Learn Chinese for Free—Lesson 4

Lesson 4 of 360

Today's Chinese characters:


I believe it's good to learn as soon as possible how to show politeness and respect in Chinese. In this lesson you are going to learn how to ask questions politely and how to respectfully ask someone's name.

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Today with this lesson your knowledge of Chinese characters will reach 4.78% of all the Chinese language usage!

Characters' Essentials

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Ask, inquire
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You (indicating respect)
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-Expensive, costly; precious; honourable
-Your (term of respect used in polite expressions)
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Surname (noun); one's surname is (verb)

Description and Examples

The question "?" is a great example of politeness built on three expressions that you may want to make your own:

  1. Use of
  2. Use of
  3. Use of

The meaning of: and —Part 1

and both mean "you". is used as an honorific appellation or respectful title instead of . It is normally reserved for old people or elders. To show politeness, you may extend its use to people of your own generation, especially at the first meeting.

Anyway, the usage of is not limited to informal speech. You can use it addressing your close friend as well as the President of the People's Republic of China.

How to say: What's your name?—Part 1

This is probably the most polite way to ask someone's name. It shows respect, honour, esteem.

Please note that what is actually asked is only the surname. At this level of formality, there is no need to ask for the first name.

The meaning of: 请问⋯

It's a polite expression used to ask questions. It might correspond to "May I ask...", "Excuse me...", etc. followed by a question. For example:

  • (where is the hospital)?
  • (what's the time)?

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Lesson 4 of 360

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