The filler word "neige"

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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 "uhhh" or another filler word. In Chinese, the word for this is 那个 (nèige). (The word 那个 can be pronounced both "nàge" and "nèige," but for this usage, "nèige" is normally used.)


In English, words like "ummm" and "uh" are used as filler words when you're thinking about what to say. In Chinese, 那个 (nèige) is also used for this purpose. To English speakers not fortunate enough to be fluent in Mandarin this may raise an eyebrow because it can sound a bit "racist," but it's very common in Mandarin and you'll hear it quite often around Chinese speakers.

(那个⋯⋯) (那个⋯⋯) + [anything] + (那个⋯⋯)

那个 (nèige) can be inserted into sentences wherever you need to pause for thought.


  • 那个 ⋯⋯ 我 不 跟 你们 一起 去 了,可以 吗?Nèige... wǒ bù gēn nǐmen yīqǐ qù le, kěyǐ ma? So, ummm... I won't go with you guys, OK?
  • 我 想 吃 那个 ⋯⋯ 那个 ⋯⋯ 湖南 菜。Wǒ xiǎng chī nèige... nèige... Húnán cài.I want to eat that... ummm, you know... Hunan cuisine.
  • 那个 ⋯⋯ 我 明天 不 来 了。Nèige... wǒ míngtiān bù lái le.Ummm... I'm not coming tomorrow.
  • 那个 ⋯⋯ 这样 做 不 好 吧?Nèige... zhèyàng zuò bù hǎo ba?Ummm, it's not good to do it this way?
  • 那个 ⋯⋯ 你 可以 做 我 的 女 朋友 吗?Nèige... nǐ kěyǐ zuò wǒ de nǚpéngyou ma?Like... could you be my girlfriend?
  • 那个 ⋯⋯ 不好意思 , 我 要 走 了。Nèige... bù hǎoyìsi, 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 nèige... míngxīng yīyàng.She's very pretty, just like, you know, a celebrity.
  • 我 想 看看 你 买 的 那个 ⋯⋯ 那个 ⋯⋯ iPhone。Wǒ xiǎng kànkan nǐ mǎi de nèige... nèige... iPhone.I'd like to take a look at your, ummm, you know... iPhone you bought.
  • 那个 ⋯⋯ 我 要 去 开会 了。Nèige... wǒ yào qù kāihuì le.Ummm... I have to attend a meeting.
  • 昨天 那个 ⋯⋯ 那个 ⋯⋯ 小笼包 真 好吃。Zuótiān nèige... nèige... xiǎolóngbāo zhēn hǎochī.Yesterday the, you know, steamed soup dumplings were so delicious.

Sources and further reading