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The filler word "neige"

Chinese-grammar-wiki-na.jpg

In conversation, you may find yourself at a loss for words, unable to find the correct phrase you are looking for, or simply needing time to gather your thoughts. When you experience this feeling, in English, you may say "umm" or another filler word, In Chinese, the word for this is 那个 (nàge).


General rule

In English, words like "ummm" and "uh" are used as filler[1] words when you're thinking about what to say. In Chinese, 那个 (nàge) is also used for this purpose. To English speakers, this may raise an eyebrow, because it can sound a bit "racist"[2] but it's very common in Mandarin and you'll hear it quite often around Chinese speakers.

那个 (nàge) can be inserted into sentences wherever you need to pause for thought. This is similar to the slang use of "umm" or "you know" or "like" in English, or filler words in general.

Examples

  • 那个 …… 我 不 和 你们一起 吃饭 了 , 好 吗 ? Nàge …… wǒ bù hé nǐmenyīqǐ chīfàn le, hǎo ma? So, ummm... I won't eat with you guys, OK?
  • 我 想 吃 那个 …… 那个 …… 湖南 菜 。 Wǒ xiǎng chī nàge …… nàge …… Húnán cài. I want to eat that... ummm, you know... Hunan cuisine.
  • 那个 …… 我 明天 可能 晚 点儿 到 公司 。 Nàge …… wǒ míngtiān kěnéng wǎn diǎnr dào gōngsī. Ummm... I might be a little bit late for work tomorrow.
  • 那个 …… 这样 做 不 好 吧 ? Nàge …… zhèyàng zuò bù hǎo bā? Ummm, it's not good to do it this way?
  • 那个 …… 你 可以 做 我 的 女 朋友 吗 ? Nàge …… nǐ kěyǐ zuò wǒ de nǚ péngyǒu ma? Like... could you be my girlfriend?
  • 那个 …… 不好意思 , 我 要 走 了 。 Nàge …… bùhǎoyìsi, wǒ yào zǒu le. Ummmm... sorry, but I've gotta go.
  • 她 很 漂亮 , 就 像 那个 …… 明星 一样 。 Tā hěn piàoliang, jiù xiàng nàge …… míng xīng yīyàng. She's very pretty, just like, you know, a celebrity.
  • 我 想 看 看 你 刚 买 的 那个 …… 那个...iPhone 。 Wǒ xiǎng kān kān nǐ gāng mǎi de nàge …… nàge...iPhone. I‘d like to have a look at your, ummm, you know... iPhone you just bought.
  • 那个 …… 我 得 去 开会 了 。 Nàge …… wǒ dé qù kāihuì le. Ummm... I have to attend a meeting.
  • 昨天 那个 …… 那个 …… 小笼包 真 好吃 。 Zuótiān nàge …… nàge …… xiǎolóngbāo zhēn hǎochī. Yesterday the, you know, steamed soup dumplings were so delicious.

References

  1. Filler (linguistics) on Wikipedia
  2. See This or That? Mandarin and the "N" word for elaboration

Further reading

Needs academic references!