Questions concerned comprehension and understanding the finer aspects of individual words or phrases, with or without a context in which they are expressed.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

5
votes
2answers
194 views

Why is 土著人 used for Aboriginal people in Australia?

In Australia it is quite common to talk about Aboriginal people as they feature quite often when talking about sports, Olympics or politics. The word that is used to describe Aboriginal people by ...
5
votes
9answers
719 views

Is 我很对不起你 a unique sentence structure?

I'd never seen or heard this before until I recently watched a TV series and had to ask my wife to explain. My initial guess was that it meant "I feel sorry for you" when in fact it means something ...
1
vote
1answer
134 views

询问奸雄所见略同的由来 and how does it relate to chinese

The quote"我很想询问奸雄所见略同的由来" seems very interesting to me. And in Google Translate, it translates to "I would like to ask the king's men great minds think alike the origin of." It doesn't seem to make ...
2
votes
3answers
223 views

What is 被 doing in sentence “这种病在三十年前就被根除了”?

I understand that the sentence means something like "This disease was eradicated 30 years ago", but I have no idea what role does 被 have in it? Is the sentence okay if we remove it? Does it convey ...
4
votes
1answer
522 views

Does 给你 mean “Here you go?”

I found a very short sentence on tatoeba.org. All it says is, "给你。" That literally means "Give you," but what does it really mean? My best guess is that I could say it as I give something to you, ...
3
votes
1answer
150 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
193 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
234 views

How can I translate “精神需要”?

This is an example sentence in my textbook: "建立良好的人际关系,是每个社会人的精神需要" 精神 is translated in the dictionary into "spirit, mind, consciousness". Here I believe it must be modifying 需要, which is acting ...
1
vote
2answers
254 views

What does the character in this Naruto poster mean?

I dont know how to type that character, otherwise I would try it out through other means. What does the character mean? It appears in a poster concerning the Japanese manga Naruto.
5
votes
1answer
87 views

Why is 相 pronounced with a fourth tone in some cases?

I notice that 相 is pronounced xiang1 in most cases, but xiang4 in a few, mostly less-common words and phrases. The most commonly-used examples seem to be 照相 zhàoxiàng 'photo'; 照相机 zhàoxiàngjī ...
1
vote
0answers
95 views

What does “吃你的豆腐” mean? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the exact meaning of 吃豆腐, and where does the expression come from? Someone made a joke with this phrase during dinner. What does "吃你的豆腐" mean other than the ...
3
votes
6answers
10k views

What shoud I use to say “I love you”: “wa ai lo” or “wo ai ni”?

Some of my chinese friends speak Chinese. I asked them how to say "I love you" in their language, but most of them said "wa ai lo" not "wo ai ni", how can this be? I look for google translate, it ...
2
votes
2answers
295 views

Why in China do they use k instead of m for the slope of a line?

In china they write y = kx + b Just wondering if there was a reason.
2
votes
4answers
461 views

清淡 (qing dan) usage: any food, or from a diet?

I ate with a Chinese who mentioned the soup was 清淡 (qing dan): clear, and bland. On Google all I found were acupuncture and "macrobiotic diet" websites. Is 清淡 (qing dan) an adjective commonly applied ...
2
votes
2answers
485 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
170 views

Are 改正 and 纠正 interchangeable?

Both 改正 and 纠正 mean "to correct" or "to make right." What is the difference between these words? Do they have different connotations? Are both words acceptable in sentences like the following? ...
2
votes
4answers
172 views

What is the difference between 秀才, 进士, 举人, and 甲第?

秀才、进士、举人、甲第那些单词有什么区别?好像它们都是指在中国古代科举制度下成绩特高的考生。准确的区别是什么?哪些至今还在使用? (麻烦大家帮忙改正中文错误!) What is the difference between 秀才, 进士, 举人, and 甲第? They all seem to refer to students who did particularly well ...
3
votes
2answers
280 views

What is the difference between 别人 and 别的人?

What is there difference between these two expressions, or are they synonmyous?
12
votes
4answers
1k views

Are 明白 and 懂 synonymous?

Are 明白 and 懂 synonymous? If not, could anyone please elaborate on the difference along with some examples of usage?
1
vote
2answers
229 views

才 in the sense of “only”

What does 才 mean in this sentence? 妈妈说,鼻子长才是漂亮。 (Quote taken from a nursery rhyme.) After looking in the dictionary my best guess is that it means "just" or "only", so as to make the ...
4
votes
6answers
310 views

How to parse 没得 + Verb constructions

I've heard phrases of the form 没得V, where V is a verb. Sometimes, the 没得 appears to function like 没, e.g., 我没得选: I don't have a choice. Sometimes, it appears to function like a softer, ...
0
votes
1answer
693 views

How to use 指 when giving a definition?

How is 指 used, what is it's role in definitions such as this (from Wikipedia): 研究生是*指*获得学士学位后继续深造.
2
votes
1answer
68 views

What does […] 给盯背过去 mean?

The full sentence was more or less: 差点没把人家给盯背过去 I was wondering if it was a phrase, or if it just meant that they were staring at the person's back.
2
votes
3answers
138 views

做 as the verb “to be”

Can someone please clarify how and when 做 is used to mean "to be" e.g. 不愿做奴隶人们 I am familiar with 做 meaning "to do" or "to make", and I would expect that if I was saying "I am a slave", “我是一个奴隶“ ...
1
vote
1answer
120 views

Meaning of 修养­­­­

The dictionary defines 修养 as: accomplishment / training / self-cultivation However many examples in context seem to have the sense of the development of being a gentleman / lady, or being ...
5
votes
2answers
207 views

What is the difference between 人民 and 民族?

What is the difference between 人民 and 民族, for example in 中华人民 vs. 中华民族?
8
votes
4answers
307 views

中东 - “Middle East” or “Eastern China”?

The dictionary lists both Middle East and Eastern China for 中东. Is one of these meanings more common? What would be a native speaker's first impression of the word? Does the meaning vary from ...
5
votes
1answer
130 views

What is the meaning of 不同而不同?

This is taken from the phrase: 口感依成分不同而不同 Sounds like it means "manifold" or something like that?
8
votes
2answers
241 views

Specifics of the idiom “四海一家”

There are several sayings and idioms similar to 四海一家 which reference "四海". Does the 四海 actually refer to 4 specific oceans such as the Indian, Pacific etc. or is it more of a metaphor for all of the ...
2
votes
3answers
270 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 ...
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?
9
votes
3answers
517 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
418 views

Why use 非 and 亚 for continent names?

Why was 非 chosen for 非洲 (Africa) and 亚 chosen for 亚洲 (Asia)? I can't find a particular reason to use these characters.
5
votes
1answer
183 views

Meanings behind “吹牛” and “拍马屁”

I would like to find out more about the two sayings "吹牛" and "拍马屁". How these sayings come about and get their current meanings? 吹牛 chuīniú meaning to brag 拍马屁 pāimǎpì meaning to excessively ...
4
votes
1answer
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 ...
10
votes
6answers
3k views

What's the meaning of 缘分 in English?

I asked a similar question on English Language & Usage site, but no one seems to come up with a good answer for me. I have decided to give our Chinese site a try. Bonus: how will you describe the ...
3
votes
1answer
357 views

When is it proper to use 托您的福?

I think it means that I succeeded in part because of your luck. I've heard this used when I was in Beijing a few times.
7
votes
6answers
7k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
118 views

Is the difference between and saying 有时 and 会偶尔 very big?

Does one imply a much greater frequency? What about register? Is the difference between and saying 有时 and 会偶尔 very big, or is it in all cases quite close?
9
votes
7answers
11k views

Special meanings applied to numbers 0 - 10

From what I understand: 4 or 四 means death 8 is similar to 发 as in 发财 9 is somehow related to the emporer or is the emporer's number Can someone please provide the meanings (if they exist) for ...
4
votes
6answers
379 views

What does 糗大 (qiǔdà) mean?

What does 糗大 (qiǔdà) mean in the following phrase? 那才真的糗大了。 From context, I think it ought to mean something like "that would really be terrible" or "that would be far worse," but I can't find ...
6
votes
4answers
281 views

What is the meaning of 相声?

Today I read a blog post talking about a Canadian guy called Mark Rowswell (aka 大山) that appears on Chinese TV shows and who is able to do 相声. This 相声 is referred to as "the art of language". What ...
9
votes
4answers
264 views

Difference between 对 and 双

For a pair of rabbits there is: 一对兔 yī duì tù And for a pair of shoes there is: 一双鞋 yī shuāng xié And for twins there is: 双胞胎 shuāngbāotāi How can I be sure when to use 对 and when to ...
1
vote
3answers
147 views

What is 猫舅 in the following sentence?

I assume this is a cultural thing that I am not aware of, but a friend just updated their status to say: 希望猫舅变成天使守护全家 Xīwàng māo jiù biàn chéng tiānshǐ shǒuhù quán jiā Who or what is 猫舅?
6
votes
6answers
941 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
335 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?
8
votes
4answers
532 views

What does the expression “孤男寡女” mean?

What does the expression "孤男寡女" (gū nán guǎ nǚ) mean, exactly? Does it have inherently negative connotations? As an aside, why does Google translate it as "Needing"?
8
votes
7answers
428 views

Two terms for “According to” - What are the differences between 根据 and 按照?

根据 and 按照 can both function as a preposition that can be translated as according to. I imagine that the translation does not capture the individual character of each term. What nuances do the two ...
6
votes
2answers
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 ...
3
votes
2answers
81 views

What exact breed of animal is a 金丝熊?

金丝熊 is easily available from local animal markets in my wife's home town. We asked the owners of different stores and they say it is not a mouse. So what exactly is it, is it just a fancy name for a ...