Level 1 Lesson 12.1 – I Didn’t “Give” Them Class

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To Call Someone in Chinese | Preposition 给 in Chinese

In this video lesson we'll learn about the Chinese preposition "给". And we'll learn to say know or don't know in Chinese.

  • Preposition 给 in Chinese
  • To call someone in Chinese: 给...打电话
  • Hello on the phone in Chinese: 喂
  • What is your phone number in Chinese
  • Do you know...in Chinese
  • Know vs Don't Know in Chinese: 知道 vs 不知道



Grammar 1: Preposition 给 in Chinese · HSK 1

The Preposition 给 in Chinese is used in this structure:

Subject + Object1 + Verb Object2

Here 给 is a preposition, Object1 is the Object of Preposition 给, while Object2 is the Object of the Verb. "给+Object1" together is a Prepositional Phrase, while "Verb+Object2“ is a Verb Phrase. The "给+Object1" Prepositional Phrase is used as the Adverbial of the Verb Phrase at the end of the sentence. For example:

For example:

  • māma gěi wǒ zuò fàn
    mom is making meal for me
  • nǐ xiǎng gěi shéi mǎi diànnǎo
    who do you want to buy computer for
  • Xiè Lǎoshī zài gěi wǒmen shàng Hànyǔ kè
    Teacher Xie is giving Chinese class to us


Grammar 2: To Call Someone in Chinese · HSK 1

By using the Preposition 给, we can say to call someone in Chinese, or to call some place as well. For example:

  • wǒ gěi Xiè Lǎoshī dǎ diànhuà
    I am making a phone call to Teacher Xie.
  • Xiè Lǎoshī zài gěi xuéxiào dǎ diànhuà
    Teacher Xie is making a phone call to the school.
  • wǒ xiǎng gěi péngyou jiā dǎ diànhuà
    I want to make a phone call to (my) friend's house.


Grammar 3: Hello on the Phone in Chinese · HSK 1

When we say hello on the phone in Chinese, we can say it in two ways:

  • nǐhǎo 你好!Hello.
  • wèi 喂!Hello.

你好 is more formal than 喂.

But be careful that 喂 is okay to say hello on the phone in Chinese, but can be rude to say hello to someone in person.

Also even though 喂 in pronounced in the Fourth Tone, when speaking in an inquiring tone, it often changes into the Second Tone. This is because the Tone of the Sentence play its part and affected the Tone of the word. See the difference below:

  • wè喂!Hello!
  • wé喂?Hello?


Grammar 4: What Is Your Phone Number in Chinese · HSK 1

We learned numbers in the sense of Mathematical Numbers like 1,2,3... 100 before. Today's word hàomǎ 号码 refers to number(s) that suggest an order or an arrangement, such as in:

  • diànhuà hàomǎ
    phone number
  • fángjiān hàomǎ
    room number
  • xuésheng hàomǎ
    student number
  • yīfu hàomǎ
    clothes number(size)

When we want to ask a question related to what's the number of something, there are two structures:

...de hàomǎ shì ? ...的号码

...de hàomǎ shì duōshao...的号码多少

We use jǐ 几 when the number is assumed to be under 10 and we use duōshao 多少 when the number is assumed to be over 10. For example:

Q: tāde fángjiān hàomǎ shì jǐ
      what is her room number(size)
A: tāde fángjiān hǎomǎ shì líng'èr
      her room number is 02


Q: nǐde diànhuà hàomǎ shì duōshǎo
      What is your phone number
A: wǒde diànhuà hǎomǎ shì (619) 555-2734
      我的电话号码是 (619) 555-2734。
      My phone number is (619) 555-2734


Grammar 5: Do You Know...in Chinese · HSK 2

To know vs don't know in Chinese is zhīdào 知道 vs bù zhīdào 不知道.  So we can ask do you know... in Chinese and answer the question like this:

Q: nǐ zhīdào wǒde míngzi ma
      do you know my name
Y: wǒ zhīdào nǐde míngzi
      I know your name
N: wǒ bù zhīdao nǐde míngzi
      I don't know your name


Q: nǐ zhīdào tā shì shéi ma
      do you know who he is
Y: wǒ zhīdào tā shì shéi
      I know who he is
N: wǒ bù zhīdào tā shì shéi
      I don't know who he is

But we can also answer with the short version as well, with 知道 as yes, and 不知道 as no.

Q: nǐ zhīdào tā shì shéi ma
      do you know who he is
Y: zhī dào
N: bù zhīdào

Collapse Comments
TinyDragonStephPremium Student March 28, 2024 at 11:44 am

What is the difference between 认识 and 知道?

adrii_23Premium Student December 11, 2022 at 8:20 am

is 你的房间号码是多少 the same as 你的房间号码是哪个?

marajPremium Student April 3, 2022 at 8:17 pm

In this sentence nǐ zhīdào tā shì shéi ma ( 你知道他是谁吗??. Is it possible to have two question words in the same sentence? I thought when you had 谁 in the question you shouldn’t put 吗. I’d really appreciate you answer to this. Thank you

ChineseFor.UsAcademic Team April 16, 2022 at 12:43 pm

The Question Word here in this sentence is 吗 instead of 谁.

david.rappoPremium Student July 19, 2020 at 3:22 am


Some of the examples sentences in this lesson have three or four third tone syllables in a row.

Three third tone syllables in a row

Five third tone syllables in a row. I made this sentence up but I believe the structure is correct.

Usually when two third tone syllables are next to each other the first syllable is pronounced in rising tone. However, I am a little unsure what happens when more than two third tone syllables are next to one another.

I am afraid that I still struggle to catch/distinguish the tone changes when listening to people speak.


Please refer to Two Third Tones Together and Three Third Tones in a Row.

Also in a sentence if there are more than three third tones together like “我想给李老师打电话”. Each Sentence Element can be treated independently. For example 我想给李老师打电话 can be pronounced like this: 我想/给李老师/打电话。If in one Sentence Element, there are more than three third tones together then each word can be treated independently.

lenglengPremium Student July 16, 2020 at 5:09 pm

In the sentence 谢老师在给学校打电话 we use 在 so why do we not end the sentence with 呢?

ChineseFor.UsAcademic Team July 16, 2020 at 8:46 pm

Please refer to – Grammar 2: Compare 在…呢 vs 在 in the previous lesson.

Lee XiaolongPremium Student April 27, 2018 at 8:08 pm

Hi Lili,
In your example for making a phone call, we say 我给老师打电话, but also 他在给学校打电话。
I’m confused with adding 在 in second sentence.
can you please explain this?

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