Mandarin: Exploring the town

When navigating any place, it is useful to know how to talk about different locations and modes of transportation.

'Where are you going?' in Mandarin

To ask where someone is going in Mandarin, you can say:

listen 你去哪儿? Nǐ qù nǎr (nǎ er)? - Where are you going?

For most places, you can answer in Mandarin with:

listen 我去 Wǒ qù - I’m going…

listen jiā home 
listen 学校 xué xiào school 
listen 超市 chāo shì supermarket 
listen 电影院 diàn yǐng yuàn cinema 
listen 公园 gōng yuán park
listen 咖啡店 kā fēi diàn café 
listen 博物馆 bó wù guǎn museum 
listen 餐厅 cān tīng restaurant 

Did you know?

The exception to the above rule in Mandarin is ‘home’, for which you would say:

listen 我回 Wǒ huí - I’m going back…

So if you want to say you are returning home in Mandarin you would say:

listen 我回家 Wǒ huí jiā - I’m going back home

'How are you getting there?' in Mandarin

To ask how someone is going to get somewhere in Mandarin, you can say:

listen 你怎么去? Nǐ zěn me qù? - How are you getting there?

There are three ways to respond to this question in Mandarin:

  • listen 我坐 Wǒ zuò - I take, for vehicles you sit in, eg the bus or a taxi

  • listen 我骑 Wǒ qí - I ride, for vehicles you sit on or across, eg a bike

  • listen 我走着去 Wǒ zǒu zhe qù - I walk there

listen 出租车 chū zū chē taxi 
listen 公交车 gōng jiāo chē bus 
listen 火车huǒ chē train 
listen 自行车 zì xíng chē bike 
listen 汽车qì chē car 

For example, if you are going to get the bus, in Mandarin you would say:

listen 我坐公交车 Wǒ zuò gōng jiāo chē - I take the bus

Did you know?

Each mode of transport in Mandarin shares the final character listen chē (vehicle).

The Mandarin characters before this generally describe the vehicle in question, eg:

  • listen (self) listen xíng (do or travel) listen chē (vehicle) - bike

  • listen 公交 gōng jiāo (short for public transport) listen chē (vehicle) - bus

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