Free online basic learn Mandarin Chinese audio lesson 6 — Practical Chinese — How to ask for help or how to ask for a favor, the difference between 只是 zhi shi and 可是 ke shi, the usage of neng bu neng

“It is the characteristic of the magnanimous man to ask no favor but to be ready to do kindness to others.”

Aristotle quotes (Ancient Greek Philosopher, Scientist and Physician, 384 BC-322 BC)

The quote is very great, but people are social creatures. From small favors to grander ones, sometimes, we have to ask someone for help. It’s human nature and no one can live the life alone. In order to live a smoother life in a Chinese spoken world, it is important for you to learn how to ask for a favor.

Consider different readers’ Chinese levels, I arranged the lesson with the following sections:

Chinese text with audio, Chinese text with pinyin and audio, annotated Chinese text with pinyin, Chinese text with pinyin and English translation, vocabulary, grammar and an introduction of the most famous classic Chinese poem — Quiet Night Thought by the great Chinese poet Li Bai. You won’t be able to master this lesson in one day or two days, I suggest you spend one week to master it. It means you have to listen to the recording daily, review it daily, and at the end of the week, you will be able to see your leaping progress!

1 Chinese text with audio

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A 你好。我能不能请你帮我一个忙?
B 你需要我帮你什么忙?
A 我有一个中文问题不知道怎么做。
B 什么问题你说说看。
A 我的中文老师要我翻译一首唐诗。
B 是什么诗?
A 是静夜诗。
B 哦,是李白的诗啊。
你要我帮你翻译是不是?
A 是的,你愿意吗?
B 我愿意,只是我现在没时间。明天好吗?我明天可以帮你。
A 行, 行, 就明天。真是谢谢你。
B 不客气, 明天见。

2 Chinese text with pinyin and audio

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A 你好。我能不能请你帮我一个忙?
nǐhǎo. Wǒ néngbùnéng qǐng nǐ bāng wǒ yī ge máng ?
B 你需要我帮你什么忙?
nǐ xūyào Wǒ bāng nǐ shénme máng ?
A 我有一个中文问题不知道怎么做。
Wǒ yǒu Yī ge Zhōngwén wèntí bù zhīdào zěnme zuò .
B 什么问题你说说看。
shénme wèntí nǐ shuōshuo kàn .
A 我的中文老师要我翻译一首唐诗。
Wǒ de Zhōngwén lǎoshī yào Wǒ fānyì yī shǒu tángshī.
B 是什么诗?
shì shénme shī ?
A 是静夜诗。
shì jìng yè shī .
B 哦,是李白的诗啊。
ò , shì Lǐ Bái de shī ā .
你要我帮你翻译是不是?
nǐ yào Wǒ bāng nǐ fānyì shì bù shì ?
A 是的,你愿意吗?
shì de , nǐ yuànyì ma ?
B 我愿意,只是我现在没时间。明天好吗?我明天可以帮你。
Wǒ yuànyì , zhǐ shì Wǒ xiànzài méi shíjiān . míngtiān hǎo ma ?
A 行, 行, 就明天。真是谢谢你。
xíng , xíng , jiù míngtiān . zhēnshì xièxie nǐ .
B 不客气, 明天见。
bù kèqì , míng tiān jiàn .

3 annotated Chinese text with pinyin,

A 你好[nǐ hǎo, nǐ pronoun you, hǎo adjective, good, the phrase literally means you good. It is a common greeting in Chinese, like saying “how are you”] 。我[wǒ, pronoun, I] 能[néng, adjective, able] 不能[bù néng, bù negate word, néng adjective able; it means not able ] 请[qǐng, verb, ask] 你[nǐ, pronoun, you] 帮[bāng, verb, help] 我[wǒ, pronoun, I or me] 一个[yī gè, yī number one, gè, measure word] 忙[máng, noun, favor] ?
B 你[nǐ, pronoun, you] 需要[xū yào, verb phrase, need] 我[wǒ, pronoun, I or me] 帮[bāng, verb help] 你[nǐ, pronoun, you] 什么[shén me, adjective, what] 忙[máng, noun, originally mean busy, here means favor] ?
A 我[wǒ, pronoun, I] 有[yǒu, verb, have] 一个[yī gè, yī, number one, gè, measure word ] 中文[zhōng wén, proper noun, Chinese] 问题[wèn tí, noun, question] 不[bù, negate word, not ]知道 [zhī dào, verb phrase, understand or know] 怎么[zěn me, adverb, how] 做[zuò, verb, do] 。
B 什么[shén me, adjective, what] 问题[wèn tí, noun phrase, question] 你[nǐ, pronoun, you] 说说[shuō shuo, verb reduplication means the same as one word shuo, say] 看[kàn, verb, see] 。
A 我的[wǒ de, possessive pronoun] 中文[zhōng wén, proper noun, Chinese] 老师[lǎo shī, noun, teacher] 要[yāo, verb, want] 我[wǒ, pronoun, me] 翻译[fān yì, verb, translate] 一[yī, number one] 首[shǒu, measure word for poem] 唐[táng, pronoun noun, Tang Dynasty] 诗[shī, noun, poem] 。
B 是[shì, verb, is] 什么[shén me, adjective, what] 诗[shī, noun, poem] ?
A 是[shì, verb, is] 静[jìng, adjective, quiet] 夜[yè, noun, night] 诗[shī, noun, poem] 。
B 哦[é, exclamation used to expression emotion, here refers to the emotion of understanding something] ,是[shì, verb, is] 李白[lǐ bái, person name, one of the great poet in Tang Dynasty] 的[de, particle to connect the attributive and the noun it modifies] 诗[shī, noun, poem] 啊[ā, exclamation, Used to express a range of emotions including surprise, pleasure, sympathy, realization or understanding.] 。
你[nǐ, pronoun, you] 要[yāo, verb, want] 我[wǒ, pronoun, me] 帮[bāng, verb, help] 你[nǐ, pronoun, you] 翻译[fān yì, verb, translate] 是不是[shì bù shì, shì -verb, is, bù – negate word, not shì- verb, is; so together shì bù shì means is or is not or yes or no] ?
A 是的[shì de, exclamation, used to give an affirmative response ] ,你[nǐ, pronoun, you] 愿意[yuàn yì, adjective, willing] 吗[ma, question marker or question particle to change a statement to a yes or no question ] ?
B 我[wǒ, pronoun, I] 愿意[yuàn yì, adjective, willing] ,只是[zhǐ shì, conjunction, but] 我[wǒ, pronoun, I] 现在[xiàn zài, adverb, now] 没[méi, verb, not] 时间[shí jiān, noun, time] 。明天[míng tiān, noun, tomorrow] 好[hǎo, adjective, good] 吗[ma, question particle] ?我[wǒ, pronoun, I] 明天[míng tiān, noun, tomorrow] 可以[kě yǐ, adverb, able to ] 帮[bāng, verb, help] 你[nǐ, pronoun, you] 。
A 行[xíng, adjective, OK] , 行[xíng, OK] , 就[jiù, conjunction, then] 明天[míng tiān, noun, tomorrow] 。真是[zhēn shì, adverb, really] 谢谢[xiè xie, verb, thank] 你[nǐ, pronoun, you] 。
B 不客气[bú kè qì, phrase, you are welome] , 明天[míng tiān, noun, tomorrow] 见[jiàn, verb, see] 。

4 Chinese text with pinyin, English translation and audio

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A 你好。我能不能请你帮我一个忙?
nǐhǎo. Wǒ néngbùnéng qǐng nǐ bāng wǒ yī ge máng ?
How are you. Can I ask you to do me a favor?

B 你需要我帮你什么忙?
nǐ xūyào Wǒ bāng nǐ shénme máng ?
What kind of help you need me to help you?

A 我有一个中文问题不知道怎么做。
Wǒ yǒu Yī ge Zhōngwén wèntí bù zhīdào zěnme zuò .
I have a Chinese question which I don’t know what to do.

B 什么问题你说说看。
shénme wèntí nǐ shuōshuo kàn .
What question? You can say it and I will see.

A 我的中文老师要我翻译一首唐诗。
Wǒ de Zhōngwén lǎoshī yào Wǒ fānyì yī shǒu tángshī.
My Chinese teacher wants me to translate a Tang poem.

B 是什么诗?
shì shénme shī ?
What poem?

A 是静夜诗。
shì jìng yè shī .
It is Quite Night Poem.

B 哦,是李白的诗啊。
ò , shì Lǐ Bái de shī ā .
Oh, Li Bai’s poem.

你要我帮你翻译是不是?
nǐ yào Wǒ bāng nǐ fānyì shì bù shì ?
You want me to help you to translate it? Yes or no?

A 是的,你愿意吗?
shì de , nǐ yuànyì ma ?
Yes, are you willing to?

B 我愿意,只是我现在没时间。明天好吗?我明天可以帮你。
Wǒ yuànyì , zhǐ shì Wǒ xiànzài méi shíjiān . míngtiān hǎo ma ?
I am willing to, just now I don’t have time. How about tomorrow? Tomorrow I can help you.

A 行, 行, 就明天。真是谢谢你。
xíng , xíng , jiù míngtiān . zhēnshì xièxie nǐ .
OK, OK, then tormorrow; I really thank you.

B 不客气, 明天见。
bù kèqì , míng tiān jiàn .
You are welcome; see you tomorrow.

5 Vocabulary:

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1 帮bāng is verb means help. For example,
他帮我做功课。tā bāng wǒ zuò gōngkè .
He helped me doing homework.
他帮我很多忙。 tā bāng wǒ hěn duō máng .
He helped me a lot.
帮忙 are often used as a verb phrase. For example you can say,
帮忙我拿这个球。请帮忙我,好吗? bāngmáng Wǒ ná zhège qiú . qǐng bāngmáng Wǒ , hǎo ma ?
Help me with carrying this ball. Please help me, OK?

If you want to say someone did you a big favor, then you can say:
谢谢你, 你帮我一个大忙。xièxie nǐ , nǐ bāng wǒ yī ge dà máng .
Thank you, you did me a big favor.
or
Thank you, you helped me a lot.

2 愿意 yuànyì means willing. You see both two words all have heart radical, so, when when you say 愿意, it means your heart is agreed on what you are going to do. In western wedding, when you say ” I do.” In Chinese it is 我愿意 Wǒ yuànyì。

3 行 xíng has multiple meanings. In this lesson, it means OK, or will do. Other usage of 行 xíng:
行为 means behavior. Sample usage
他的行为不好。tā de xíngwéi bù hǎo.
His behavior is not good.

行 xíng can mean very good, excellent. Such as:

他的中文很行。tā de Zhōngwén hěn xíng .
His Chinese is very very good.

行 can be pronounced as háng which means profession.
教书是种行业。jiāoshūshì zhǒng hángyè .
Teaching is one kind of profession.

4 不客气 bù kèqì means you are welcome. 客 kè means guests, in Chinese we said 客人 kèren。气 qì means air or atmosphere. 不客气 literally means not having guests air. Also it means don’t act like guests, but consider as one in the family. When a guest came to your house and brought a lot of gifts, you can say
你太客气了。nǐ tài kèqi le .
You are too kind.

6 Grammar:

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1 The usage of but 只是 zhǐ shì or 可是 kěshì
只是 or 可是 can be used as conjunctions: Used to introduce something contrasting with what has already been mentioned.
In this lesson, we learned:
我愿意,只是我现在没时间。 Wǒ yuànyì , zhǐ shì Wǒ xiànzài méi shíjiān.
I am willing to, just, now I have no time.

Some other sample usages are:
他说他想来,可是他很忙,不能来。
tā shuō tā xiǎng lái , kěshì tā hěn máng , bù néng lái .
He said he wanted to come, but he was very busy, could not make it.

我的朋友很老,可是他很健康。
Wǒ de péngyou hěn lǎo , kěshì tā hěn jiànkāng .
My friend is very old, but he is very healthy.

只是 or 可是 have subtle differences.
只是 means just
可是 means but

2 The usage of 能不能 neng bu neng can you or can not
In this lesson, we learned:
我能不能请你帮我一个忙?Wǒ néngbùnéng qǐng nǐ bāng wǒ yī ge máng ?
Can you please do me a favor?

能不能 néngbùnéng is a good phrase to know to ask for a favor. For example, you can say:
你能不能帮我一个忙?nǐ néngbùnéng bāng wǒ yī ge máng ?
Can you do me a favor?

你能不能把那本书拿过来?nǐ néngbùnéng bǎ nà běn shū ná guòlai ?
Can you bring the book over?

你能不能听我唱歌? nǐ néngbùnéng tīng Wǒ chànggē ?
Can you listen to my singing?

能不能 has other meaning which means — are capable or not
你能不能吃十碗饭。nǐ néngbùnéng chī shí wǎn fàn .
Are you capable of eating ten bowel of cooked rice.

你能不能跑十公里。nǐ néngbùnéng pǎo shí gōnglǐ .
Can you run 10 kilometers?

8 Introduce 靜夜思 Jìng Yè Sī poem:

Quite night thoughts poem is the most popular Chinese quatrain. It was written by Li Bai / Li Po of the Tang dynasty. In Chinese spoken world, for students, this poem is also the first classic poem to learn in middle school Chinese textbook.

靜夜思
Jìng Yè Sī
Quiet Night Thoughts

李白
Li Bai

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床前明月光
Chuáng qián míng yuè guāng
In front of my bed is the bright moonlight

疑是地上霜
Yí shì dìshàng shuāng
I suspect it is frost on the ground.

舉頭望山月
Jǔ tóu wàng shān yuè
I raise my head to look at the mountain moon,

低頭思故鄉
Dītóu sī gùxiāng
Then I lower my head, thinking of my hometown.

For more detailed explanation and poem analysis see: http://www.chinesetolearn.com/?p=3919

海上的月亮
hai3 shang4 de5 yue4 liang4
The moon at sea

李宇春
Li Yuchun
Chris Lee

For the lyrics, pinyin and English translation see http://www.chinesetolearn.com/?p=3851

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4 Responses to Free online basic learn Mandarin Chinese audio lesson 6 — Practical Chinese — How to ask for help or how to ask for a favor, the difference between 只是 zhi shi and 可是 ke shi, the usage of neng bu neng

  1. Demor says:

    Thank you very much for making this post it helps a lot to have it in a conversational situation. Have a nice summer. 🙂

    • Shu says:

      Hi Demor,
      I am glad that you visited:) It is good to refresh your Chinese on the summer break, or you will forget a lot of it.
      Have a great summer with your groups of relatives and come back to visit the site as much as you can!!!

      Laoshi

  2. Claudinei says:

    Hello Shu!
    At the first, thank you for the songs.
    I’d love to learn Mandarin. I’m appreciating the site but I don’t know how to start it rightly.
    Please, comment.

    Claudinei, from Brazil.

Comments are closed.