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."

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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 ...
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76 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 ...
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211 views

Is there a term for the noisy bringing up of phlegm in preparation to spit?

There's a colloquial term in some regions in English I've seen spelled hoik and hoick to refer to the noisy act of clearing the throat/nasal cavity of mucus/phlegm, usually just before spitting it ...
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243 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, ...
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176 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), ...
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461 views

Difference between 坏 and 破

Looking for some concrete answers on the difference between 坏 and 破 From what I have been able to understand: 坏 bad: as in 坏人 (bad person) or 鱼坏了 (rotten food) broken: as in 手机坏了 (broken mobile ...
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743 views

Origin of 呆在 vs 待在

Both 呆在 and 待在 are acceptable ways of writing dai1 zai4 meaning "stay at/in". For instance, a couple sentences from iciba: 我们因天气寒冷呆在家里。 Because of the cold weather, we stayed at home. ...
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275 views

Loanwords with Chinese Equivalents

How many loanwords in Chinese have Chinese equivalents? Example: 三文鱼 is a loanword, borrowed from English, meaning salmon, but Chinese also has the word 鲑鱼 meaning salmon. Are there a lot of these ...
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121 views

Two words for 'escorting,' 'showing around'

带你出去... 护送你出去... 陪你去玩儿... I am especially interested in the difference in meaning between the first and third. The third may not be correct because I may be recalling it poorly. The first seems ...
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177 views

“an” final pronunciation

I have had eight mainland Chinese teachers over the time I have spent studying, and I am still confused, because I find there are inconsistencies between my textbook's audio CDs, my teachers' ...
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331 views

Pronunciation of 那个

I'm surprised this question hasn't been asked yet! The pinyin for 那个 is nà gè, but in conversation, Chinese people often pronounce it more like nee-guh than nah-guh. I asked my teacher and she says ...
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2k views

What is the correct way to write 'niu bi', and how did it get its meaning in Chinese?

'niu bi' (牛逼? like the bees knees in English) is one of the more amusing expressions I learnt in my time in China. The literal meaning in English is quite colourful, so I won't describe it here, but ...
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245 views

Are Sinitic languages mutually comprehensible?

According to this map, there are different Chinese "languages" (Sinitic languages) in the Chinese area. Is my understanding correct that the "official" Chinese language is the Mandarin? In other ...
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214 views

What qualities does Hong Kong Mandarin have?

With Mandarin making more and more in-roads into Cantonese speaking Hong Kong, I'm wondering what characteristics set it apart from Standard Mandarin or other regional Mandarin dialects and/or ...
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251 views

How to ask someone to take a photo?

Recently on vacation I wanted to ask a Chinese tourist if they would mind taking a photo of my wife and I - but I didn't know how, so just asked 你可以吗? (nǐ kěyǐ ma?) while pointing to my camera. How ...
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296 views

What does “整块的时间” mean?

I have a sentence in my textbook I've mostly translated, but I can't piece this part together. "交通不是很便利不说,还需要整块的时间" Google translate spits out: "Traffic is not very convenient, you also need the ...
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302 views

What is the most common way to say 'indecisive' in Mandarin?

I have heard a range of different terms meaning 'indecisive' in Chinese - I'm not sure if they were in dialect, or there are several options for saying it in Mandarin, and so I'm curious to learn what ...
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101 views

忠美聖愛仁義利義好哀恕 -I believe this is a proverb relating to Confucian values, but I can't break it into separate words

I saw a single row of characters with no punctuation. 忠美聖愛仁義利義好哀恕 Zhongmei might be loyalty. Sheng-ai is probably love between humans and gods. Ren-yi is compassion. Li might be benefit. I can't ...
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226 views

What's the word for 'human quality'?

For example when someone jumps the queue, I might tell them they lack good manners / human quality, what's the word in Chinese (Mandarin)?
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395 views

What is the English equivalent of 拜托, and what is it's proper usage in Chinese?

I quite like the expression 拜托, but I've never been 100% sure of what exactly it means in English, and I'm not quite sure how to use it properly in Chinese. Little help?
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60 views

Appropriate responses to unexpected gift?

I have been on the receiving end of an unexpected gift. Actually I was in a restaurant and the owner (who knows I am learning Cantonese/Mandarin), just gives me some dong gua tong (soup). I didn't ...
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438 views

The origin of 鸡贼

I speak Mandarin Chinese, but it is the first time that I stumbled upon the word 鸡贼. According to 百度百科 (Baidu wiki), it means being stingy. The wiki page also says that it comes from the Beijing ...
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533 views

Benefits of Learning a Chinese Dialect in Addition to Standardized Mandarin

Edit: This is now cross-posted to linguistics. Studies have shown that learning more than one language helps people of all ages learn each one of the languages. For a nice mainstream media piece on ...
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124 views

Usage of 感动 (active/passive?)

According to mdbg.net 感动 means both 'to move (emotionally)' and 'moving'. But from what I understand from some texts I have '邻居们都很感动' implying a more passive meaning for 感动. Can someone shed some ...
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Characteristics of Northern and Southern accents

My first language is Cantonese. I learned Mandarin as a second language. Native speakers of Mandarin often understand me with no major issues. Of course, they recognize the Southern accents right ...
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125 views

What good resources are available to assist first time travellers to learn basic Chinese? [closed]

I'm moving back to China again in a few weeks, and I've already got a few friends planning visits - this brings me to my problem: I can't always be around to translate, and I find people have a more ...
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102 views

Say go team in Chinese?

Normally I would say 加油. On my city's news page this morning, they asked 10 people how to say "Go Syracuse (雪城)". There's a video of two men debating what to say, and then they say something like 雪城 ...
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122 views

Meaning of 差 in sentence

I have difficulties understanding sentence. What is meaning of 差 in the following sentence? 我看一下,现在差一刻九点。 Thanks
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175 views

Which is the correct sentence? Question about birthday

I was wondering, which is the correct sentence in this case. 你的生日是几月几号? or 你的生日几月几号? (without 是) Also can I omit 的 in this case?
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419 views

Complimenting someone on their appearance

In Spoken Mandarin Chinese what adjectives can be used to complement a persons appearance? I can think of a couple off the top of my head: 美丽 - Měilì - Beautiful 可爱 - Kě'ài - Cute 性感 - Xìnggǎn - ...
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135 views

How common are three-character or five-character words/terms in Standard Mandarin?

People often regard Chinese, including Standard Mandarin, as a monosyllabic language. Classical Chinese apparently was a monosyllabic language, where words consisted of a single syllable (a single ...
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Can 偷工减料 be used to describe the intentional and open purchasing of somewhat inferior product?

I know that 偷工减料 is frequently used to describe intentionally (and perhaps secret) shoddy construction. When I translate it, I usually say "Cut corners". However, I think 偷工减料 has a very negative ...
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230 views

What is the exact meaning and etymology of 拜年?

Since Chinese New Year is on the way (and thanks to Xiaohouzi's great suggestion), I've been thinking all about the new year. One term the sticks out is 拜年. I'm very curious to know the exact ...
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408 views

Advice on Mandarin Chinese passive learning

What are the best Chinese online tv channels with english subtitles for passive Mandarin learning. I find Chinese a rather musical language and would love to watch subbed tv (news, documentaries, ...
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157 views

How do I word a polite notice about toilets in Mandarin?

My friend has asked me how to translate a sign asking people using a bathroom (toilet) at the tourist attraction where she works. She wants to ask that they do not to throw toilet paper in the ...
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180 views

Is Learning and Memorizing Chinese Characters much different than English?

Unlike English, Chinese is not a spelling language, which means there is no hint from the characters for pronunciation!!! Therefore, we can only work on the characters themselves to figure a way to ...
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299 views

“我们过去了” was he joking?

One man and I were crossing a busy Beijing intersection and were almost across when tour buses cut us off from both sides and we stood between them as they passed. He smiled at me and said "我们过去了!' ...
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165 views

What is the Mandarin equivalent for the Shanghai term for dirty?

In the Shanghai dialect dirty is pronounced something like "o co" with the o pronounced like the "o" in cot and the "c" pronounced like the usual c in pinyin (kinda like an 'ts' sound). Which ...
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903 views

Difference between the Advantages and disadvantages of learning Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese Hokkien for visiting Taiwan

I'm planning on visiting Taiwan as a tourist for about one week next year. Both Wikipedia and Wikivoyage say that Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese Hokkien are common languages there. What advantages ...
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371 views

The use of 上 (shàng) “on/above/over” in Mandarin and English

I'm interested in the the differences between English and Mandarin when they are talking about spatial preposition. Can i assume that in Mandarin, they use the preposition 上 for most of the times ...
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774 views

Writing Chinese Characters is Sloppy

Since learning Mandarin through Rosetta Stone, Youtube videos, and friends, I've begun to keep a journal of mandarin characters and phrases. I first draw the character, along with the pinyin and ...
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1answer
175 views

Expressions that have no meaning (什么/来着)

I know that these two expression, in certain circumstances, have no meaning and are optional. I'm trying to figure out how to use them, even though they have no meaning. 什么 This has a meaning, ...
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145 views

Is 菜心 used in Mandarin?

Is the vegetable 菜心 (Choy Sum - English rendering of Cantonese) called 菜心 in Mandarin? Is it pronounced "cài xīn" or is it pronounced as it would be in Cantonese?
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Construct: X都不X一下, Mandarin?

I've come across the following construct recently: X 都不 X 一下 Specifically what I heard was: 痒都不痒一下 (Bonus points to anyone who knows where that comes from...) Is this a mandarin construct? Can X ...
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137 views

Books or websites listing *polysyllabic* Mandarin terms with same pronunciation differing only by tones

I'm interested in finding any webpages or books that list words and phrases of more than one character that share the same pronunciation but not the same tones. For instance, here are some terms I've ...
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316 views

国家 vs. 国, when can 国 be used alone?

In the Chinese book for beginners by Bellassen, it is stated that 国 cannot be used alone: it doesn't have a meaning on its own, and thus the word country/fatherland is 国家 and not 国. However... I am ...
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235 views

How to correctly order the words in this sentence?

This is a question from an exercise book that I'm currently working through, to rearrange the given words into the correct order. I believe the format is along the lines of "The person who was [doing ...
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237 views

What is the meaning and proper usage of 凭什么?

I was watching a TV show and heard them using the expression 凭什么 to say 'why' - I hadn't heard this with this exact meaning before, so I'm wondering what the proper meaning is in English, and what the ...
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80 views

Could you repeat that?

I sometimes need to say the equivalent of sorry, could you repeat that... I have found one comfortable phrase (for me) to handle this situation but would like to learn other phrases to use in this ...
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167 views

Names of extended family members

In 闽南话/Hokkien (and 启海话, and possibly all dialects) when we call our uncles and aunties we call them by the order of their age and whether they're on our father's or mother's sides, and the ...