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

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9
votes
6answers
435 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
157 views

Difference between 生前 and 死前

Literally, 死前 means before death while 生前 means before life. They seem to bear the opposite meaning. However, in most cases, they actually mean the same thing, i.e., when someone was still alive. ...
3
votes
1answer
124 views

What is etymology for 沙龙?

I've noticed that hairdressing shops are usually called 沙龙 [shā-lóng]. Obviously, it's not a "sand dragon", but a direct transliteration of English "salon" instead. What is the reason for using a ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Why 福 is often used upside down?

On Chinese houses, people often place scriptures for luck, health, wealth, etc. Often, they use the word 福 [fú] turned upside down, like this: What is the reason for it?
2
votes
2answers
141 views

“一块” versus “一块儿” in Beijing

From some experience in Beijing, some on CCTV 9, and some reading, I begin to suspect that in Beijing the pronunciation "一块" is more often used for the count noun, and "一块儿" is more often used to mean ...
4
votes
3answers
264 views

Idiomatic expressions for attitude (agreement or disagreement)

I have recently seen two phrases which, in my understanding, looked very similar to each other: 再看吧 [zài kàn ba] 考虑考虑 [kǎo lǜ kǎo lǜ] However, I've been told that the first one means almost ...
8
votes
3answers
625 views

Why do Chinese translations of English names sound very inaccurate?

I have noticed that most Chinese translation of English names sounds really inaccurate and weird. For example, the common translation of person's name "Robert Wilson" is "罗伯特·威尔逊", which is not ...
1
vote
3answers
214 views

Understanding the meaning of 让 in this sentence

我不但能够让外国人坐我的车,还能够让他包我的车。 This is from a Chinese reader. The voice is of a Chinese taxi-driver. The problem is the translation of 让... He's talking about going to hotels and getting customers. ...
6
votes
2answers
327 views

Difference between 接受 and 接收

The first one (接受 jiēshòu) seems far more general and frequent: 我接受邀请。 I accepted the invitation. 他将接受口试。 He will take an oral examination. 他拒绝接受治疗。 He refused treatment. The second one (接收 ...
1
vote
2answers
330 views

Taiwanese Mandarin vs Mainland Mandarin [closed]

A reference request. Is there any good source of the differences word choice/meaning between Taiwan and Mainland Chinese? Not asking about Chinese Characters, but usage. Spain have different ...
4
votes
5answers
253 views

In this sentence, what is the purpose of 的?

Consider this sentence: 你说的是什么? I understand that 的 permits creating adjectives, like 我的 would be "my". But here, I can’t see how it works. What is its purpose?
3
votes
3answers
224 views

What is the function of 已 in 好像她已出去好几天了。

What is the purpose of 已 in the following sentence? 好像她已出去好几天了。 The English translation given is: It looks as if she's gone away for a few days. Or is this an incorrect-character, supposed ...
0
votes
1answer
180 views

“母牛流产了“ - ”The cow cast her calf"? HSK Anki flash cards

I'm reviewing the HSK1-limited-part1 flash card deck on Anki, and I keep coming accross this one flash card. On the front, it says 母牛流产了 and for the definition, The cow cast her calf What ...
4
votes
2answers
224 views

Difference between 两个都 and 我们俩

Pimsleur's Mandarin course teaches 'both of us' as 我们两个都 (wǒ men liăng ge dōu), but in another question I asked here I recently found that 我们俩 (wǒ men liă). Are these always interchangeable, or are ...
2
votes
1answer
150 views

What's the difference between “问一下”,“查询”, “询问”?

In the context of phone conversations with vendors I often default to either: 我想问一下… 请问… I'm looking for a possibly more appropriate way to address someone in this context. Would it be appropriate ...
1
vote
1answer
167 views

Expressions that have no meaning (什么/来着)

I know that these two expression, in certain circumstances, have no meaning and are optional. I'm trying to figure out how to use them, even though they have no meaning. 什么 This has a meaning, ...
1
vote
1answer
114 views

(Literally) Seeing Through Things

Earlier today, I ended up in a discussion which somehow involved people who were (literally) transparent. I was somewhat at a loss for how to say "Can you see through him?". After some research, I've ...
5
votes
1answer
151 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
1answer
474 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, ...
4
votes
1answer
196 views

Connotation of 吗 questions vs. affirmative/negative questions

Is there any difference in connotation/region/modernity/etc. between questions ending in 吗 and affirmative/negative questions? For example, does: 你很累吗? connote something different than: 你累不累? And ...
2
votes
1answer
110 views

六一 and short date format

In a calendar I saw this in reference to the Children's Day: 快乐“六一” Happy Children's Day! I guess 六一 is a shorter form of 6月1日. Is that form of writing dates only used for special dates? How ...
1
vote
2answers
160 views

Why 给 is used in 我的手被虫子给咬了?

I saw this in the subtitles of a TV show: 我的手被虫子给咬了。 Why 给 is used in that sentence? Without considering 给, I've translated it to: My hand was bitten by an insect.
2
votes
2answers
313 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
1answer
86 views

What is the difference, if any, between 即使 and 無論?

Is a big difference between 即使 and 無論? I was working on a couple of fill-in-the-blanks exercises and the following sentence came up: 你的畫很有特色,(blank)是畫家也不一定能畫德比你好。 I think the right answer ...
11
votes
3answers
671 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
101 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
304 views

Difference between 如果 and 要是?

In the Pimsleur Mandarin course it uses 如果 (rúguǒ) to mean 'if', but the dictionary shows 要是 (yàoshì) to have a similar meaning: 如果: if; in case; in the event that 要是: if Are there any ...
0
votes
1answer
229 views

Describe or explaining the Engineering occupation [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How are the words “engineering” or “engineer” translated in Cantonese? I love what I do and my family has no idea what I really do. I can ...
7
votes
3answers
88 views

How common is the use of “瞧” and which region?

I've seen 瞧 used every now and then in written Chinese, but I've rarely heard it said in spoken Chinese except for the occasional mention of 瞧不起. A couple of days ago I was watching Kung Fu Panda and ...
2
votes
2answers
338 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?
4
votes
1answer
89 views

What does 些 mean when it's combined with 什麼?

I found this sentence on tatoeba.org: 我就是不知道說些什麼。 I just don't know what to say. I understand most of the sentence, but what is "些" doing there? I've always seen it used to mean "a few".
2
votes
2answers
155 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 it with this exact meaning before, so I'm wondering what the proper meaning is in English, and what the ...
9
votes
3answers
351 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
99 views

How euphemistic is 傢伙?

傢伙 (an example of a Chinese lexeme that does not map bijectively between simplified and traditional characters, the simplified word being 家伙) is translated, in the only translation Wang Xiaobo's work ...
5
votes
4answers
547 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
78 views

Time periods relating to Chinese holidays (暑假, 寒假 etc.)

From my understanding most Chinese workers only have one major holiday around the time of Spring Festival. So are holidays 暑假, 寒假 only for students? Roughly speaking how long are they and when do ...
9
votes
3answers
354 views

What's the actual difference between 文 and 语?

Both mean "language" with some other related meanings. A friend of mine told me that while 文 refers more to the written language, 语 is more related to the spoken one. Is this a difference and is it ...
5
votes
3answers
253 views

Difference between 曾经 and 已经

In this question I was asking about 曾经 and one answer says it means 'already'. What's the difference between 曾经 and 已经? Do the two sentences below have the same meaning? 他曾经在北京学过两年汉语。 ...
6
votes
4answers
250 views

Is there a nuance 今天早晨 conveys that 今天早上 does not?

I have a feeling that one might mean slightly earlier. Is this right?
4
votes
3answers
92 views

Is 在瞬间 something like 'at some point'?

The phrase 在瞬间 zài shùnjiān seems literally to mean 'in an instant.' But usage-wise, is it more like 'at some point'? Or am I off the mark?
4
votes
2answers
99 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?
2
votes
3answers
71 views

When would 产生了 be used?

I don't really understand the meaning or usage of 产生了. Google translate gives 'had.' But it doesn't really seem to be widely-used. When would it be used, and why?
1
vote
1answer
83 views

What are the uses of 什会 and from which area?

In restaurants in Australia we quite often have Chinese dishes which are combination for example Combination Satay or Combination Fried Rice. These contain several types of meat as opposed to ...
3
votes
2answers
129 views

Why can't 了 be used to complement 到?

I have been taught that the sentence 我刚到了 (wǒ gāng dào le) is not correct because 了 cannot be used as a complement of 到. Is this true? If so, why?
7
votes
6answers
2k views

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 ...
9
votes
6answers
420 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?
2
votes
1answer
69 views

Is 搏杀 used in jest in this sentence?

In December, I read this as a social network post: 今年剩下一个星期了,继续努力搏杀! In English slang, one might say "killing it" to mean performing well. Is this use of 搏杀 figurative, literal, or humorous?
13
votes
1answer
261 views

What is the difference in use between 以及, 和 and 与?

I have a book with the following lesson titles: 中文以及中国 聚会和饮食 交通与环境 Why are these terms connected with 以及 / 和 / 与, why not always use 和 for example? Are there any rules for proper use of these ...
3
votes
3answers
199 views

Sentence structure “I'm [doing something] because [reason]”?

I am familiar with the sentence structure "因为。。。所以。。。", but what is the correct way to say "I am [doing something] because [reason]"? For example, "I am asking this question because I am clueless." ...
5
votes
2answers
219 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% how to use this in sentences myself. What is the correct way to apply it, and what is the English equivalent?