Lesson 089. Office and Phone Manners in Mandarin.

This lesson is about office manners in Mandarin Chinese and we are going to learn proper ways to express yourself over the phone and in person. Please sign up and become a registered subscriber to download ALL 200+ audio lessons with full PDF transcripts and worksheets.


  1. Serge Melnyk says:

    Hello Robert,

    Thank you for your question!

    Well, wei ni liu yan( 为你留言 ) may indeed sound confusing, especially in translation. Wei ni(为你) is ‘for you’ and perhaps translating it as ‘with you’ in this context is the best in English.

    However, wo neng wei ni liu yan ma?(我能为你留言吗?)- 1) can I leave a message for you? and 2)can I leave a message with you sound like sentences said by different speakers. The 1st one being said by the person who is answering the phone and offering to take a message for the calling person, it sounds like ‘can I help you’?

    The 2nd one seems to better suit the person who IS making a call and asking for a favor to leave a message with the person answering this call, it sounds like ‘can you help me’?

    So, the conclusion here is that this sentence will probably be better translated into English as ‘Can I take a message for you?’ What do you think? Same as in the situational dialog, where it says “would you like to leave a message?”

    PS: liu2(留) in liu2 yan2(留言) is a verb to ‘leave (messages), to remain, to stay…(to stay=liu2xia4lai2留下来). Yan2(言)- is from yu3yan2(语言)-language and it means ‘speech’, ‘word’ etc. So liu2 yan2-to leave a word. Leave here means that you ‘leave a word on a paper/or answering machine’.

    Hope this is helpful for anyone who needs clarification on this matter.


  2. Robert says:


    I have a question arising from lesson 89.

    E.g.wo neng wei4 ni liu yan ma?
    Can I leave a message for you?

    Wei4 seems to be translated as “for you”. But in English, if you call someone and someone else answers and you say “can I leave a message” you would say “can I leave a message with you (ie FOR another person)”
    But you would not say “can I leave a message for you.”

    So is it correct to say that Wei4 ni3 can be translated as “with you”?

    Or am I missing something.

    Hope you can help!



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