How do you say “where” in Chinese?

Confused redhead woman asking where — Stock Photo, Image

Saying “where” is an important part of your vocabulary when learning Chinese. Whether you’re asking for directions or wanting to know the name of a restaurant in China, understanding how and when to ask for information is paramount in forming meaningful conversations in any language. This blog how you say “where” in Chinese so that you can build bridges more confidently with native speakers and take your conversations further without relying on English. Learn Chinese and master saying “where” in a foreign language like Chinese.

How to say where in Chinese

Chinese language learning concept — Stock Photo, Image

In Chinese translation, there are two common terms used to say “where”: 哪儿 (nǎr) and 那儿 (nà’er). These terms are interchangeable due to the flexibility of the Chinese language. They also have the same meaning.

When asking using 哪儿 (nǎr) or 那儿 (nà’er), it is often used in conjunction with other words to form a complete sentence. “Where” is a locational question; its preposition  Zài literally means “at/on/in”.

When speaking Chinese, pay attention to the tone of each word. In both 哪儿 and 那儿, the second character 儿 (ér), is pronounced with a neutral tone. The first character 哪 (nǎ) and 那 (nà) are pronounced with the fourth and third tone, respectively.

You can use either 哪儿 (nǎr) or 那儿 (nà’er) if you want to say “where” in Chinese, depending on your preference or the regional dialect. Remember to use them in complete sentences and pay attention to the tones when speaking.

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

When asking a question using “how” in Mandarin Chinese, 哪儿 (nǎr) is commonly used to mean “where.” It’s important to correctly pronounce this word when speaking Mandarin. The correct pronunciation for 哪儿 is nǎr with a rising tone on the “nǎ” and a neutral tone on the “er”.

In terms of the breakdown, 哪 (nǎ) means “which” or “what,” while 儿 (er) is an indication of the retroflex final -r sound that is prevalent in Beijing-style Mandarin.

When saying 哪儿, it’s important to emphasise the “-r” at the end, but not overly to avoid sounding unnatural.

The term 哪儿 (nǎr) is composed of two words: 哪 nǎ and 儿 er. The correct pronunciation is “nar”; the incorrect pronunciation is “na’er.”

When used alone, the word “哪” means “which one,” while the word “儿” adds a sense of familiarity or endearment. When used together, 哪儿 (nar) is usually translated as “where?”

Here are sentences examples and comparisons on how to use the term 哪 Nǎ,哪儿 Nǎr and 儿 Er for better understanding.

Example 1:

哪 Nǎ:你去哪儿?Nǐ qù nǎ?Where are you going?

哪儿 Nǎr:你去哪儿了?Nǐ qù nǎr le? Where have you been?

儿 Er:你到哪儿了? Nǐ dào nǎr le?Where did you go?

Example 2:

哪 Nǎ:你是哪里人?Nǐ shì nǎ lǐ rén?Which region are you from?

哪儿 Nǎr:你在哪儿工作? Nǐ zài nǎr gōngzuò?Where do you work?

儿 Er:你在哪儿上学?Nǐ zài nǎr shàngxué?Where do you go to school?

Question Construction for Where in Chinese

1. 在哪里? (zài nǎlǐ? / Where?)

2. 你在哪里工作? (Nǐ zài nǎlǐ gōngzuò? / Where do you work?)

3. 她在哪里? (Tā zài nǎlǐ? / Where is she?)

4. 我们在哪里可以找到她? (Wǒmen zài nǎlǐ kěyǐ zhǎodào tā? / Where can we find her?)

5. 学校在哪里? (Xuéxiào zài nǎlǐ? / Where is the school?)

6. 你住在哪里? (Nǐ zhù zài nǎlǐ? / Where do you live?)

7. 他走到了哪里? (Tā zǒudào le nǎlǐ? / Where did he go?)

8. 你的朋友们都在哪里? (Nǐ de péngyoumen dōu zài nǎlǐ? / Where are your friends?)

9. 她去过那个地方吗? (Tā qùguo nàge dìfang ma? / Has she been to that place?)

10. 你能告诉我去哪里乘车吗? (Nǐ néng gàosù wǒ qù nǎlǐ chéngchē ma? / Could you tell me where to catch a bus?)

Where is the + POINT OF INTEREST? – POINT OF INTEREST + 在哪里 / 在哪儿?

“POINT OF INTEREST + 在哪里 / 在哪儿?” is a common phrase used in Chinese when asking for the location of a specific place or landmark. It is an important phrase for travellers who need directions or recommendations.

To use this phrase, replace “POINT OF INTEREST” with the name of the place you are looking for, and add “在哪里” or “在哪儿” at the end.

Here are three examples of how to use “POINT OF INTEREST + 在哪里 / 在哪儿?”:

Where is the + POINT OF INTEREST? - POINT OF INTEREST + 在哪里 / 在哪儿?

Remember to be polite and use proper manners when asking for help, especially in a foreign country. Using “请问” (qǐngwèn) before your question can make it more polite and respectful.

Where can I find the + POINT OF INTEREST? – 在哪里 / 在哪儿 + Can 可以 + Find 找到 + POINT OF INTEREST?

“Where can I find the + POINT OF INTEREST? – 在哪里 / 在哪儿 + Can 可以 + Find 找到 + POINT OF INTEREST?” is a useful phrase to ask for directions or locations of different points of interest. To use this phrase, replace “POINT OF INTEREST” with the specific location or attraction you want. For example, “Where can I find the nearest restaurant?” or “Where can I find the museum?”.

Below are three examples:

Where can I find the + POINT OF INTEREST? - 在哪里 / 在哪儿 + Can 可以 + Find 找到 + POINT OF INTEREST?

Adjust the sentence structure as needed and input your desired location or attraction.

Where is my + NOUN? – Subject Pronoun + 的 De + NOUN + 在哪里 / 在哪儿?

“Where is my + NOUN? – Subject Pronoun + 的 De + NOUN + 在哪里 / 在哪儿?” is a common question structure used in Mandarin Chinese to ask about the location of a specific noun. The formula involves combining a subject pronoun (such as “my,” “your,” “her,” etc.) with 的 (de) and the noun in question, followed by the phrase 在哪里 (zài nǎlǐ) or 在哪儿 (zài nǎ’er), which both mean “where.” Here are three examples of sentences using this structure:

Where is my + NOUN? - Subject Pronoun + 的 De + NOUN + 在哪里 / 在哪儿?

These examples combine the subject pronoun with 的 (de) and the noun in question to form a complete noun phrase. This phrase is then followed by the question word 在哪里 (zài nǎlǐ) to ask about the location of the item. 在哪里 (zài nǎlǐ) can also be written as 在哪儿 (zài nǎ’er), which is a more informal variation of the phrase.

Note: In Mandarin, subject pronouns use the same Chinese words as object pronouns like him, her, us, them, and me.


In Chinese, the two most commonly used words for “where” are 哪儿 (nǎr) and 那儿 (nà’er). Both of these terms can be used interchangeably to ask questions about location. The word 哪儿 is composed of two characters: 哪 (nǎ) and 儿 (er). When speaking, it’s important to pay attention to these characters’ tones and emphasise the “-r” at the end.

In addition, several question structures can be used when asking for directions or locations in Mandarin Chinese. These include “POINT OF INTEREST + 在哪里 / 在哪儿?”, “Where can I find the + POINT OF INTEREST? – 在哪里 / 在哪儿 + Can 可以 + Find 找到 + POINT OF INTEREST?”, and “Where is my + NOUN? – Subject Pronoun + 的 De + NOUN + 在哪里 / 在哪儿?”.

If you are interested in learning more about Mandarin Chinese, check out LindaMandarin, which offers a range of courses and resources to help improve your language skills. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to communicate effectively and ask questions about locations with ease. Good luck on your journey towards mastering Chinese!

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