How to ask about someone’s job?

If you have already started learning Chinese, you might have noticed, that many Chinese learning books teach you how to ask Are you busy?” (你忙吗? – Nǐ máng ma?) even before you are able to introduce yourself. Wondering why? Chinese people are often quite busy. If you consider that most people only have 5 paid days off per year, it’s not surprising, that talking about your job is a very important part of small talk in China.

For most people “working” is more than just doing their job. We need jobs because it gives us safety, because it enables us to earn money to cover our essential necessities to be physical and psychological healthy. Most important of all, work gives us a sense of personal reward and the possibility to fulfill our dreams.

Today we will give you a quick briefing in how to ask about others’ occupation in Chinese and some first job translations.

 

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Let’s start with some basic dialogs.

 

Conversation A:

Andy:(Qǐng wèn)Nǐ zuò shénme gōngzuò?

             (请问)你做什么工作?

             (May i ask) What’s your job?

 

Will: Wǒ zài xuéxiào jiào zhōng wén. Nǐ shì zuò shénme de?

            我在学校教中文。你是做什么的?

             I am teaching Chinese at a school. What do you do?

 

Andy: Wǒ shì yī shēng.

              我是医生 。         

               I am a doctor.

 

Conversation B

 

Hanna:  Nǐ de zhíyè shì shénme?

            你的职业是什么?

            What’s your occupation?

 

Ben:   Wǒ zài A gōngsī fùzé xiāoshòu. Nǐ zài nǎlǐ gōngzuò?

             我在A公司负责销售。你在哪里工作?

             I’m responsible for sales at a company A. Where do you work?

 

Hanna:  (Wǒ) zài  shǐguǎn.

                  (我) 在使馆。

                   (I) work in the embassy.

 

Conversation C

 

Jane:   Nǐ Shì lǎoshī ma?

              你是老师 吗?

              Are you a teacher?

 

Peter:  Wǒ shì. Nǐ ne?

              我是。你呢?

              Yes, I am. And you?

 

Jane:  Wǒ shì yī míng xuéshēng.

             我是一名学生。

              I’m a student.

 

These are different ways to ask “What do you do?“.

 

Chinese Characters Pinyin
你做什么工作? Nǐ zuò shénme gōngzuò?
你是做什么的? Nǐ shì zuò shénme de?
你的职业是什么? Nǐ de zhíyè shì shénme?
你是 (occupation/ identity) 吗?   Nǐ shì (occupation/ identity) ma?

 

More vocabs

 

Chinese Characters Pinyin English
máng To be busy
工作 gōngzuò job
学校 xuéxiào school
医生 yī shēng doctor
职业 zhíyè occupation
公司 gōngsī company
负责 fùzé to be responsible for
老师 lǎoshī teacher
学生 xuéshēng student

Practice makes perfect! We hope you have no difficulty to give people an idea of you job! We also wish you a great 2017 with brilliant performance on your job!

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