Mandarin Grammar

Make a Phone Call

Learning Objectives

  • Learn how to talk about weather in Mandarin Chinese.

Learning Video

Additional Notes

When you are calling or answering a call over phone, what do you say in Mandarin?


You can say " 喂, wéi ", it means "Hello".


However, be careful you should pronounce " 喂, wéi " in an up tone. If you pronounce " 喂, wéi " in a down tone, it might make your phone-call receiver feels that you’re angry with your receiver.


After your phone call getting connected, you can say: "你在干嘛呢, nǐ zài gàn má ne?" (What are you doing?).


In Mandarin, you can say:

你在干嘛呢?

nǐ zài gàn má ne?

What are you doing?


"你在干嘛呢, nǐ zài gàn má ne?" is an informal but common way to say "What are you doing?"

  • " nǐ " means you

  • "在...呢, zài... ne" is a structure used to indicate an action is in progress

  • "干嘛, gàn má" is a verb-object form, literally means "do what".


How do you respond when a person says, " What are you doing ? ”


You can reply using "在...呢, zài... ne" phase.


A grammatical structure is as follows:

Subject + "在, zài" + verb-object form + "呢, ne"

(主语 + 在 + 动词宾语词组 + 呢)


In this structure, the Subject can be "我 (I)", "我们 (we)", "他 (he)", etc.


Let’s take more examples. 


If you are watching TV while receiving a call, you can say

我在看电视呢。

wǒ zài kàn diàn shì ne。


If he is making a phone call, you can say

他在打电话呢。

tā zài dǎ diàn huà ne.


If we are eating Chinese food, you can say

我们在吃中国菜呢。

wǒ men zài chī zhōng guó cài ne.