Lesson Four: What do you do?

Lesson Four: What do you do?

Lesson four covers the topic of work and occupations. Using the examples in this lesson’s dialogue you will be able to form sentences to explain what you do and what you are doing in China. A list of major cities in China is also provided.

Conversation: 你做什么工作?

你做什么工作 ?

nǐ zuò shén me gōng zuò­?

What do you do?


wǒ shì liúxuéshēng.

I am a foreign student.


nǐ zài zhōng guó xué shén me?

What do you study in China?


wǒ xuéxí hànyǔ.

I am studying Mandarin.


nǎ nǐ hàn yǔ shuō de zěn me yàng?

Then how is your spoken Mandarin?

我说得一般, 我刚开始学汉语, 还不到一个月.

wǒ shuō de yì bān, wǒ gāng kāishǐ xué hàn yǔ hái bú dào yì gè yuè.

I speak so so, I am just starting to learn Mandarin and it hasn’t been a month yet.


tā men yě shì liúxuéshēng ma?

Are they also foreign students?

不, 他们是到中国旅游的.

bú, tāmen shì dào zhōngguó­ lǚ yóu de.

No, they are travelers.


nǐ men dōu­ qù guò zhōng guó­ de nǎ xiē chéng shì?

Which cities have you been to in China?

我们从西安刚来, 之前还去过重庆, 南京, 上海, 昆明和西藏.

wǒmen cóng xī ān gāng lai, zhī qián hái qù guò chóng qìng, nán jīng, shàng hǎi, kūn míng hé xī zàng.

We just came back from Xi’an, before that we also went to Chongqing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Kunming and Tibet.

New Words
哪些nǎ xiēpron. which? which ones? what?
zhèpron. this, here
留学生liúxuéshēngn. student studying abroad
yuèn. month, moon
城市chéng shìn. town, city
一般yì bān adj. alike, the same, just as; general, common, ordinary; so so; adv. the same as, similarly;
工作gōng zuòvb. work; n. work, job, employment
旅游lǚ yóuvb. tour, travel
làivb. to come, arrive
vb. study, learn, imitate; n. school institution of learning, level of schooling, study of, field of.
开始kāiishǐvb. start, begin, commence; n. beginning, start, outset
去过qù guò
vb. past tense
gāngadv. referring to something that is happening or about to happen, just, no more than
dōu­all, both; can also pronounced for capital city
adv.still, yet; (when making comparisons) even more, still more; also, too, in addition; rather, fairly;
不到bú dàobut not yet
mw. measure work for countable object
cóngprep. (used to indicate the starting point) from
之前zhī qiánprep. before, prior to..., in front of
(connects parallel expressions) and, together with you

Correct Usage

The word jiā also means a specialist in a certain field beside family, home or a person or family engaged in a certain profession as in 行家 háng jiā. A specialist in a certain field: 科学家 kē xué jiā = scientist 艺术家 yì shù jiā = artist.

The table below lists several occupations.

List of Occupations
老师lǎo shīteacher
工人­gōng rénworker
厨师chú shīcook or chef
翻译者­fān yì zhěinterpreter
售票员shòu piào yuánticket seller
警察jǐng chápolice
公司职员gōng sī zhí yuán­office worker
音乐家yīn yuè jiāmusician
作者zuó zhěwriter
画家huà jiāpainter
演员yǎn yuánactor

For even more occupations, see Free Chinese Lessons list of occupations.

Grammar Points

Sentences with

The conjunction connects pronouns and nouns. It doesn’t connect adjectives, verbs or sentences.

Nouns as attributives

A noun can be put before another noun as an attributive to indicate nature. For example,
你的朋友, 我的工作, 他的翻译者.

Measure word

It is characteristic in Chinese to add a specific measure word before a noun. For example,
这个月, 那个老师.


Read the following phrases and translate them into English.

  • 中国人
  • 中国老师
  • 你的朋友
  • 西藏人
  • 西安人
  • 南京人

This concludes lesson four. Remember to review the previous lessons. They will always help you with the current lesson. When you feel ready, let’s move on to the next lesson.


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    Jun 18, 2012 @ 08:12:22

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    • Xue Hao
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  8. Ku Ping
    Jan 15, 2014 @ 19:01:24

    I think the particle ‘de’ used in here should be the possessive form ‘de’ 的, used as an aspective modifier instead of the compliment ‘de’ 得, as shown on your page.
    不, 他们是到中国旅游得.


    • Xue Hao
      Jan 17, 2014 @ 16:26:43

      Thanks, Ku Ping. You are correct – we used the wrong ‘de’.

      We should probably have a lesson on the correct use of both words in the future. It’s a common mix-up foreigners who are used to writing in pinyin make.


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    May 22, 2014 @ 03:39:36

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    May 29, 2014 @ 10:19:28

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