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  5. "中国人です。"


Translation:I am Chinese.

June 10, 2017



I'm the only one who finds it weird that "中国" is pronounced as "Naka" in the "What does this character sound like"-exercise even when the option given is ちゅうごく Is it a bug/glitch?


This is a good question! First, I have to tell you, unfortunately many Kanjis have not only 1 pronunciation, and they are no easy rules for foreigners when to use which pronunciation. "中" is pronounced as "なか" when it means "inside" or "middle" in this sense this Kanji is used independently. That's why if you only give "中" most Japanese tell you that is "なか." But "中国" is a word consisting of two Kanjis and pronounced as "ちゅうごく" in which we use the pronunciation "ちゅう" for "中" and "ごく" for "国." Even Japanese may find Kanjis complicated sometimes, so don't worry, keep going :)


Then why they use it?


Japanese has loads of homonyms - words that are written the same in Hiragana but have different meanings. The different Kanjis help to distinguish them on first glance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iF_sxD84b4


kind of like english, eh? Haha


Yeah but it's especially bad compared to english, kanji is also used because it helps identify individual words and makes sentences shorter to write.


I think a very very very loosey goosey rule is just:

  • If there are two kanji next to eachother you use the Chinese reading ( おんよみ )

  • if the kanji is by itself or attached to ひらがな you use the Japanese reading ( くんよみ )


Just the reason why I started to learn Chinese kanji. This is actually pretty awesome, only the pronunciation of this language is hell. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_-RVnm7WR4


But for example 場所 (ばしょ, place), the first kanji is a kun reading (ば, the on reading is ジョウ), and the second one is an on reading (ショ, the kun reading is ところ). But that´s just an exception.


3Rton The way Duo is set up it will only allow one pronunciation for when you hover over a word, and will also allow only one audio clip for the full sentence reading. The volunteers are working hard to get around this best they can but for Japanese Kanji it is an unavoidable complication. Also, the lesson notes explain a bit about Kanji readings but not much sadly.


Hi! I'd been studying Japanese and my sensei once told me that China is written whith the "inside" (naka) kanji because the country is in the continent, different from Japan that is an island


Just a theory but i think "zhongguo" means center of the world.


Agreed, comment from native Chinese championing you


It will help you tremendously to turn the furigana spellings on for the kanji I think.. that's what I do (gear wheel setting and second option I believe). This way you get hiragana/katakana spellings over the kanji to give you spelling and more context...


I hear it as chuugoku


In fact, a Chinese version of this sentence "我是中国人 - wǒ shì zhōng guó rén - I be chinese person" is much closer to English than Japanese one.


Yes, at least Chinese is of S-V-O (subject-verb-object) structure, while Japanese belongs to S-O-V languages. Such difference is one of the reason why it's hard for Japanese to learn English.


Without context this translates into literally "Chinese" (jin meaning person so Chinese person as opposed to Chinese language). But "desu" does not tranlsate into "I am" because every sentence in Japanese ends with "desu" because its a verbal way of expressing a period in a sentence, not "I am". The "I am Chinese" is more of a sloppy/casual way of saying I am Chinese. It should be "watashi wa chyugoku jin desu" -- which translates into I am Chinese. Watashi meaning Yourself or I am.


Sorry, that's not correct, desu means "is/am". The sentence is literally "is Chinese (person)". Watashi is often omitted in Japanese.


Nope. It is easy for beginners to remember "desu" as "am/are/is". But that is not entirely accurate. See for instance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYr0P_JT7HY
(Great channel for beginners of Japanese, btw.)


I was led to understand that Japanese often drops the subject when it can be implied.


For example, someone could be asking someone else what nationality their friend or teacher or coworker or anyone other than themselves is, and their friend could be responding "Chyugoku jin desu." Which would not mean I am Chinese it just means Chinese (person).


I am pretty sure ppl can understand that even if it is grammatically wrong.


Oh thank you so much for this explanation! I'm just starting to learn Japanese but 'desu' always seemed like 'I am/am' to me. I thought it was the most logical for what it stands for. But I guess I need to turn off that thinking as it's a different language and some parts just don't have their equivalent in English.


According to what I learned so far and also to one of the comments here, "desu" -can- be loosely translated to am/is/are. Japanese uses context a lot, so the subject of a sentence is often not mentioned.

Default context is the speaker him/herself, so "nihon jin desu" literally means "Japanese person (I) AM".

If you add a subject/topic the sentence becomes: "Tanaka san wa nihon jin desu" which means "Mr. Tanaka Japanese person IS". The "wa" acts as the subject/topic marker.

If the speakers have been talking about Mr Tanaka all along, the sentence can be shortened back to "nihon jin desu" and it will mean "He Japanese IS," with the He referring to Mr Tanaka, the topic of the conversation.

Hope this helps.


Very interesting stuff. Can someone break down the kanji for "Chinese" in this sentence? :)

Is the first one (naka) the symbol for "middle"? As in "middle kingdom"? (It kind of looks like something split down the "middle")


Sorry in advance if if I may confuse you adding Chinese to this post, but since you asked for a break down, I thought it fit. If you find yourself confused, just ignore the Chinese pinyin.

  1. According to Chinese etymology, the hànzi/kanji 中 [zhōng in Chinese; なか or ちゅう in Japanese], comes from the pictogram for a flagpole and a drum in the center of a field.

    Among other things, it indeed means middle, center.

  2. The hànzi/kanji 国 [guó in Chinese; ごく or くに in Japanese] has the character for jade or precious gem representing the emperor enclosed by the character proud, upright.

    It is very similar to the character 王 [wáng in Chinese; おう in Japanese] meaning king: horizontal strokes mean heaven, man and earth, the vertical stroke is the king himself; but they are actually unrelated characters. You can use that to remember the character, even though they're unrelated.

    Among other things, it means region, country, kingdom.

  3. The hànzi/kanji 人 [rén in Chinese; ひと、じん or にん in Japanese] depicts the side view of a standing man.

    It means man, person, people.

Finally, 中国人 [zhōngguòrén in Chinese; ちゅうごくじん in Japanese] mean Chinese when referring to a person.


Thank you! This makes sense


How does the sentence imply that whoever is speaking it is talking about himself/herself? There isn't a first person pronoun in the sentence nor or there second or third person pronouns.

How is it "I am Chinese" instead of "He is Chinese" or "She is Chinese"?


It's implied. It's like when in English you say something like: "Ever since being able to speak English, many opportunities and new doors were opened" The subject here is you, but see how it's never expressed. And as you could say "Me/he/she being able to speak English has opened me/him/her a lot of new doors" in English, in Japanese you can do the same by adding the subject (or topic) and making it explicit.


It is common in Japanese to omit the subject if it's yourself, as it is the default assumption. They omit the subject even if it's not yourself and has been established. If you always marked yourself with watashi over and over for each sentence, such wording would seem excessive and perhaps a bit self-centered.


On the "What sound does this make" exercise, it presented me with "中" and pronounced it "なか", but that wasn't an option. The "correct" option was "ちゆう” (which is the pronunciation we learned in-lesson, and was available). Just think it is support misleading.

Bug reported but none of the bug reporting options seemed to fit, either...


It's not a bug. It's a limitation of The Incubator. (the part of Duo where volunteers make/edit courses) The way Duo is set up it will only allow one pronunciation for when you hover over a word, and will also allow only one audio clip for the full sentence reading. The volunteers are working hard to get around this limitation best they can but for Japanese Kanji which have multiple readings it is an unavoidable complication. Also, the lesson notes explain a bit about how Kanji have multiple readings but not much sadly.


How does this differ from "I am from China"?


The same way that "I am from China" and "I am Chinese" differ in English, not much. It's just another way to say it.


"China-person I am" ;)


中国人です。- I am Chinese (*Rough transliteration - China person)

-- An indirect way of saying that you naturally align your nationality/citizenship to China.

中国しゅっしんです。(Also can be written as 中国出身です。) - I am FROM China (*Rough transliteration - China, the origin.)

-- An indirect way of saying that you're from China, and that's it. Being someone who came from China, doesn't necessarily make them Chinese, don't you think?


I know this is pretty off topic, but how do you write the kanjis? In comments?


Well, you have a few options. More so if you're using the desktop version of Duolingo rather than the mobile one.

  1. You can download a app/program that allows you to write out the Kanji shape and then copy/paste it, or perhaps name the first few letters for it and it list Kanji for you.
  2. If you know the word it translates to, you can go to Google Translate and plug the word in to have Google translate it into a Kanji, although you should look at the other options listed too to make sure you use the right version of the Kanji.
  3. If on Windows 10 desktop (and certain other platforms) you can set your computer to use a virtual Japanese keyboard in addition to your default one.
  4. Use this site if you know the beginning pronunciation for the Kanji (not sure how well it works on mobile, sorry) https://www.lexilogos.com/keyboard/japanese.php

For me personally I have my computer using Miscrosoft IME to do Japanese typing, although I sometimes use Lex when I forget I have IME.


So do sentences not have spaces between the words?


rolosrevenge There aren't any spaces in Japanese. (at least, not normally) There isn't a need for that due to the use of Kanji, but that's a bit advanced of a topic at this point in the course.

Also what does it mean to be a Duolingo Insider, if I may ask? Your profile picture indicates such status. Just curious as I've never seen it before in the comments.

EDIT: Never mind, got my answer here: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/27368695/Announcing-a-new-GA-branch-Duolingo-Insiders


Honestly we need the literal translations, learning becomes so much easier when you can see how sentences are made


中国人です 中国 = China, 人 = person/people, です = am/is "China person (I) am". The topic is omitted here, which is common in Japanese. If you need to establish the topic, it would go at the beginning of the sentence.

The sentence structure is Subject Object Verb, or SOV. (私は)中国人です, or 'Watashi wa Chū goku jin desu'. ("su" is usually devoiced to just "s" if at the end of a sentence)

The topic is context sensitive when omitted , so literally this could mean I/You/He/She/Them depending on what you were just talking about.


English needs article before noun. It should be " I am a Chinese."


In English you would use an article before a noun, but not if before an adjective. The "-ese" ending nationalities are typically used as adjectives, not nouns.
So you can be "a chinese man/woman/person" but not just "a Chinese"



i wrote "I am Chinese." but it says that im wrong!!


出 this made a で sound why and what does it mean


出 is the kanji for "leave, exit"
で is the kun-yomi (Native Japanese reading) of 出 used in many instances.
(しゅう as in 出身 is the on-yomi, Sino-Japanese reading, common in compound words)
It is pronounced で when used as a noun/suffix meaning "coming out, going out, attending, starting"
As well as in many verbs:
出る・でる "to leave, to exit"
出かける・でかける "to go out (on an excursion)"
出来る・できる "to be able to do"
出会う・であう "to come across, meet (by chance)"
and in some compounds 出口・でぐち "Exit" (noun), 出鱈目・でたらめ "nonsense"

When you isolate a kanji the TTS doesn't know what context that kanji is meant to be used in so it picks a random reading, generally the most common reading for when that kanji is by itself.


I have a question about writing, i saw some people type "中国語" instead of "中国人" and thought translation both means Chinese so is there any different situations to use both?


人 means "person" and is the suffix for nationalities
中国人 - Chinese (China - person)

語 means "language" and is the suffix for languages
中国語 - Chinese (China - language)

You would be 中国人 Chinese, and speak 中国語 Chinese


Duolingo has taught me in an earlier lesson that 「くろいねこです」means "It's a black cat" Now when it shows me 「中国人です」 it wants me to put "I am Chinese" It seems ambiguous now whether the former Japanese sentence could actually mean "I am a black cat" or whether the latter could mean "It's a Chinese person" (which is graded as incorrect) Can anyone help? Are these sentences actually ambiguous?


How do I say "I am from Sweden" ?


"Sweden" is taught in the Katakana skills


I don't know how I'm supposed to answer a question that says, "~to be from" and write "I am Chinese." I haven’t memorized the symbols! I don't know anything!



中国 is China, and 中国人 is Chinese. This is the topic in this sentence.

です (literally "to be", or "is/am") shows that the subject is 中国人.

The subject is not established in this sentence, because it is omitted. In English, we have similar sentences such as "Want a drink?" where we leave out the "Do you want a drink?". In Japanese, it is perhaps more common to omit things than in English, as long as the context allows it.

Thus the sentence looks something like this in English: "Chinese, (I) am", which we can make more natural as "I am Chinese".


i don't see 私わ i can more likely use this sentence to tell someone he is chinese ’’中国人です’’ or i'm wrong ?


It is common in Japanese to omit the subject if it's yourself, as it is the default assumption. Even if the subject isn't yourself, once it's been established you can usually leave it out for future sentences until you need a new subject. If you always marked yourself with 私 over and over for each sentence, such wording would seem excessive and perhaps a bit self-centered. If you wanted to say, "You are Chinese" instead of yourself, use あなたは [anata wa - you]. This would change the context to allow an understanding that we are talking about you now, and the same rules apply. The full sentence would be あなたは中国人です [anata wa chūgokujin desu - You are Chinese]


What desu at the end of the sentence stays for?


it is a verb: "I am.../ You are.../ He, She, It is..." Add "ka" to the end and it's "Am I...?/Is he, she, it...?/Are you...?"


It's too close to じごく (or 地獄) which means hell. Maybe that's cause of tense relations in the past?


Not at all, rather the opposite. It is a Chinese loan word. As the Kanji came from China, they brought their Chinese pronunciation along, "zhong guo" (the o in zhong is pronounced oo), which became ちゅうごく in Japanese.


is it wrong to translate this one as "you are chinese"?


Yes. It is common in Japanese to omit the subject if it's yourself, as it is the default assumption. If you always marked yourself with 私 (watashi) over and over for each sentence, such wording would seem excessive and perhaps a bit self-centered. If you wanted to say, "You are Chinese" instead of yourself, use あなたは [anata wa - you]. The full sentence would be あなたは中国人です [anata wa chūgokujin desu - You are Chinese]

EDIT: Actually, if you had established that the subject is the other person already in a prior sentence, it would be correct to just say 中国人です. Given that we only have the simple phrase to go off of though, the default assumption is still that you're referring to yourself.

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