Ep06: What do you do? | Lí teh tsò siánn-mih thâu-lōo 你咧做啥物頭路?

Ep06: What do you do? | Lí teh tsò siánn-mih thâu-lōo 你咧做啥物頭路?

00:00 / 00:15:52

In this episode, we’ve learned several ways to ask and talk about your work.

(These show notes use tables and rich formatting. Please visit the episode webpage for an optimal viewing experience.)

One of the most common ways is to say where someone works:

Lí tī tó-tsia̍h-thâu-lōo? Where do you work?
tsia̍h-thâu-lōo to be employed, to work to get paid
Lí tī tó-siōng-pan? Where do you work?
siōng-pan to go to work; to be on duty
Tshiánn-mn̄g, lán tī tó-ho̍k-bū? May I ask, where do you offer your services?


Usage note: this is a more formal and polite form. To know more about using “lán” (the “inclusive we”) as a polite and friendly form of saying “you”, check out the Elementary level episode 4 show notes.

ho̍k- service; to offer services
Guá tī guā-siong kong-si tsia̍h-thâu-lōo. I work at an international company.
guā-siong kong-si international company
tshan-thiann restaurant
ha̍k-hāu school
Lí teh tsò siánn-mih thâu-lōo? What do you do for work?
Lí teh tsò siánn-mih hâng-gia̍p? What industry are you in? What is your profession?
hâng-gia̍p industry, profession, trade
Guá teh tsò lu̍t-su. I am a lawyer.
tsò to work as, to serve as; to do
Guá tī póo-si̍p-pan tsò lāu-su. I’m a teacher at a cram school
suànn-kang part-time, odd jobs

*Syllables requiring tone changes have been greyed out.

To learn about some other ways to talk about work or specific jobs and professions, check out our workbook. It also gives you some more culture and grammar explanations, and great exercises to reinforce what you’ve learned in this episode.


You may have noticed that in some of the questions and answers in this episode, there was this short particle “teh” (or “leh”, depending on the dialects) added in front of the verb.

Teh” helps to indicate that the action of the verb is “in progress” or “is being done right now”. It’s a bit similar to the English “-ing” ending that is added to verbs.

e.g. Guá teh tsò lu̍t-su.

I am working as a lawyer.

Adding “teh” is like giving the verb “tsò” a simple present tense or a present progressive tense.

You can still have a sentence without “teh”. However, when there is no context, or other words to indicate the time or location to provide a frame of reference, it sometimes sounds like the sentence is incomplete. It might sound like: “I being a lawyer...” In a lot of contexts it is more natural to have “teh/leh + verb”.


For all those overachievers out there, we will try to throw in a little something each episode that is a bit more challenging.

The One Bite Challenge for this episode is a saying about work and earning money:

Ke-kiám thàn, khah bē sàn.” I

t means, “If you earn a little here and there, you are less likely to be poor.” This is usually said when someone is trying to earn a few bucks here and there by taking on multiple jobs or freelancing in their spare time.

Let’s break down the sentence:

ke-kiám + verb to ... to a certain degree; to … a little is still better than nothing (literally: plus-minus, more-less)
thàn to earn, to make money
khah bē + verb less likely; so it won’t...
sàn poor, to be poor

Music Credit: TeknoAXE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *