Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Lesson 3

Lesson 4

Lesson 5

Lesson 6

Lesson 7

Lesson 8

Lesson 9

Lesson 10

Lesson 11

Lesson 12

Lesson 13

Lesson 14

Lesson 15

Lesson 16

Lesson 17

Lesson 18

Lesson 19

Lesson 20

Lesson 21

Lesson 22

Lesson 23

Lesson 24

Lesson 25

In this first lesson we will learn the pronouns, the verb "to be", and the occupations "student", "teacher", and "businessperson".

After all, aren't we a little bit of all three?

The simple sentence pattern of pronoun + be + complement is a a quick and easy way to convey information about people - "He is an American", "They are students", "She is my coworker" etc.

Once you get in the basic form, it's simply a matter of plugging in additional vocabulary (which we will do in later lessons).

1.01 Pronouns 


You (respected)

 You all


He and she have the same pronunciation in Mandarin, ; in the written language they are differentiated by their characters, 他 for he and 她 for she.

To make the plural of any pronoun just add 们 men to the singular form of the pronoun. Please note that the distinction between plural and singular is not quite as important in Chinese, often the plural will simply be implied by the context.

1.02 Pronouns and the verb "to be"

我是 wǒ shì – I am
你是 nǐ shì – You are
您是 nín shì – You (respected) are
他是 tā shì – He is
她是 tā shì – She is
我们是 wǒmen shì – We are
你们是 nǐmen shì – You all are
他们是 tāmen shì – They are


The verb to beshì does not decline, that is to say that its form stays the same no matter who is performing the action. Compared to the English "I am", "You are", "He is", it is actually much easier, right?

Also, please be aware that there are no spaces between the words in a Chinese sentence!

1.03 Pronouns, the verb "to be", and the noun complement "student"

我是学生。 Wǒ shì xuésheng. I am a student.
你是学生。 Nǐ shì xuésheng. You are a student.
您是学生。 Nín shì xuésheng. You (respected) are a student.
他是学生。 Tā shì xuésheng. He is a student.
她是学生。 Tā shì xuésheng. She is a student.
我们是学生。 Wǒmen shì xuésheng. We are students.
你们是学生。 Nǐmen shì xuésheng. You all are students.
他们是学生。 Tāmen shì xuésheng. They are students.

Vocabulary point:

xué is, on its own, a verb that means to study. Paired with the character 生 shēn it creates a new noun, student 学生 xuésheng.

1.04 Pronouns, the verb "to be", and the noun complement "teacher" and "business person".

我是老师。 Wǒ shì lǎoshī. I am a teacher.
你是商人。 Nǐ shì shāngrén. You are a business person.
您是老师。 Nín shì lǎoshī. You (respected) are a teacher.
他是商人。 Tā shì shāngrén. He is a business person.
她是老师。 Tā shì lǎoshī. She is a teacher.
我们是商人。 Wǒmen shì shāngrén. We are business people.
你们是老师。 Nǐmen shì lǎoshī. You all are teachers.
他们是商人。 Tāmen shì shāngrén. They are business people.

Vocabulary point:

lǎo means old, but that is not an exact translation, For starters, it is only used in referrence to people, never things. Secondly, it is often combined with other characters to make positions and titles of respect, such as 老师 lǎoshī teacher.

People often point out that 老 lǎo carries positive connotations that old does not carry in the West, but that too is a bit misleading. Since 老 lǎo refers only to people and never to things, we could translate it as senior, an English word that has both the meaning of "aged" as well as "having more authority".

1.04 Pronouns, the verb "to be", and the noun complements "man" and "woman"

Nǐ shì nánrén.
You are a man.
Nǐ shì nǚrén.
You are a woman.
Tā shì nánrén.
He is a man.
Tā shì nǚrén.
She is a woman.
Tāmen shì nánrén
They are men.
Tāmen shì nǚrén.
They are women.


You will often see Woman and mannán used on their own as abbreviations on restrooms, forms, etc.