The filler word "neige"
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 (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, 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. This is similar to the colloquial use of "umm" or "you know" or "like" in English, or filler words in general.
- 那个 ⋯⋯ 我 不 跟 你们 一起 去 了，可以 吗？So, ummm... I won't go 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 不 来 了。Ummm... I'm not coming 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 买 的 那个 ⋯⋯ 那个 ⋯⋯ iPhone。I'd like to take a look at your, ummm, you know... iPhone you bought.
- 那个 ⋯⋯ 我 要 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.