Questions about more or less fixed expressions.

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3
votes
3answers
505 views

How did 东西 come to mean “something” in the expression “吃东西”?

I was chatting with a Chinese penpal recently and when I asked "what are you doing?", I received the following answer: 吃东西,你呢? Now, "东西" means "east and west" and so "吃东西" literally means ...
2
votes
1answer
367 views

What is the Mandarin equivalent of 對 XXX 嚟講?

In Cantonese, 對我嚟講 more or less means "speaking for myself", for instance, in: 對我嚟講,行政長官選舉唔重要。 Speaking for myself, the chief executive election isn't important. 我 can also be replaced with ...
2
votes
2answers
392 views

Are there online resources for learning the Chongqing dialect?

I'd like to learn the Chongqing dialect or chongqinghua. If anyone can help me to find resources like phrasebooks, differences with putonghua, or any article on this topic, I would be thankful.
9
votes
7answers
502 views

What is the status of 什么来的 and 什么来着 in standard and colloquial Mandarin Chinese?

When I first moved to the south of China, I was surprised to hear the phrase "什么来的" used to mean "what," as in  这是什么来的?: "What is this?" As far as I could tell, in many cases there was no ...
6
votes
3answers
222 views

角/毛 (10 cents) for money: why?

from: List of historical Chinese currency terms 角 (litterally a corner / a horn of an animal) = 毛 (litterally "a feather of a bird") = 1/10 the main unit. Why use 角 and 毛 for, what we might ...
3
votes
4answers
119 views

In what situations can one use 帥哥?

I do hear people say that a lot to me in China and I am always surprised by the timings and situations in which people just, kind of bluntly I feel, say this. I wonder what all those situations would ...
1
vote
3answers
89 views

How to say “totally it was a good day”?

How to say "totally it was a good day"? Can I use 一共 for "totally"? For example: "一共我有了好天"?
2
votes
4answers
228 views
4
votes
4answers
214 views

“哩勒公蝦毀” what does this mean?

What does “哩勒公蝦毀” mean? A Taiwanese guy said that to me after I had, accidently, mistyped two words in an idiom I used on him. He also used an expression of surprise (I presume) which went like “蛤?!” ...
2
votes
2answers
97 views

What word could you use to approach your friend in Chinese with?

Either close friends, family friends or fun/casual friends. E.g. "hey ... (close/family/fun friend), what are you up to?" I am looking for a word to replace the "close/family/fun friend" with.
1
vote
2answers
46 views

How to show exasperation?

If I were to write "aiyaa, 这是太贵了!“ Wondering how to show exasperation in writing? Or how to write the aiyaa?
5
votes
1answer
200 views

Why is tofu used in 心急吃不了热豆腐?

Why is tofu, among all foods that can be enjoyed hot, used in the expression "心急吃不了热豆腐"? Why not "心急吃不了热饭" or "心急吃不了热牛肉"?
5
votes
3answers
169 views

What are the common ice-breaker sentences in Chinese?

There are sentences in English like "What's up" "What's going on" "how have you been" to begin a conversation with or to greet people (friends or relatives) So what are the common ice-breaker ...
4
votes
5answers
561 views

What does 厉害 mean, and in what context does it mean what?

This has to be one of the more ambiguous words I have struggled with. 厉害 can be: very well performed = 玩得很厉害; harsh = 骂得很厉害; severe = 生病得很厉害; probably a bunch of other stuff... Can anyone give a ...
8
votes
9answers
228 views

Chinese equivalent of “I can honestly say…”

Is there a Chinese equivalent of "I can honestly say". It's a rather colloquial expression, and I was wondering if there were something equivalent in Chinese to convey the same earnestness of the ...
7
votes
5answers
2k views

Take away (when ordering food): is it 带走 or 打包?

I was told that when you are ordering food you can say either 带走 or 打包. However, when you are not ordering food and you mean "take this away", then you use 拿走。 Is there a difference in context or ...
10
votes
5answers
2k views

Various ways to say “nice to meet you”

When I first started learning Chinese I knew the in order to say "Nice to meet you" or "Pleased to meet you", I had to use the following expression: 很高兴见到您。 But recently I've come across other ...
1
vote
4answers
213 views

differentiation of 交女朋友 vs 找女朋友

For some reason i have these two muddled in my head. Presumably cause they sound similar. Is it possible to 找了女朋友? or does it have to be 交了女朋友 can it be 找着了女朋友? Can someone clear this up for me. ...
2
votes
3answers
222 views

How to use 如 to make comparisons or analogies

I see this come up sometimes in idioms, and I find it easy to understand but not easy to use(1) Is it used to spoken comparisons or analogies? Or is it only for literary, formal, fixed expression? If ...
1
vote
2answers
120 views

Male equivalent of 小三?

What's the male equivalent of 小三、二奶, etc.? The closest thing I can think of is 小白脸 but it seems to be missing that certain something...
7
votes
4answers
469 views

What's the title for addressing an unknown young person the same age as you?

For example, you are a 20 year old male/female. You are walking on the street, then you see a male stranger who seems to be the same age as your. He is in hurry, you see him drop his wallet. You pick ...
5
votes
1answer
166 views

“A pair of mandarin oranges” as a homophone of “the gold”

image courtesy of Today, when Chinese people celebrate the New Year, there's a tradition to offer each other Mandarin oranges. As many sources say, the Mandarin oranges should be offered in pairs, ...
6
votes
4answers
156 views

Which expressions should I choose to say “thanks for your help”?

If I want to say "Thanks for your help", which sentence is correct and which one is more commonly used? 谢谢你的帮忙 谢谢你的帮助 It seems that the first one is more uncommon but I'm not really ...
9
votes
4answers
208 views

What's the difference between 遇到 and 碰到?

Both 遇到 and 碰到 can be translated to "come across/run into" in those sentences: 遇到大学同学了。 碰到大学同学了。 What's the difference between 遇到 and 碰到?
4
votes
4answers
246 views

Chinese idiom for “tilt at windmills” or “fighting against windmills”

Is there a Chinese idiom for "tilting at windmills"? This expressions stems from "The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha". In that book, Don Quixote attacks windmills, incorrectly (and ...
8
votes
2answers
627 views

Why are intermediate cardinal directions read differently in Chinese?

I am referring to the fact that in English, we say "northeast", whereas in Chinese, the equivalent direction is called 东北, which literally translates to "east-north". One could say the same about ...
8
votes
1answer
353 views

V + 到。。。。头上来: Exact meaning and how to use?

I know that the abovementioned formula expresses a negative result, but I am not exactly sure how to translate it. Some questions: 1 How to translate it well into English? 2 Can I use it ...
5
votes
2answers
191 views

The mysterious role of 占 in a sentence

I know that 占 means "to occupy/to take up". But in this following sentence, I can not figure out what it adds to the meaning as a whole: "对占人口绝大多数的民众来说,还是觉得有钱应该省着花" If I take "zhan" away, ...
5
votes
2answers
353 views

How to say “politically correct” or “political correctness” in Chinese?

A lot posts online use 政治正确 to mean "politically correct" or "political correctness" in English and I can say it is wrong. A few posts use 政治委婉语, but it doesn't sound good to me either, because 政治 in ...
5
votes
6answers
5k views

How to say “hope you'll have a great day”?

I was writing a card to a friend and wanted to finish with "Hope you'll have a great day" but realised what I could think of wasn't quite the same meaning, or just sounded odd/weird. What I wrote in ...
4
votes
1answer
105 views

Is the expression 学识渊博 usually used in a pejorative sense?

For example, as a sarcastic remark in the sense of "pedantic" or "know-it-all"?
8
votes
4answers
430 views

What does the expression “孤男寡女” mean?

What does the expression "孤男寡女" (gū nán guǎ nǚ) mean, exactly? Does it have inherently negative connotations? As an aside, why does Google translate it as "Needing"?
4
votes
4answers
238 views

What is the meaning of 相声?

Today I read a blog post talking about a Canadian guy called Mark Rowswell (aka 大山) that appears on Chinese TV shows and who is able to do 相声. This 相声 is referred to as "the art of language". What ...
3
votes
4answers
366 views

How to express “same shit, different names” in Mandarin?

I was recently discussing computer games with a friend and realised that I don't know how to express "same shit, different names" in Chinese. We were talking about DotA, LoL and similar games. If I ...
1
vote
3answers
148 views

Meaning of 漂漂亮亮地参加晚会

I saw this sentence on a textbook: 漂漂亮亮地参加晚会 Without more context information, what is the translation of that sentence? I think it has a meaning of "(a girl) dress up beautifully before going ...
3
votes
5answers
263 views

Do 看一看 and 瞧一瞧 have the same meaning?

Is 看一看 equal to 瞧一瞧 in meaning? Are they interchangeable?
4
votes
2answers
214 views

Difference between 好累 and 很累

我很累。 我好累。 What's the difference between those sentences? Both seems to mean "I'm tired".
12
votes
2answers
3k views

Informal ways of beginning/ending an e-mail

I have been writing quite a few e-mails recently and I feel that I want to expand my vocabulary regarding acceptable phrases to use both at the beginning and end of an e-mail. When I say informal, I ...
3
votes
4answers
272 views

Meaning of 我知道的就这么多了 [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Translation of “this much and no more” I found this sentence on Tatoeba: 我知道的就這麼多了。 (Simplified Chinese: 我知道的就这么多了。) Beyond this I know nothing. I ...
4
votes
2answers
180 views

Meaning of 一人付一半 in this sentence

In this sentence: 车费我们俩一人付一半,怎么样? I don't fully understand the meaning of 一人付一半. I have found that 付一半 can mean "pay half", but 一人 confuses me (if it refers to one person, why is that form ...
3
votes
4answers
169 views

How to ask “is it really so that…”?

How do I ask a question like "is it really so that you're just 18?" or "is it really so that the movie was good?", i.e. a surprised question? My guess is something along the lines of "这是真的,你只有十八岁呢?", ...
8
votes
1answer
166 views

Correct usage for 跟。。。过不去

This question has two parts: What's the precise meaning of this expression? What is the correct usage? Question (1) I understand it to mean that the person referred to (eg, 跟她过不去) is uncomfortable ...
1
vote
1answer
412 views

Is the cantonese expression 五福臨門 present in Mandarin too?

A recent question prompted me to look for expressions related to the Chinese New Year and, among them, I found one that particularly stroke me as interesting: 五福臨門 = according to the poster it ...
1
vote
3answers
204 views

Proper response to 不好意思

If someone make a mistake and say this: 不好意思,非常不好意思! What is the proper response? Should 没事 or 没关系 be used to reply?
5
votes
2answers
455 views

What is the best Chinese equivalent for “passion” or “to be passionate about something”?

In English, it is common to say you are "passionate about something" or "something is your passion" (e.g. My passion is rockclimbing). This use of 'passion' is different to 'passion' as in ...
3
votes
3answers
170 views

Temperature around 0°C

How to say that the lowest temperature will be around 0°C (e.g. -1°C ~ 1°C)? My attempt is: 最低气温会成0°C左右。
7
votes
6answers
2k views

Which website/service can give good example sentences in Chinese? [closed]

Often when learning new words, I want to see them in context. It helps my learning process, and understanding how to properly use new vocab makes it stick in my mind that much more. Does anyone have ...
3
votes
2answers
173 views

What and where is the connection between 压岁钱 and the character 岁 that appears in it?

During the Chinese New Year celebration, one of the various traditions is to give money to younger people in red envelopes. Usually they are given from elderly married couples to younger couples or ...
4
votes
2answers
181 views

Which expression do native speakers actually use: Chinese New Year or Spring Festival (or other)?

In relation to the Chinese New Year (or Spring Festival) I've heard different names, as you can see from what I just wrote. In Chinese we have: 春節 / 春节 = Spring Festival Chūn jié 農曆新年 / ...
4
votes
3answers
682 views

Saying “I have to go” in chat

Today I was chatting online with a Chinese person. I wanted to say "I have to go" to end the conversation and disconnect, so I wrote this: 我得走了 but I don't know if there is a better sentence. ...