How to use character “的” in Chinese

I’d assume when you’ve followed my lessons to this far, and you’ve learned Chinese online for some time, you might have given it a try to read some Chinese by yourself. Have you ever been puzzled by the usage of character “的”? Have you ever wondered why it appears all over the place?

Remember when we were talking about “Chinese adjectives” we’ve got to know the very important use of “的” character in “turning a noun into an adjective”? Such as “大的” and “小的”.

Also in “turning noun into pronouns”, Such as “我的” and “你的”.

The above are only part of the magic that “的” character can do. There are more. Please look at this:

wǒ huì qù de. wǒ bùhuì qù de.

我会去的.  我不会去的.

I will go.  I will not go.


What on earth is this “” doing here?! “” is a verb, not a noun?!

Well, at least if you can tell “” is a verb instead of a noun, you’re progressing well :-).

Character “” can be used in willingness statement to emphasize the answer being positive or negative. It is placed at the end of the sentence that is having a willingness word.

It is as if to say “I will go, yes.”

Or, “I won’t go, no.”

There are some Chinese “helping characters” that have no equivalent counterparts in English. To understand them, you have to completely and thoroughly switch your mindset to Chinese. “的” is one of them. I’ve discussed in my previous lessons on another three helping characters in pattern character  and character .


The same function of “” can be used in “…  …” sentence pattern as well:

wǒ shì ài nǐ de.


I do love you.


wǒ shì bù ài nǐ de.


I don’t love you at all.


The second sentence is grammatically correct, but not recommended to be used this way because it’s too hurtful and too blunt to express meaning like this. 🙂

” is used to enforce what you’re saying is true.

For your practice, please try to use “” in different sentence patterns that you’ve learned today. Feel free to share your sentences with me and other readers, thanks…

Welcome to have my face to face lesson on  !  🙂

How to ask directions in Chinese

If you will make use of your Chinese on the home land of native Chinese populations. Such as China mainland, Taiwan, Singapore…. there’s one lesson that you really can’t miss:”How to ask directions in Chinese?” As long as you’re going to places, there’s no guarantee that you won’t get lost.

In this post, I’ll teach you how to ask and understand directions in Chinese. First of all, let’s get our first look at the four universally agreed directions. At the same time learn some new words as well.

dōng nán běi
[hanzi][/hanzi] [hanzi][/hanzi] [hanzi]西[/hanzi] [hanzi][/hanzi]
east south west north

New words:

yán zhe tiáo jiē
[hanzi]沿着[/hanzi] [hanzi][/hanzi] [hanzi][/hanzi]
along  quantifier  street
xiàng dào
[hanzi][/hanzi] [hanzi][/hanzi] [hanzi][/hanzi]
towards river road
[hanzi][/hanzi] [hanzi][/hanzi]
along road


Let’s put them on a compass now:


Imagine you got yourself lost after an enjoyable movie in the movie or theater (this is very likely to happen if you watched the movie on a foreign street 🙂 ). You fish out your name card with your name, position and home address on it and ask for directions to local people that can only understand Chinese.

In the response you got, you might hear something like this to start with:

“ yánzhe zhè tiáo jiē wǎng dōng zǒu, ……”

沿着这条街往东走, ……”

“Walk towards east along this street …”

The phrase in this sentence ”往东走 wǎng dōng zǒu” means “walk towards east”. Don’t forget the reverse word order in Chinese that I’ve taught so many times: where + verb. That’s why in Chinese, the phrase become this order:”towards east walk”.

The word “towards” can be translated by “往 wǎng”, “向 xiàng”, or ”顺 shùn”. It is OK to say: ”往东走wǎng dōng zǒu”, “向东走xiàng dōng zǒu” or “顺东走 shùn dōng zǒu”.

“沿着 yán zhe” means “along” in English.

“ 沿着这条街 yánzhe zhè tiáo jiē”=”along this street”


Now let’s have a mini practice to get your hands wet:

Please express the “walk along this road towards north” in Chinese:

First, change word order first: along this road + towards north + walk;

Second, fill in Chinese words like this: 沿着这条道 + 向北 + 走

街 jiē,  道 dào, and 路 lù can all be used to mean “the street”.

You might wonder now that what if it’s not right on the four directions. But instead in between of them. Such as south west, or north east etc.?

The answer is simple, put the two direction characters together. Such as: 西南, 东北 etc.

The only catch here is the order of the two characters in a compound word is reversed from that of English.

In Chinese, “south” and “north” are always the ending character. “west” and “east” are always the beginning character. Yet in English, it’s the opposite.

I’ve put them into a table for you to memorize easily:

South east South west
东南 dōng nán 西南 xī nán
North east North west
东北 dōng běi 西北 xī běi


Isn’t that easy?

Now let’s finish our lesson with some examples:

wǒ de jiā yánzhe zhè tiáo jiē wǎng dōngběi zǒu jiù néng kànjiàn.


You’ll see my house if you walk along this street towards north east.


xuéxiào yánzhe zhè tiáo hé wǎng xīnán zǒu jiùshì.


To get to the school, you need to walk towards south west along this river.

Please practice using the direction words to ask for directions and answer for directions. It will come handy next time you got lost 🙂

Welcome to have my face to face lesson on  !  🙂

How to use “Let …” sentence patterns in Chinese

“Let’s have a break!”

No, I’m just kidding. 🙂 Let’s finish today’s Learn Chinese Online lesson and then we can have a break.

If I ask you to repeat my opening sentence in Chinese, do you know how to say it? Before we answer that question, let’s learn some new Chinese words first.

Simplified Chinese Traditional Chinese Mandarin Pinyin English Definition
休息 休息 xiu1 xi5 rest; to rest;
rang4 to let sb do sth; to have sb do sth;
一起 一起 yi1 qi3 together
照看 照看 zhao4 kan4 to look after; to attend to
解决 解決 jie3 jue2 to solve (problems, issues)
问题 問題 wen4 ti2 question; problem; issue


Are you done with the new words now. If yes, let me explain how the opening sentence is said in Chinese:

让 ràng (Let) 我们 wǒmen (us) 休息 xiūxi (have a break) 一下 yīxià (for a little while) 吧 ba (exclamation particle)!

I’ll reprint it in clean text here:



Basically you just need the following pattern to phrase your sentence for “Let’s …” sentence pattern:

 ràng (Let) 我们 wǒmen (us) + do something.

As a matter of fact, you can also take out the character “” to mean the same thing:


Then, is there any difference between the sentence with  and the sentence without ? Well, the difference is very subtle: using  sounds a bit more formal; not using  sounds more leisure. Well, generally speaking, they are same.

What if we’re not using “Let’s …” pattern, we just need to use “let” with other pronoun than “us”?

For example: “Let me take care of him!”

That’s no different from “Let’s …” sentence pattern. You can either start your sentence with or without . You’ll see this sentence in Chinese in the following examples. Please repeat with the recording to learn how to say them as well:


wǒmen yīqǐ xué Zhōngwén ba!


Let’s study Chinese together!


ràng wǒmen yīqǐ xué Zhōngwén ba!


Let’s study Chinese together!


wǒ lái zhàokàn tā ba!


Let me take care of him!


ràng wǒ lái zhàokàn tā ba!


Let me take care of him!


tā lái jiějué zhège wèntí ba!


Let her solve this problem!


ràng tā lái jiějué zhège wèntí ba!


Let her solve this problem!


“Let” is also a favorite character in poems. A sentence like this has frequent appearance in Chinese poems or essays:

ràng chūn fēng chuī fǔ wǒ de chángfà.


Let the spring breeze caress my long hair.

Are you clear on how to use “Let …” sentence pattern in Chinese now? If yes, let’s have a real break now. Before you go, tell me one “Let …” sentence in Chinese please.

Welcome to have my face to face lesson on  !  🙂

Have yourself a wonderful weekend! See you next time!


How to describe “doing things at the same time” in Chinese?

In this busy world, don’t we all live in a multi-task life style? To describe things that are undertaken at the same time in Chinese might be a challenge to you if you don’t know what sentence pattern to use. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to.

Say you want to say: “He’s chatting with his friend while watching TV.”

For this type of sentences in Chinese, usually there are two sentence patterns you can choose from:

…( yī) biān…( yī) biān…



… yòu… yòu…

Before we start on examples, please spend some time to learn new words first.

péng you liáo tiān
 (and) 朋友 (friend) 聊天 (chat)
kàn diànshì dǎgōng
  (look at)  电视 (TV)  打工 (do labor job, work)
shàng xué yùn dòng yīn yuè 
上学 (go to school) 运动 (exercise, sports)  音乐 (music)


Let’s look at “…(一)边…(一)边…” first. To use this pattern, the example sentence could be rewrite into the following Chinese sentence:

tā yībiān hé péngyou liáotiān, yībiān kàn diànshì.


You can keep the “ “, or get rid of it. It’s all up to you, without “ “, the sentence become shorter. Comma is not must-to-have in this case.

tā biān hé péngyou liáotiān biān kàn diànshì.

和朋友聊天, 看电视.

In this sentence pattern, the “who” only appears in the first sentence, but not in the second sentence. Let me show how the sentence was constructed in more steps, then it’ll be clear to you.

First, you have two independent sentences with the same “who” doing different things:

First sentence:
tā hé péngyou liáotiān.



Second sentence:

tā kàn diànshì.


Now, you want to tell people he’s doing the two things at the same time. Place “一边 “ and “一边 “ into the right place. Get rid of the “who” in the second sentence. Add a comma in the middle. Then you’re done:

 一边 和朋友聊天一边 看电视.

(the second “ 他“ is gone. ) Get it?

Alternative “…又…又…” can be used the same way, with or without comma.

So the example can be translated into the following too:

tā yòu hé péngyou liáotiān yòu kàn diànshì.


These two sentence patterns can also be used when the two things don’t happen strictly at the same time:

tā yībiān dǎgōng, yībiān shàngxué.


She’s working part time while studying in the university.

Another example:

tā yòu ài yùndòng, yòu ài yīnyuè. 


He not only loves sports, but also music.

Have you learned something new today? If you do, try to translate the following sentences into Chinese:

“I was dancing while singing.”

“My brother not only loves watching TV, but also playing games.”

You can use google translator or any dictionary you like to look up the words that you don’t know. Then use the two sentence patterns to translate the above sentences. Feel free to show your translation in the comment area.

Welcome to have my face to face lesson on  !  🙂

How to describe the beginning of a period of time in Chinese?

This Learn Chinese Online lesson will help you understand how to describe the beginning of a time span in Chinese. For example:

Since he was seven years old, he started to go to school on his own.

Before we look at the Chinese way of saying it, please review the following new words first.

Simplified Chinese Traditional Chinese Mandarin Pinyin English Definition
自从 自從 zi4 cong2 since (a time); ever since;
七岁 七歲 qi1 sui4 seven years old
开始 開始 kai1 shi3 to begin; to start
da2 hit; since
再也 再也 zai4 ye3 (not) any more
出现 出現 chu1 xian4 to appear; to show up
真的 真的 zhen1 really; indeed
以后 以後 yi3 hou4 afterwards; later on
ma4 to scold; to abuse


Now, we can start by using the direct translation of the word “since” in Chinese: “自从”. Then the whole sentence can be translated into this:


zìcóng tā qī suì, kāishǐ zìjǐ shàngxué le。

The above sentence can be understood by Chinese. However, the word flow is not quite comfortable. It will be more smooth if we convert the above sentence into the following sentence pattern :

自从。。。开始, 就 。。。

zìcóng。。。 kāishǐ, jiù 。。。


Like this:



zìcóng tā qī suì kāishǐ, jiù zìjǐ shàngxué le。


Now the sentence is getting smoother and much more comfortable. “自从 can also be shortened to “” or ““. Therefore, the following two sentences are good too:



zì tā qī suì kāishǐ, jiù zìjǐ shàngxué le。


cóng tā qī suì kāishǐ, jiù zìjǐ shàngxué le。


You can also use another sentence pattern to express “since”, this one is mostly used in spoken mandarin:


打。。。开始, 就 。。。

dǎ。。。 kāishǐ, jiù 。。。


Let’s fit our example into this pattern:



dǎ tā qī suì kāishǐ, jiù zìjǐ shàngxué le。

The function of “” here is as a conjunction to connect the two clauses. It can be replaced by other words as long as the other words could connect the two clauses similarly as “. For example,


dǎ tā qī suì kāishǐ, yǐjīng zìjǐ shàngxué le。


“打。。。开始,。。。” and “自从。。。开始。。。” can also be written like this:

打。。。起,。。。   dǎ。。。 qǐ,。。。

自打。。。起,。。。  zìdǎ。。。 qǐ,。。。


If you just want to say “since then….“, then there are a few phrases you can choose from to express just that:


从那以后。。。  cóng nà yǐhòu。。。

自那以后。。。  zì nà yǐhòu。。。

打那以后。。。  dǎ nà yǐhòu。。。


Are you clear now? Before we finish, let’s look at three examples that express “since then …“:


从那以后, 她再也没有出现。

cóng nà yǐhòu, tā zàiyě méiyǒu chūxiàn。

Since then, she had never appeared.


自那以后, 他就真的爱上了她。

zì nà yǐhòu, tā jiù zhēn de àishàng le tā。

Since then, he had fallen in love with her.


打那以后, 妈妈没有再骂过他。

dǎ nà yǐhòu, māma méiyǒu zài mà guò tā。

Since then, his Mom never scolded him anymore.


Now it’s time for a good rest! Good night, my friends! 🙂


Welcome to have my face to face lesson on  !  🙂

How to ask questions in Chinese (2)

If you’ve followed my lessons to this far, the previous topic “How to ask questions in Chinese? (1)” might leave you wonder what if I want to ask questions that don’t have enough known information to structure as a statement first. Such as “W” questions in English. For example, questions as below:

What is your name?

Where is your baby sister?

When did you go home?

Which one is Beijing University?

How did your presentation go?

… …

Well, the strategy to structure the above questions in Chinese is still the same as it was in the previous lesson.

Turn the sentence into a statement, fill the unknown information with corresponding “W” or “H” words: what, where, when, which, how etc..

I’ll show you the way to do it in the following examples:

1) What is your name?

The process to form the sentence in Chinese is:

Your name is what. ==> Your name is what?

nǐ de míng zi shì shén me

你的名字是什么 ==> 你的名字是什么?

Isn’t it straight forward enough? OK then, let’s learn a few new words first before we move on:

shén me nǎlǐ, nǎr shén me shí hòu
什么 (what) 哪里哪儿 (where) 什么时候 (when)
nǎ yī ge zěn me yàng míng zi
哪一个( which) 怎么样 (how) 名字 (name)
mèi mei zài Běi jīng
妹妹(younger sister)  (at) 北京(Beijing)
dà xué bào gào
大学 (university) 报告 (presentation)

Once you’ve passed the “new words” phrase, please go on with the rest of the examples (each uses one “W” or “H” word). Pay attention to the top sentence that is written in English, but in Chinese word order.

2) Where is your baby sister?

Your baby sister is where. ==> Your baby sister is where?

nǐ de mèimei zài nǎlǐ

你的妹妹在哪里. ==> 你的妹妹在哪里?


3) When did you go home?

You when went home. ==> You when went home?

nǐ shén me shí hou huí de jiā

什么时候回的家. ==> 什么时候回的家?


4) Which one is Beijing University?

Which one is Beijing University. ==> Which one is Beijing University?

nǎ yī ge shì Běi jīng Dà xué

哪一个是北京大学. ==> 哪一个是北京大学?


5) How did your presentation go?

Your presentation went how. ==> Your presentation went how?

nǐ de bào gào zěn me yàng

你的报告怎么样. ==> 你的报告怎么样?

In brief, for “W” questions in Chinese, just simply replace the unknown word with “W” or “H” word and add a question mark to the end of the sentence.

I’ll show you how many “W” or “H” words in Chinese you need to know to form these type of questions. Again, they are only a few, I’d suggest you to memorize the following basic mapping list, so they’ll become handy when your smart brain cells need to reach them.

What – 什么
where – 哪里哪儿
when – 什么时候
which – 哪一个
how – 怎么样


Enough of questions. Hope you’re not overwhelmed so far. Now let’s have some take-away for today’s lesson. Please use google or any search engine you like to search for the above “W” or “H” words in Chinese. See whether you can figure out what is being asked. You can use an online dictionary to help you translate the Chinese words in the question.

Again, repeat with the recording for as many times as you could. See if you can create some “W” questions in Chinese with the help of online dictionary. You’re welcomed to paste the questions you created in your comment too!

Welcome to have my face to face lesson on  !  🙂


How to ask questions in Chinese (1)

Asking questions might have become your basic needs when you’re learning a new language or culture. To meet your basic need at this stage, I compiled all the commonly used Chinese question sentence patterns for you in two lessons. You’ll happily notice that question sentence patterns in Chinese are actually very easy and straight forward. You don’t need to change orders of words, or forms of words at all.

For questions asking for confirmation, all you need to do is churning out your question as a statement, and then add certain exclamatory particle, such as (ma), in the end and a question mark. Done.

Let’s have a look at the right thinking process to form a question in Chinese first:

nǐ shì Zhōng wén lǎo shī ma


Are you a Chinese teacher?

1) Structure your question as a positive statement first:


“You are a Chinese teacher.”

2) Then add exclamatory particle to the end of the sentence. And a question mark to finish it.


“You are a Chinese teacher ma?”

Another example:

wǎnshang nǐ lái ma?


Will you come tonight?

I’ll show you again how did the question got formed. Please be aware that you need to put “when” before verb in Chinese. We’ll come to this topic in next few lessons.

1) Structure your question as a positive statement first:


“You will come tonight.”

2) Then add exclamatory particle to the end of the sentence. And a question mark to finish it.


“You will come tonight ma?”

Easy, right? As long as you can work out the basic sentence, you’ll be able to turn it into a question. You know what? For a non-English, non-Chinese speaker, to grasp question sentence patterns in English should take longer than that in Chinese. You say Chinese is hard, you really don’t know how hard English is for many Chinese students. 🙂

Now you might wonder exactly how many exclamatory particles you can use to form a question in Chinese. Hmn… not many though, in fact, only a few. The following is all I can think of:

ma la le
le ma de
了吗  (possessive particle: “of”)

Please be aware that they are all with fifth tone (pronounced flatly, softer than first tone).

Also four new words we’ll learn in our examples:

gē ge jiě jie rèn shi
哥哥 (elder brother) 姐姐 (elder sister) 认识 (know)

Well of course, just as in English, you can turn a Chinese sentence into a question by simply adding a question mark in the end. When you say it, raise the tone of the last character or word a bit to imply it’s a question, not a statement. Let’s listen to some examples, with or without exclamatory particles:


nǐ shì Mike de gē ge


You’re Mike’s elder brother.

statement + ?

nǐ shì Mike de gē ge ma


Are you Mike’s elder brother?

statement + ?

nǐ shì Mike de gē ge


You’re Mike’s elder brother?

Another example:


nǐ rèn shi tā de jiě jie


You know her elder sister.

statement + ?

nǐ rèn shi tā de jiě jie


Do you know her elder sister?

statement + ?

nǐ rèn shi tā de jiě jie


You know her elder sister?

“了” and “啦” are used to question whether it has completed or not:

statement +  (or ) ?

tā huí jiā le



tā huí jiā la


Has she gone home? (She’s already at home now?)


OK, now, let’s have a break … are you drinking tea, or coffee? Since it’s a vacation day morning for me, I’d like to have some snack now.

Enjoy your tea, or coffee, or whatever refreshment you’re taking… stay healthy and see you in next lesson!

Welcome to have my face to face lesson on  !  🙂


How to express “used to do …” in Chinese?

In English, we often use “used to do …” to describe a habit,  behavior or facts that happened in the past and stopped already. It is not possible to find an equivalent expression by just translating “used to do …” into Chinese verbatim. In this Learn Chinese Online grammar lesson, we’ll find out what are options out there that we can use to express “used to do …” in Chinese.

First of all, let’s go over new vocabulary list and then we’ll start with an example. Please use the estroke tool under the new word table to help you with your writing practice.

Simplified Chinese Traditional Chinese Mandarin Pinyin English Definition
曾经 曾經 ceng2 jing1 previously; ever
以前 以前 yi3 qian2 before; previous; ago;
原来 原來 yuan2 lai2 former; originally; at first
本来 本來 ben3 lai2 original; originally
dian4 shop; store
mai3 to buy
常常 常常 chang2 chang2 often;
公园 公園 gong1 yuan2 park (for public recreation)
wan4 play; have fun


If we want to say, “I used to live here.” That means, “I do not live here anymore. But I lived here in the past.” To turn that sentence into Chinese, you can use a word called “曾经 céngjīng“:


wǒ céngjīng zhù zài zhèlǐ.

That’s the best translation I can think of. However, the following alternatives are also acceptable:


wǒ yǐqián zhù zài zhèlǐ.



wǒ yuánlái zhù zài zhèlǐ.



wǒ běnlái zhù zài zhèlǐ.


以前 yǐqián means “before; in the past”. “原来 yuánlái” and “本来 běnlái” means “originally”.

Please be aware that “曾经  céngjīng” can be shortened as a single character “  céng“. “  céng” and “曾经 céngjīng” share the same meaning.

Let’s look at another example:

I used to buy books in this store.

A good translation for this sentence could be:


wǒ yǐqián chángcháng zài zhège diàn mǎi shū.

I used to buy books in this store.

以前常常 yǐqián chángcháng” describes a habbit that went again and again in the past. Do you see the difference? The first few examples demonstrated a verb that lasts for a long duration. The last example used a verb of instant behavior. “以前常常 yǐqián chángcháng” emphasizes the repeat occurrence of the behavior.

Let’s finish this lesson with two more examples then:


tā yǐqián chángcháng lái zhège gōngyuán wán.

He used to spend his leisure time in this park.



tā céngjīng xué guò Zhōngwén.

He used to learn Chinese.


Now, for practice purpose, could you translate the following two sentences into Chinese please?

  1. She used to be a teacher.
  2. She used to have lunch at school.

You can leave your answers in the comment area, thanks!

Welcome to have my face to face lesson on  !  🙂

How to express “why on earth did this happen? ” kind of questions in Chinese

I don’t know whether it just happens in English or any other languages, the sentence pattern that I gonna talk about today seems very very important due to the high demands of its usage:

“Why on earth did this happen?”

Even a toddler that survives a full day daycare program in Canada would always pop out the follow phrase 🙂 :

“What the … ?!”

So I figure for my Learn Mandarin online friends, we can’t miss out on this importance pattern. No matter you come from English background, or any other language background, this Chinese sentence pattern will come handy for you in your Chinese conversation for sure.

The new words we gonna learn in this lesson are only two of them:

jiū jìng dào dǐ 
[hanzi]究竟[/hanzi]   [hanzi]到底 [/hanzi]
What on earth … What on earth …

Let’s get started by translating the title sentence pattern into Chinese:

“Why on earth did this happen?”

jiūjìng wèishénme huì fāshēng zhèzhǒng shì?


究竟 jiū jìng is one main keyword that you can use for this purpose. You can also reorder the sentence by placing 究竟 jiū jìng in a difference position too. Let’s reorder it like this :

fāshēng zhèzhǒng shì jiūjìng shì wèishénme?


究竟 jiū jìng can be replaced by 到底 dào dǐ as well. So the above two sentences can be reworded like this :

dàodǐ wèishénme huì fāshēng zhèzhǒng shì? 



fāshēng zhèzhǒng shì dàodǐ shì wèishénme?


Now let’s do a little practice using these two keywords:


[ Practice 1:  What on earth is this? ]

First, let’s get rid of the “on earth” and turn the question into a simple W question:

What is this?

In Chinese, we say:

zhè shì shénme?


Then we place 究竟 jiū jìng or 到底 dào dǐ in the proper position of the sentence to turn it into the sentence pattern we learned today:

zhè jiūjìng shì shénme?



zhè dàodǐ shì shénme?


Do you get a feel of it now? Let’s look at another question :


[ Practice 2:  What exactly did you do yesterday? ]

The Chinese translation of this type of question is same as the previous example, you can say:

nǐ zuótiān dàodǐ zuò le shénme?



nǐ zuótiān jiūjìng zuò le shénme?


As for the toddler’s phrase:”What the … ?!”, usually it can be directly translated into “怎么回事 zěn me huí shì?!” in Chinese. The complete sentence could be “到底怎么回事 dào dǐ zěn me huí shì?!

Do you get it now? Feel free to share any other ways you know to express “What on earth …”, “What exactly …” kind of sentence patterns in Chinese.

Welcome to have my face to face lesson on  !  🙂


How to say “I can”, “I’m able to” in Chinese

Before you go too far into a general conversation in Chinese on a plan, a project, a whatever topic that’ll demand actions, you’ll realize that you need to express “I can …”, ” I’m able to …” in Chinese frequently.

The equivalent words in English are only a few: can, could, be able to etc…. In Chinese, they are not many either.

OK, let’s go through some new words first. There are only three of them:

kěyǐ jiè bǐjì
[hanzi]可以[/hanzi](could, be able to)  [hanzi][/hanzi](borrow) [hanzi]笔记[/hanzi] (notes)

Let’s get started…

I can do this.

wǒ néng zuò zhège.




wǒ huì zuò zhège.



I’m able to do this.

wǒ kěyǐ zuò zhège.



Focus on following three keywords:

néng,   huì,   kěyǐ

,        ,      可以

Basically, you just put one of the above keywords right before the verb. If those keywords are used in question or answer pattern, do it this way:

If you wanna say:

[Can you do this?

Yes, I can.

No, I can’t.]


You can use either one of the following patterns:

<Pattern 1>

nǐ néngbùnéng zuò zhège?


wǒ néng.       néng.

我能.    Or simply .

wǒ bùnéng.     bùnéng.

我不能Or simply 不能.


<Pattern 2>

nǐ huìbùhuì zuò zhège?


wǒ huì.       huì.

我会.    Or simply .

wǒ bùhuì.     bùhuì.

我不会Or simply 不会.


<Pattern 3>

nǐ kě bùkěyǐ zuò zhège?


wǒ kěyǐ.              kěyǐ.

我可以     Or simply 可以.

wǒ bùkěyǐ.             bùkěyǐ.

我不可以    Or simply 不可以.


You might have noticed that when you answer such type of questions, you really don’t need to say “Yes” first as you do in English. Just jump directly to “I can.” or “I can not.” Or simply “Can.” or “Can’t.”.

Aside from  and 可以, you can also use “ (xíng)“. But remember, this word can NOT be followed by any other words. Using it as the meaning of “can”, you can only use it simply as below:


nǐ xíng bùxíng?





Hope I’ve explained it clear to you on how to say “I can …” and “I’m able to …” sentence pattern in Chinese. Now let’s have a look at the following examples to reinforce what you’ve learned from this lesson:

Can you go to the company today?

nǐ jīntiān néngbùnéng qù gōngsī?





Another way of asking the same question is:

nǐ jīntiān néng qù gōngsī ma?





When you answer such type of questions, you really don’t have to use the exact keywords that has been used in the question. You can use anyone of the following in your answer:













Now you need to give yourself a chance to practice as well. Try to translate the following sentences into Chinese first by yourself, then look at the answer below:

  1. Can I have lunch at school?

Yes, you can.



wǒ jīntiān néng zài xuéxiào chīfàn ma?





  1. May I borrow your notes to read?

Yes, no problem.



nǐ néng jiè wǒ kàn yīxià nǐ de bǐjì ma?


xíng, méiwèntí.



  1. Could my sister stay here tonight?

Yes, go ahead!



wǒ mèimei jīnwǎn néng zhù zhèr ma?


kěyǐ, zhù ba!



  1. Can you write Chinese?

Yes, I do.



nǐ huì xiě Zhōngwén ma?





Have you enjoyed your lesson … 🙂 Learning Chinese definitely requires hard work. However, as long as you work in a balanced pace, mix your study with fun together, you’ll be amazed at your progress one day soon…

Feel free to leave your comment before you go … see you next time, my good friend!

Welcome to have my face to face lesson on  !  🙂