Questions about the words or phrases that may have non-unique meaning, spelling, or pronunciation, usually depending on a context

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2
votes
2answers
87 views

Is their a trick to find out the intensity of words with similar meanings?

I know that the intensity for the Chinese "but" is 不过》可是》但是》却 and I know that there are other words like this, but I wonder if there is a way to recognise which one has the stronger meaning, without ...
5
votes
4answers
209 views

How do I practise grouping characters into words? At which stage of learning should one expect to be good at this?

I just got the following sentence in a newsletter: 请问我可以跟你借支笔吗? Being a beginner that I am, I read it as "Can I please get one pay-check in advance?" because I saw this in my dictionary: 借支 = ...
3
votes
2answers
150 views

Differentiating “to do a burnout” and “burning tyres”

"To do a burnout" is 烧胎, so I assume a reasonable sentence would be: 昨天晚上我在停车场烧胎。 How would one distinguish this activity from piling up tyres and setting fire to them, for example in this news ...
5
votes
1answer
86 views

How to parse this phrase?

The radical 囗 is sometimes described as 圍字框. This phrase is a little bit ambigous to me. Does this mean «the frame of the character 【圍】» (圍字的框子) or «the frame that surrounds characters»? (包圍文字的框子)
2
votes
2answers
481 views

The use of 上 (shàng) “on/above/over” in Mandarin and English

I'm interested in the the differences between English and Mandarin when they are talking about spatial preposition. Can i assume that in Mandarin, they use the preposition 上 for most of the times ...
5
votes
3answers
205 views

How do I refer to someone's family member who's relative age I am unsure of?

Is there any way to refer to someones family member, lets say brother, who's relative age I am unaware of and consequently am unable to decisively call 弟弟 or 哥哥? Is there some sort of rule, like ...
3
votes
1answer
92 views

Which classifier for window (窗户) is regularly used?

The dictionary lists two classifiers for window (窗户) 个 and 扇. Are both of these in common usage? If so is there any difference in the register? Does one sound more formal, etc?
5
votes
4answers
208 views

How does one distinguish between homographs in Chinese?

How does one distinguish between, for example, 便宜 (cheap) and 便宜 (convenient) in written Chinese? The context may give no help whatsoever, cf. 我的大学很便宜。 (Bad example, please excuse my awful ...
4
votes
7answers
800 views

How to distinguish between rat and mouse in Chinese?

I know there are two words here: 老鼠 and 鼠. However, the dictionary states that 老鼠 (rat) can also mean mouse; how do you specify rat? I imagine that 仓鼠 (hamster) and 沙鼠 (gerbil) are often abbreviated ...
10
votes
7answers
482 views

Sheep or goat? 一只羊跑过来

In the sentence: 一只羊跑过来 Would a Chinese person typically assume this is a goat or a sheep?
18
votes
5answers
562 views

How to differentiate between “On Top” and “Above”

If I wanted to translate the prepositional phrase "on the bed" to Chinese, I know to say "床上", but I don't know what the translation would be for saying "above/over the bed". From what I can gather, ...