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

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5answers
384 views

What are the common ice-breaker sentences in Chinese?

There are sentences in English like "What's up?" "What's going on?" "how have you been?" to begin a conversation with or to greet people (friends or relatives) So what are the common ice-breaker ...
5
votes
3answers
338 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
164 views

Correct usage of “behind schedule”

What I would like to know is the proper way to say "I am behind schedule" in the general sense similar to "I am running two hours late for the meeting", or "This project is two weeks overdue". When I ...
5
votes
2answers
267 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 ...
5
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2answers
338 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?
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7answers
458 views

What's the difference between 对不起, 对不住 and 不好意思

When I was in China, I heard people using 不好意思 to apologize casually. I also heard the expression 对不住 in TV series and movies. Is there any differences?
5
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1answer
158 views

is 趁早 the same as saying as soon as possible? Can I use it by itself?

is 趁早 the same as saying as soon as possible in English? The dictionary defines 趁早 as "as soon as possible", but can I use it by itself in a sentence? For example , if someone asks me "你什么时候想去吃饭?" ...
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3answers
240 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 ...
5
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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?
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1answer
234 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 ...
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3answers
190 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), ...
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3answers
141 views

How is 青 and 苍 used in classical Chinese to denote colors?

Here is what the dictionary says about 青:  1. 深绿色或浅蓝色:~草。~苔。 Dark Blue or light green.  2. 靛蓝色:靛~。~紫。 Indigo blue.  3. 黑色:~布。~衣。 Black. Similar case is 苍:  1. 深青色,深绿色:~翠。~天。 Dark ...
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votes
2answers
290 views

What's the difference between …的 and 所…的

I believe that both of these constructions create what is called a "subordinate clause". I know that 的 can be used to specify something like: 我喜欢的东西 (those things which I like), 很远的地方 (the place ...
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4answers
230 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 ...
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2answers
486 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 ...
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1answer
137 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
101 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?
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3answers
233 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.
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3answers
84 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?
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1answer
128 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".
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3answers
373 views

What is the difference between 将来 and 未来?

The dictionary translation is essentially the same. From the example sentences I've looked up, it seems the two can be interchangeable (though I could certainly be wrong). Also, I was told that 未来 ...
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1answer
154 views

怎么… with 的 and 了

So it is said that if you find 的 after 怎么, the sentence represents 'How', and if you find 了 after 怎么, the sentence represents 'Why'. How : 你怎么来的? "How did you come?" Why : 你怎么来了? "Why did you come?" ...
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7answers
492 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!
3
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7answers
371 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 ...
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7answers
505 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 ...
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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?
3
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7answers
386 views

Should Chinese text be grid aligned in game dialogs?

Title says it all, should I have my text using a variable width font, or fixed width. I didn't know if it is easier to read if its aligned on a grid? So here is my dialog with fixed width, one issue ...
3
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6answers
171 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. ...
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5answers
673 views

你是我的小呀小苹果儿 What is the purpose of the second 小?

So I'm listening to this catchy song and the chorus goes 你是我的小呀小苹果儿. I'm wondering why the 小 is being said twice. Is that just something the artist is doing to play with the language in the song or ...
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3answers
456 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 ...
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5answers
835 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 ...
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2answers
137 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. ...
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4answers
138 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 ...
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3answers
100 views

Use of 了 - when is it necessary?

我走到海滩边,看到一幢房子前有一块写着“旅馆”的牌子. I went to the seaside and saw a building with sign in front of it which said 'hotel'. Authentic Chinese with my translation. This is in the past. But there is no 了. Is ...
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3answers
392 views

Different Ways to Say “Hometown”

I have encountered both 老家 and 家乡 for referring to one's hometown. What are the differences? That is: When should each one be used? When should one or the other be avoided? When can they both be ...
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1answer
2k 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?
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2answers
201 views

How to use 了 as a modal particle?

I'm having a hard time understanding when to use 了 as a modal particle (instead of as an aspect particle). For example, what is the difference between the following two sentences. 现在几点? 现在几点了? ...
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1answer
162 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 ...
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3answers
879 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, ...
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1answer
114 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 ...
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2answers
500 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?
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1answer
85 views

How do I translate “context”?

是不是可以说: 在这上下文,这个生词不可以这样用。 还有, You've taken it entirely out of context. 或者比如有学生问老师个问题,可是问提不太清楚,老师会回答说: Can you give provide some context?
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2answers
119 views

Phrases with most popular characters?

I found a table of characters (about 3000) in which most popular characters go first. Here are first 20: 我的 高的 是的 目的 的确 不 不是 人 在 有 他 这 中 大 来 上 国 自个 到 说 道 子 为 和 and I would like ...
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votes
2answers
164 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 ...
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2answers
149 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 right? If so, why?
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2answers
185 views

How do you translate “hover over”?

I would like to say something like "Please use your mouse to hover over the attribute icon," but I do not know the Chinese equivalent for "hover over" in terms of technology. Would 停留 be understood, ...
3
votes
1answer
136 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
86 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
160 views

你好啊? or 你好吗? Which is more common?

I have recently come across the phrase 你好啊 and I was curious about its usage. It was in the FSI Chinese course with a meaning of 'How are you?', but I have only heard 你好吗 on other courses and when ...
3
votes
2answers
84 views

Usage of 去 and 來 : is “context switching” allowed?

I am often confused with the use of 來 and 去. I made a picture synthesizing my current understanding of 來 and 去: 去 is used in the context when someone is going far away from A. 來 is used in the ...