Listen and download Lesson 7 of Basic Spoken Chinese
Literally: “where” or “which” depending on context.
1) 哪 + 儿 = 哪儿 nǎr (“where”)
Qǐngwèn, cèsuǒ zài nǎr?
Excuse me. Where is the toilet?
Note: 哪儿 nǎr can also be expressed as 哪里 nǎlǐ. They share the same meaning and usage.
2) 哪 + 个 = 哪个 nǎge (“which one”)
Nǎge shì wǒ de?
Which one is mine?
Note: 哪个 nǎge (or něige) can also be expressed as 哪一个 nǎ yīgè (or něi yīge) with the same meaning and usage. 个 ge can also be replaced by a specific classifier depending on the noun in question. We will talk more about this in future lessons. For now, just try to remember 个 ge, the most common classifier.
3) 哪 + 位 = 哪位 nǎwèi (lit. “which person”, i.e. “who”)
Nín shì Zhāng xiǎojiě ma?——Wǒ shì, qǐngwèn nín shì nǎ wèi?
Are you Miss Zhang? – I am she. May I ask to whom I am speaking?
Note: 哪位 nǎwèi is used as a polite way of saying 谁 shéi, the usual word for “who”.
哪 nǎ (adv.):
- where (usually followed by 儿 er or 里 lǐ) e.g. 你去哪儿？——我去上课 nǐ qù nǎr – wǒ qù shàngkè (“where are you going? I’m going to class”), 你去哪里？ ——我去上班 nǐ qù nǎlǐ? – wǒ qù shàngbān (“where are you going? I’m going to work”)
- which (followed by the classifier 个 ge, or other classifiers) 你在哪个公司工作？ nǐ zài nǎge gōngsī gōngzuò (“which company do you work at?”), 你是哪个班的？ nǐ shì nǎge bān de (“which class are you in?”), 你要读哪个学校？ nǐ yào dú nǎge xuéxiào (“which school do you want to study at?”), etc.
- which person; who (must be followed by 位 wèi, used as a polite way of saying 谁 shéi) e.g. 请问您是哪位？ qǐngwèn nín shì nǎ wèi (lit. “please-ask, you-polite are which person”, i.e. “sorry, what was your name?”), 我不知道他的老师是哪位 wǒ bù zhīdào tā de lǎoshī shì nǎ wèi (“I don’t know who his teacher is”)
厕所 cèsuǒ (n.): toilet e.g. 公司厕所很脏 gōngsī cèsuǒ hěn zāng (“the toilets at work are very dirty”)
张 Zhāng (prop. n.): Zhang (common Chinese family name) e.g. 张老师 Zhāng lǎoshī (“Teacher Zhang”), 张先生 Zhāng xiānsheng (“Mr Zhang), 张女士 Zhāng nǚshì (“Ms Zhang”), 张小姐 Zhāng xiǎojiě (“Miss Zhang”), etc.
小姐 xiǎojiě (n.): Miss (a term of address for a young or unmarried woman) e.g. 王小姐来了Wáng xiǎojiě lái le (“Miss Wang is coming”)
Did you know?
The word 小姐 xiǎojiě has three meanings. The most common meaning is “Miss”, the term of address for a young or unmarried woman. The second meaning is a noun, “young lady”. The third meaning refers to a “barmaid” or “prostitute”. In mainland China, 小姐 xiǎojiě is less used to mean “young lady” because the meaning “prostitute” took over the original meaning; 女士 nǚshì (“lady”) is often used instead. However, 小姐 is still used as a title, “Miss”. Note, also, that it is not common nowadays to use 小姐 to call a waitress; the gender-neutral term 服务员 fúwùyuán (lit. “service-person”) is used instead. You will also hear 美女 měinǚ (“beautiful woman”) and 帅哥 shuàigē (“handsome man”) being used to call waitresses and waiters respectively.