Location of Things Inside a Building

4.4 Location of Things Inside a Building

This lesson is set in the the RoC. You’ll learn to understand questions and answers used in giving directions to things inside a building.

This is Daniel King’s first day in Taipei. When he comes out of his hotel room one morning, he asks one of the hotel employees for some information.

Qǐngwèn cāntīng zài jǐlóu?请问餐厅在几楼 May I ask, on what floor is the canteen on?
Zài èrlóu.在二楼 It’s on the second floor.

Here’s the word for a canteen, dining hall.

cāntīng餐厅 canteen, dining hall

Cāntīng refers to a dining area in a university, factory, etc. For a dining room in a house the word fàntīng is used. Whereas for an actual restaurant the word would be fànguǎn.

And here’s how you ask what floor?, literally what number floor

jǐlóu几楼 what floor?

Notice the the second floor is èrlou and not liǎnglóu.

Mr. King replies.

Ò, wǒ zuò diàntǐ dào èrlóu. Xiàle diàntǐ wàng nǎbian zǒu.哦,我坐电梯到二楼。下了电梯往那边走 Oh, I take the elevator to the second floor. When I have gotten off the elevator, which way do I go?
Xiàle diàntǐ, wàng yòu zǒu, jiù shi cāntīng.下了电梯,往右走,就是餐厅 When you have gotten off the elevator, go to the right, and that’s the restaurant.

Here’s the word for elevator.

diàntǐ电梯 elevator

Here is the prepositional verb to ride.

zuò to ride

And here’s the word used for to get off.

xià to get off

The word zuò literally means to sit but is also used for to ride or even to go by some means of transport. The phrase take the elevator in Chinese is really ride the elevator.

Notice that in the sentence zuò diàntǐ dào èrlǒu take the elevator to the second floor, the verb dào is used as a main verb without the verb following it. The verb is only used for a final destination. In this exchange, Mr. King’s final destination is the dining hall not just the second floor.

The verb dào is commonly used instead of dào … qù, to go to … , for naming several places to be passed through. Here is another example:

Wǒ xiān dào Běijīng, ránhòu zài dào Shěnyáng.我先到北京,然后再到沈阳 I’m going to Beijing first, and then to Shenyang.

Listen and review.

Here’s a conversation Mr. King might have later in the day in the department store. Listen and review.

After breakfast, Mr. King comes down to the lobby and talks to the hotel clerk.

Qǐngwèn, nǐmen zhèli yǒu měiyou lǐfǎde dìfang?请问,你们这里有没有立法的地方 May I ask, is there a place to get a haircut here?
Yǒu. Cóng zhèli wàng zuǒ zǒu. Xià lóu, jiù kànjian le.有。从这里往左走。下楼,就看见了 Yes. From here you go to the left . Go downstairs, and then you’ll see it.

Here’s the term for a haircutting place, literally a place where they cut hair.

lǐfǎde dìfang理发的地方 haircutting place
In modern Chinese you are more likely to use měifǎ diàn which word-for-word means beautiful – hair – shop or hair salon.

Here’s how you say to go downstairs.

Xià lóu下楼 to go downstairs

Xiàlòu literally means descend from an upper story. The English action go/come downstairs looks at the action from another point of view descend to a lower floor.

In this dialog we have the compound verb for of to see.

kànjian看见 to see

The verb kànjian is a compound verb of result. The verb kàn means to look at and the verb jiàn means to perceive. The verb compound kànjian to see refers to an act of looking that results in a state of perceiving.

Contrast kàn with kànjian.

wǒ kàn le, késhi mei kànjian.我看了,可是没看见 I looked but I didn’t see

Here are examples of other compound verbs containing the verbs tīng to listen and kàn.

Tā gēn nǐ shūo huà ne. nǐ tīngjian le meiyou?他跟你说话呢。听见了没有 She is talking with you, did you hear her?
Kànjian dìyīge lùkǒu, wàng zuǒ guǎi.看见第一个路口,往左拐 When you see the first intersection, turn left.

Listen and review.

After getting his haircut, Mr. King goes to the central bookstore. Listen as he talks to a clerk near the entrance.

Jǐlóu mài dìtú?几楼卖地图 On what floor are maps sold?
èrlóu.二楼 The second floor.
Zěnme zǒu?怎么走 How do I get there (go)?
Wàng hòu yìzhí zǒu. Shàng lóu, yòubian jiù shi mài dìtúde.往后一直走。上楼,右边就是卖地图的 Go straight to the back. Go upstairs, a.nd the map department is (Just) on the right.

The Chinese sentence jǐlóu maì dìtúde has a location jǐlóu as topic and no subject. To translated this sentence into English, we must either add the subject they as in on what floor do they sell maps or change the verb to the passive, as in on what floor are maps sold.

Here’s the word for back.

hòu back

And here’s how to say to go upstairs, literally ascend to and upper story.

Shàng lóu上楼 to go upstairs

Listen and review.

After buying a map, Mr. King goes to a small restaurant and is seated towards the front. Listen as he talks to the waitress.

xǐshǒujiān zài shěnme dìfang?洗手间在什么地方 Where is the wash room?
Zài nàli. Wàng lǐ zǒu, zài yòubian.在那里。往里走,在右边 It’s over there. Go all the way in, and it’s on the right .

Here’s the word for a washroom, literally a wash-hands room.

xǐshǒujiān洗手间 washroom/wash hands room

Asking for the xǐshǒujiān is a polite way to ask for the toilet although you may be pointed to a room that only contains a sink. To ask specifically for a toilet you can use the word cèsuǒ as in qǐngwèn, cèsuǒ zài náli, May I ask, where is the toilet?

And here’s how to say to the inside.

Wàng lǐ往里 to the inside/to the back/all the way in

The phrase wàng lǐ zǒu is often used to mean go to the back when the room in question is long and narrow. For a long-wide room you would use wàng hòu zǒu.

Listen and review.

Here’s a conversation Mr. King might overhear when he goes back to his hotel and picks up his key at the desk.

The following series of exchanges reviews all the material in this lesson. The questions in these exchanges are all adressed to a clerk near the entrance of a department store.

Pronunciation Practice