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?

火车站在哪里?
Huǒ chē zhàn zài nǎ lǐ?


Where is the metro station?

地铁站在哪儿?
Dì tiě zhàn zài nǎr?


May I know where the toilet is?

请问厕所在哪里?
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?

在哪儿可以找到超级市场?
Zài nǎr kě yǐ zhǎo dào chāo jí shì chǎng?


Where can I find the ATM?

(我)在哪里可以找到提款机?
(Wǒ) zài nǎ lǐ kě yǐ zhǎo dào tí kuǎn jī?


May I know where to find the cinema?

请问在哪儿可以找到电影院?
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?

我的钱包在哪里?
Wǒ de qián bāo zài nǎ lǐ?


Where are their parents?

他们的父母亲在哪里?
Tā men de fù mǔ qīn zài nǎ lǐ?


Where do we park our car? Here or there?

我们的车停放在哪儿?在这里还是在那里?
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?

你说的那个地方在哪里?
Nǐ shuō dì nà gè dì fāng zài nǎ lǐ?


Where do we meet?

我们在哪儿见面?
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?

你在哪里看见他们了?
Nǐ zài nǎ lǐ kàn jiàn tā men le?


They asked me where do I learn Mandarin?

他们问我在哪里学中文?
Tā men wèn wǒ zài nǎ lǐ xué zhōng wén?


Where do I tell him about this matter?

我要在哪儿告诉他这件事?
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?

你要去哪里?
Nǐ yào qù nǎ lǐ?


Where do the colleagues go for lunch?

同事们去哪里吃午餐?
Tóng shì men qù nǎ lǐ chī wǔ cān?


Where do you go and buy this piece of clothes?

这件漂亮的衣服去哪里买的?
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?

你从哪里来?
Nǐ cóng nǎ lǐ lái?


From where did she bring the food?

她从哪儿带回这些食物?
Tā cóng nǎr dài huí zhè xiē shí wù?


From where do you find this cat?

你从哪儿找到这只猫?
Nǐ cóng nǎr zhǎodào zhè zhǐ māo?


From where did he hear (get) the information?

他的信息从哪里听来的?
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?

你想到哪里喝咖啡?
Nǐ xiǎng dào nǎ lǐ hē kā fēi?


Where does this bus stop?

这辆公车到哪里停?
Zhè liàng gōng chē dào nǎ lǐ tíng?


Where have you been last night?

你昨晚到哪里去了?
Nǐ zuó wǎn dào nǎ lǐ qù le?


Where did the dog go?

那只狗到哪儿去了?
Nà zhǐ gǒu dào nǎr qù le?


Where did you bring the children to play?

你把孩子带到哪儿玩了?
Nǐ bǎ hái zi dài dào nǎr wán le?


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

我们现在走到哪儿了?
Wǒ men xiàn zài zǒu dào nǎr le?


Until where have you study/read?

你读到哪里了?
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?

你住在中国哪里?
Nǐ zhù zài zhōng guó nǎ lǐ?


Where do we meet in the shopping mall?

我们在购物中心的哪儿见面?
Wǒ men zài gòu wù zhòng xīn de nǎr jiàn miàn?


Along this street, where to find a hair salon?

在这条街上,哪里可以找到理发店?
Zài zhè tiáo jiē shàng, nǎ lǐ kě yǐ zhǎo dào lǐ fǎ diàn?


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

在香港,(去)哪儿购物最便宜?
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?

从北京到哈尔滨,(在)哪里上车,(到)哪里下车?
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?

大使馆在什么地方?
Dà shǐ guǎn zài shén me dì fāng?


From where do you come?

你们从什么地方来?
Nǐ men cóng shén me dì fāng lái?


Where are we going now?

我们现在要去什么地方?
Wǒ men xiàn zài yào qù shén me dì fāng?


Where to buy ferry tickets?

在什么地方可以买到船票?
Zài shén me dì fāng kě yǐ mǎi dào chuán piào?


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

我的牛仔裤放在什么地方?
Wǒ de niú zǎi kù fàng zài shén me dì fāng?


Where to live economically in Singapore?

在新加坡,住什么地方最省钱?
Zài xīn jiā pō, zhù shén me dì fāng zuì shěng qián?


Yesterday morning, where did you watch the sunrise?

昨天早上,你去什么地方看日出了?
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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