Questions about more or less fixed expressions.

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15
votes
4answers
224 views

The question about “很好”

I've read that when asked the simple question 你好吗? ("how are you?"), answering 我很好 is the standard form, while 我好 is simply not used. 很 means "very", but 我很好 is simply translated as "I'm fine." and ...
12
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
207 views

Asking “what's the pinyin/character for X?”

How do we ask someone to "translate" a character or some pinyin into the other one? The expressions I'm referring to are: What's the pinyin for this/that (character)/... ? What's the ...
9
votes
4answers
247 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?
9
votes
7answers
568 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 ...
8
votes
9answers
248 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
529 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"?
8
votes
3answers
732 views

Why does the construction of 要是…的话 mean “if”?

I know other words like 如果 also mean "if", but why would 要是...的话 mean "if"? An example sentence: 要是你喜欢汉语(的话),你该听中国的音乐。 If you like Chinese, you should listen to Chinese music.
8
votes
1answer
192 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
727 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
423 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 ...
7
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
573 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 ...
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
735 views

Are these two form of “I live in…” both correct?

While studying I came across a useful expression to say "I live in..." which is "...在...住" such as in this sentence: 我在意大利住。= I live in Italy. Wǒ zài Yìdàlì zhù. But then I saw a different one ...
6
votes
4answers
281 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
932 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
322 views

Difference between 曾经 and 已经

In this question I was asking about 曾经 and one answer says it means 'already'. What's the difference between 曾经 and 已经? Do the two sentences below have the same meaning? 他曾经在北京学过两年汉语。 ...
6
votes
1answer
181 views

Meaning of 这么多好吃

I want to get the correct meaning of this sentence: 我恨不得一下子把这么多好吃的都吃完。 I understand this sentence as "I wish to eat up all those delicious things, all at once". I don't fully understand the ...
6
votes
3answers
269 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
7k 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
180 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
226 views

What's the role of 好了 in 你叫我(name)好了?

In this sentence 你叫我马丁好了。 what's the role of 好了? I understand this sentence as "You can call me 马丁."
6
votes
1answer
205 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"?
6
votes
3answers
166 views

Position of 面熟 in this sentence

In my textbook I found this sentence: 常常看着一个人面熟却叫不出名字来。 If 面熟 is an adjective, why is it used after 人 (to indicate a "familiar-looking person")? Can 一个人面熟 be rewritten to 一个面熟人 without ...
6
votes
2answers
355 views

How to say “thank you for …”?

In order to say "thank you", I can say 谢谢 or 谢谢你. What if I want to be more specific and say "thank you for (something)"? As an example, suppose I was invited for dinner at someone's place, and I ...
6
votes
1answer
199 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
2answers
563 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
3k views

How do we wish someone to get better?

When we know somebody is sick, how can we wish them to get better? What are the best ways and also the standard ones to do that? I'd like you to differentiate among some things, if and when ...
6
votes
2answers
213 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
4answers
285 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?!” ...
5
votes
2answers
202 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
381 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
328 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
247 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".
5
votes
2answers
428 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
1answer
108 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"?
4
votes
3answers
938 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. ...
4
votes
2answers
187 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 / ...
3
votes
4answers
471 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
281 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?
3
votes
4answers
175 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
172 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。
3
votes
4answers
292 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
189 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?", ...
3
votes
3answers
631 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
211 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
142 views

你好啊? or 你好吗? Which is more common?

I have recently come across the phrase 你好啊 and I was curious about its usage. It was in the FSI Chinese course with a meaning of 'How are you?', but I have only heard 你好吗 on other courses and when ...