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 ? 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!