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:


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


wǒ zài kàn diàn shì ne。

If he is making a phone call, you can say


tā zài dǎ diàn huà ne.

If we are eating Chinese food, you can say


wǒ men zài chī zhōng guó cài ne.