Beginner Lesson 18.1 – Ask Which

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Learn how to ask which in Chinese. Be able to use the structure of Measure Word in Chinese.

  • Ask Which in Chinese: 哪
  • Measure Word in Chinese (III). See also (I) and (II).
  • Classmate and Student in Chinese: 同学  学生



Grammar 1: Ask Which in Chinese · HSK 1

nǎ  which

哪 is the pronoun we use to ask which in Chinese. It cannot be followed directly by a noun. Instead, we need to follow this structure:

哪 + Measure Word + Noun

For example:

  • nǎge rén
    which person
  • nǎwèi lǎoshī
    which teacher


Grammar 2: Measure Word in Chinese (III)· HSK 1

zhè 这 this, nà 那 that, and  which are all Pronouns in Chinese. When they are used before nouns, we need to follow this structure:

Pronoun (//) + Measure Word + Noun

This is one of the most important usages of Measure Word in Chinese. Here are some examples:

zhège píngguǒ 这个苹果 this apple
nàge xīngqī 那个星期 that week
nǎge yuè 哪个月 which month
zhèwèi péngyou 这位朋友 this friend
nàwèi lǎoshī 那位老师 that teacher
nǎwèi tóngxué 哪位同学 which classmate
zhège 'érzi 这个儿子 this son
nàge nǚ'ér 那个女儿 that daughter
nǎge gēge 哪个哥哥 which big brother


For these Nouns: 周, 天, 年,  这, 那 , 哪 can be directly used before them, with the Measure Word omitted:

zhèzhōu 这周 this week
nàtiān 那天 that day
nǎnián 哪年
which year

This is because for 年(nián, year) and 天(tiān, day), we do not use any Measure Word before them. This is an exception. So we say 一年(yì nián, one year),一天(yì tiān, one day). However for 月(yuè, month), we do use the Measure Word 个. So we say 一个月(yí ge yuè)

NOTES: We can say nànián 那年 that year and nǎnián 哪年 which year, but we don't say zhènián 这年 for "this year" because we say jīnnián 今年.


Grammar 3: 同学 VS. 学生 in Chinese· HSK 1

In Chinese 学生 means student, while 同学 means classmate, basically people who take the same class with you. But sometimes 同学 can be used to address someone who appears to be a student. Generally, 学生 is the identity of being a student, and 同学 is either "your classmate", or the name or title you use to address someone that you believe to be a student, usually when (1) you are older and not a student yourself, or (2) you are also a student but not necessarily in the same class or school.

Collapse Comments
RockleePremium Student July 15, 2022 at 9:58 pm

Hi. I don’t understand how one of the sentences: “Na ge dong xi bu shi ni men de?” becomes a question without the question particle “ma”. Can anyone explain?

saraPremium Student October 19, 2022 at 8:55 am

because they put ?, with ?, you know is a question. if you put “ma” it will be yes/not answer

Brendan LawlerPremium Student May 5, 2020 at 10:42 am

I’m a bit confused on the usage of 位 and 个. I thought 位 was when you are referring to people, but throughout the video you use 个 in front of student, teacher, classmate, etc, but use 位 in front of 小姐 and 先生. Are there certain exceptions to when you should use 位 in front of people?

Raghadsubhi12Premium Student May 9, 2020 at 9:08 am

I am not an expert but what I understood is that we use “wei” in front of people we want to show respect to.

lukePremium Student April 23, 2021 at 1:12 pm

I’m a bit late, but 位 is used to people you don’t know or want to respect, like your Teacher, or a random person in the street.
个 is in the context used for people that you know, like your parents, classmates, colleagues, and so on. While using 位 for your parents isn’t wrong or anything, it just sounds weird. Like calling your parents “sir”.

Alcalay.VPremium Student December 23, 2017 at 3:23 am

when you say together “tong” it seems you prononce “pong” instead of “tong” . If it is so , why this writing in pinyin ? And how can you know when you say thing “dong xi” if it is singular or plural ?

Hi, have you checked out our Pinyin Course yet? You can compare each Initials and Finals in a very detailed way. With Initials p and t, you can watch the lesson on “b p m f” vs. “d t n l” to see the differences. Also the Final -ong does not go after the Initial p so there is no “pong” sound in Chinese.

As for plural and singular, except for Personal Pronouns, nouns don’t change whether it is singular or plural.

Alcalay.VPremium Student December 25, 2017 at 3:18 am

So i went back to pinyin course ! Thanks

Jeff JohnsonPremium Student November 1, 2019 at 10:33 pm

it is remarkable. If you close your eyes it absolutely has a “p” sound. I listened to it several times myself. the same goes for the audio button in the vocab list. it sounds like PONG not TONG. In the pinyin drils all the “T”s sound like “T”, so I don’t know why this one sounds this way. I will say “T”ONG anyway.

Lacey JoPremium Student September 6, 2020 at 1:16 pm

I was curious so I re-listened to the video and the vocab list audio with my eyes closed. I didn’t hear a “p” sound at all. I distinctly hear the “t” in both the video and the vocal list audio for “tong”.

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