Lesson 019. Travel in China. Part 1.

Have you ever thought about traveling to China? If you do plan to travel there, you will probably need to know some useful expressions in Mandarin Chinese to help you get around, find a hotel, change money etc. Even in the best Chinese hotels not everyone speaks English and when you go outside to the street, chances are that nobody speaks English at all! Please signup and become a registered subscriber to download ALL 276+ audio lessons with full PDF transcripts, worksheets, mobile apps and more.


  1. Serge Melnyk says:

    Nihao! You are right, the word xiao3jie3 can sometimes have negative connotation and I mentioned this in the PDF transcript of lesson 2, which is another benefit for registered subscribers, because there are many tips and explanations that will make a big difference if you know about them when you learn Mandarin.

    Usually, using the word xiao3jie3(小姐) is totally fine in Taiwan, Shanghai and most of the Southern China when referring to a waitress. But in Guangdong (except Hongkong) and North East of China (dong1bei3(东北)) it’s not so well received. In cities such as Harbin, Shenyang, Dalian, etc, you better use fu2wu4yuan2(服务员)-waitress/waiter, a neutral word literally meaning ‘a servant’.

    Tell me where in China your friend is from? There is a big possibility that she speaks Cantonese as there are way more Cantonese speaking people in British Columbia than those that speak Mandarin. Anyway, liang4mei4(靓妹) is a typical Cantonese expression for a ‘pretty girl’, the opposite of shuai4ge1(帅哥)-handsome boy (Please refer to lesson 122 ‘Are you available?’. It’s fine to use it in Mandarin, but it very ‘Cantonese’. The word mei3nv3(美女) is used more often in Mandarin Chinese. Mei3(美)-beautiful, from mei3li4(美丽) and nv3(女)-woman, from nv3ren2(女人).

    Please do not hesitate to ask me if you ever have any questions!



  2. Dan says:

    Hi Serge, awesome series. Thanks!

    One comment (and I can’t remember which lesson it was) is that I tried practicing by using the title “xiao jie” to refer to a “miss” and I got the most scornful look I’ve ever received in my life. Apparently where she’s from “xiao jie” is used to suggest prostitute. Not sure if you mention these in futute lessons but some warnings or more colloquial terms would be nice. She said its more common to say “liang mei3” (not sure about the tone on liang) or something along those lines.

    Anyway, appreciate your efforts!

    From Vancouver, BC

  3. Serge Melnyk says:

    Nihao Sushan,

    Ni xiang qu nali lvyou?-where do you want to go to travel?

    Ni xiang qu lvyou nali? ****-still acceptable way to say this question, but it will sound way more casual.

    So, for nali, it’s fine to be at the end, however, the 1st sentence is more proper. Just break it down: ni xiang qu nali-where you want to go?–>ni xiang qu nali chifan?-where you want to go to eat?–>ni xiang qu nali xuexi zhongwen?-where you want to go to study Chinese?—>ni xiang qu nali lvyou?-where you want to go to travel?

    ni xiang qu chifan nali

    ni xiang qu xuexi zhongwen nali

    These are wrong. So you can see that ‘nali’ doesn’t always fit at the end. Maybe you have noticed that such words are chi-fan, xuexi-zhongwen etc. have something common in them. They are verb-object. In fact, lv-you can also be considered such construction, even though we usually do not break it this way, it’s fixed and can not be separated, unlike chi and fan.

    So, when you answer: I go to China to travel. You are going to substitute the word ‘nali’ with the concrete place, e.g. Zhonggguo. Wo qu Zhongguo lvyou. Because of the properties of the word lvyou, lv-you where ‘you2’ can be considered as ‘object’ and lv3 as ‘verb’, it cannot take Zhongguo after it.

    Best tip for using ‘nali’ is using it together with zai4: zai4 nali?-where. E.g. ni xiang lvyou zai nali?, ni xiang chifan zai nali? Ni xiang xuexi zhongwen zai nali? etc.

    Usually, zai nali is used at the end of the sentence. E.g. qingwen, canting zai nali?-Excuse me, where is the restaurant?….bla bla bla zai nali?

    When used with the verb qu-to go or any other verb, it may be used in the middle of the sentence, like in ni xiang qu nali lvyou? In fact, qu nali and zai nali are the same. qu and zai play the same role here.

    E.g. ni xiang qu nali chifan?-where do you want to go to eat?

    Ni xiang zai nali chifan?-where do you want to eat?

    Hope this was helpful.


  4. SuShan says:

    Nihao Serge,

    I’m on lesson 19 and have 2 questions about where you have placed a couple
    words in sentences.

    The first one is in the first new vocabulary. You write: ni xiang qu nali
    lvyou? I’m wondering why you put the verb to travel at the end of the
    sentence. Why not place it as such: ni xiang qu lvyou nali?

    Or, in the first situational dialogue you place it again at the end: wo
    xiang qu Zongguo lvyou. Why not place lvyou before Zhongguo?

    The second question I have has to do with the placement of the word nali. I
    see that sometimes you place it at the end of sentences, sometime at the
    beginning, and sometimes in other places.

    Xiexie ni for your help,

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