Questions about the rules that govern and structure the language, and the composition of clauses, sentences and expressions.

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28
votes
10answers
8k views

的-地-得, when do you use which?

So the age old question of 的-地-得, when do you use which? When spoken, it all sounds the same, but on paper it depends on if it's a verb, noun, adjective. But I don't quite remember if that is all that ...
16
votes
3answers
762 views

Tense and use of 了

I struggle a bit to get my head around tenses in Mandarin, and in particular when I need to use 了 (le). Do you have any tips, examples or resources to help me out with this?
13
votes
5answers
528 views

Learning how to use measure / count words properly

Chinese has measure (or count) words like “个” (一个人), “部” (三部车), etc. These always get me confused, and there way too many of them. Are there any general rules that can help me memorize them? Also, ...
19
votes
1answer
476 views

What is the difference in use between 以及, 和 and 与?

I have a book with the following lesson titles: 中文以及中国 聚会和饮食 交通与环境 Why are these terms connected with 以及 / 和 / 与, why not always use 和 for example? Are there any rules for proper use of these ...
17
votes
4answers
711 views

How do I decide whether to use 可以, 会 or 能?

According to every dictionary I've seen so far, there is a big overlap in these: 可以 = can, may, be able to 会  = can, be able to, able 能  = can, may, able, capable How do I properly choose which ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Why do Chinese translations of English names sound very inaccurate?

I have noticed that most Chinese translation of English names sounds really inaccurate and weird. For example, the common translation of person's name "Robert Wilson" is "罗伯特·威尔逊", which is not ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

How is 就 (jiù) used?

Pimsleur's Mandarin course teaches "I'm leaving very early tomorrow morning" as: 我明天早上很早就走 (wŏ míngtiān zăoshàng hĕn zăo jiù zŏu) It says that 就 (jiù) doesn't have a corresponding meaning in ...
2
votes
3answers
192 views

Difference between 几岁了 and 多大了

I googled a bit on it and found different explanations. Some says it just depends on the region and dialect. But my text book explains that as a rule of thumb 几岁了 should be used for kids before 10 ...
2
votes
3answers
196 views

的 at the end of short responses

I've always been curious about this: What is the grammatical reason for 的 at the end of these short responses? Q: 這樣好嗎? A: 好的。 Q: 你是美國人嗎? A: 是的。 Q: 你會彈鋼琴嗎? A: 會的。 Can someone shed some light on it ...
2
votes
2answers
140 views

Translation of “this much and no more”

I found this sentence and its English translation on tatoeba.org: 我知道的就這麼多了。 Beyond this I know nothing. Now I'm trying to parse the sentence structure, and I'd like some confirmation or a ...
5
votes
1answer
160 views

怎么… with 的 and 了

So it is said that if you find 的 after 怎么, the sentence represents 'How', and if you find 了 after 怎么, the sentence represents 'Why'. How : 你怎么来的? "How did you come?" Why : 你怎么来了? "Why did you come?" ...
9
votes
2answers
753 views

Using 的 at the end of a sentence

I'm looking for confirmation of the way I'm parsing a sentence with 的 at the end, and I'd appreciate some background or other examples of this usage. I found this sentence on tatoeba.org: ...
8
votes
3answers
364 views

When do I use 着 to indicate action in progress?

It seems like for some verbs (正)在 is used to indicate action in progress, but I have also encountered 着 for some, like 穿着. When should it be used, is there a rule to follow?
6
votes
1answer
106 views

When should I use the 是…的 construction?

I've been told that 是...的 is used to put emphasis on something, but I'm not sure when or why I should use it.
7
votes
3answers
377 views

份, 个, 本, 两: How do they function in these sentences?

I've been working with Rosetta Stone for about 2 weeks now, and due to the immersion (from the start, the entire program is entirely Chinese—no English anywhere), they don't do any explaining of ...
6
votes
2answers
437 views

Can 来 be used as a 虚词?

来 usually means "to come". In this sentence from an online database: 旱区人民需要我们的帮助来渡过难关 来 does not seem to me being used in its lexical meaning here, but rather containing a grammatical expression ...
0
votes
2answers
104 views

what is difference using of “地” and “得” [duplicate]

I have been learning Mandarin since 6 months ago, but i have problem with my title, could you guys make me clear about the difference between them? if i have example of sentences like below is ...
9
votes
2answers
473 views

Measure Words and their English Analogue

I was taught that the closest analogue in English of Chinese measure words are 'units', e.g. "a pile of wood", "a cup of water", etc. What strikes me as a bit odd about this analogy is that the units ...
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.
6
votes
6answers
925 views

Is it correct to say “在手机”?

Would it be correct to use the phrase "在手机”/“在手机上”, etc to express that I am doing something on my phone? For example, could I say “我听音乐在我的手机上。”? Or can 在 only be used for my actual physical location? ...
6
votes
5answers
556 views

What is that use of 得?

I have read the sentence: 你还记得我吗? But I can’t understand the meaning of 得, here. I don’t think it belongs to the rules explained here
5
votes
4answers
324 views

Why is (是) shi4 dropped in this sentence:“我很好”?

I''m a Chinese learner for quite a while, I've been wondering why (是) shi4 is dropped in sentences like this:"我很好" Isn't there supposed to be a verb in every sentences? like 我(是)很好.
2
votes
1answer
182 views

Difference between 只,之, and 支?

I'm a native speaker but I don't know the first thing about writing Chinese, on Rosetta stone we were shown 一支笔 and 一只狗, whats the difference and where and when do you use each one?
1
vote
4answers
115 views

The word order of co-existing adverbs in a sentence

I am wondering whether there is a commonly accepted rule about the word order of co-existing adverbs in a sentence. For example, in the following sentences, 果然,昨天,直接,从学校 are adverbs. Which of the ...
7
votes
1answer
348 views

Macau Cantonese, any differences from HK?

Does anyone know how Cantonese from Macau differ from HK if there are any? Any slangs or terms used in Macanese Cantonese that is rarely used or heard in HK? Maybe some sinicised portuguese words? ...
5
votes
3answers
265 views

How formal is 如何 in the context of 最近如何?

I was told by friend who is a native mainland speaker that "最近如何", or anything using "如何" to inquire about the state of a person, is a very ancient/formal way of speaking. This was quite a shock to ...
5
votes
4answers
427 views

Two “question words” in one sentence

One of my teachers asked us the example question: 你有什么安排吗? I asked her why there would be two "question words", 什么 and 吗, when I believed you should only have one question word (in this case, 吗 ...
5
votes
4answers
338 views

That mystical 就 again

Here is a sentence: 厨房壁炉架上的那面镜子就把哈利吓了一跳 Below are my translation variants. Bold letters should be a 'jiu' english analog here. The mirror on top of the kitchen's fireplace scared Harry the ...
4
votes
3answers
263 views

Grammar for counting in Chinese (for non-native speakers of Chinese)

I need to write a program that can insert the count of objects into a text - without knowing virtually anything about the Chinese language. While for English this needs to distinguish between singular ...
4
votes
2answers
236 views

What is the difference between 怎么 and 如何?

Is it mostly a question of register?
3
votes
6answers
301 views

Usage of 了 and 以后

For the sentence 'I watched a movie after I had food', are the following translations equivalent? Additionally, is the 3rd translation incorrect (is the ...了...以后... usage valid)? 我吃了饭看电影。 我吃饭以后看电影。 ...
1
vote
1answer
41 views

Breaking a sentence into grammatical structures

There's a very robust deck of Anki flash cards I've been using to build vocabulary. But sometimes I get stuck when new grammatical constructs are shown. The deck says 你想走的时候就走吧。 is translated "Go ...
1
vote
1answer
175 views

What is the difference between qi3 and qi3 lai2?

In both situations my pen is now on a table. Speaking to another person, why do we say: 1) Qing3 na2 qi3 wo3 de5 bi3. 请拿起我的笔。 Not: 2) Qing3 na2 qi3 lai2 wo3 de5 bi3. 请拿起来我的笔。 How does the ...
0
votes
2answers
90 views

Say hallo to many people: 你好 or 你们好? [duplicate]

If a meet you (singular), I say "你好". If I meet you (plural), shall I say "你们好", instead?
0
votes
1answer
87 views

Is 未長未短 grammatically correct (in classical Chinese)?

Is 未長未短 grammatically correct (in classical Chinese)? The article http://www.hainan-today.com/2012/201201/web/201201_28.htm uses “未長未短”: ...