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Introduction | Episodes |

29 Eating fast food 吃快餐

Hi everyone, 欢迎收看今天的成长汉语. Thanks for joining us today for another episode of Growing up with Chinese.

Our show aims to help all of you learn some basic Chinese, through the adventures of 小明, a local 北京 high school student, and Mike, an exchange student who is living with 小明. And apart from language study, we also aim to introduce various aspects of Chinese culture, history and everyday life. So you have a context for what’s you’re learning.

Now today we’re going to be wrapping up our sequence on 后海. Mike, 兰兰 and 小明 have to be getting pretty tired by now. Now what is the final part of their 后海 trip have in store for them? Well, let’s check in with them, and find out.




After everything they’ve done so far I would be starving too. Lunch look pretty good. OK, let’s go over what they said.

兰兰, 我快饿死了, 咱们去买点儿吃的吧. 兰兰 I’m about to die from hunger. Let’s go get something to eat, OK? 我快饿死了. Now there are two language points in this phrase, so I won’t get into them just yet. But to break this phrase down, 快 is almost. 饿 is to be hungry and 死 means die. I’m about to die from hunger. 吃的 refers to food, things to eat. 买点吃的. Buy some things to eat.


我现在什么都想吃. Right now, I want to eat everything. 什么都想吃 is want to eat anything and everything. 小明 is definitely starving.

烤鸭 roast duck. 羊肉串 lamb skewers*1. 红烧鱼 fish braised in red sauce. I think I’m drooling*2.

And 兰兰’s reply to 小明’s list of food is 做梦吧 you’re dreaming, right? 梦 is on its own is the noun dream. 做梦 is to dream.


我一会儿还有钢琴课, 咱们吃点儿简单的吧? I’ve got a piano lesson in a bit, let’s eat something simple, OK? 钢琴课 is piano lesson, 简单 is simple. So 吃点简单的 eat something simple.

那边有卖汉堡的, 咱们边走边吃, 怎么样? There is a place that sells burgers over there. Let’s walk and eat at the same time, OK? 汉堡 is burger or hamburger kind of sounds like the English doesn’t it. 边走边吃. Walk and eat at the same time. “怎么样?” is how about it? Is it OK?


我要三个鸡腿堡, 三杯可乐. I would like three chicken leg burgers and three glasses of cola. 鸡腿 is chicken leg. At a 堡, to the end and you get, chicken leg burgers 鸡腿堡. 杯 is the measure word for drink like glass. 三杯可乐 three glasses of cola.


All right. That’s just about wraps up today’s general overview of the dialogue, now it’s time to get into some specifics.

Well we’ve got a nice collection of vocabulary words to go over today, so let’s take a look at them right now.

  • 饿 hungry. è
  • 做梦 to dream. zuò mèng
  • 钢琴课 piano lessons. gāng qíng kè
  • 餐巾纸 paper napkin. cān jīn zhǐ
  • 咖啡屋 coffee house. kā fēi wū
  • 简单 easy, simple. jiǎn dān

Our radical for the day comes from one of our vocabulary words and the word is 饿 hungry. OK, so let’s take a look at the hungry word or food radical.

Here we have a food radical. Actually, this radical comes from the character food which looks like this, it doesn’t look quite right does it, here we go.

食. This means food. And this turned into this as a radical so that’s our food radical.

饿 looks like this. This is the character for hungry. Now, here’s some more examples of characters that use the food radical. 饭 cooked rice, a meal. 馆 shop, hall or restaurant. 饮 drink or drinks.


I’m hungry! And it’s just as well*3, because today we are spotlighting eating customs. Yes, we have talked about some eating customs before, but seeing as*4 eating is such an important part of everyday life, we thought it might be good to cover it, just cover it some more, especially because habits and manners vary so greatly from culture to culture.

Now in the United States we have something we call “finger food.” It isn’t a specific dish or food but rather it’s a term we use to refer to any kind of food that can be picked up with one’s fingers and eaten.

Now in China, finger should be used sparingly*5 where food is concerned. It’s not very polite to touch your food with your fingers. Chopsticks, when you know how to use them well, can pretty much take the place of fingers no matter what the food may be.

For example. I might use my fingers to take fish bones out of my mouth if I was eating fish in the United States. But in China, while some people might use their fingers at home, most of the time people who use their chopsticks to deal with bones. It’s just not really considered polite to put your fingers in your mouth.

So, what happens when you’re eating a burger? Well, nine times out of ten, if you look at someone here eating a burger, they will hold it in its paper wrapping. Hands are nicely avoided. So avoid hands if you can, even when you’re dealing with bones.


OK, it’s time for some language point discussion. And let’s start with 快 something something 了.

快 on its own means soon or before long, can mean this. So this pattern suggests that something is about to happen soon. 我快饿死了. I’m about to die from hunger. 快下雨了. It’s about to rain, or it’s going to rain soon. 她快到了. She is about to arrive, or should be here soon. Let’s look at some more examples.

  • 快下雨了。我没带伞,你带了吗?/我也没带。
  • 快12点了,你怎么还在看电视?/妈,让我再看一集,看完就睡。

边 something 边 something else or 一边 something 一边 something else. This pattern implies that two actions take place at the same time. 边走边吃. To eat and walk at the same time. 边想边写. To think and write at the same time. 一边吃一边看电视. To eat and watch TV at the same time. Pretty straightforward, no?

  • 我喜欢边吃饭边看电视。/这是个坏习惯。
  • 你看,这个人边打手机边开车。/太危险了!

We went over 得 last time. But it’s in our dialogue today, so we’re going to go over it once more. 得 functions as a complement marker. It connects a complement that expresses degree or a result. So the pattern looks like this: adjective or verb + 得 + complement. 我吃得很饱. I 我, 吃 to eat, 得 很饱 very full. I’m very full.

Now if you want to speak in the negative, 不 is added after 得. 我吃得不饱. I’m not full. 他跑得不快. He doesn’t run quickly. 兰兰唱得很好. 兰兰 sings very well. 兰兰唱得不好. 兰兰 doesn’t sing well. Let’s look at some more 得 examples.

  • 说慢点儿,你说得太快了,我没听清楚。/好的,我再说一遍。
  • Mike,你汉语说得真好!/谢谢。

All right that brings us to the end of today’s show, I hope you all enjoyed it. Now before we end, I want to answer a question that was sent in to us by John from Texas in the United States. Now, his letter says:

“Does China only use Celsius or do you sometimes see Fahrenheit used?”

Well John, China uses the metric system and they do only use Celsius where temperature is involved.

Now when I was growing up in China, I used to spend my summers back in the States, so, as a result I really got used to doing temperatures for winter in Celsius and temperatures for summer in Fahrenheit, as Fahrenheit is what we use in America. And I can still get confused sometimes.

But I have to say, it’s good to know both because you never know where you might end up*6 and which system the country you are in might use.

OK, thanks for your letter John and everyone else please feel free to send us your questions or comments through our website. Time for you all take a break and I’ll take one too. 大家, 加油. Good luck with your Chinese studies everybody, I’ll see you next time. 再见.

*1:skewer 串に刺す

*2:drool よだれを垂らす

*3:just as well ちょうどよい

*4:seeing as 〜なので

*5:sparingly 控えめに

*6:end up 最後は〜に行き着く