My Chinese Lessons Homepage

Where Can I Buy...?

Chinese Lessons 12 of 15 << Previous   7  8  9  10  Next >> 
Where Can I Buy...?
Now that you know how to communicate basic information about shopping, let’s talk about how to ask where the market is. When you’re done with this lesson you’ll be ready to:
  • Politely interrupt someone to ask a question
  • Ask where something is
  • Address someone formally and exchange a Please and Thank You
Flash Cards - Vocabulary
Flash Cards - Vocabulary
Complete Lesson (PDF)
Printable PDF version of this lesson

Where Can I Buy...?

在 ( zài ): at, to be, to exist (in some place)
Radical: 土 (earth)
Component: 土 (earth), 一 (one) and 丿(line)
If you think about the English phrase “I am at my house, ” 在 acts as both am and at: "我在我的家." Note that 是 is not used when在 is present.
Memorization Hint: This character looks like 土 “exists” inside a small house.

那儿 ( nàr ): there
Radicals: 阝(city) and 儿 (legs)
Sub-Word : 那 - that, that one
儿 - retroflex final
Components for 1st Character: 那 (there)
Components for 2nd Character: 儿 (legs)
In Lesson 3 we learned that 那个 means “that (one)”. By omitting the measure word and adding儿, we have the word for “there.” 儿 changes the pronunciation from nà to nàr.
Memorization Hint: Start with “that”, add legs to imagine walking, and you’ll be “there.”

这儿 ( zhèr ): here
Radicals: 辶 (walk) and 儿 (legs)
Sub-Word : 这 - this, here
儿 - retroflex final
We learned 这个 in Lesson 3 to mean “this (one)”. Take away the measure word and add 儿 to get “here”. 儿 changes the pronunciation from zhè to zhèr.
Memorization Hint: 这 has a clear “X” that marks the spot. Imagine that your “legs” are standing on that X to remember that you are “here.”

哪儿 ( nǎr ): there
Radicals: 口 (mouth) and 儿 (legs)
Sub-Word : 那 - there
儿 - retroflex final
Phonetic: 那 (na)
Components for 1st Character: 口(mouth), 那 (there)
Components for 2nd Character: 儿 (legs)
在 and 哪儿 are often found together. If you want to ask where someone or something is, just use this pattern: Subject在哪儿?
Memorization Hint: If you add a mouth to 那, someone is asking about if something is there (or here or anywhere).

市场 ( shì chǎng ): market
Radicals: 巾 (turban) and 土 (earth)
Components for 1st Character: 巾 (turban), 亠 (head)
Components for 2nd Character: 土 (earth), 勹 (wrap), 丿(line)
A Chinese farmer’s market is a place of liveliness, conversation, and bargaining. If you’re looking for the market, just ask “市场在哪儿?”
Memorization Hint: An open space in the city might be where you’ll find a market.

水果 ( shuǐ guǒ ): fruit
Radicals: 水 (water) and 木 (tree)
Sub-Word : 水 - water
果 - fruit
Components for 1st Character: 水 (water)
Components for 2nd Character: 木 (tree), 田(field)
水果 is a noun that is often used in Chinese. If you visit someone’s house and aren’t sure what to bring as a gift, you can’t go wrong with nice fruit.
Memorization Hint: Juicy fruit is the water that grows in the trees in the field.

谢谢 ( xiè xie ): to thank; thanks; decline
Radical: 讠(speech)
Phonetic: 射 (she)
Component: 讠(speech), 身 (body), 寸 (inch)
谢谢 means Thank You and is used the same as we use it in English. Note that with close friends, saying Thanks and You’re Welcome is not very common. It’s expected that if a friend helps you with something, someday you will return the favor and that’s thanks enough.
Memorization Hint: If you are truly thankful, you “say” so with every “inch” of your “body.”

不用谢 ( bú yòng xiè ): you’re welcome; don’t mention it
Radicals: 一 (one) and 用 (use) and 讠(speech),
Sub-Word : 不 - no,not
用 - use
谢 - thanks
Phonetic: 射 (she)
Components for 1st Character: 不 (no, not)
Components for 2nd Character: 用 (use)
Components for 3rd Character: 讠(speech), 身 (body), 寸 (inch)
Use this as a response when someone says 谢谢.
Memorization Hint: You already know the word 不. 用 looks like a set of cubby holes filled with things for you to “use.” 不用谢 literally means “don’t use thanks”.

您 ( nín ): you (formal, also used when addressing those older than you)
Radical: 心 (heart)
Phonetic: 你 (ni)
Component: 心 (heart), 亻(person) , 尔 (you, old version)
Use 您 just like 你, but only in formal situations.
Memorization Hint: By adding a 心 to 你, it’s like you’re taking the meaning and making it more sincere and from the heart. Therefore, use it when the situation is formal.

请问 ( qǐng wèn ): May I ask…?
Radicals: 讠(speech) and 门 (gate)
Sub-Word : 请 - ask; please
问 - ask about; question
Phonetic: 青 (qing) and 门 (men)
Components for 1st Character: 讠(speech), 青 (green)
Components for 2nd Character: 门 (gate), 口 (mouth)
Trying to get someone’s attention to ask a question? Start with 请问 and ask away!
Memorization Hint: Use the 讠radical to your advantage to realize this phrase is about asking something. As for 问? Well, using your mouth is the gateway to gaining information!


The first step to shopping is finding out where you can buy what it is you’re looking for. Generally people are very nice if you need help finding a place.

To find the market, start by asking: 请问, 市场在哪儿? Note that 哪儿 is a question word, therefore it’s incorrect to add 吗 at the end of the sentence.

Let’s take a moment to practice pronunciation of the word 哪儿. Got that 3rd tone? If you accidentally say 那儿 (nàr), you are not actually asking a question! The meaning becomes “The market is there,” rather than “Where is the market?”

Once they’ve pointed you in the right direction, say 谢谢 or 谢谢您. They probably will respond with 不用谢 or 不用. 不用 by itself can be used to indicate that something is not necessary, and is a very useful phrase. If someone offers you something or offers to help you do something and you wish to refuse, you can say 不用 or 不用了.

Speaking of refusing help, that’s enough for today. Go get started memorizing your new vocab and check out the Grammar section. We’ll see you back for Lesson 13!

  • In English to say “to be (at or in some place)” you must use “am.” For example, “I am in Beijing.” Chinese efficiently covers both of these with 在: 我在北京. (我是在北京 is incorrect.)
  • If you have a complex sentence, both time and place should come first, before the action. For example: 我在那个市场买了这个 (I bought this at that market.)
  • Vocabulary Review:
    1. 在 zài at, to be, to exist (in some place)
    2. 那儿 nàr there
    3. 这儿 zhèr here
    4. 哪儿 nǎr there
    5. 市场 shì chǎng market
    6. 水果 shuǐ guǒ fruit
    7. 谢谢 xiè xie to thank; thanks; decline
    8. 不用谢 bú yòng xiè you’re welcome; don’t mention it
    9. 您 nín you (formal, also used when addressing those older than you)
    10. 请问 qǐng wèn May I ask…?
    Jim is out shopping for a gift to take to his extended family. He’s never met them before and this is his first time to China. He has a few gifts from home, but wants to take something extra. Unfortunately, his anxiety has caused his mind to wander and he’s lost track of where the market is.
     请问, 市场在哪儿?
     Qǐng wèn, shì chǎng zài nǎr?
     Excuse me, where is the market?
    Friendly Man: 
     市场... 在那儿! (pointing)
     Shì chǎng… zài nàr!
     The market… is over there!
     Xiè xie nín.
     Thank you (polite).
    Friendly Man: 
     Bú yòng xiè.
     Don’t mention it.
     Zhè shì bú shì shì chǎng?
     Is this the market?
     是. 你要买什么东西?
     Shì. Nĭ yào mǎi shén me dōng xi?
     Yes. What do you want to buy?
     Wǒ yào mǎi yì diǎn shuǐ guǒ.
     I’d like to buy a little fruit.
     Wǒ méi yǒu shuǐ guǒ.
     I don’t have any fruit.
     Shuǐ guǒ zài nǎr?
     Where is the fruit?
     那儿有. (pointing)
     Nàr yǒu.
     Over there (has).
    Fill in the Blank:
     Lesson Index © Copyright 2019 MyChineseLessons