How to ask "What do you do?" in Chinese - 20 Questions to Basic Fluency #3

Welcome back to "20 Questions to Basic Fluency."   If you haven't answered the first two questions in the series, take some time to go back and answer when you get a chance.     


Today's question is about professions. There are a few different ways to ask about this in Chinese, as well as in English, depending on the information you are looking for.  Here is the most general way to ask, "What do you do?"

  Q:  你是做什么的?
      Nǐ shì zuò shénme de?
      What do you do?

A:  我是老师
      Wǒ shì lǎoshī.
      I am a

When you answer, just add your profession at the end of the sentence.  Here are some professions.


学生 -Xuéshēng - student

老师-Lǎoshī - teacher

商人 - Shāngrén - business person

秘书 - Mìshū - secretary

会计 - Kuàijì - accounting

记者 - Jìzhě - journalist

厨师 - Chúshī - chef

科学家 - Kēxuéjiā - scientist

医生 - Yīshēng - doctor

护士 - Hùshì - nurse

牙科医生 - Yá kē yīshēng - dentist

工程师 - Gōngchéngshī - engineer 

技术人员 - Jìshù rényuán - tech staff

律师 - Lǜshī - lawyer

音乐家 - Yīnyuè jiā - musician

演员 - Yǎnyuán - actor/actress

艺术家 - Yìshùjiā - artist


退休 - Tuìxiū - retired (This answer is a little different.  To say you are retired say:

  我退休了。 Wǒ tuìxiūle.
I'm retired.


Of course there are a lot of other jobs out there to talk about.  If you've got a question about how to say a profession in Chinese include it in your reply.  Below are two other common ways to ask about professions with their answers:  

  Q:  你做什么工作?       Nǐ zuò shénme gōngzuò?
      What's your job?

  A:  我是老师。 (same as above)

  Q:  你在哪儿工作?       Nǐ zài nǎ'er gōngzuò?
      Where do you work?

A: 我在学校工作。
    Wǒ zài xuéxiào gōngzuò.
    I work at a school


Ok, give it a whirl.  Let us know what you do in the reply below.  If you are beyond the basic level, feel free to add a more descriptive reply about what you do or add some new information. We look forward to hearing what you do!

(photo credit Mart1n)

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Comment by Ethan Nelson on February 21, 2013 at 3:40am



How would I say "I also work part-time"?

Comment by Ruaridh Maxwell/麥儒叡 on June 15, 2012 at 9:22am


Comment by Melina Abarca on May 19, 2012 at 8:48am
我 是 学生 。:)
我 在 SYKES 工作。
Comment by Ma Ji Ya on March 5, 2012 at 10:52am


Comment by Brandon on March 5, 2012 at 7:24am

Hey sikora - just fyi, this post got an additional 6 likes when shared on Facebook & this comment added. Keep up the great work.

Tony W. Awesome...Thank you...I am learning some things new to me...:)

Comment by sikora on March 3, 2012 at 2:31am

Xiao Ke Ai, 太棒了! 加油!

André, I don't know how to include mp3's on the blog here, but you can copy and paste any Chinese characters into Google Translate and listen to them.  The sound quality isn't perfect, but it will give you a good idea of how to pronounce the characters and sentences you need to hear.   

Comment by André Pereira da Silva on March 2, 2012 at 9:42pm

Good. Can you includo sound ? Like .mp3 for hearing how to say ...

Comment by Xiao Ke Ai on March 2, 2012 at 2:41pm


Comment by Júlia Baló on December 22, 2011 at 8:06am

Nice, thank you :)

Have a beautiful day!

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