Questions that concern the use of expressions, parts of speech, words, verbs, etc.

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3
votes
7answers
391 views

What does 起来 mean in this phrase?

把被子收起来吧. Translation: Let's put the quilt away. In other circumstances, 起来 means to get up but here there is a different meaning, and from the definitions I can't decide which definition is ...
1
vote
1answer
68 views

Comparing “as A” and “as B”

While poking around the internet, I came across this sentence from a non-native speaker, which sounded off: 她是朋友比爱人更好。 Intended meaning: She is better as a friend than as a lover [for the ...
2
votes
2answers
205 views

When to use ’啦‘ and "嘛‘?

I've learned two question ending: 吗 in 你好吗? and 呢 in 你呢? But my question is When to use ’啦" and "嘛"?They seem to be question ending also, are they common in Chinese?
2
votes
2answers
90 views

How to use 读作 in the sentence “67.5读作六十七点五”?

In the textbook, I read this: 67.5读作六十七点五. Question: What's the role of 读作? Why 读作 is there? 谢谢您!
2
votes
5answers
135 views

Which sentence is correct?

Wondering where to put a time frequency word in a Chinese sentence? Which one of the following sentences is correct? 我每个星期去四次大学 or 我每个星期去大学四次? Thanks!
1
vote
1answer
160 views

Using variants of 那

When to use variations of 那? 那 (nà,nǎ, nèi, núo) has multiple pronunciations. Can someone explain when to use the different sounds? (images courtesy of www.zhongwen.com)
2
votes
2answers
155 views

How to say those mouth-watering Chinese dishes names in Chinese? [closed]

Chinese food is delicious. For example, beef noodles (牛肉面) is one of my favorites. Fried noodle (炒面) and fried rice with shrimp(虾仁炒饭)are also yummy. Q: How to say other mouth-watering Chinese dishes ...
7
votes
2answers
293 views

What is the difference between these two words 叫做 and 叫作?

What is the difference between these two words 叫做 and 叫作? The dictionary definition is quite similar and when I use this term in conversation I am unaware of which character combination I am using.
4
votes
4answers
247 views

How strict is pronoun gender applied in writing

I noticed that my sougou pinyin program doesn't even have 她们的 in the choices, how strict is this gender difference applied in writing, Maybe some specific questions. If I refer to a group of people ...
14
votes
4answers
520 views

How do I decide whether to use 可以, 会 or 能?

According to every dictionary I've seen so far, there is a big overlap in these: 可以 = can, may, be able to 会  = can, be able to, able 能  = can, may, able, capable How do I properly choose which ...
2
votes
3answers
416 views

How to use 一点儿 and 一下儿?

They both mean "a little bit" according to the dictionary. However, does the meaning both apply in V and Adjective? i.e. V + 一点儿/一下儿 (吃一点儿/吃一下儿,快一点儿/快一下儿) and Adj + 一点儿/一下儿 (美一点儿/美一下儿, 好一点儿,好一下儿) ...
2
votes
2answers
134 views

How does the particle word “呢” work?

My teacher said that a particle word in Chinese is a function word, but don't quite understand what is means. How does the particle word such as "呢" work? Also, are there any other Chinese particle ...
3
votes
7answers
503 views

How does “多” work in this describing sentence “多好看啊!”?

I know 多 means many. But in some cases, it is used as in this sentence, such as this one: "多好看啊!" How exactly does it work? Thanks!
1
vote
6answers
185 views

How to introduce “Husband” in social occasions?

Some common words are 先生 or 老公, Are there any other options that would be more socially appropriate?
4
votes
2answers
502 views

When to use “们”

In Chinese, using "们" after a noun is, in some sense, equivalent to adding an "s" after an English word. Yet I find the rules in Chinese of using 们 to be very puzzling; I am a native speaker yet I ...
4
votes
3answers
237 views

Why is (是) shi4 dropped in this sentence:“我很好”?

I''m a Chinese learner for quite a while, I've been wondering why (是) shi4 is dropped in sentences like this:"我很好" Isn't there supposed to be a verb in every sentences? like 我(是)很好.
1
vote
2answers
113 views

What does the measure word 一片 mean? and how to use it?

In the textbook, we learned that 一片 is the measure word for thin, flat objects such as leaves. But it seems to mean differently in 一片草地. What does the measure word 一片 mean? and how to use it? 
3
votes
7answers
1k views

Can we call someone X太太 or not?

Can we call someone X太太 ? or is it the calling of husband to his wife? In my textbook everybody calls one women 錢太太. But my teacher said it is unsuitable. Which one is correct?
6
votes
6answers
552 views

Usage of 无 compared with 没有

I just stumbled across a new phrase 无消息。 This is the first time I've encountered 无. How it is used, and how it is different from 没有,as in 没有消息?
6
votes
6answers
386 views

“小王” 和 “老王” how to determine which to use?

This is something I still haven't mastered and still just go with the flow. If I wanted to call someone a nickname, say for Mr. Wang, which one should I choose? What defines whether I should call him ...
3
votes
3answers
970 views

In what instances can use you use 干嘛 over 干吗 (and vice versa)?

I noticed that 干嘛 appears used in various forms of media, such as newspapers, magazines, and movie subtitles. From a pronunciation standpoint, 嘛 and 吗 are different (neutral tone vs. second tone, ...
0
votes
1answer
145 views

How to use 的 in Chinese? [closed]

I'm recently studying the most frequently used Chinese characters list, and 的 is the #1 in the list, which means it is the MOST USED character in Chinese! So my question is how to use 的 in Chinese? ...
0
votes
1answer
103 views

What is the difference between 不 and 没? [duplicate]

I know 不 is the negative prefix for a verb, such as 不是. However 没 is also a negative prefix, such as 没有, so what is the difference between 不 and 没? Thanks!
0
votes
1answer
68 views

How to use 了 in Chinese? [duplicate]

I know 了 is a indicator for past tense in Chinese. But it seems there are more usages for this character, so how to use 了 in Chinese? Thanks!
3
votes
6answers
176 views

Meaning of 只 in 只把思念积压在我心头

Ok so firstly I take the sentence as a whole to mean. The missing is accumulating in my heart (i.e. I'm missing you more and more). Provided I've got that correct, what function does 只 perform here. ...
6
votes
4answers
457 views

Differences between 饭,菜, 食 and 餐

I was always wondering, what is the difference between 饭,菜, 食 and 餐 . Basically all mean food. But I know those are sometimes used in a diffetent curcimstances. What is then the most common word for ...
3
votes
3answers
202 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
895 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 ...
3
votes
7answers
509 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
343 views

What is the difference between 工作上 and 工作

那个是我工作上的东西 Why is there a 上 in this sentence? How does it change the meaning? Ie, what's the difference between 工作的东西 and 工作上的东西? When should 工作上 be used as opposed to 工作?
3
votes
5answers
840 views

Why is 未有 used here?

While reading a news article from Hong Kong, I noticed the sentence: XXX 未有回覆传媒查询。 (I replaced specific details that aren't relevant to my question with "XXX".) This I take to mean that: XXX ...
1
vote
1answer
129 views

(Cantonese) What's the right context in which to say, “三九唔識七”?

What's the right context in which to say, "三九唔識七"? Would like to know how to properly use this phrase.
6
votes
4answers
666 views

What's the difference between 舅舅 and 叔叔?

My favorite short story in modern Mandarin, 2015 by 王小波, is basically a long, humorous digression about the author's 舅舅: ...
3
votes
2answers
139 views

When should 之 be used as a particle?

When should 之 be used as a particle? There doesn't seem to be a straightforward answer on Nciku. On Wiktionary, the entry states: Indicates that the previous word has possession of the next one. ...
10
votes
2answers
494 views

Addressing women as “小姐” in Northern China

I heard that it is not appropriate to call women or girls "小姐" in northern China. That it is considered rough and has a meaning close to "hooker". So I never address girls or women as "小姐" in the ...
8
votes
2answers
226 views

Where is the correct place to use 您 when addressing others?

Almost every foreign text book I've seen mentions 您 as a polite or formal address to others, however I rarely hear it said and rarely see it written except when addressing customers and occasionally ...
11
votes
6answers
490 views

When is it appropriate to address a lady as 先生?

Chairman Mao addressed Soong Ching-ling as 宋庆龄先生. Yang Jiang was also addressed as 杨绛先生 by the public. My dad used to tell me to address some of his female colleagues as 先生 too. I wonder why a lady ...
5
votes
3answers
194 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), ...
3
votes
3answers
559 views

The meanings of 不好意思

In response to kindnesses I sometimes say "不好意思了" and I don't think there has ever been a misunderstanding. But as an English speaker I feel unsure how this is different from saying "不好意思" for a bad ...
10
votes
6answers
548 views

What is the difference in use between 完 and 了?

If I understood correctly, both 完 and 了 can be used to indicate a completed action, so what is the difference in use? How do we properly use 完 in a sentence? Which contexts would be valid?
7
votes
3answers
294 views

冰雪聪明… only for girls?

Is the expression 冰雪聪明 (bīng xuě cōng míng) really only used for girls? The literal translation is "snow smart" and I understand it means something along the lines of "extremely smart" but the times ...
1
vote
1answer
190 views

Chinese symbols on a Murakami painting? [closed]

Recently at an art gallery, I was introduced to some works of Takashi Murakami. On quite a few of his paintings were symbols which looked like Chinese, some sort of a seal perhaps. There was a ...
3
votes
1answer
523 views

How to say things are different from one another

Lately I have been confused on how to say different in Mandarin. I learned 不同 and 不一样 but am not confident on their usage. I am also unsure of the grammar. I found 与众不同 but this seems to also have the ...
5
votes
5answers
289 views

what's the difference between 羡慕 and 妒忌?

Can someone tell me the difference between these to words. Are they both regularly used? They seem to both indicate jealousy. I've seen 羡慕 on different occasions and I'm used to that one, but I've ...
3
votes
2answers
174 views

Deciding when to use 就像 vs 像是 vs 像

I may be mistaken, but if I use 就像 , 像是 or 像 in any of the sentences, they are pretty much the same. Is there a difference? “他们说‘电视直播’时,就像我说‘报税’一样无可奈何 “They say ‘live TV’ the way I say ‘doing my ...
9
votes
3answers
291 views

What grammar makes 同 品 項 第 2 仵 6折 mean “Buy one, get the second at 60% of base price”?

So in the convenience store, there were bottles of iced coffee with the slogan: 同 品 項 第 2 仵 6折 I was told that this meant: "Buy the first item, get the second item at 60% of base price." I was ...
3
votes
4answers
139 views

Does 住 人 mean “people living in the area” or “real live people, as opposed to puppets and fictions”?

I see various written sentences that refer to 住 人 . The dictionary says this means "living people," but 住 seems to be "live" in the sense of "I live in Beijing," or "I reside in Beijing." So if the ...
10
votes
3answers
417 views

Why is 我很要… an invalid statment

Why is it that to say I very much or really want something I have to say 我很想要... and not just 我很要... So if I wanted a cup of coffee I would say 我要一杯咖啡 But if I want to say I really want coffee ...
3
votes
4answers
193 views

Usage of word 到 in 我很高兴见到你

Why do one need to write a word 到 in statement 我很高兴见到你? Can we omit it? It's like being complete without that word for me. Why do we need to use it? I found this phrase in this book.
10
votes
2answers
251 views

Implications of “旧的不去,新的不来”

I found this idiom while looking for another idiom my friend told me about like 回去回来 or 回来回去. I'm wondering about the implications of 旧的不去,新的不来 though. Can this be used for people who hold onto broken ...