Lesson Fourteen (A)

What are you doing


Basic expressions


In Chinese, the form of a verb is unchanged no matter at what stage the action takes place. Thus some adverbs, particles and time words are used to indicate the different stages of an action. The word







is placed before verbs to indicate that an action is in progress.  Let’s learn the following.


a.   wŏ zhèngzài  xuéxi hànyŭ.

     我    正在      学习  汉语。

     I ZHENGZAI study Chinese

I are studying Chinese.

b.  Tāngmŭ zhèngzài      dă     diànhuà.

     汤姆     正在                电话。

      Tom    ZHENGZAI make phone call

  Tom is making a phone call.

c.   shéi zhèngzài        shuō Hànyŭ?

        正在                 汉语?

      who ZHENGZAI say Chinese

     Who is speaking Chinese?

d.    tā  zhèngzài       zhăo shénme ?

         正在              什么?

      she ZHENGZAI look what

      What is she looking for?


Zhèng or zàican be omitted as in:

wŏmen zhèng      xué        Hànyŭ   

我们                       汉语。     

we        ZHENG studying Chinese.                           or              


wŏmen zài   xué        Hànyŭ

我们                汉语。

we       ZAI studying Chinese

We are studying Chinese.


The negative form for this sentence pattern is méi zài 没在, which is placed before verbs.

e.  wŏmen méi zài xuéxí Hànyŭ.

    我们        学习  汉语。

     we      not ZAI study Chinese

 We are not studying Chinese.

f.    Tāngmŭ méizài   dă    diànhuà.

      汤姆             电话。

      Tom    not ZAI  make phone call

 Tom is not making a phone call

g.   shéi  méi  zài  shuō    Hànyŭ?


 who  not  ZAI speak Chinese

Who is not speaking Chinese?





modal particle


The particle le is placed after main verbs, or at the end of sentences to indicate the completion of actions,

as in

zuótiān   wŏ  qù  yóujú          le.

昨天          邮局          了。

yesterday I   go   post office LE

Yesterday  I  went to the post  office.


Méi is placed before verbs to form a negative sentence as in

zuótian     wŏ  méi (you) qù  yóujú.

昨天             ( 邮局。

Yesterday I     not         go post office


You will hear the following words in the dialogue.


hăo jiŭ



long time

good long time






how long

how long












English language

English language