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

20
votes
5answers
1k views

Can native Chinese speakers distinguish tones in songs?

I already have a hard time distinguishing tones in normal speech. This gets significantly worse when I listen to Chinese songs, since the melody masks tones even further. Yes, I understand that ...
8
votes
5answers
346 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 ...
8
votes
10answers
4k views

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 ...
14
votes
3answers
5k views

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?
2
votes
1answer
50 views

Mandarin chinese: syllable pronunciation training

Is there free mp3 resources of all combinations of syllables (1consonnant + 1vowel) in different tones? Here an example of syllables: All Possible Syllables in Mandarin Chinese
3
votes
3answers
139 views

How formal is 如何?

I was told by friend who is a native mainland speaker that "最近如何", or anything containing "如何", is a very ancient/formal way of speaking. This was quite a shock to me—I was taught this sentence ...
10
votes
2answers
163 views

高兴 vs 快乐 vs 愉快 vs 幸福: what's the difference?

So, I'm a bit confused. All the time. 高兴 eg 我很高兴 It seems 高兴 has a connotation of impermanence .. you could be happy right now but unhappy later on. It appears to be the most common, most ...
1
vote
4answers
395 views

Mandarin: 去 + xxx + 去了?

Where we live I often here the construct 去 + 某某某 + 去了, for instance: 去打牌去了 去上厕所去了 去做饭去了 Can this kind of construct be used in Mandarin aswell?
2
votes
2answers
88 views

Proper term 劝合不劝散

Came across this, old(?), term today: 劝合不劝散. A quick baidu gives me a lot of variants on this term though: 劝合不劝离 劝合不劝分 And 劝和不劝散 劝和不劝分 劝和不劝离 I would imagine anything with 和 would be a more ...
7
votes
4answers
609 views

Chinese equivalent of: 'ew'?

When disgusted by something people will usually say, 'ew, yuck!' or 'ew, gross.' Is there an equivalent of 'ew' in Mandarin? The only things I was able to find about it (here) - just explain what ...
4
votes
1answer
158 views

Character Gaps On Comic Conversation : 4 [closed]

I am learning Chinese by reading different texts. I have some problems with seeing some characters in this older copy of a book (the Chinese character is sometimes too dark to distinguish strokes and ...
0
votes
1answer
58 views

Character Gaps On Comic Conversation : 3 [closed]

Here is the work that I have done so far. Thank you for any help finding the missing characters (I don't need the translations, per se but just seeing a clear copy of the character would be helpful). ...
1
vote
1answer
90 views

不知說謂, 不三不四 - Meaning In Context?

I have heard 不三不四 pronounced (m sarm m sei) in Cantonese. I wonder if Mandarin speakers use this term and in what context? When I asked, someone they supposed that Mandarin speakers might prefer to ...
3
votes
1answer
59 views

Translation Gaps On Comic Conversation : 2

I have translated the following: 那可不一定 It certainly can not be. (*Hope this translation is correct) Here is what I have so far.. 三十分(?)從,大(?)會(?)吊(?) 來。 Thanks for any help to fill ...
4
votes
2answers
125 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
87 views

How to explain this situation in a few Mandarin phrases?

Background/Context I have been spending a lot of time taking care of my mother-in law recently. Because she is from 台山市 I have been learning some Taishanese. She is 85+ and only eats specific foods. ...
4
votes
1answer
200 views

Looking for official specification of Putonghua in English

There has been some confusion here between different senses of "Putonghua." So to clarify: article 19 of the constitution of the PRC says "The state promotes the nationwide use of Putonghua (common ...
7
votes
6answers
6k views

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 ...
3
votes
4answers
311 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
719 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
99 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
75 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 ...
18
votes
8answers
2k views

What is a good technique for remembering tones?

I find it a great struggle to try and remember tones for all the new vocab I learn, and aside from gradually picking up tones by listening and talking with native speakers, I can't really remember ...
1
vote
2answers
101 views

What's the Mandarin equivalent of “定係”?

I'm writing up something in Chinese, and want to write the following (irrelevant information redacted): Do I need to bring XXX? [...] Or I can just bring a photocopy of it? I'm not completely ...
1
vote
1answer
224 views

How to say “in my opinion” in chinese?

For example, "In my opinion, this music is very good". The translation indicated by Google, 在我看来, seems rather dodgy to me.
2
votes
3answers
77 views

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 ...
22
votes
9answers
13k views

Is it easier to learn Chinese after learning Japanese or vice versa?

For those who speak both Chinese and Japanese, would first learning Chinese make it easier to learn Japanese? Knowing that Japanese Kanji are derived from Chinese characters, how hard is it to do the ...
2
votes
3answers
249 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
380 views

How do we know what characters correspond to Chinese names?

Recently I've asked "How do we choose the correct characters for a westerner name?", and now, I'm facing a similar, yet kind of different problem, which I think applies to any westerner or Chinese ...
6
votes
2answers
244 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
286 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: ...
1
vote
1answer
82 views

Can I have some Taiwan restaurant sentences?

Every time I go to a restaurant in Taiwan I say weird weird stuff. They always understand, but I'm sure I'm saying it unnaturally. Also, occasionally I don't entirely catch what they're asking. ...
3
votes
1answer
242 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 ...
23
votes
7answers
873 views

Why is 有 (yǒu) the only verb that requires 没 while other verbs can use 不?

To negate something, we use 不 (bù) before the verb, such as in this short dialogue: A: 你是老师吗?= Are you a teacher? B: 不是。= I'm not. However, the verb 有 (yǒu) is the only one that requires 没 ...
14
votes
4answers
233 views

Is this an exception in the use of 的?

I know that, when expressing possessives, we add 的 to the usual personal pronouns, such as 我的. However, in a question in my grammar textbook I saw: 你爸爸忙吗? = Is your father busy? Why not ...
9
votes
3answers
199 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
248 views

“Actually” as a sentence-starter of speech filler

When casually speaking English I use the word "actually" a lot at the beginning of a sentance, or as part of the flow of my speech. e.g. Actually, next semester doesn't start for a month. ...
9
votes
2answers
158 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
325 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
2answers
303 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 ...
11
votes
6answers
386 views

Do all schools in China teach in Standard Chinese (普通话)?

When I went to China, it was apparent that many (sometimes most) people still spoke their local dialects instead of Standard Chinese/Putonghua (also known as "Mandarin" in English). I was told that ...
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
283 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?
19
votes
6answers
947 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 ...
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?
7
votes
2answers
612 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
79 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 ...
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
488 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
262 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 ...