Level 1 Lesson 11.1 – Well I’m On The Phone

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Modal Particle 呢 in Chinese with 在...呢 Structure | 在...呢 vs 在

In this video lesson we'll learn about Modal Particle 呢 in Chinese. And we'll also compare 米 vs 饭 in Chinese.

  • Modal Particle 呢 in Chinese: the 在...呢 Structure
  • 在...呢 vs 在
  • Compare 米 vs 饭 vs 米饭 in Chinese



Grammar 1: Modal Particle 呢 in Chinese· HSK 1

We learned about Question Particle 呢 in Lesson 6. Now we'll learn about the Modal Particle 呢 in Chinese.

The Modal Particle 呢 is usually (1) put at the end of a declarative sentence, (2) to suggest that the action or the status is continuing.

It is usually used together with Adverb 在 (which suggest that an action is in progress and continuing). So the structure is:

Subject + 在 + Verb (Phrase) + 

This 在...呢 structure suggests that the Subject to be in the process of doing something and the action or status is continuing.

So we can say sentences like:

  • wǒ zài dǎ diànhuà ne
    I am/was making phone call.
  • tāmen zài zuòfàn ne
    They are/were cooking.
  • wǒ bàba zài xǐ yīfu ne
    My dad is/was washing clothes.


Grammar 2: Compare 在...呢 vs 在 · HSK 1

When we compare 在...呢 vs 在 in Chinese, generally the 在...呢 structure, "在 Verb Phrase 呢" and "在 Verb Phrase" are talking about the same thing, except for the mood or tone.

In the following groups, sentence A and B are talking about the same thing, except for the mood or tone.

A: wǒ zài chī fàn
      I am having a meal.
B: wǒ zài chī fàn ne
      Oh, see, I am having a meal.


A: tā zài mǎi diànnǎo
      He is buying a computer.
B: tā zài mǎi diànnǎo ne
      Oh, you know, he is buying a computer.


Grammar 3: Compare 米 VS 饭 VS 米饭 · HSK 1

Rice is probably the most popular staple food in China, with noodles being the second.

If we want to compare 米 vs 饭 vs 米饭

mǐ 米 usually refers to raw rice. When people talk about 米, they are usually referring to raw white rice in packages that you can buy from the market.

fàn 饭 is either (1) cooked (white) rice, or (2) a meal in general, because rice is so popular that it become the code name for meals in general. So even if someone had noodles or pizza, we can still say that they just 吃饭(to have a meal).

mǐfàn 米饭, on the other hand, usually specifically refers to cooked (white) rice.

米 vs 饭

  • wǒ jiā méiyǒu mǐ, wǒ xiǎng mǎi mǐ 
    My home does not have any rice, I want to buy some rice.
  • wǒ méi chīfàn, wǒ xiǎng chī fàn
    I didn't eat (any) meal yet, I want to eat a meal.

米饭 vs 饭

  • tā bù xǐhuan chī mǐfàn
    She does not like eating rice (She probably prefer other food).
  • tā bù xǐhuan chīfàn 
    She does not like eating in general (She probably has eating disorder).
Collapse Comments
TinyDragonStephPremium Student March 26, 2024 at 11:39 am

Is the mood or tone positive or negative when using 呢?

For example:
Would you use this if you’re annoyed by the person asking the question? Like saying, “Shhh! The teacher is talking.”

Yes that’s a very good example 😀

Raghadsubhi12Premium Student June 20, 2020 at 4:22 pm

what is the difference between 吃 and 吃饭?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe 吃 refers to eating in general, while 吃饭 is more specific and refers to eating a meal.

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