Location of Things

4.2 Location of Things

This lesson is set in the PRC. You’ll learn to understand questions and answers about how things are located relative to each other.

Mr. Bower is living at the Beijing hotel while he waits for an apartment to become available. Listen as he talks to the clerk in the hotel about getting to the theatre.

Dōngdān Diànyǐngyuàn shì bu shi zài zhèr fùjìn?东单电影院是不是这儿附近 Is the Dōngdān Movie Theater in this area?
Shì, zài zhèr fùjìn.是,在这儿附近 Yes , It’s in this area.

Here is the word for area/vicinity.

fùjìn附近 area/vicinity

Here’s how you say in this area/nearby.

zhèr fùjìn这儿附近 in this area, nearby

The phrase zhèr fùjìn is a possessive noun phrase in Chinese. Literally, here is vicinity. The possessive marker de is commonly omitted in phrases of relative location.

Here’s the word for a movie theatre.

Diànyǐngyuàn电影院 movie theatre

Listen to the exchange live and review.

Now listen to a similar conversation.

Nǐ zhīdao diànyǐngyuàn fùjìn yǒu meiyou yínháng?你知道电影院附近有没有银行 Do you know whether there is a bank in the vicinity of the theater?

To ask do you know about a choice type question, Chinese usually just puts the words nǐ zhīdao in front of it. A sentence with the words nǐ zhīdao followed by a choice-type question has the form of a statement but the effect of a question. The choice-type question starts with the place as topic followed by the verb you. You’ve heard sentences like this before.

Listen again and review.

Now listen to another question about the bank.

Nǐ zhīdao bu zhidao yínháng shénme shíhòu guān mén?你知道不知道银行什么时候关门 Do you know s.t what time the bank closes?

To ask do you know about a question word question, you either start with the words nǐ zhīdao and end with the marker ma or as here, start with the words nǐ zhīdao bu zhidao.

Listen again and review.

Let’s go back to Mr. Bower’s conversation in the hotel. The clerk has just told him that the movie theatre is in that area.

cóng zhèr dào nàr qù, zěnme zǒu?从这儿到那儿去,怎么走 How do I get there from here?
Chūle zheige fàndiàn wàng dōng zǒu.出了这个饭店往东走 When you have gone out of the hotel, walk to the east.

Here’s how you say to go out of.

chū le出了 to go out of

Here’s how you say East.

dōng east

In Beijing, directions are given in terms of points in the compass instead of left and right. Notice that the word zheige in the exchange is toneless and is translated as the. The words for this and that are both translated by the English word the when toneless.

Listen again and review.

The clerk continues with the directions.

Dàole dì’èr ge lùkǒur, běibianr shi Dōngdān Càishichǎng. Nánbianr shi Dōngdān Gōngyuán.到了第二个路口儿,被边儿是东单菜市场。南边儿是东单公园 When you have reached the second intersection, on the north side is the Dōngdān Market, On the south side is the Dōngdān Park.

Here is the word for South.

nánbian(r)南边(儿) south, the south side

And the word for North.

běibian(r)北边(儿) north, the north side

Both of these words use the word for side.

bian(r)边(儿) side

The words nán and běi by themselves are names of directions as in phrases like wàng běi zhǒu go to the north. When the element bianr is added to the name of a direction, the compound is the name of a place such as běibianr the north side or nánbianr the south side.

Note, in the Beijing dialect it is common for speakers to add an additional -r sound to the end of words ending in -n such as bian. In Southern this is not done and words for north and south would just be pronounced běibian and nánbian.

Here is the word for a vegetable market.

càishichǎng菜市场 market

Here is the word for a public park.

gōngyuán公园 park/public garden

Notice that the topic words běibianr and něibianr are translated by prepositional phrases in English on the north side and on the south side.

Listen again and review.

The conversation continues.

Diànyǐngyuán jiù zài Dōngdān Càishichǎngde xībianr.电影院就在东单菜市场的西边儿 The movie theater is just on the west side of the Dōngdān Market.
xībianr西边儿 west side

From now on, we will translate the word jiù as just to avoid confusion with the direction name right.

Listen again and review.

Here’s a live conversation between friends reviewing what you have had so far.

Mr. Bower is still talking to the hotel clerk. Listen.

Qù kàn diànyǐng yǐqiān wǒ xiān qù kàn yíge péngyou.去看电影以前我先去看一个朋友 Before I go to see the movie, I’m first going to visit a friend.

You’ll notice that the verb lái may be followed by a phrase expressing the purpose of the action.

Here is the word for a movie.

diànyǐng电影 movie

And the word for before.

yǐqiān以前 before

Notice that in Chinese, the word yǐqiān, comes at the end of its phrase. While in English, the word before, comes at the beginning. You may also have noticed that in this sentence, the word for one has no tone. When the word for one is toneless, it corresponds to English a or an.

Listen again and review.

The conversation continues.

Fàndiàn lǐbianr yǒu meiyou mài tángde?饭店里边儿有没有卖糖的 Is there a place to buy candy in the hotel?
Yǒu. Yǒu yige xiǎomàibu . Zài nèibianr.有。有一个小卖部 Yes. There’s a concession stand. It’s over there.

Here is the word for inside.

lǐbian里边儿 in/inside

Here is the word for candy – also the word for sugar.

táng candy

The English words, a place to buy candy, were translated by the phrase mài tángde literally candy-selling one.

This expression has the form of an ordinary modifying phrase used as a noun. By convention, it is understoood as referring to either a person who sells candy or, as here, to a place where candy is sold.

Notice that in English, we usually talk about where we can buy something, while in Chinese, you usually talk about where something is sold.

Here’s the word for a concession stand.

xiǎomàibù小卖部 a concession stand

A concession stand is a small shop inside another building, inside a museum or theatre for instance.

Listen again and review.

The following four short dialogues review most of the material introduced on this lesson. Listen.

Pronunciation Practice