyuè四月 April
wǔyuè五月 May
liùyuè六月 June
qíyuè七月 July
báyuè八月 August
jiǔyuè九月 September
shíyuè十月 October
shísìyuè十四月 November
shíèryuè十二月 December

The conversation might continue like this.

Nǐ shi jǐyuè shēngde?你是几月生的 What month were you born?
Wǒ shi qíyuè shēngde.我是七月生的 I was born in July.

Now see if you can identify the names of some months.

Here’s the expression what day

jǐhaò记号 what day/what day of the month

The day of the month is expressed by the number followed by the bound word hào, which you’ll remember as also used in giving addresses.

Listen to the speaker count up to the fifth of the month.

Notice than in this case, the of jǐhào may be replaced by a number as high as 31.

The conversation might continue like this.

Nǐ shi jǐhào shēngde?你是几号生的 What day of the month were you born?
Wǒ shi sìhào shēngde.我是四号生的 I was born on the fourth.

Let’s make sure that you have the units of time straight. Let’s review.

Let’s turn now to the subject of age. Here’s a common way of asking someone’s age.

Nǐ duó dà le?你多大了 How old are you?
Wǒ èrshísì le.我二十四了 I’m 24.

Here’s the expression for how old.

duó dà多大 how old

By itself, the word duō means how in the sense of how much and the word means big. In this sentence as the high tone duō is followed by the falling tone of it changes into a rising tone duó.

Notice that the verb to be seems to be missing in these sentences. In English, we would have to say you are how big?, I’m 24.

These sentences could also be said without the final le marker. The marker le, which ends both sentences, is the ‘new situation’ le alone without the ‘completed action’ le. After all, being a certain age is a state, not an action. The second speaker is saying that she has changed from the state of being 23 to the state of being 24.

Check your comprehension.

When you’re talking about a child 10 years old or less, you ask his/her age in a different way.

The Anderson’s have one daughter. Listen as Mrs. Anderson gives her age.

Nǐmen nǚháizi jǐsuì le?你们女孩子几岁了 How old is your daughter?
Tā básuì le.她八岁了 She’s eight years old.

Here’s the word for years old.

suì years old
jǐsuì几岁 how many years old

You’ll remember that the word is used for how many when you expect that the answer will be ten or less.

Now listen to the speaker count from one year of age to five.

Listen for the expressions with suì in the exchange live.

Two and three syllable ages may be given either way. Though ages over twenty are usually given their short forms – without suì.

Now listen as Mrs. Anderson talks about the Martin’s children.

Nǐmen nánháizi dōu jǐsuì le?你们男孩子都几岁了 How old are your boys?
Yíge jiùsuì le, yíge liùsuì le.一个九岁了,一个六岁了 One is nine, and one is six.

Notice that we translate the sentence nǐmen nánháizi dōu jǐsuì le? as How old are your boys not How old are both your boys. In English, we don’t use the word all or both when expecting different information about each of the things being asked about.

Check your comprehension.

Pronunciation Practice