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 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 ...
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249 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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1answer
101 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 ...
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867 views

What is the difference between yǐqián (以前) and zhīqián (之前)?

I'd like to have some way to differentiate between yǐqián (以前) and zhīqián (之前), in order to help with memorising them both. Referring to Modern Mandarin Grammar (Claudia Ross, Routledge 2006), it ...
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162 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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112 views

What is the difference between 演奏, 弹 and 奏?

There are several words that seem to be related to playing musical instruments (specifically 演奏, 弹 and 奏), and I would appreciate an elaboration on the nuances between them. Are some used in specific ...
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376 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 ...
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126 views

Meaning of the word 腳

According to CC-CEDICT, this means both "foot" and "leg". How does one know when this word refers to either foot or leg? It is difficult to discern when CC-CEDICT does not include sample sentences.
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105 views

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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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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252 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 ...
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314 views

一起 vs 一块 - what's the difference?

一起 vs 一块, are these two expressions the same in Chinese, or is there a certain situation where one is more appropriate than the other? Can anyone explain what the difference might be? For example: ...
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500 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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3answers
269 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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438 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 ...
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What is the exact meaning of 吃豆腐, and where does the expression come from?

I'm not talking about eating tofu, but the expression that means something more like taking advantage of someone. What exactly does 吃豆腐 mean, and where does this expression come from?
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513 views

What is the difference between 通常,经常,and 常常?

What is the difference between 通常,经常,and 常常? I hear them a lot in conversational Chinese, but I can't pick out the difference in meaning. The dictionaries I've checked don't seem to agree on their ...
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345 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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206 views

What does 触控 mean in this sentence?

I was busy reading about Apple's new textbook announcement on Engadget China, and I came across the following sentence: 使用者将可轻松地以触控的方式浏览教科书内容. What is the meaning of 触控 in this sentence? (My ...
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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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345 views

What is the meaning of 当仁不让?

I was browsing the Chinese internet looking for a bank that supports Mac OS when I came across this site. They list a range of different banks under a range of different headings, the first of which ...
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448 views

Is the cantonese expression 五福臨門 present in Mandarin too?

A recent question prompted me to look for expressions related to the Chinese New Year and, among them, I found one that particularly stroke me as interesting: 五福臨門 = according to the poster it ...
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Does 危机 really mean both crisis and opportunity?

A lot of people, mostly those who haven't studied Chinese, like to claim something along the lines of "In Chinese, the word for crisis 危机, also bears the meaning of opportunity." This is usually ...
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257 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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484 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?
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2k views

What Chinese podcasts are available to improve my listening skills? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese I'm a big podcast fan, and I think listening to Chinese podcasts would be a great way to improve my listening skills. I enjoy ...
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131 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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337 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 ...
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933 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 ...
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248 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?
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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 ...
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315 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 ...
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163 views

Using 一样 instead of 同一 for “the same school”

In my study software, I recently had the following sentence: 我想我们会上一样的学校. The context (a girl speaking to another girl who had just moved into the neighborhood) made it seem like the correct ...
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334 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?
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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 ...
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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 ...
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736 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 ...
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377 views

When is the spelling and the pronunciation different?

I noticed that sometimes certain finals in Chinese sound differently when combined with different initials. For e.g., what is spelled "u" sometimes is pronounced "ü". Other times, I think the final ...
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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?
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301 views

When do the tones change?

Sometimes, in certain combinations of tones or words, the tones change. Where can I find a complete list of all tone changes that occur in Mandarin?
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1k views

What software can correct pronunciation?

What software is available which can record my voice and warn me about problems with my pronunciation and tones?
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117 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 ...
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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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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 ...
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Tips for pronouncing X vs SH in Mandarin?

I'd like to think my Mandarin pronunciation is generally pretty reasonable, but I often get tripped up with X and SH - for example words like 雪 and 水, or 虾 and 莎. Even with different tones, I find ...
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1k views

How polite is too polite?

I've noticed in China that people don't tend to use as many 'polite' words as we do in western languages, like 'please' or 'thank you'. I want to make it clear that I'm not complaining about this; I ...
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526 views

Why are 成语 (idioms) four characters long? Are there 成语 with more or less than four characters?

I really enjoying learning 成语 (chéng yǔ) in Chinese, and I'm curious to know why they are often or always four characters long? Where does this tradition stem from? And are there 成语 with more or ...
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556 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 ...
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304 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 ...
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Is there a rule of thumb for distinguishing male and female names in Chinese?

I often get tripped up when reading names of Chinese people, and trying to work out if they are male or female. Is there a good rule of thumb to follow to determine which is which?