Mandarin: Talking about school

Learning Mandarin in school (listen 学校 xué xiào) makes it a great place to practice the language.

Objects around school in Mandarin

There are lots of objects around school that can be useful to know in Mandarin, including your school bag and what you might find inside it.

MandarinPinyinEnglish
listen 书包 shū bāo school bag 
listen shū book 
listen 笔记本 bǐ jì běn notebook 
listen 铅笔盒 qiān bǐ hé pencil case 
listen 钢笔 gāng bǐ pen 
listen 铅笔 qiān bǐ pencil 
listen 铅笔刀 qiān bǐ dāo pencil sharpener 
listen 尺子 chǐ zi ruler 
listen 剪刀 jiǎn dāo scissors 

To talk about your own school supplies in Mandarin, you can use the phrases:

listen 我有 Wǒ yǒu - I have

listen 这是 Zhè shì - This is

Did you know?

To say ‘I have a pencil' in Mandarin you would not simply say ‘listen 我有铅笔 Wǒ yǒu qiān bǐ’ - this misses out the ‘a’.

In Mandarin, measure words are used to describe the type of object being discussed.

For objects around school, these are:

Measure WordUse
listen 一个 yī gè For backpacks, pencil cases and pencil sharpeners 
listen 一本 yī běn For books 
listen 一支 yī zhī For writing tools, eg pens and pencils 
listen 一把 yī bà For rulers and scissors 

So, to say ‘I have a pencil’ in Mandarin you would say:

listen 我有一支铅笔 Wǒ yǒu yī zhī qiān bǐ - I have a pencil

Did you know?

You can switch out listen (one) for any other number, eg listen sān (three), listen (four) etc. except for ‘two’.

When you want to say you have two of something in Mandarin, you don’t use listen èr (two) - Instead, you use the Mandarin word listen liǎng.

Places around school in Mandarin

When walking around school, try saying some of the common places in Mandarin.

MandarinPinyinEnglish
listen 教室  jiào shìclassroom 
listen 食堂 shí táng  canteen 
listen 操场 cāo chǎng playground 
listen 走廊 zǒu láng  corridor

To talk about places around your school in Mandarin, you can use the phrases listen 我在 Wǒ zài (I am at) or listen 我要去 Wǒ yào qù (I am going to).

For example:

  • listen 我在食堂 Wǒ zài shí tang - I am in the canteen

  • listen 我要去教室 Wǒ yào qù jiào shì - I am going to the classroom

School lessons in Mandarin

Some common subjects studied in school in Mandarin include:

MandarinPinyinEnglish
listen 数学 shù xué Maths 
listen 英语 yīng yǔ  English
listen 科学 kē xué  Science 
listen 地理 dì lǐ  Geography 
listen 历史lì shǐHistory
listen 体育 tǐ yù  PE 

When talking about a lesson in school in Mandarin, you need to add 'listen ' (lesson) to the end of the subject.

For example:

  • listen 数学课 shù xué kè - Maths lesson

  • listen 英语课 yīng yǔ kè - English lesson

You can then combine this with the Mandarin phrase listen 我在上 Wǒ zài shàng (I am having).

For example:

  • listen 我在上地理课 Wǒ zài shàng dì lǐ kè - I am having a Geography lesson

  • listen 我在上 体育课 Wǒ zài shàng tǐ yù kè - I am having a PE lesson

There is no measure word needed here.

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