Ni hao has almost become common sense today: It means Hello in Chinese. But it is also a perfect example to showcase different sentence types in Chinese. That’s why I decided to use nihao to introduce our blueprint method to learn Chinese efficiently.
What does nihao actually mean?
If you have read my blog Hello in Chinese, you probably would know that nihao literally means: you good. Simple and direct.
I did some research and found out the first time “nihao” appeared in Chinese is the time between 1736 – 1765. (If you can read and understand Chinese, Zhihu has an interesting post about it.) And the first time the person used it meant it as a question: “you (are) good, right?”. So it’s much closer to the English expression “How are you?”.
Today people use it to greet each other without the hidden question. Hence, there is a hidden meaning I wish you good behind it. So this raises the next question:
What does ni hao ma mean?
As mentioned, people had the intention of asking “How are you?” when they meet. And adding a “ma” behind nihao makes it to a question: How are you.
And this raises the next question, again:
How do you answer to nihao and nihao ma?
First, the answer to nihao is also nihao, just like the answer to Hello is also Hello.
Now, the answer to nihao ma (or ni hao ma) is also similar. You answer with wo hen hao, which means I’m fine.
And I think it’s the perfect time to introduce the blueprint: 28 ways of expressions in Chinese. Using this, you will be able to form almost every kind of sentence, without doubting if the sentence is correct.
How nihao, nihao ma, and wo hen hao build the first blueprint together.
If you now understand that nihao (you good) actually stands for I wish you good, the structure becomes more clear. Unfortunately, this is not a common expression in Chinese. Whenever needed, people use the
How does the blueprint generally work?
In English, you first learn the alphabet, and then vocabulary, then grammar to form sentences. For those whose native languages are close to English, such as German, French, Spanish, etc., it is not necessary to learn special rules of how to ask a question. When I learned German, I understood it’s the same as in English.
However, if the language is not very close to English, forming sentences works entirely differently. Putting “Do” at the beginning of a sentence is not always part of grammar, but it’s essential for correct usage in English.
In Chinese, you don’t have grammar in this sense. There is no tense, no cases (I or me, he or him), nothing that you would consider as grammar. But this doesn’t mean the Chinese language has no rules to form sentences. After six years of gathering and researching, I have developed a formula that covers almost all kinds of common expressions. Since they are 28 altogether, I call them the blueprint for the Chinese language. You can use them as a layout to form any sentences you want.
There are 4 general types of sentences:
Such as – This is a statement.
Such as – Is this a question?
Such as – Learn it, now!
Exclamations. We call them Wow Sentences.
Such as – What a beautiful day!
There are 16 types of statement sentences, they are:
- Does Sentences
I eat apples.
- Does not Sentences
I don’t eat apples.
- Be Sentences
- Not be Sentences
- Very Sentences
- Not very Sentences
- Not at all Sentences
- Want Sentences
- Not want Sentences
- Did Sentences
- Didn’t Sentences
- Have Sentences
- Not have Sentences
- Compare Sentences
- Active Sentences
- Passive Sentences
There are 12 types of questions, they are:
- Yes / No Questions: (ma)
- Who Questions: (ne)
- What Questions: (ne)
- When Questions: (ne)
- Where Questions: (ne)
- Why Questions: (ne)
- Which Questions: (ne)
- How Questions: (ne)
- A – not – A Questions: (ne)
- A – not B Questions: (ne)
- How come Questions: (ne)
- How about Questions: (ne)
There are 3 types of order sentences, they are:
- Do (ba!)
- Active Order:
There are 4 types of order sentences, they are:
- Too (le) (la)
- Many (a)
- True (a) (ya)
Good (a) (ya)