Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Lesson 3

Lesson 4

Lesson 5

Lesson 6

Lesson 7

Lesson 8

Lesson 9

Lesson 10

Lesson 11

Lesson 12

Lesson 13

Lesson 14

Lesson 15

Lesson 16

Lesson 17

Lesson 18

Lesson 19

Lesson 20

Lesson 21

Lesson 22

Lesson 23

Lesson 24

Lesson 25

Lesson 26

Lesson 27

Lesson 28

Lesson 29

Lesson 30

Lesson 31

Lesson 32

Lesson 33

Lesson 34

Lesson 35

Lesson 36

Lesson 37

Lesson 38

Lesson 39

Lesson 40

Lesson 41

Lesson 42

Lesson 43

Lesson 44

Lesson 45

Lesson 46

Lesson 47

Lesson 48

Lesson 49

Lesson 50


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In this first lesson we will learn the pronouns, the verb "to be", and the occupations "student", "teacher", and "businessperson".

After all, aren't we a little bit of all three?

The simple sentence pattern of pronoun + be + complement is a a quick and easy way to convey information about people - "He is an American", "They are students", "She is my coworker" etc.

Once you get in the basic form, it's simply a matter of plugging in additional vocabulary (which we will do in later lessons).

1.01 Pronouns 







You all


He and she have the same pronunciation in Mandarin, ; in the written language they are differentiated by their characters, 他 for he and 她 for she.

To make the plural of any pronoun just add 们 men to the singular form of the pronoun. Please note that the distinction between plural and singular is not quite as important in Chinese, often the plural will simply be implied by the context.

1.02 Pronouns and the verb "to be"

Wǒ shì
I am
Nǐ shì
You  are
Nín shì
You are
Tā shì
He is
Tā shì 
She is
Tā shì
It is
Nǐmen shì
You all
Wǒmen shì 
We are
Tāmen shì 


The verb to beshì does not decline, that is to say that its form stays the same no matter who is performing the action. Compared to the English "I am", "You are", "He is", it is actually much easier, right?

Also, please be aware that there are no spaces between the words in a Chinese sentence!

1.03 Pronouns, the verb "to be", and the noun complement "student"

我是学生。Wǒ shì xuésheng. I am a student.
你是学生。Nǐ shì xuésheng. You are a student.
您是学生。Nín shì xuésheng. You (respected) are a student.
他是学生。Tā shì xuésheng. He is a student.
她是学生。Tā shì xuésheng. She is a student.
我们是学生。Wǒmen shì xuésheng.   We are students.
你们是学生。Nǐmen shì xuésheng. You all are students.
他们是学生。Tāmen shì xuésheng. They are students.


Nouns in Mandarin Chinese usually have a single form that is used whether the noun is singular or plural. That is why 学生 xuésheng remains the same for 他是学生。Tā shì xuésheng. and 他们是学生。Tāmen shì xuésheng.

You can add 们 men to create a special plural form of the noun, but this is really only used in special situations, often for rhetorical effect.

Vocabulary point:

xué is, on its own, a verb that means to study. Paired with the character 生 shēng it creates a new noun, student 学生 xuésheng.

Pronunciation point:

You may have noticed that on its own, 生 shēng has a line over it, whereas when it is paired with 学 xué it does not. That is because the 生 shēng in 学生 xuésheng changes to a neutral tone, due something known as "tone sandhi", which is Sanskrit for "incredibly coy linguistic term".

What "tone sandhi" means is that you pronounce words differently based on the words that come before or after it. Native speakers of Chinese do this intuitively, as do practiced foreign speakers of Chinese. As a beginner student, it really isn't worth worrying about, and as an intermediate level student there will be some tricks you can learn that will help you along.

1.04 Pronouns, the verb "to be", and the noun complement "teacher" and "business person".

我是老师。 Wǒ shì lǎoshī. I am a teacher.
你是商人。 Nǐ shì shāngrén. You are a business person.
您是老师。 Nín shì lǎoshī. You (respected) are a teacher.
他是商人。 Tā shì shāngrén. He is a business person.
她是老师。 Tā shì lǎoshī. She is a teacher.
我们是商人。 Wǒmen shì shāngrén. We are business people.
你们是老师。 Nǐmen shì lǎoshī. You all are teachers.
他们是商人。 Tāmen shì shāngrén. They are business people.

>> Listen to the MP3 (right click to save)

Vocabulary point:

lǎo means old, but that is not an exact translation, For starters, it is only used in reference to people, never things. Secondly, it is often combined with other characters to make positions and titles of respect, such as 老师 lǎoshī teacher.

People often point out that 老 lǎo carries positive connotations that old does not carry in the West. Since 老 lǎo refers only to people and never to things, we could translate it as senior, an English word that has both the meaning of "aged" as well as "having more authority".

shāng means business, and 人 rén means person or people, thus 商人 shāngrén literally means "business person".

1.05 Pronouns, the verb "to be", and the noun complements "man" and "woman"

你是男人。Nǐ shì nánrén. You are a man.
你是女人。Nǐ shì nǚrén. You are a woman.
他是男人。 Tā shì nánrén. He is a man.
她是女人。 Tā shì nǚrén. She is a woman.
他们是男人。Tāmen shì nánrén.     They are men.
她们是女人。Tāmen shì nǚrén. They are women.

>> Listen to the MP3 (right click to save)


You will often see Woman and mannán used on their own as abbreviations on restrooms, forms, etc.

1.06 You cheeky monkey!

Nǐ shì...
You are...
Nǐ shì mùtóurén!
You are a blockhead!


Scattered throughout this course you will find sections at the end of some lessons labeled "You cheeky monkey!" In these sections we will teach you irreverent, bizarre, or sometimes even topical things to say.

Vocabulary point:

木头人 mùtourén literally means "wood head person", the meaning of which seems pretty self-explanatory. We ought to recognize 人 rén from the other words we have studied this lesson, such as 女人 nǚrén and 商人 shāngrén.


A Transcribe the characters below into pinyin

1.) __________________ 2.) ___________________
3.) __________________ 4.) 你们 __________________
5.) __________________ 6.) 我们 __________________
7.) 他们 _________________ 8.) _____________________

B Translate the following pinyin into English

1.) nín ____________________ 2.) nǐmen _________________
3.) wǒ ____________________ 4.) tāmen __________________
5.) wǒmen _________________ 6.) nǐ ____________________
7.) tā _____________________  

C Translate the following sentences into English

1.) Wǒmen shì shāngrén.


2.) Tā shì xuésheng. 


3.) Nín shì lǎoshī.


4.) Tāmen shì nánrén.


D Match the character to its corresponding pinyin

1.) lǎo

3.) 人                         nán 




E Chose the two characters that are not the same

生 男 你 是
他 商 我 们              
商 我 是 们
你 他 男 师         

F Make words by matching the two syllables, then match them to the correct characters

                men                 我们
shāng                 sheng                 商人
                shī                 老师
xué                 rén                  学生