1. Anonymous says:

    Hello Serge,

    I’ve been listening to your lessons from podcast and enjoying them. Today I first came to this website and got to know you were from Vancouver. I can tell you that the picture of you is on Granville Island,right?
    I got back from Vancouver last month.

    Thank you for providing such nice lessons for us.

    From Japanese girl

  2. jervis_burnaby says:

    Where you took a photo is also my favorite place. I sometimes went there to take a walk in summer.

    I’ve been listening to your lessons for keeping my skills of Chinese and English. It’s very useful. Thanks, again.

  3. Dave Hughes says:

    Nihao, Serge.

    I have just finished lesson 8. I have some grammar questions. The Chinese language does not involve genders, correct?

    In later lessons, will you teach past and future tenses?

    Lastly, how would you say librarian? I bet it is somewhere in your lessons. Could you tell me which one?

    I am really enjoying this. The spoken language is not as hard as I imagined.

    Sent by Mr. Hughes via BlackBerry by AT&T

  4. Serge Melnyk says:

    Dear Dave,

    Let me answer your questions in order:

    1) Correct. There are no genders. Chinese is an amorphous language. There are no changes in words, tenses, etc, in the usual way that we are used to with the European languages.

    2) Yes, there will be notes about how different time situations can be expressed in Mandarin. But, as I mentioned, there are no tenses as we understand them.
    So, you need to guess from the context whether something is in present, future or past. E.g. wo3 chi1fan4-I eat. This can also mean I am eating.
    If you say zuo2tian1 wo3 chi1fan4-Yesterday I eat–this will mean I ate yesterday, etc. In this example, we can tell it’s in the past because there is the word zuo2tian1-yesterday.

    Generally speaking, tenses in Mandarin are expressed by using the so-called language markers- particles that are placed before or after the verb.

    guo2 is placed after the verb: wo chi1 guo4 (fan4)- I ate.
    yao4 or hui4—“will”, “going to”. E.g. Wo3 yao4 chi1fan4–I will eat.

    These are the major 3 particles for tenses. There is also a particle ‘le’ that can indicate past tense, but more often, it indicates the change in the situation.

    E.g. ta1 lai2-he comes or he is coming. Ta1 lai2 le!–He came!–(he already came. The situation has changed from “not seeing him” to “seeing him”)

    3) Don’t want to disappoint you, but there is no single word for “librarian”, unlike other professions. Library is tu2shu1guan3(literally, tu2-maps, shu1-books, guan3-establishment). Librarian is tu2shu1 guan3li3yuan2. Tu2shu1- “maps and books”, guan3li3yuan2-administrator. (don’t forget that guan3li3yuan2 is pronounced as guan2li3yuan2–there are two 3rd tones together, the first one will always change to the 2nd tone)

    In lesson 65 PDF, there are many notes about grammar. Actually the whole PDF is explaining the most common grammar constructions in Mandarin.

    Hope this helps.



  5. Lydia says:

    You are genius! In a week, with about 5 podcasts I can make sentences. I always wanted to learn Chinese but I never believed I would speak it once. I finally understand the tone thing.

    You do a great job.

    A beginner :)

  6. Richard Medsker says:

    Hello, I saw your explanation of the word ba at the end of the sentence, I
    understand that but what about when it is used in the middle of the
    sentence, sorry if i missed where you have already answered this question,

  7. Serge Melnyk says:

    Nihao Richard,

    When you see a particle ba used in the middle (the ba1 particle, not the grammatical one, which is preposition ba3), It’s usually used in the spoken language to help you break some longer sentences into smaller parts and it allows you to pause a little before continuing your story. It’s usually used when someone is trying to tell a story. Not really common, but in lesson 247, in the dialogue, you can hear it.

    Now, it just occurred to me that you might actually be asking about the other ba3 preposition, that plays really important role in Chinese grammar, and it’s totally different from the ba1 at the end of the sentences, that’s purely intonational.

    Yes, it was discussed numerous times and here are the lessons to read: Lesson 34 (grammar notes at the end) and Lesson 65.

    The 把 bǎ construction is used to indicate what one does to a particular object, or how one does it. Verbs used in the 把 bǎ construction take complex forms, and are verbs of action attached to resultative words, directional words or other elements. The attached elements refer to the direct object of the sentence. For instance, in 我 把 酒 喝 完了wǒ bǎ jiǔ hē wán le I finished the wine the resultative word finish refers to the wine, but not to the action of drinking. I finished drinking would be expressed by the simple utterance 我 喝 完 酒 了wǒ hē wán jiǔ le.

    Passive construction with 被 bèi (just for comparison)

    The passive construction with 被 bèi indicates how a particular object (abstract or physical) is dealt with or disposed of by somebody or something. The verbs in these constructions take complicated forms. They are verbs of method of action, plus other elements. Most of the elements that are attached to the main verbs in 被 bèi sentences are similar to those used in the 把 b
ǎ construction. For instance, 书 已 经 被 他 借 走 了 shū yǐjīng bèi tā jiè z ǒu le the book has been borrowed by him. In 把 bǎ sentences this will be 他 已经把书借走了tāyǐjīng bǎ shūjiè zǒu le he has already borrowed the book.

    To understand this preposition ba3 better, imagine that it’s a verb that means to ‘grab’. But this verb is not the final result of the action, it’s only a tool for doing something else, a second action. E.g. When you say ‘Give me the book’.

    You can use 2 ways of saying it in Mandarin Chinese: 1) gei3 wo3 shu1(给我书) or using ba3, 2) ba3 shu1 gei3 wo3(把书给我). If you think of ba3 as ‘to grab’, but not very literally ‘to grab’, just some sort of pre-action in order to conduct the main action. So it will be grab the book (and) give (it) to me. The “grab” here is like preposition ba3.

    You can not leave the sentence unfinished by just saying: ba3 shu1…….it will sound incomplete. ba3 shu1 ‘what’? —> ba3 shu1 gei3 wo3(把书给我)! So the second, main verb is the one that carries all the meaning and ba3 doesn’t carry any meaning, it just indicates that someone is going to do something with the thing that he/she takes. This thing can be either tangible or some abstract, like a concept or idea.

    Hope this helps!



    Mandarin Chinese Lessons with Serge Melnyk

  8. Anthony Johnson says:

    Hello Serge
    When did you first start learning Chinese? Your lessons are very useful but I started late and i think i have reached a plateau.

  9. I first started learning Chinese when I was 16-17. But I don’t think age is an issue. What becomes an issue is time you spend on it. If you spend certain amount of time every day to learn Chinese, you will see how you progress quickly.

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