Things you have bought

3.4 Things you have bought

This lesson is set in the RoC. In this lesson, you’ll learn to understand questions and answers you would use in talking about something you have bought. You’ll remember that Major Weiss has been newly assigned to the military attache’s office in Taipei. The Weiss’ have now been in Taipei for several weeks and have moved into a house.

Mrs. Weiss has just come to her husband’s office to meet him for lunch. Listen as her husband’s assistant, Ms. Hu, finds out is she’s gotten settled yet.

Nǐ jiālide dōngxi dōu dào le ma?你家里的东西都到了吗 Have all your household things arrived?
Yǒude dào le, yǒude hái mei dào.有的到了,有的还没到 Some have arrived, and some haven’t arrived yet.

Here’s how you say things.

dōngxi东西 thing

And here’s how you say household things.

Jiālide dōngxi家里的东西 household things

You’ll remember that the word jiālide literally means in the house.

Yǒude有的 some

The word for some is made up of the verb yǒu there are and the marker of modification de. The sentence yǒude dào le, yǒude hái mei dào, might also be translated as there are some which have arrived and there are some which haven’t arrived yet.

Listen again and review.

Since the word yǒude has the meaning there is or there are, it can’t come after the verb any more that there are could in English. We just don’t say I bought there are books. You can use the word yǒude with an object however, if the object is moved in front of the main verb.

Listen to this example.

Zhèxie zázhì nǐ kàn le ma?这些杂志你看了吗 Have you read these magazines?
Zhèxie zázhà, yǒude wǒ kàn le, yǒude wǒ hái mei kàn.这些杂志,有的我看了,有的我还没看 Some of these magazines I’ve read, and some I haven’t read yet.

Here’s how you say the words these and those.

Zhèxie这些 these
nèixie那些 those

The toneless bound word xie is used in making the plural of specified nouns. Notice that it occupies the position of a counter between the specifier and the noun. You might think of it as meaning something like a bunchthis bunch of magazines.

Notice also that in the second sentence, the topic serves as background for the word yǒude, showing what it refers to. In English, we indicate what the word some refers to by following it with a phrase which names the thing eg. some of these magazines I have read. In Chinese, the same information goes before the word yǒude in topic position eg. Zhèxie zázhì, yǒude wǒ kàn le.

Listen again and review.

For the next exchange, you’ll need the expression for dishes.

pánziwǎn盘子碗 dishes

The word for dishes is a compound made up of two parts. The word pánzi by itself is used for flat plates whether large or small. And the word wǎn refers to bowls.

Listen as Mrs. Weiss continues the conversation live.

Now Mrs. Weiss says that yesterday she finally went out and bought some dishes. Here are two way Mrs. Weiss might describe what she bought: one specific and one general.

fànwǎn饭碗 rice bowl

In the first sentence, Wǒ mǎile sānge fànwǎn, the completed action le marker comes after the verb just as in duration sentences. In the second sentence, wǒ mǎi fànwǎn le, the completed action le marker unexpectedly comes after the noun phrase. The difference between these two sentences is that in one you’re talking about what the object is, while in the other you’re talking about how many of the objects are involved. Sentences with what we will call not objects, talking about how many, act just duration sentences, with the le marker after the verb for completed action and after the noun phrase for new situation. Duration sentences of course also talk about amounts; amounts of time. Sentences with non-amount objects, talking about what, indicate completed action by a le marker after the object.

Here’s an exchange reviewing the use of the completed action le with amount and non-amount objects.

Notice that the word shénme what is a non-amount object and the word jǐběn how many volumes? is an amount object.

Now let’s go back to the conversation between Ms. Hu and Mrs. Weiss.

Zuótiān wǒ mǎile yìdiǎn pánziwǎn.昨天我买了一点盘子碗 Yesterday I bought some dishes.
Nǐ mǎile duōshao?你买了多少 How many did you buy?
Wǒ mǎile sānge fànwǎn, shíge dà pánzi.我买了三个饭碗,十个大盘子 I bought ten rice bowls and ten large plates.

Notice that in the first sentence, zuótiān wǒ mǎile yìdiǎn pànziwǎn, the time word zuótiān yesterday, comes in topic position before the subject instead of after the subject in its usual adverb position.

Here the time word is being used to set the scene for the rest of the sentence. Both place and time expressions can be put in topic position as scene setters. Notice that adding yìdiǎn makes pànziwǎn into an amount object since yìdiǎn a little bit is an amount.

You’ve already had the word duōshao with the meaning how much?. You’ve now had two ways to ask how many. You use the bound word jǐ + counter when you expect the answer to be ten or less. If you expect the answer to be a larger amount, you use the word duōshao.

Listen again and review.

The conversation continues.

Nàxie pánzi wǎn shi shlnme yinsSde?那些盘子碗是什么颜色的 What color are those dishes?
Shi lánde.是蓝的 They’re blue ones.
Ó, wǒ yě xǐhuan lánde.哦,我也喜欢蓝的 Oh, I like blue ones too.

Here’s the word for color.

yánsède颜色的 color

Here is the word for to like.

xǐhuan喜欢 to like

In English, we would probably give the color by saying simply they’re blue. In Chinese, you usually say they’re blue ones. Notice that the question uses the same pattern: Those dishes are what color ones? with the marker de after shi shénme yánsè what color.

Listen again and review.

The conversation continues.

Shi zài shénme dìfang mǎide?是在什么地方买的 Where were they bought?
Shi zài Dìyì Gōngsī mǎide.实在第一公司买的 They were bought at the First Company.

Here’s the expression used for where.

shénme dìfang什么地方 where

Here is the word for a company.

Gōngsī公司 company

Literally, shénme dìfang, means what place. It tends to be used to ask about specific named locations while náli or nàr is more general. Notice that the verb in the sentence, shi zài shénme dìfang mǎide where were they bought, is translated into English with the passive were bought. In English, when the subject is not mentioned, the verb must be in passive form. In Chinese, the verb remains unchanged.

Listen again and review.

Mrs. Weiss might continue politely by praising the store’s goods.

Tāmen mǎide dōngxi zhèn hǎo.他们卖的东西真好 The things they sell are really nice.

The subject of this sentence is the phrase tāmen mǎide dōngxi the things they sell. This phrase is made up of the noun dōngxi thing plus a modifying clause tāmen mǎide which they sell, which identifies which things Mrs. Weiss is talking about.

The modifying clause tāmen mǎide consists of subject plus verb plus the marker de. In English, a modifier made up of the verb and its subject of object, is put after the noun – the things they sell. In Chinese, it comes before the noun as do other modifiers.

Listen again and review.

In traditional Chinese culture, it is considered polite to be modest about how much money you have. In the following comments, Mrs. Weiss says that she can only afford the inexpensive dishes and at the same time praises the quality of the expensive ones.

Tāmen mǎide pánziwǎn, yǒude zhēn hǎokàn.他们买的盘子碗,有的真好看 Some of the dishes they sell are really good looking.
Kěshi guì yìdiǎn.可是贵一点 But they’re a little more expensive.

Here’s the word for but.

Kěshi可是 but

Here is the rest of Mrs. Weiss’ comment.

Wǒ mǎide nàxie pánziwǎn dōu bú tài guì.我买的那些盘子碗都不太贵 All those dishes I bought were not too expensive.
Guìde wǒ méi mǎi贵的我没买 I didn’t buy the expensive ones.

Notice that the specifier, nàxie those, comes after the modifying clause wǒ mǎide. In English, words like those always come before other modifiers.

Listen again and review.

Pronunciation Practice