Peyton Manning vs. Justin Timberlake in a Ping-Pong Match (Beginner)

Peyton Manning vs. Justin Timberlake in a Ping-Pong Match (Beginner)

In the following Sony commercial, American pop musician and actor Justin Timberlake and Indianapolis Colts quarterback, Peyton Manning, square off in a ping-pong match and try out their Mandarin:

When Peyton Manning said, “我的中文也有进步 (Wǒ de Zhōngwén yě yǒu jìnbù) My Chinese has improved too,” Justin Timberlake said, “你的中文也就一般般 (Nǐ de Zhōngwén yě jiù yìbānbān) Your Mandarin is shaky at best.”

In fact, “一般般 (yìbānbān) just so-so” has different meanings when put in different contexts. First, when somebody praises you or things related to you, you reply with “一般般 (yìbānbān) just so-so” to show that you are modest. Second, when somebody asks your opinion about a particular thing, you use “一般般 (yìbānbān) just so-so” to show that you think that thing is plain.

“马马虎虎 (mǎmǎhūhū)” has the same meanings as “一般般 (yìbānbān) just so-so.” That is to say, you first use “马马虎虎 (mǎmǎhūhū)” to show your modesty when people praise you; then you use “马马虎虎 (mǎmǎhūhū)” to indicate that you think something isn’t a big deal. In spite of the two shared meanings, “马马虎虎 (mǎmǎhūhū)” has a third meaning which implies that the person you are referring to is careless.

生词 (shēngcí) Vocabulary

进步 (jìnbù): v make progress/ improve

“进 (jìn)” means to enter. “步 (bù)” means step.


Zhè xuéqī wǒ de Zhōngwén yǒu le hěndà de jìnbù.
这     学期 我 的    中文        有 了   很大 的 进步。
My Chinese improved a lot in this semester.

一般般 (yìbānbān): adj/adv just so-so

“一 (yī)” means one. “一般 (yìbān)” means ordinary or common. The second “般 (bān)” is used to emphasis the degree.

Example 1:

A: Wǒ tīngshuō nín de háizi xuéxí fēicháng hǎo.
我      听说    您 的 孩子 学习 非常        好。
I heard that your child is doing very well in school.

B: Nǎlǐ    nǎlǐ. Yìbānbān.
哪里 哪里。一般般。
You are flattering me. He is just so-so.

Example 2:

A: Nǐ juéde wǒ zhè tiáo xīn qúnzi zěnmeyàng?
你 觉得   我 这   条   新   裙子 怎么样?
What do you think of my new dress?

B: Wǒ juéde yìbānbān ba.
我 觉得    一般般    吧。
I think it’s just so-so.

马马虎虎 (mǎmǎhūhū): adj/ adv just so-so/ careless

“马 (mǎ)” means horse. “虎 (hǔ)” means tiger.

Example 1:

A: Nǐ   de xīn bǐjìběn diànnǎo kě zhēn piàoliang ya.
你 的 新 笔记本   电脑     可   真     漂亮     呀。
Your new laptop looks beautiful.

B: Xièxie. Yě jiù mǎmǎhūhū ba.
谢谢。也 就 马马虎虎    吧。
Thanks. It’s just so-so.

Example 2:

A: Nǐ juéde Tāngmǔ zhè rén zěnmeyàng?
你 觉得    汤姆     这 人    怎么样?
How do you think of Tom?

B: Zhège rén mǎmǎhūhū ba.
这个    人 马马虎虎     吧。
He is just so-so.

Example 3:

Lìlì   zuò shénme shìr dōu mǎmǎhūhū de.
莉莉 做    什么    事儿 都   马马虎虎    的。
Lily is careless about almost everything.

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