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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839 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 ...
21
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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 ...
20
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11answers
36k views

How to describe differences between Cantonese and Mandarin?

When I tell people I speak Cantonese I'm often asked, "What's the difference between that and Mandarin?". This inevitably leads to a very poor explanation that includes references to the differences ...
19
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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 ...
18
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8answers
846 views

How do we choose the correct characters for a westerner name?

Since there are many characters that share a common pronunciation and sometimes also the same tone, how do we properly choose which character best represents our name? Is it totally arbitrary or are ...
18
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6answers
902 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 ...
18
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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 ...
15
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4answers
208 views

The question about “很好”

I've read that when asked the simple question 你好吗? ("how are you?"), answering 我很好 is the standard form, while 我好 is simply not used. 很 means "very", but 我很好 is simply translated as "I'm fine." and ...
14
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4answers
232 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 ...
14
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2answers
458 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?
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2answers
4k 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?
12
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5answers
377 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 ...
11
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6answers
381 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 ...
11
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4answers
669 views

How to pronounce “下载”

How to pronounce the word "下载", "xià zǎi" or "xià zài"? Most Chinese people pronounce it "xià zǎi", but there are some people insist on pronouncing it "xià zài". There are different also different ...
10
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9answers
2k views

I'm dying to learn Chinese [closed]

I'm new on this website and my only objective is to get some answers. But the main question I have is How and where to start learning Chinese? How to begin?
10
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5answers
2k views

Various ways to say “nice to meet you”

When I first started learning Chinese I knew the in order to say "Nice to meet you" or "Pleased to meet you", I had to use the following expression: 很高兴见到您。 But recently I've come across other ...
10
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4answers
442 views

Confusion about bian 邊 and miàn 面

I'm having a little trouble with learning directions and positions. It seems that most often the word bian is being used to indicate a position: front side 前邊, back side 後邊, etc. But then I see stuff ...
10
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3answers
283 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?
10
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3answers
384 views

How does foreign word transliteration work in the context of Cantonese vs Mandarin?

If I understand correctly, Cantonese sounds very different from Mandarin, despite being written in the same way (omitting some small differences, which are irrelevant for the question). If it is the ...
10
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3answers
312 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
773 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 ...
9
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5answers
229 views

Why isn't 到 (dào) used in this sentence?

Earlier while chatting, I wrote a sentence and a native speaker told me it was correct. The sentence was: 某天我去北京。= Someday I'll go to Beijing. (mǒu tiān wǒ qù Běi jīng) I noticed that no ...
9
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4answers
461 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 ...
9
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4answers
758 views

How is adding oil going to beneficial to the situation? 加油

Is anyone able to explain the history behind this cheer? At the face of it I'm unsure how this could be a cheer as 加 translate to add/plus/apply and 油 translates to oil/fat/grease you would think ...
9
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5answers
552 views

Translation for “sorry” as in “I am sorry to hear that”?

In English we can say "sorry" as an abbreviation for "I am sorry to hear that"/"I feel sorry for you" to express sympathy. Is there a Chinese word or phrase that bears the same meaning? I know one ...
9
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3answers
196 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 ...
9
votes
6answers
508 views

被 (bèi) vs. 叫 (jiào) vs. 让 (ràng): regional difference? formality difference?

I know that with a 被 (bèi) sentence, you are allowed omit the object: S + 被 + (O) + Other elements, e.g. 河里的鱼都被毒死了 (Hé lǐ de yú dōu bèi dú sǐ le) whereas, when using 叫 (jiào) or 让 (ràng,) the object ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

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?
9
votes
4answers
209 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?
9
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2answers
152 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 ...
9
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3answers
424 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
725 views

What is the purpose of the 中 in 在新标签页中打开?

So, I recently started using my android phone in simplified Chinese mode, to help myself internalize Chinese characters. In my browser window, when I press down on a URL, the "在新标签页中打开" button allows ...
8
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7answers
3k 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
337 views

What is the equivalent of the English word 'Fail' in Mandarin?

Fail is a pretty popular term on the internet these days, and one I'm quite fond of. Looking in my Chinese dictionary I can't find a great equivalent - is there a good way to say this? What would be ...
8
votes
2answers
772 views

What font size for reading simplified characters on screen?

I realize this sounds like a very subjective question, so I will try to ask it very carefully: I'm learning to speak, read, and write Mandarin. A lot of times (particularly on the web or in e-mail) I ...
8
votes
4answers
297 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
3answers
453 views

Anyone know why cellphones are called 大哥大 in Taiwan?

I was looking at Singapore Mandarin from the question here on Hong Kong Mandarin and came across the word for cellphone. I know it's popular now to refer to cellphones as 手机 but I remember in Taiwan ...
8
votes
1answer
248 views

吗 and 吧 at the end of a question

I heard that ba (吧) can be used at the end of a sentence just like ma (吗). Per my understanding, it's not interchangeable with ma (吗) but a more playful way of asking the same question. (Some girl ...
8
votes
6answers
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?
8
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1answer
172 views

Correct usage for 跟。。。过不去

This question has two parts: What's the precise meaning of this expression? What is the correct usage? Question (1) I understand it to mean that the person referred to (eg, 跟她过不去) is uncomfortable ...
8
votes
2answers
222 views

Are there Chinese approximations for the colloquial/slang English terms “snot rocket” or “bushman's blow”?

In English I know of two colourful terms for blowing your nose without use of a handkerchief or tissue by holding one nostril closed and expelling mucus from the other: bushman's blow [1][2] snot ...
7
votes
4answers
446 views

Origin of beautiful kingdom and hero kingdom

Why in Mandarin chinese, USA is beautiful kingdom and England is hero kingdom?
7
votes
3answers
246 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. ...
7
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
7
votes
7answers
829 views

Why do native speakers often say a character has “no meaning”?

Many times I will know all the characters in a name but one & I'll ask what that one character means. 9 times out of 10 the response is, "That character has no meaning". While it might be true ...
7
votes
4answers
658 views

Learning Traditional first with the goal of learning both

I found this in the Mandarin wikibook: "It is considered easier for people who learn Traditional to read both sets than people who learn Simplified only, but Simplified characters are less ...
7
votes
3answers
522 views

How to Say the “something” in the phrase “Do something”

I was trying to explain the meaning of the phrase "hang out" to a Chinese friend, and the first thing that came to mind was 一起做什么了, with me intending 什么了 to mean "something". He seemed to understand ...
7
votes
3answers
565 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
136 views

Difference between 更好 and 比较好?

I'm confused about the difference between 更好 and 比较好. Since both seem to mean "better", how are these used differently? In what cases would you use them?
7
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2answers
415 views

我(也)很好 and tone sandhi

What are the (resultant) tones in those sentences, where all the words in isolation have 3rd tone? 我很好。 我也很好。 Reading tone shandhi rules on Wikipedia, there is no explanation about tree or ...