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Answers to the Exercises on Is There Any Difference between “哪里(nǎlǐ)” and “哪儿(nǎr)”?

Dec. 1, 2014

Answer: C

Just as in other languages, Chinese people Talk like a native Chinese speaker using Erhua. Take a FREE 1-on-1 onliput their own local touch on their language. If you listen to them carefully, you will find that for some words, people pronounce them by adding an “r” sound to the end. This can be heard in words such as “一点儿(yì diǎnr),” “一会儿(yí huìr),” “那儿(nàr),” “花儿(huār),” etc.

In fact, this is an usual phenomenon of pronunciation in spoken Chinese which is called Erhua, or Erhuayin. In this situation, “儿(ér)” is generally not used as an independent part of the whole word, it is just used as a suffix, making the pronunciation of the entire word change but without changing the word’s meaning.

As a common occurrence appearing in spoken Chinese, expect to hear words like “花儿(huār) flower,” “小鸟儿(xiǎoniǎor) little bird,” “小孩儿(xiǎo háir) child,” “玩儿(wánr) play”, “这儿(zhèr) here,” “那儿(nàr) there,” and so on.

When it comes to using Erhua, be sure to pay attention to the following two tips:

Firstly, if we add “儿(ér)” to words like those mentioned above, the “ér” can only add retroflexion to the pronunciation of the whole word, the goal of which is to make pronunciation more convenient.

Second, “儿(ér)” itself has no actual meaning, and it usually will not change the meaning of the word.

Examples

Nǐ shì shéi jiā de xiǎoháir ya?
你 是  谁    家 的 小女孩儿    呀?
Who are your parents?

Mary:   Nǐ tuìxiū yǐhòu dǎsuàn zuò shénme?
Mary:你 退休   以后  打算      做   什么?
Mary: What are you going to do after you retire?

Zhānɡ Wěi: Wǒ xiǎng yǎng huār, yǎng niǎor.
张 伟:        我  想      养      花儿、养   鸟儿。
Zhang Wei: I want to grow flowers and raise birds.

Besides the usage of “儿(ér)” as Erhuayin, there do exist some words such as “女儿(nǚ’ér) daughter” and “宠儿(chǒnɡ’ér) favorite” where “儿(ér)” is used at the end of the word in order to create a new word. Here, “儿(ér)” is a necessary and independent part of the whole word to form a new meaning.

Example

Nà gè chuān hóng yīfu  de nǚháir shì nǐ nǚ’ér ma?
那 个    穿       红     衣服 的 女孩儿 是 你 女儿 吗?
Is the girl wearing red your daughter?

In our test, both “那里(nàlǐ)” and “那儿(nàr)” mean “there” and both “花(huā)” and “花儿(huār)” share the same meaning of “flower.” However, “女孩(nǚhái)” refers to “girl” and “女儿(nǚ’ér)” means “daughter.” So the correct answer is C.

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