Mandarin is a group of Chinese dialects that use as standard pronunciation the dialect of Beijing. Also the expected language when "Chinese" is referred to by non-Chinese, as in "I want to learn to speak Chinese."

learn more… | top users | synonyms

7
votes
3answers
350 views

What is an idiomatic way to say “This is not good” in Mandarin?

The title mostly covers the question, but some elaboration might help. In English, there is a common construction of ideas whereby the speaker makes a statement about an action or event, and follows ...
7
votes
2answers
271 views

Why does 有机 as in 有机食品 mean organic?

有 and 机 are some of the first characters we learn in Chinese, but only recently did I find out that they mean "organic" when put together. Can anyone explain why this is?
7
votes
3answers
268 views

冰雪聪明… only for girls?

Is the expression 冰雪聪明 (bīng xuě cōng míng) really only used for girls? The literal translation is "snow smart" and I understand it means something along the lines of "extremely smart" but the times ...
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
4answers
254 views

How to add emphasis to sentences

Last week a kid wrote on the office white board "Give me all your cheese now!" and I attempted a translation into Chinese (mostly to practice my handwriting). I wrote 马上给我你的奶酪。 I felt like this ...
7
votes
2answers
552 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
354 views

了解 vs 明白 vs 知道 - what is the difference, and when should I use each one?

了解, 明白, and 知道 seem to be fairly synonymous in Mandarin, but there does seem to be some subtle differences between them. What exactly is the difference? When should I use each one? Could you give me ...
7
votes
1answer
178 views

9 Questions from the movie Red Sorghum (红高粱)

My friend bought me a set of four Zhang Yi Mou movies. I watched Red Sorghum (红高粱) today, and there were a few sentences which, after looking up the meanings, I still couldn't quite understand. I'll ...
7
votes
1answer
196 views

Is there a tone sandhi rule that “4 3” changes to “4 0”?

This is a followup to my earlier question about the tones in the word "豆腐": On their own "豆" and "腐" have the tones 4 and 3: dòu, fǔ As a two-syllable / two-character word, "豆腐" has tone 4 but "fu" ...
7
votes
2answers
270 views

Academic explanation for rhyming fillers with irrelevant meaning in doggerel

在打油诗、顺口溜、儿歌里经常有纯粹是为了押韵或节拍而插入的和文意无关的词汇。在北方话、传统北京/天津评书相声里尤甚。我想知道在语言学专业里这种情况是怎么解释的,有没有术语或相关资料。 例如北京顺口溜: 嗝屁着凉大海棠,脚不丫子蘸白糖。 里“大海棠”完全是为押韵,无意义;蘸白糖虽然略有意义,但选词十分随机,更多是为了一种插科打诨的效果。 Brief translation: ...
6
votes
6answers
872 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
7answers
412 views

Correct/Polite way of asking “Can we speak in chinese?”

I would like to preface this by saying I'm Australian and speak with an Australian accent when I'm speaking English which can be hard to digest for a lot of people new to Australia. A lot of 1st gen ...
6
votes
2answers
253 views

What is the proper usage of 而已 in Chinese?

I always hear Chinese people making sentences using 而已 - but I've never quite, 100%, understood how to use this in sentences myself. What is the correct way to apply it, and what is the English ...
6
votes
4answers
399 views

Why is 喂 used over 你好 when answering the phone?

The use of 拜拜 over 再见 at the end of a phone conversation is obvious as you haven't seen them so how could you see them again but I don't understand why 喂 is used as a greeting when answering the ...
6
votes
6answers
644 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
4answers
1k views

How to convert from hanyu pinyin to IPA?

Where can I find a table showing the relation between Hanyu pinyin spelling and IPA for all phonemes in Mandarin?
6
votes
1answer
175 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
6answers
6k 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
2answers
116 views

How did 舆论 come to represent Public Opinion?

How did the word 舆论 come to represent the concept of Public Opinion? I know the meanings of the individual characters but I just don't quite see how the combination of these two meanings leads to the ...
6
votes
2answers
696 views

Are there differences in writing between Chinese languages, such as Mandarin and Shanghainese

There are already many questions about the different spoken languages that can be called Chinese. This question on the other hand asks about the written one(s?). Well, to start, is the written ...
6
votes
3answers
319 views

What's the main difference between 为 and 是?

It seems like both 为 and 是 mean "to be". In which cases is one used but not the other? Is it something like the difference between "estar" and "ser" in Spanish and Portuguese? (In the sense that one ...
6
votes
5answers
322 views

What was this online dictionary's name with ancient traditional and simplified characters and etymology?

I once found a Mandarin Chinese dictionary which for each character listed the ancient, the traditional and the simplified Chinese characters. For each it described its meaning and how it developed ...
6
votes
2answers
239 views

Is there a comprehensive list of vocabulary differences between 台湾国语 and 大陆普通话?

I've found many articles about differences in certain sentence structures regarding 台湾国语 and 大陆普通话, but does anyone have a large list of commonly-used vocabulary that are different? I spend a lot of ...
6
votes
2answers
136 views

Methods/resources for improving formal/business Chinese?

I'm returning to China early next year to manage a business, and will be dealing with a variety of Chinese clients in that environment. I want to ensure my formal/business Chinese skills are up to ...
6
votes
1answer
259 views

The development of rhotic vowels in Mandarin

Schuessler's reconstruction of the Old Chinese reading of 二 is *ńźi. It seems there is a correspondence between OC syllables beginning in *ń or *ńź and Mandarin syllables romanised as er. However, ...
6
votes
1answer
281 views

Describing a person that can speak Mandarin

Yesterday I met a person that can speak Mandarin. We had a nice chat and I was going over it in my head today. I want to tell another friend that I met someone that can speak mandarin, but I'm having ...
5
votes
3answers
374 views

Is “biang” a phonologically possible syllable in Mandarin Chinese?

One of the local specialty favourite dishes in Shaanxi province where I am now is Biángbiáng miàn. Photo by hippietrail The hanzi character for "biáng" is usually the focus of discusssions of this ...
5
votes
4answers
316 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
189 views

How is the currency of Taiwan referred to in Mandarin?

(I'm not going to use the hanzi or even proper pinyin for some terms because I only know them from speaking as an absolute beginning learner.) In Mainland China the currency is the "yuan" but in ...
5
votes
4answers
379 views

How to pronounce 儿 in conjunction with other characters

The textbook I'm reading now has liberal sprinklings of the 儿 character suffixing words that I have not previously seen suffixed. For example: 空儿。 How should this be pronounced? Are there any rules ...
5
votes
5answers
335 views

寻 找 , 就 寻 见: I do not understand the second “xún”

At the website http://learnchinesethrubible.org/ I find the following phrase: seek and you will find 寻 找 , 就 寻 见 I do not understand the second "xún". In the dictionary http://www.mdbg.net I ...
5
votes
2answers
246 views

Errors and Unnatural Language in a Translation Challenge

I was recently challenged to translate the following sentence from English into Chinese: You should stay away from that bar. A friend of mine went there before, and he ended up in the hospital after ...
5
votes
2answers
284 views

留学: Why the use of “留”?

I'm sure like many students of Chinese, my first encounter with the character 留 was in the word 留学, meaning "to study abroad". Some time later I encountered 留 as an independent word, meaning "to ...
5
votes
4answers
202 views

For all I know

There is an expression in English: "For all I know, ...." The following clause often has a modal expressing uncertainty or the hypothetical nature of the assertion, like "might", "may", "could", ...
5
votes
2answers
289 views

How can I improve the speed of my spoken Chinese?

I'm currently trying to learn '听妈妈的话' on SingChineseSongs, and I'm having trouble keeping up with the fast parts. I also have trouble trying to speak terribly fast in Mandarin anyway. Does anyone ...
5
votes
4answers
308 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
96 views

Role of 在 in this sentence

I was using a text editor in Chinese, when I tried to exit without saving the currently opened file it showed me this sentence: 您要在关闭文件前保存吗? What is the role of 在 here? Is it related to the ...
5
votes
3answers
475 views

Is there a traditional Chinese New Year greeting?

I know people often say 新年快乐 to mean happy new year, but is there a traditional greeting used in Chinese to express your good wishes for the new year? If so, what, and how did it originate?
5
votes
2answers
146 views

Measure Word of 中药 and 西药

my doubt is simple... the correct Measure Word of: 中药 西药 Appreciate your time!
5
votes
1answer
327 views

Usage of the phrase '不错用' in Taiwan Mandarin

I heard my Taiwanese friends use the Mandarin phrase 不错用 more than once, but didn't have a chance to ask them: Is it widely used in Taiwan, or is it used by a certain circle/type of person? What's ...
5
votes
2answers
458 views

Answering yes/no questions

I was a bit surprised at first when I discovered that Chinese doesn't have single words or expressions for "yes" or "no", and that instead we must use the verb from the question to either confirm or ...
5
votes
1answer
526 views

What is the correct pronunciation of 垃圾?

The word 垃圾 is sometimes pronounced laji, but other times I've seen it pronounced as lese, which pronunciation is deemed to be more correct? Are they both interchangeable?
5
votes
2answers
322 views

What are the rules of writing a 对联 (chinese couplet)?

I have looked at the wikipedia article "Couplet (Chinese Poetry)", but I think it poses more questions than answers. So a 对联 (duì lián) is a "Chinese couplet". it is composed of two lines each line ...
5
votes
1answer
236 views

Why is the 車 in Chinese chess pronounced jū?

The 車 in Chinese chess is pronounced jū. Why isn't it pronounced chē? Is this pronunciation used outside of Chinese chess?
5
votes
2answers
449 views

How to differentiate moods, characters, temperaments, etc?

It seems like there are way more words for these things than in English, and I am having a hard time figuring out the difference between them. Some adjectives can only be used to describe mood, while ...
5
votes
2answers
77 views

Do 衣服 and 衣饰 carry different connotations or are they synonyms?

衣服 and 衣饰 both mean "clothing"; but are they truly synonymous or is the use of each term confined to its own specific context? Or is it simply a difference between colloquial and formal speech or ...
5
votes
5answers
261 views

Why do we have to say 一百 一千 but not 一十?

This has always stumped me as all other base 10 numbers (>10) in Chinese you declare 1 through 9 for the quantity [1] of these units but you only have to declare 2 through 9 for 十 as 1 is implied [2] ...
5
votes
2answers
248 views

Language Learning Software That Teaches Mechanics (Not Phrases)

I've tried out various language learning software (Rosetta Stone, Tell Me More, Transparent), and I've been severely disappointed by the fact that not one of them actually teaches you the LANGUAGE, ...
5
votes
3answers
179 views

Usage of 師傅 in Mandarin

In Cantonese 師傅 will often be used to refer to some sort of specialized worker (e.g. a plumber, or a renovator) or some sort of "master" or "teacher" (not in the sense used in a school setting), ...
4
votes
2answers
180 views

How do you say 'dates back to' in Mandarin?

What is the best way of expressing 'dates back to' in Mandarin? e.g. the family's lineage dates back to 1720..etc