Houses, Work and Addresses

2.2 Houses, Work and Addresses

Peter Crook is an American student who just arrived in Taipei and is staying at the Ambassador hotel. In Taiwan, most hotel names use the term Dàfàndiàn. Literally, great hotel. Listen to great hotel.

Dàfàndiàn大饭店 Great hotel

Now listen to Ambassador hotel.

Guóbīn Dàfàndiàn国宾大饭店 Ambassador hotel

Literally, the word Guóbīn means guest of the country.

Listen to Guóbīn Dàfàndiàn in this exchange.

Nǐ zhù zài náli?你住在哪里 Where are you staying?
Wǒ zhù zài Guóbīn Dàfàndiàn.我住在国宾大饭店 I’m staying at the Ambassador Hotel.

In non-Beijing dialects of standard Chinese, the usual word for where is not nǎr but náli

Listen to náli.

náli哪里 where

Notice that the tone pattern is rising neutral. This is because the syllable is the basic low tone syllable. And as you will remember, the first of two low tone syllables changes to a rising tone.

Check your comprehension.

The words for here and there zhè and nàr also have forms ending in li in other forms of standard Chinese.

Here they are:

zhèli这里 here
nàli那里 there

In the following exchange, Peter Cook is standing in the lobby of one hotel with another hotel visible through the window. Listen for the new forms.

Nǐ zhù zài náli?你住在哪里 Where are you staying?
Wǒ zhù zài zhèli.我住在这里 I’m staying here.
Tā ne?他呢 How about him?
Tā zhù zài nàli.他住在那里 He is staying there.

After staying at the hotel for a few days, Peter Cook moves into a friend’s house. Here’s the word for house or home.

Jiā Home

Here’s the word for friend.

péngyou朋友 friend

Here’s the expression a friend’s house.

péngyou jiā朋友家 a friend’s house

Notice that word for word péngyou jiā is simply friend house with no possessive marker. You’ve already had an example of the unmarked possessive construction in nǐ aìren your spouse.

Listen for a friend’s house in this exchange.

Nǐ zhù zài náli?你住在哪里 Where are you staying?
Wǒ zhù zài péngyou jiā.我住在朋友家 I’m staying at a friend’s house.

Check your comprehension.

The conversation might continue as follows.

Nǐ péngyou jiā zài náli?你朋友家在哪里 Where is your friend’s house?
Tā jiā zaì Dàlǐ Jiē.他家在大理解 His house is on Dali Street.

Here are some more unmarked possessive relationships.

Here’s the word for street.

Jiē street

Here’s Dali Street.

Dàlǐ Jiē大理解 Dali Street

Check your comprehension.

The next question might concern the address. Here’s the word for address.

dìzhǐ地址 address

The expression his address involves another possessive relationship. This one however, has to be marked in a phrase tā jiā his or her home. When the relationship is felt to be inherently very close, no marker is needed. When the possessive relationship is not felt to be so close, the marker -de is added to the possessive phrase.

Listen to Mr. Lee’s address.

Here’s how you would say #42 in giving a house number.

Sìshíèr hào四十二号 #42

Now listen to this exchange, which continues the conversation.

Nǐ péngyoude dìzhǐ shi…?你朋友的地址是 What is your friend’s address?
Tāde dìzhǐ shi Dàlǐ Jiē Sìshíèrhào.他的地址是大理街四十二号 His address is No. 12 Dali Street.

Notice that when you give an address in Chinese, you put the general before the specific. First, street and then number. In English, it’s the other way around.

The question in this exchange is literally your friend’s address is. Where you would expect the word what shénme there is simply a trailing off.

Check your comprehension.

Let’s review what we have covered so far.

Major Weiss, a phone area specialist, newly assigned to the military attache office in Taipei, is attending a party given by his Chinese counterpart. Here’s the word for Major.

Shàoxiào少校 Major

Listen to the officer’s wife greet Major Weiss as he comes in.

Nǐ shi Wèi Shàoxiào ba?你是卫少校吧 You are Major Weiss, aren’t you?
Shìde.是的 Yes.

The word shìde is an expanded form of the short answer shi yes. The marker ba at the end of the first sentence, softens it and makes it less absolute. You make a statement without the marker ba when you know for sure that something is so. You make a statement with ba when you’re almost sure it’s so. The sentence Nǐ shi Wèi Shàoxiào ba? could also be translated if my information is right, you must be Major Weiss. A statement with the marker ba leaves an opening for the listener to correct you if your information is wrong.

Check your comprehension.

Another evening, Major Weiss invites a few people to join him at his hotel for drinks. One of them has never been to the Ambassador hotel before. Listen to the live exhange as he checks with someone on the street to see if the building he is approaching is the right one.

Notice that the word for that nèi, unlike the bound word for which něi, can be used without a noun or counter after it.

Check your comprehension.

Here’s the word for to work.

gōngzuò工作 to work

Listen for the word to work as Major Weiss is asked about a friend of his.

Nǐ péngyou xiànzài zài náli gōngzuò?你朋友现在在哪里工作 Where does your friend work now?
Tā zài Táinán gōngzuò.他在台南工作 He works in Tainan.

As you noticed, the verb work gōngzuò comes at the end of each sentence.

Let’s compare the answer telling where the friend works to an answer just telling where he is.

In the sentence Tā zài Táinán, the verb zài is the main verb and is given the familiar translation is inHe is in Tainan. In the sentence tā zài Táinán gōngzuò however, the main verb is gōngzuò work and the word zài before it, is translated simply by the preposition inHe works in Tainan. In a sentence like this, we say that zài is a prepositional verb supplementing the information in the main verb. Chinese generally uses prepositional verbs where English uses prepositions.

Check your comprehension.

Here’s the name for military attache’s office.

Wǔguānchù武官处 military attache’s office

Listen as the conversation continues live.

Nǐ zài náli gōngzuò?你在哪里工作 Where do you work?
Wǒ zài Wǔguānchù gōngzuò.我在武官处工作 I work at the defense attache’s office.

Check your comprehension.

Now listen to another live conversation.

Nǐ péngyou zài Táiběi gōngzuò ma?你朋友在台北工作 Does your friend work in Taipei?
Tā bú zài Táiběi gōngzuò; tā zài Táizhōng gōngzuò.他不在台北工作;他在台中工作 He doesn’t work in Taipei; he works in Taichung.

Notice that in Chinese, you can put the negative before the prepositional verb phrase zài táiběi, while in English, the negative can only go with the main verb to work.

Check your comprehension.

Let’s review what we have covered in this lesson. At a party, a Chinese military officer and his wife, are talking about a certain Major Wood. Listen.

Pronunciation Practice