The filler word "neige"

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Level A2
Is used for Connecting ideas
Keywords 那个, ,
Translations ummm, uh, well

Sometimes when speaking you may blank out a bit, forget a little word or phrase, and you need something to say while gathering your thoughts. Or maybe you need to stall for a while. Well, the word 那个 (nèige) is just what you need.

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 (nèige) is used for this purpose. This can sound a bit "racist"[2] to some English speakers, but it's very common in Mandarin and you'll hear it quite often around Chinese speakers.

那个 (nèige) 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

Some examples:

  • 那个 …… 我 不 和 你们一起 吃饭 了,好 吗?So, ummm... I won't eat with you guys, OK?
  • 我 想 吃 那个 …… 那个 …… 湖南 菜。I want to eat that... ummm, you know... Hunan cuisine.
  • 那个 …… 我 明天 可能 晚 点儿 到 公司。Ummm... I might be a little bit late for work tomorrow.
  • 那个 …… 这样 做 不 好 吧?Ummm, it's not good to do it this way?
  • 那个 …… 你 可以 做 我 的 女 朋友 吗?Like... could you be my girlfriend?
  • 那个 …… 不好意思,我 要 走 了。Ummmm... sorry, but I've gotta go.
  • 她 很 漂亮,就 像 那个 …… 明星 一样。She's very pretty, just like, you know, a celebrity.
  • 我 想 看 看 你 刚 买 的 那个 …… 那个...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。Ummm... I have to attend a meeting.
  • 昨天 那个 …… 那个 …… 小笼包 真 好吃。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!