Questions about more or less fixed expressions.

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17
votes
5answers
340 views

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 ...
13
votes
2answers
10k 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
10
votes
7answers
679 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
1k views

Why do people say “man dianer a” when you leave their shop?

When you leave a shop, you often hear the shopkeeper saying something like "man dianer a", which sounds like 慢点儿阿 (something parents say to their kids to get them to walk more slowly [even if they ...
9
votes
3answers
218 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
285 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
3answers
903 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.
9
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
674 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
9answers
276 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
1answer
227 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
911 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
513 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
4k 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
6answers
10k 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
719 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
3k 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
368 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
2answers
220 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
2k 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
437 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
198 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
299 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
4answers
212 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
265 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
215 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
171 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
1k 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
438 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
860 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
5k 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
241 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
5answers
493 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
5answers
450 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
509 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
3answers
1k 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. ...
5
votes
4answers
871 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
320 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
541 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
110 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
4answers
123 views

The slang(?) phrase “乾掉了”

As I remember, the phrase was used in response to a certain scenario. Unfortunately, as I tried to look it up on Google, all I find is drying out, which is certainly not the meaning I am looking for. ...
4
votes
2answers
102 views

Meaning of “不了” in “忘不了/喝不了/…”

I know that 了 after a verb means a completion or termination of a certain action, such as: 吃飽了 (I am) full. 開始了 (It) has started. 不動了 (It) is not moving anymore. But what about 了 ...
4
votes
3answers
143 views

Meaning of 所 in “有所…”

As far as I know, 所 has the following meanings: a place, as in 派出所 (police office). a counter, as in 一所科學中心 (a science center). a passive voice indicator that pairs up with 被(為), as in 被(為)愛所糾纏 ...
4
votes
2answers
194 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
2answers
166 views

Is 你好,北京 grammatical?

Today Victoria Beckham tweeted it. But is this reverse form (as opposed to 北京,你好) correct?
4
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
4answers
610 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
317 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
621 views

Why do people say “吃飽了嗎”

I have heard my Chinese-speaking friends asking each other 吃飽了嗎? several times when they are done or almost done with their own meal. And I have wondered, "Why would they ask others such question? ...