CHINESE DEMONSTRATIVES

 

Zhè (jeh)-This and (nah)-That.

They can be used as demonstratives i.e. – words that point to an item.

E.g Nà shì lǎoshī    –           That is a teacher.

They can be used as specifiers, or words that occur as part of a noun phrase and that identify specific items.

 

Zhè sì gè shū – these four books.

When used as specifiers, these words each has an alternative pronunciation, ‘This’ may be pronounced as zhè or zhèi; while ‘That’ may be pronounced as Nà or Nèi, depending on the speaker’s choice and region in China.

 

Zhè (this) and (that)

As demonstratives, ‘zhè’ ‘this and ‘that’ refer to an entire noun phrase, either a concrete object or an abstract concept. They always occur at the beginning of a sentence, they are used as the subject of the sentence. They can be used in statements or in questions.

Nà shì zhōngwén zidiǎn  –           That is a Chinese dictionary.

Zhè shi wǒde shū              –           This is my book.

Nà shì shénme?                 –           What is that?

Zhè, zhei (jay) ‘this/these’ and nà, (nah)nèi(nay) that/those.

When they are used as specifiers (demonstratives), Zhè, zhei this/these and nà, nèi ‘that/these’ with numbers and a noun.They come before the number( if there is one) and before the classifier and the noun in this order:

Specifier + (number) + classifier + noun

Examples

  1. Zhè qī gè shū –           These seven books
  2. Nei gè rèn –           That  person

 

Note: When zhè and used with measures, zhè become zhei and becomes nèi. ‘Zhè, zhèi’ and ‘nà, nèi’ do not have separate singular and plural forms.

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