Learn Chinese from scratch!
第三课 - Lesson 3

Exchanging greetings / Adjectival predicate




Nǐ máng ma?


你 忙 吗?


(Wǒ) bù máng.


(我) 不 忙。


Nǐ gēge hǎo ma?


你 哥哥 好 吗?


Тā hěn hǎo.


他 很 好。


Nǐ gēge, nǐ dìdi hǎo ma?


你 哥哥、你 弟弟 好 吗?


Tāmen dōu hěn hǎo.


他们 都 很 好。

New words

  1. (adj.) máng busy
  2. (adv.) not, no
  3. 哥哥 (n.) gēge elder brother
  4. (pron.) he, him
  5. 弟弟 (n.) dìdi younger brother
  6. 他们 (pron.) tāmen they, them
    men plural suffix (used after a personal pronoun or a noun referring to a person to form a plural)
  7. (adv.) dōu all
= (heart, when on the left)
(heart, full form)
+ (to die)
A dead heart is a busy heart. My heart is dead, that is why I’m busy now, don’t bother me...
= (elder brother) + (can, may, to allow)
The kind elder brother allows everything. The phonetic component 可 kě, kè has a lot of meanings, in this case it gives the sound ge to the character. A phonetic component gives the pronunciation of a semantic-phonetic.
= +
You already know these characters.
He is also a man.
= (bow) + add. strokes
Not all the characters can be broken down into parts because they are already simplified characters (in contrast with traditional characters). In this case we have only bow here (weapon). Why does a younger brother have a bow? To make a shot which will lead him to his Frog Bride :)
= + (gate, door)
门 also has a meaning of family. To sum up, a man enters the door to his family.
= (old) + (sun) + (city, when on the right)
An old city under the sun is all we need.
also means hill or left ear, when on the left side of the character.


  1. 你哥哥好吗?” — “How’s your elder brother?”
    In Chinese, a personal pronoun can be put immediately before nouns indicating family relationships as an attributive to show possession, e.g. “你弟弟”, “我哥哥” and “他弟弟” etc.
  2. 他们都很好” — “They are all fine / very well”.
    The adverb “” must follow the subject but precede the predicative verb or predicative adjective. It is never found before the subject and it is wrong to say “都他们很好”.

Pronunciation drills and conversation practice

Initials d t
Finals ou ang
  1. The four tones

    - gēge
    - dìdi
    } tāmen
    mēn mén (měn) mèn
    (māng) máng (mǎng) màng - bù máng
    dōu dóu dǒu dòu - dōu hěn hǎo
  2. Sound discrimination

    dì — tì
    dā — tā
    dē — tē
    bǎng — pǎng
    bù — pù

    kē — gē
    kǒu — gǒu
    tōu — dōu
    hěn — kěn

  3. Tone discrimination (4th tone and 2nd tone)

    dì — dí
    bù — bú
    mèn — mén

    mò — mó
    tàng — táng
    hòu — hóu

  4. Tone changes — half 3rd tone

    nǐ gēge
    nǐ dìdi
    Nǐ máng ma?

    wǒ gēge
    wǒ dìdi
    Wǒ bù máng.

  5. The four tones and neutral tone

    Nǐ gēge hǎo ma?
    Тā dìdi hǎo ma?
    Tāmen hǎo ma?

    Тā gēge máng ma?
    Nǐ dìdi máng ma?
    Tāmen máng ma?

Exchanging greetings

  1. A: Nǐ hǎo ma?
    B: .
    A: Nǐ gēge hǎo ma?
    B: .
    A: Тā máng ma?
    B: .
    A: Nǐmen dōu máng ma?
    B: .

  2. A: Nǐ gēge máng ma?
    A: Тā hǎo ma?
    A: Nǐ dìdi yě hǎo ma?
    A: Tāmen dōu hǎo ma?

  3. A: Nǐ máng ma?
    A: Māsha máng ma?
    A: Māsha hǎo ma?

  4. A: Nǐ hǎo!
    A: Nǐ máng ma?
    B: , ?
    A: Yě bù máng.

  5. A: .
    B: Hěn máng. Nǐ ne?
    A: .

  6. A: Āndéliè máng ma?
    A: Māsha ne?

  7. A: Тā gēge hǎo ma?
    A: Тā dìdi ne?


How to pronounce these finals

Compound final ou [əu]

In pronouncing the “o” in “ou”, the lips are not so rounded as in the case of the simple final “o”. Moreover, “o” is pronounced long and loud whereas “u” is pronounced light, short and somewhat indistinct with the lips a little laxer than for the simple final “u”.

Nasal final ang [aŋ]

ang [aŋ] is a velar nasal final. It is produced by pronouncing “a” first, with the tongue-position a little more to the back, then promptly retracting the tongue backward, with the root of the tongue against the soft palate, and lowering the soft palate at the same time to let the air out through the nasal cavity.

The aspirated and unaspirated

The unaspirated “b” and aspirated “p” are pronounced in exactly the same manner as regards tongue-positions. So are “d” [t] and “t” [t‘], “c” and “k” (and “zh” and “ch”, “j” and “q” and “z” and “c” to be introduced in later lessons). The only difference is that, in pronouncing the aspirated “p, t, k (and ch, q and c as well)”, the air is puffed out strongly, whereas with the unaspirated “b, d, g (and zh, j and z)” the air is let out with a pop through the lips. Learners can put a small piece of paper in front of the mouth to see if the puffing is properly done or not.

Note that in Chinese, the unaspirated are also voiceless consonants. The vocal cords do not vibrate when they are pronounced.


Sentences with an adjectival predicate

A sentence in which the main element of the predicate is an adjective is known as a sentence with an adjectival predicate. In Chinese, an adjective has almost the same qualities as a verb, so that it can be the predicate of a sentence. At the same time, adverbs of degree are usually placed before the adjective — most often it is “”. E.g.:


“I’m fine / very well.”


“He is (very) busy.”


“They are all very well.”

Sentences of this kind are made negative by putting the adverb “” before the predicative adjective, as in “我不忙” — “I’m not busy.”

When both adverbs of degree (“”) and the negation (“”) are needed as a part of the predicate, they can change places depending on the context. E.g.:


“Very bad.”


“Not very busy.”

Subject (nouns, pronouns) Adjectival predicate Particle
Adverbs Adjectives

Table of stroke-order of Chinese characters

1. Stroke order máng 忙 6
2. Stroke order bù 不 4
3. Stroke order gē 哥 10
4. Stroke order tā 他 5
5. Stroke order dì 弟 7
6. Stroke order men 们 5
  Stroke order men 們 трад. 10
7. Stroke order dōu 都 10

Phonetic dictation

Listen to the following one(two)-syllable words. Write them in transcription pinyin. Lay tone marks:

One-syllable words

Follow the initial d — t; g — k; b — p:

多 — 脱; 够 — 扣; 波 — 泼; 党 — 躺; 探 — 蛋。


Follow the diphthong ou — uo:

漏 — 落; 拖 — 偷; 躲 — 抖; 够 — 过; 火 — 后。


Follow the final n — ng:

蓝; 忙; 胖; 半; 刚; 刊; 航; 干; 版; 汤。


Two-syllable words

偷懶; 土豆; 忙碌; 干部; 门口。