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早点 (zǎodiǎn) – What Do These Signs Mean? (Elementary)

Apr. 24, 2013

Two months ago Jack arrived in China for business. He loves learning Chinese; however, he only studied the language briefly before leaving for China. What will happen to him with such limited Chinese knowledge? Let’s take a look.

Jack lives near his company, so he decides to go to work every morning by foot. By walking, Jack can see many of the sights that the town has to offer. One thing he sees every day is signs reading “早点 (zǎodiǎn)” that stand in front of shops and stalls along the street. Jack thinks the signs call people’s attention to get up early for work. Because of this, Jack thinks that the Chinese people are very diligent and hardworking.

One afternoon, while chatting with a friend, he mentions this discovery.

           Zhōngguó rén zhēn qínkuai.
Jack:中国           人    真     勤快。

 

           Chinese are really hard-working.

           Wèishénme zhème shuō?
Ruth:为什么           这么    说?

 

           Why do you say so?

           Měige dìfang dōu yǒu “zǎodiǎn.”
Jack:每个     地方    都   有    “早点”。

 

           Everywhere on the street there are signs saying “early.”

His friend was quite surprised because, as a Chinese person, she knows that the “早点 (zǎodiǎn)” in front of  shops and stalls actually means “breakfast.” Even little children understand these signs, but for foreigners they can be confusing. Let’s look at a more thorough explanation of the word “早点 (zǎodiǎn).”

早点 (zǎodiǎn) has two meanings in Chinese. Firstly, it means “early,” as in early in the day. However, 早点 (zǎodiǎn) can also mean “breakfast,” being a combination of  早上 (zǎoshang), “morning,” and  点心 (diǎnxin), “dim sum.” 早点 (zǎodiǎn) isn’t just dim sum, though; it refers to anything you might eat in the morning. 早点 (zǎodiǎn) has the same meaning as 早餐 (zǎocān), which is a more typical word for “breakfast.”

Examples:

1. 早点 (zǎodiǎn): breakfast, has the same meaning as 早餐 (zǎocān)

Jīntiān de zǎodiǎn hěn hǎochī.
今天    的   早点     很    好吃。

 

Today’s breakfast is delicious.

Zǎocān hěn zhòngyào.
早餐      很      重要。

 

Breakfast is very important.

2. 早点 (zǎodiǎn): early

Míngtiān zǎodiǎn lái.
明天         早点    来。

 

Come early tomorrow.

Jīnwǎn zǎodiǎn shuì.
今晚       早点    睡。

 

Go to bed early tonight.

Can you use it properly now? Early in the morning, what will you have for breakfast?

Exercises:

1. What’s the meaning of the sentence “下午早点回家吃饭。(Xiàwǔ zǎodiǎn huíjiā chīfàn.)?”_________

A. Bring your breakfast home this afternoon.

B. Go home early this afternoon for dinner.

C. Go home with your breakfast this afternoon.

2. Which of the following means “to have breakfast?”________

A. 过来吃早点。(Guòlai chī zǎodiǎn.)

B. 明天早点过来。(Míngtiān zǎodiǎn guòlai.)

C. 下午早点回来。(Xiàwǔ zǎodiǎn huílai.)

See answers

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