Chinese Question Words

How to Say “Where” in Mandarin?

在哪里 Zai Nali & 在哪儿 Zai Nar in Chinese

How to Say Where in Chinese?

Where in Mandarin is 哪里 Nǎlǐ or 哪儿 Nǎr in Chinese. As it is a locational related question, the preposition Zài which means “at/in/on” in English may precede before the two terms – 在哪里 Zài Nǎlǐ and 在哪儿 Zài Nǎr.

There are a few ways to ask Where in Mandarin by changing some of the words that accompany with 哪里 Nǎlǐ or 哪儿 Nǎr. Some Chinese terms are interchangeable because the Chinese language is quite flexible. For now, just try and understand the concept and idea of these phrases so you can deploy them more accurately.

How to Pronounce 哪儿 in Chinese Pinyin –  Nar or Na’Er?

Based on the Chinese character alone, the Pinyin for 哪儿 is Nǎ’er. However, 哪儿 Nǎr has a unique intonation where the character  Er is not read out in a full sound Er (neutral tone).

The  Er pronunciation should sound like an extension of , a soft sound produced with a rolled tongue. There should not be a break of sound between and .

In another word, the pronunciation should be smooth. Due to the peculiarity in uttering the sound in this word, it ends up with a Pinyin of Nǎr instead. Hence, it is the correct way to pronounce 哪儿 Nǎr.

Below are four sounds to help you listen to the difference between 哪儿 and (default Pinyin – standalone intonation). You can make a comparison when hearing them in their own Pinyin.

哪,哪儿Nǎ, Nǎr
哪儿,儿Nǎr, Er

Getting the Chinese Character 哪儿 Nar or Na’er on a Chinese Pinyin Keyboard

If you are using Pinyin to type Chinese characters on the laptop or mobile, by typing “Nar”, you would not be able to get the Mandarin word 哪儿 on your screen as “r” is not the default Pinyin spelling for . Instead, input in “naer” or “nae” to get 哪儿.

Difference between and | Na

Where in Mandarin 哪里 Nǎlǐ is one of the Interrogative Pronouns or Adverbs for asking questions. However, it is often written wrongly – Zài which means “over there”. also means “that” in English in Chinese Demonstrative Pronouns.

You know now that the meaning is the not the same anymore if you write or say out wrongly, when in fact, what you wanted to express is “Where 哪里 Zài Nǎlǐ” and not “ Zài  over there.

Another difference is that both and have different Pinyin intonation which you can hear and compare them in another Interrogative Pronoun – Which in Chinese. On a side note, Which in Mandarin 哪个 Nǎge is also using the same word 哪 .

Simple Question Construction for Where in Mandarin

Where is the Place? 地方在哪里 / 哪儿?

地方在哪里 / 哪儿Dìfāng zài nǎlǐ / nǎ’er? If Asking Questions in Chinese is one of the many reasons for learning Mandarin to use during travelling in Chinese-speaking countries like China and Taiwan, replace the POINT OF INTEREST to your desired location below. Voila! You have already learnt some questions on asking for directions in Chinese.

To sound more polite when asking questions in Mandarin, you can add in the word “May I know 请问 Qǐngwèn” at the start of the question.

1. Where is the + POINT OF INTEREST?

POINT OF INTEREST + 在哪里 / 在哪儿?

Where is the train station?

Huǒ chē zhàn zài nǎ lǐ?

Where is the metro station?

Dì tiě zhàn zài nǎr?

May I know where the toilet is?

Qǐngwèn cè suǒ zài nǎ lǐ?

2. Where can I find the + POINT OF INTEREST?

在哪里 / 在哪儿 + Can 可以 + Find 找到 + POINT OF INTEREST?

Where to find a supermarket?

Zài nǎr kě yǐ zhǎo dào chāo jí shì chǎng?

Where can I find the ATM?

(Wǒ) zài nǎ lǐ kě yǐ zhǎo dào tí kuǎn jī?

May I know where to find the cinema?

Qǐng wèn zài nǎ’er kě yǐ zhǎo dào diàn yǐng yuàn?

Where is My Thing? 我的东西在哪里 / 哪儿?

我的东西在哪里 / 哪儿?Wǒ de dōngxī zài nǎlǐ / nǎ’er? Use the Chinese Possession Determiner –  De when you want to ask someone about your belonging.

3. Where is my + NOUN?

Subject Pronoun + De + NOUN + 在哪里 / 在哪儿?

Where is my wallet/purse?

Wǒ de qián bāo zài nǎ lǐ?

Where are their parents?

Tā men de fù mǔ qīn zài nǎ lǐ?

Where do we park our car? Here or there?

Wǒ men de chē tíng fàng zài nǎr? Zài zhè lǐ hái shì zài nà lǐ?

Interrogative Adverb – Where in Mandarin

Where in Chinese is an Interrogative Adverb if there is no other location or place specified.

Where have you been earlier? / Where did you go just now?

你刚才在哪里了?/ 你刚才去哪里了?
Nǐ gāng cái zài nǎ lǐ le? / Nǐ gāng cái qù nǎ lǐ le? 

Where is the place that you have mentioned?

Nǐ shuō dì nà gè dì fāng zài nǎ lǐ?

Where do we meet?

Wǒ men zài nǎr jiàn miàn?

Where do you work? / Where is your work location?

你在哪儿工作?/ 你的工作地点在哪里?
Nǐ zài nǎr gōng zuò? / Nǐ de gōng zuò dì diǎn zài nǎ lǐ?


Personal Pronouns + Where in Mandarin – 在哪里 / 在哪儿 

Chinese Interrogation sentence structure is not the same as English where most sentences can start with Interrogative Pronouns. When Subject Pronouns (I, he, she, we, they) is in a Chinese interrogative question, place them at the beginning of the sentence or immediately after 在哪里 / 在哪儿 Zài nǎlǐ / Zài nǎ’er. 

Where can I xxx?
在哪里xxxor 在哪里xxx

Note that in Mandarin, the Subject Pronouns uses the same Chinese words as the Object Pronouns (me, him, her, her, us, them). Naturally, the Object Pronouns in a Chinese sentence would usually be placed after the Subject Pronouns. Read more in Personal Pronouns (I vs Me).

Where did you see them?

Nǐ zài nǎ lǐ kàn jiàn tā men le?

They asked me where do I learn Mandarin?

Tā men wèn wǒ zài nǎ lǐ xué zhōng wén?

Where do I tell him about this matter?

Wǒ yào zài nǎr gào sù tā zhè jiàn shì?

Go Where in Mandarin – 去哪里去哪儿

去哪里 / 去哪儿 Qù nǎlǐ / Qù nǎr literally means Go Where in Mandarin. means go. Especially when a subject moves from Point A to Point B, you can use 去哪里 / 去哪儿 to ask for the location in Point B.

Qù will also replace the word  Zài before 哪里 and 哪儿.

Where are you going?

Nǐ yào qù nǎ lǐ?

Where do the colleagues go for lunch?

Tóng shì men qù nǎ lǐ chī wǔ cān?

Where do you go and buy this piece of clothes?

Zhè jiàn piào liang de yī fú qù nǎ lǐ mǎi de?


From Where in Mandarin – 从哪里从哪儿

从 Cóng asks for the source of origin. 从哪里 / 从哪儿 Cóng nǎlǐ / Cóng nǎr asks for the location of the person from where he comes. Usually, the term comes after the Subject.

Where do you come from?

Nǐ cóng nǎ lǐ lái?

From where did she bring the food?

Tā cóng nǎr dài huí zhè xiē shí wù?

From where do you find this cat?

Nǐ cóng nǎr zhǎodào zhè zhǐ māo?

From where did he hear (get) the information?

Tā de xìn xī cóng nǎ lǐ tīng lái de?

Where should I start telling you (the story)?

我要从哪里说起?/ 我要从何说起?
Nǐ yào qù nǎ lǐ?

Arrive Where in Mandarin – 到哪里到哪儿

到哪里 / 到哪儿 Dào nǎlǐ / Dào nǎr is another way of asking Where in Mandarin. It has a connotation of destination or designated point for the content here because Dào means “arrive” or “reach”.

It also has other meanings not related to a physical location. One example is “Until where have you read? 你读到哪里了?

Used with a date such as yesterday which indicates the past, it would mean “went/have been to a place”. Combine with the word  Le suggests that the event is over.

We can also replace many sentences with 在哪里 /  or 去哪里 / 哪儿 instead of 到哪里 / 到哪儿. Don’t be too concerned which is the correct one. If you use the wrong term, your Chinese speaking friend will correct you. At least, you have a variety of Mandarin phrases to use for Where in Mandarin.

Where do you want to go for coffee?

Nǐ xiǎng dào nǎ lǐ hē kā fēi?

Where does this bus stop?

Zhè liàng gōng chē dào nǎ lǐ tíng?

Where have you been last night?

Nǐ zuó wǎn dào nǎ lǐ qù le?

Where did the dog go?

Nà zhǐ gǒu dào nǎr qù le?

Where did you bring the children to play?

Nǐ bǎ hái zi dài dào nǎr wán le?

Where are we now? (Literally: Where have we been walking until now?)

Wǒ men xiàn zài zǒu dào nǎr le?

Until where have you study/read?

Nǐ dú dào nǎ lǐ le?

Without Locational Preposition – 哪里 / 哪儿

Not all Where in Chinese sentences have to use , , , + 哪里 / 哪儿 as a 3-word term like the quoted examples above. If the 4 locational preposition , , , precedes another named location, then 哪里 / 哪儿 Nǎlǐ / Nǎr will be a standalone word in the sentence.

哪里 / 哪儿 Nǎlǐ / Nǎr has a close relationship with 在,,,. It makes sense that all these words are used at the same time so you do not repeat the same word in a sentence since they are interchangeable.

Where do you live in China?

Nǐ zhù zài zhōng guó nǎ lǐ?

Where do we meet in the shopping mall?

Wǒ men zài gòu wù zhòng xīn de nǎr jiàn miàn?

Along this street, where to find a hair salon?

Zài zhè tiáo jiē shàng, nǎ lǐ kě yǐ zhǎo dào lǐ fǎ diàn?

In Hong Kong, where to go shopping for the cheapest?

Zài xiāng gǎng, (qù) nǎ lǐ gòu wù zuì pián yí?

From Beijing to Harbin, where do I get on and get off from the vehicle/bus?

Cóng běi jīng dào hā’ěr bīn, (zài) nǎ lǐ shàng chē, (dào) nǎ lǐ xià chē?

At the city centre, assemble where / go where to gather?

到了市中心,(在)哪儿集合?/ 到了市中心,(去)哪里集合?
Dào le shì zhōng xīn, (zài) nǎr jí hé? / Dào le shì zhōngxīn, (qù) nǎ lǐ jí hé?

Where in Chinese – 什么地方 Shenme Difang

Another frequently used word for Where in Mandarin is 在什么地方 Zài shénme dìfāng, translated as “Which place”. 什么地方 Shénme dìfāng can almost replace all the words 哪里哪儿 Nǎlǐ / Nǎr above if the question is referring to a physical location while retaining the four Chinese prepositions – ,,,.

Where is the embassy?

Dà shǐ guǎn zài shén me dì fāng?

From where do you come?

Nǐ men cóng shén me dì fāng lái?

Where are we going now?

Wǒ men xiàn zài yào qù shén me dì fāng?

Where to buy ferry tickets?

Zài shén me dì fāng kě yǐ mǎi dào chuán piào?

Where are my jeans? (Literally: My jeans put where?)

Wǒ de niú zǎi kù fàng zài shén me dì fāng?

Where to live economically in Singapore?

Zài xīn jiā pō, zhù shén me dì fāng zuì shěng qián?

Yesterday morning, where did you watch the sunrise?

Zuó tiān zǎo shang, nǐ qù shén me dì fāng kàn rì chū le?

Receiving Compliment – 哪里哪里

When you receive a compliment from someone, other than the word Thank you 谢谢 Xiè xiè, you can say instead 哪里哪里 Nǎlǐ nǎlǐ. It may not make any sense to you for repeating “where where” two times in this context because it has no equivalent direct English meaning.

The term is more of a Chinese slang where you want to show your modesty by not feeling too proud about a compliment showered to you and has several English meanings. The person replying with 哪里哪里 Nǎlǐ nǎlǐ may feel an element of shyness, yet flattered.

If you want to speak like a native Chinese, this Mandarin phrase is one of those that you can use next time someone pays you a compliment.

– You dress well today! The clothes and the hairstyle look good as well!
– Thanks for the compliment.

- 你今天的打扮真漂亮!衣服和发型也都很好看!
- 哪里哪里。

– Nǐ jīn tiān de dǎ bàn zhēn piào liang! Yī fú hé fǎ xíng yě dū hěn hǎo kàn!
– Nǎ lǐ nǎ lǐ.

– You have done it well!
– Pleased to know that. You flatter me!

- 你做得很好!
- 哪里哪里。您过奖了!

– Nǐ zuò dé hěn hǎo!
– Nǎ lǐ nǎ lǐ. Nín guò jiǎng le!

After Where would come When. Check out the next article – How to Say When in Chinese?


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