Chinese Character Drill #2: 是 叫 爸 媽 哥
Time for another Chinese character drill and after this character drill you can start writing down a few, short sentences in Chinese. As always I’ll go over the character and its pinyin reading. The previous characters allowed us to write Chinese greetings. After these characters we can write a few sentences. After this second character drill we will have covered 10 characters in total.
6. 是 (To be)
The first character today is a very important character and will allow you to say a lot of things. The character 是 is the Chinese copula verb; ‘to be’ in English. Please note that I explicitly mention it’s the copula to be. Other uses of ‘to be’ are covered by other characters and grammar topics. The pinyin reading of 是 is shì.
By the way, you can use this character also to say ‘yes’.
7. 叫 (To call)
The following character is 叫. This character is a useful character as it is one of the ways to tell others your name. In fact, it is, in my opinion, the easiest way to tell others your name. The reading of 叫 is jiào. Let’s see this verb in action, shall we?
Example: 我叫尼克*. – My name is Nick.
*尼克 [Níkè] is how my name would be written in Chinese.
8. 爸 (Father)
The third character of this Chinese character drill is 爸. This is the Chinese character for father. The reading of this character is bà.
An important tidbit you need to know about this character is that you need a second character to write the word father. Plenty of Chinese characters need other characters to form an actual word. While the character itself means father, the word father, however, is written as 爸爸 [bàba].
Example: 我是爸爸. – I am a father.
9. 媽 (Mother)
Of course, if we learn the character for father, we better also learn the Chinese character for mother. The character for mother is 媽. The reading of this character is mā. The word for mother, however, is 媽媽 [māma].
A Chinese friend of mine told me a nice story on how to remember this character. If you pay close attention you will notice that two characters make up the mother character: 女 (woman) and 馬 (horse). According to her the mother character is written as such because a mother is a woman who needs to work as hard as a horse. Isn’t that a nice way to memorize this character?
Example: 媽媽叫王芳*. – The mother is called Wang Fang.
10. 哥 (Older brother)
The last character in this Chinese character drill is the Chinese character for older brother. Hierarchy and family are an essential part of Chinese culture. Therefore there are different words for both older brothers and sisters and younger brothers and sisters. 哥 is the character for older brothers and it’s read as gē. The word for older brother, though, is 哥哥 [gēge].
Example: 你是哥哥. – You are an older brother.