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2.11: Lesson 1 Grammar - The Verb 叫 (jiào)

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  • The verb 叫 (jiào) is used to indicate what someone or something is called, or what someone or something's name is. Its usage can seem a little weird to beginners, so it gets its own grammar point.


    The verb 叫 (jiào) means both "to call" and "to be called." It's an easy way to give names, using the following structure:

    Subj. + 叫 + [Name]

    This can be used to give your full name or just your first name.


    • 我叫 Tom。
      [Note: it even works if you don't have a Chinese name!]
      Wǒ jiào Tom.
      My name is Tom.
    • 他叫李小龙。
      Tā jiào Lǐ Xiǎolóng.
      His name is Li Xiaolong.
      [Note: this is the real name of Bruce Lee.]
    • 我哥哥叫老马 。
      Wǒ gēge jiào Lǎo Mǎ.
      My brother is called Lao Ma.
      [Note: this is probably a nickname, not a real name.]
    • 那个叫什么?
      Nàge jiào shénme?
      What is that called?
    • 这个美女叫 Alana。
      Zhège měinǚ jiào Alana.
      This pretty girl is named Alana.
    • 我们的老板叫 John。
      Wǒmen de lǎobǎn jiào John.
      Our boss is named John.
    • 我的狗叫 Max。
      Wǒ de gǒu jiào Max.
      My dog is called Max.
    • 这种手机叫 iPhone。
      Zhè zhǒng shǒujī jiào iPhone.
      This kind of cell phone is called an iPhone.
    • 你爸爸叫什么?
      Nǐ bàba jiào shénme?
      What is your dad's name?
    • 这个地方叫外滩。
      Zhège dìfang jiào Wàitān.
      This place is called the Bund.
      [Note: The Bund is a famous street in Shanghai.]

    You can also ask people their names using 叫 (jiào):

    • 你叫什么名字?
      Nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?
      What's your name?

    [adapted from AllSet Learning Chinese Grammar Wiki, Creative Commons License BY-NC-SA 3.0]

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    Any Questions? 

    If you have any questions about this grammar point, please ask in the class forums!