Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsVictor Kengo Umeuchi: "Zhānglǎoshī", I bring some pictures of my favourite. Do you know him?

Skip to 0 minutes and 16 secondsZHANG Yanli: Yeah. Tā shì Qiáobùsī.

Skip to 0 minutes and 19 secondsVictor Kengo Umeuchi: Nà, lǎoshī, tā shì nǎguórén?

Skip to 0 minutes and 21 secondsZHANG Yanli: Tā shì Měiguórén.

Skip to 0 minutes and 26 seconds"guó" means "country", such as "Zhōngguó","Měiguó", "Yīngguó", "Hánguó".

Skip to 0 minutes and 36 secondsBut not every country's name has to include the character "guó", sometimes it can be omitted. For example, "Rìběn", "Yìndù".

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 secondsWhen we put "rén" after a country's name, it then refers to the people of this country, such as "Zhōngguórén", "Měiguórén", "Yīngguórén", "Hánguórén".

Skip to 1 minute and 7 secondsIn the question "Tā shì nǎguórén?", "nǎ" means "which". So "nǎguórén" is used to ask someone's nationality. Let's do some practice. Tā shì nǎguórén? Tā shì Zhōngguórén. Tā shì nǎguórén? Tā shì Měiguórén. Nǐ shì nǎguórén?

Skip to 1 minute and 38 secondsVictor Kengo Umeuchi: "Zhānglǎoshī", here's a couple. Do you know them?

Skip to 1 minute and 44 secondsZHANG Yanli: Bù, wǒ bù zhīdào

Skip to 1 minute and 46 secondsVictor-Kengo Umeuchi: They are my dearest in the world.

Skip to 1 minute and 49 secondsZHANG Yanli: Are they your parents?

Skip to 1 minute and 50 secondsVictor-Kengo Umeuchi: Yeah.

Skip to 1 minute and 51 secondsZHANG Yanli: Nǐbàba shì Rìběnrén ma?

Skip to 1 minute and 52 secondsVictor Kengo Umeuchi: Duì,tā shì Rìběnrén.

Skip to 1 minute and 52 secondsZHANG Yanli: Nǐmāma shì Fǎguórén ma?

Skip to 1 minute and 52 secondsVictor Kengo Umeuchi: Bù, tā shì éluósīrén.

Skip to 2 minutes and 2 secondsZHANG Yanli: Oh. Did you notice that those questions all ended with the word "ma"? When "ma" is added to the end of a declarative sentence, the sentence becomes a question and the "ma" is a question marker used for a general yes or no question. For example, "Nǐ shì Zhōngguórén ma?" The answer to the question with "ma" can be affirmative or negative. If the answer is affirmative, we say "shì/duì". "Duì" just means "correct" or "right", which is more casual. For example, "Duì, wǒ shì Zhōngguórén."

Skip to 2 minutes and 51 secondsIf the answer is negative we say, "bù". For example, "Bù, wǒ búshì Zhōngguórén."

Skip to 3 minutes and 2 secondsNow let's answer the questions. Nǐ shì lǎoshī ma? Nǐ shì Měiguórén ma?

Skip to 3 minutes and 10 secondsVictor Kengo Umeuchi: Zhānglǎoshī, nín shì Shànghǎirén ma?

Skip to 3 minutes and 11 secondsZHANG Yanli: Bù, wǒ búshì Shànghǎirén.

Skip to 3 minutes and 18 secondsVictor Kengo Umeuchi: Nà nín shì nǎlirén?

Skip to 3 minutes and 20 secondsZHANG Yanli: Wǒshì Lánzhōurén. Lanzhou is the capital of Gansu Privince, which is situated along the Silk Road. Do you notice that the answers for "Nǐ shì nǎguórén?" and "Nǐ shì nǎlirén?" are different? When Jiànwǔ asked me, "Nǐ shì nǎlirén?" I answered with my hometown, "Wǒ shì Lánzhōurén." So if you have known somebody's nationality, and you want to know his or her hometown, you may say, "Nǐ shì nǎlǐrén?"

Skip to 3 minutes and 58 secondsDo you still remember the other two Chinese teachers? If you want to know their nationalities and hometowns you may just say, "Nǐ shì nǎguórén?" "Nǐ shì nǎlǐrén?"

How to ask someone’s nationality

Speaking about citizenship is part of self-introduction. First, let’s take a look at the following words about countries and citizenship.

audio

“你是哪国人?(Nǐ shì nǎ guó rén?)” is used for asking someone’s nationality. “哪(nǎ)” means “which.” “国(guó)” means “country.” “人(rén)” refers to “people.”

Here is an example of how to answer this question.

  • 你是哪国人? (Nǐ shì nǎ guó rén?)
  • 我是中国人。(Wǒ shì Zhōngguó rén.)

If you have known somebody’s nationality and you want to know his or her hometown, you may ask “你是哪里人?(Nǐ shì nǎli rén?)”.

  • 你是哪里人? (Nǐ shì nǎli rén?)
  • 我是北京人。 (Wǒ shì Běijīng rén.)

“你是北京人吗? (Nǐ shì Běijīng rén ma?)” is a general yes/no question. “吗(ma)” is a question marker for this kind of question.

If the answer is affirmative, we say “是(shì)/对(duì)”, “对(duì)” just means “correct” or “right” which is more casual sometimes. If the answer is negative, we say “不(bù)”.

If you still have any difficulties about speaking your country and citizenship, please let us know by giving us comments.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Introduction to Chinese: Conversation

Shanghai International Studies University (SISU)

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: