20 Things You Should Be Able To Say To Kickstart Your Conversation Skills

essential

Learning the most commonly used elements of speech in the language you are trying to learn can put you miles ahead, and can make you seem far more competent than you actually are. Sure, looking at word lists for the most frequently used words can be helpful, but knowing how to use fundamental structures such as who, what, why etc is essential to any meaningful conversation.

Here is a list of 20 such things words and structures that you should focus on learning ASAP:

1) Who – Shuí  
Tā shì shúi? Shúi pèng le wǒ de shǒujī?
他是谁?谁碰了我的手机?
Who is he? Who touched my phone?
2) What – Shénme  
Zhè shì shénme dōngxi?
这是什么东西?
What is this?
3) Where – Nǎr
Cèsuǒ zàì nǎr?
厕所在哪儿?
Where’s the toilet?
4) When – Shénme shíhou  
Nǐ shénme shíhou lái de?
你什么时候来的?
When did you arrive?
5) Past tense – None in Chinese! Add le or guò depending on the context.
Wǒ mǎi le yī shuāng yùndòngxié.
我买了一双运动鞋。
I bought a pair of sports shoes.
6) How many – Duōshao 
Nǐ de xuéxiào yǒu duōshao xuésheng?
你的学校有多少学生?
How many students go to your school?
7) Why – Wèi shénme  
Tā wèi shénme nàme bèn?
他为什么那么笨?
Why is he so stupid?
8) Because – Yīnwèi
Yīnwèi wǒ xiǎng xuéxí Zhōngwén.
因为我想学习中文。
Because I want to study Chinese.
9) Therefore – Suǒyǐ  
Suǒyǐ, wǒ qù le mǎi zhè tái zhàoxiàngjī.
所以,我去了买这台照相机。
Therefore, I went to buy this camera.
10) To, by, with, from , for – Dào + Bèi + Gēn…yǐqǐ + Wèi le
Wèi le gěi nǐ zhè jiàn líwù, wǒ cóng xuéxiào gēn dìdi yǐqǐ dào le zhèr.
为了给你这件礼物,我从学校跟弟弟一起到了这儿。
In order to give you this present, I came here from school with my brother.
11) However – Shénme bànfǎ dōu kěyǐ
Nǐ xiǎng zhīdao zěnme zuò zhè ge gōngzuò? Yòng shénme bànfǎn dōu kěyǐ.
你想知道怎么做这个工作?用什么办法都可以。
You want to know how to do this work? However/whichever way is fine.
12) What kind – Nǎ zhǒng 
Zhè shì nǎ zhǒng diànnǎo?
这是哪种电脑?
What kind of computer is this?
13) Want to, plan to,hope to – Dǎsuàn
Wǒ dǎsuàn qù Zhōngguó.
我打算去中国。
I plan to go to China.
14) Which – Nǎ ge 
Nǐ xǐhuān nǎ tào fángzi?
你喜欢哪套房子。
Which apartment do you like?
15) Should, must, could – Yīnggāi
Nǐ yīnggāi chī diǎnr dōngxi!
你应该吃点儿东西!
You should eat something!
16) Even if – Nǎpà
Wǒ jīntiān bìxū zuò-wán zuòyè, nǎpà wǒ bù shuìjiào.
我今天必须做完作业,那怕我不睡觉。
Today I need to finish my homework, even if I don’t sleep.
17) Although – Suīrán…dànshì 
Suīrán zhè shì hěn zhòngyào de, dànshì wǒ bu xiǎng zuò.
虽然这是很重要的,但是我不想做。
Although this is very important, I don’t want to do it.
18) Try to – Chángshì
Wǒ yào chángshì yí xià dāng lǎobǎn.
我要尝试一下当老板。
I want to try to be the boss for a while.
19) It seems to me – Hǎoxiàng
Nǐmen dōu hǎoxiàng hĕn máng.
你们都好像很忙。
You all seem very busy.
20) For example – Bǐrú 
Wǒ xǐhuān hěn duō yùndòng, bǐrú lǎnqiú.
我喜欢很多运动,比如篮球。
I like lots of sports, for example, basketball.

There you are! Hope you enjoyed it.
I feel that a mastery of the above is extremely important, especially if you’re a beginner trying to push into the intermediate level.

Let me know if I missed any big ones, or if you have any other ideas!

Author: Dan

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