Questions about what word fits better in a certain context or situation.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

6
votes
2answers
203 views

What is the difference between 整个 and 全?

The dictionary definitions for 整个 and 全 both use "whole" and "entire". However, 全 additionally has definitions of "all" and "complete". I have a homework assignment that asks me to distinguish their ...
6
votes
4answers
604 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: ...
6
votes
3answers
322 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
217 views

What's the difference between 房子 and 屋?

It seems like "house" is usually translated as 房子 (fáng zi) in standard Chinese, although 屋 (wū) is also a common translation, especially in Cantonese. Is there a difference between the two? When ...
6
votes
2answers
188 views

What's the difference between 証 and 證?

I realized 证 could be 証 and 證. Is there any difference between them?
6
votes
3answers
228 views

What's the difference between 蝦 and 鰕?

I found there are two characters for "xia1" (ghra as in Middle Chinese), 蝦 and 鰕. Could someone explain what the difference is?
6
votes
2answers
101 views

How to use 凭 as a preposition

I understand 凭 as a verb to mean rely. But I often read it and the seemingly related 凭着 in familiar contexts but still do not know what function it serves. Seeing example sentences doesn't make it any ...
6
votes
4answers
183 views

What is the difference between 参观 and 游览

What is the difference between 参观 and 游览. I know they have a similar meaning but are distinct in some ways (i.e. you can 参观 some places and 游览 others)?
6
votes
3answers
224 views

Difference between 各 and 每?

I'm used to using 每 for every. However, 各 came up one day and appears to me to have the exactly same meaning. Is there a contextual difference between the two that I am missing or can they be swapped ...
6
votes
2answers
477 views

How to say “giving someone the benefit of the doubt” in Chinese?

This expression connotes that one is willing to not insist on accusing someone of a mistake despite most evidence pointing to that someone as being responsible. As in a legal proceeding where the jury ...
6
votes
1answer
134 views

馅饼 in Cantonese

In the Dim Sum place I usually go to (in the U.S), they call the pan-fried bun stuffed with Chinese chive and shrimp 韭菜馅饼. I came from Northern China and the shape and size of that bun are, by any ...
6
votes
2answers
523 views

How to express a date in Chinese (lunar) calendar?

Many traditional festivals are observed on a given date on the Chinese (lunar) calendar(Actually, the Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar). For example, the Spring Festival falls on the first day ...
5
votes
6answers
308 views

Using 老头 / 老头子 when speaking to others

I'm trying to get some clarification on whether or not it is impolite to use 老头 / 老头子 when speaking outside a group of friends when referring to a third party. From my understanding 老头 is quite ...
5
votes
6answers
712 views

What's the difference between 了解 and 理解?

I've asked some of my Chinese friends what the difference was. Most couldn't explain. Some said that you 了解 people but you 理解 things. What's the difference?
5
votes
4answers
193 views

How is the currency of Taiwan referred to in Mandarin?

(I'm not going to use the hanzi or even proper pinyin for some terms because I only know them from speaking as an absolute beginning learner.) In Mainland China the currency is the "yuan" but in ...
5
votes
2answers
319 views

“If you say so”: Dismissive agreement

I would like to know some ways to agree in a non-committal or dismissive way. For instance, in English, we have: If you say so. Is that so? (with a flat intonation) Really? (flat ...
5
votes
3answers
236 views

What is the difference between 做番 vs. 做返?

A friend (Mainland Chinese, living in Hong Kong) recently posted the following sentence on Facebook: 聖誕節買禮物?做番中國人啦! As I had never seen the "做番" construction before, I asked if perhaps she had ...
5
votes
5answers
535 views

Should one write “妳好" when addressing a female?

With traditional Chinese characters it is correct and proper to address a female as “妳”. If I have a simple question, I think it's clear I should use the female form. 妳最近好嗎? But to say "hello", ...
5
votes
3answers
144 views

What's the difference between “大衣” (dàyī), “外套” (wàitào), and “外衣” (wàiyī) - which can all be translated to “coat”?

As I need to buy some cold weather clothes now that I'm heading further north than Xi'an I tried to look up the word for "coat". I found there are at least these three terms: 大衣 (dàyī) 外套 (wàitào) ...
5
votes
2answers
272 views

Difference between 别 and 不

I know that a typical way to negate a verb is to stick 不 in front of it. But I learned some phrases that use 别 instead: 别担心, 别客气 and so on, all of them in short polite fixed phrases. I know that I ...
5
votes
5answers
234 views

Differences between the two words for each season, such as 冬季 (dōngjì) and 冬天 (dōngtiān)

There seem to be two words for each season. Each pair has the first character in common but for the second character one will have 季 (jì) and the other will have 冬天 (tiān). For example "winter" is: ...
5
votes
2answers
250 views

Errors and Unnatural Language in a Translation Challenge

I was recently challenged to translate the following sentence from English into Chinese: You should stay away from that bar. A friend of mine went there before, and he ended up in the hospital after ...
5
votes
3answers
315 views

When do you use 唄 instead of 吧 to end a sentence?

I hear a lot of people in mainland China use the former (never from Taiwanese Mandarin) when saying a phrase as a sort of command, but I'm still not sure about why someone would say it.
5
votes
6answers
143 views

“醡” and “炸” in “醡醬麵” and “炸醬麵”

I've just noticed that the English Wikipedia gives these spellings for "Zhajiangmian": Simplified Chinese 炸酱面 Traditional Chinese 醡醬麵 Whereas the English Wiktionary gives these: 炸酱面 ...
5
votes
4answers
206 views

For all I know

There is an expression in English: "For all I know, ...." The following clause often has a modal expressing uncertainty or the hypothetical nature of the assertion, like "might", "may", "could", ...
5
votes
4answers
136 views

Differences between 蝉 and 知了?

What are the main differences between 蝉 (chán) and 知了 (zhīliǎo) both meaning cicada. Do they both refer to the same species? Will either saying be understood by the majority of native speakers? Is ...
5
votes
3answers
130 views

Difference between 部门 and 系

Does any difference exist between 部门 and 系? These are the two different results I get from Google translate: I work in the university Chinese language department 我的工作在大学中国语文系 I work in ...
5
votes
2answers
248 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
votes
2answers
173 views

What is the difference between 七夕节 and 情人节?

First off... 七夕节快乐! For those who are wondering, today is the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar meaning it is Chinese Valentine's Day! Actually something that I have been wondering ...
5
votes
1answer
238 views

When is it appropriate to use 亲爱的?

In English it perfectly fine in a business context and for someone you have never met before to use Dear XXXX at the beginning of a letter or email. This causes some difficulty when moving to another ...
5
votes
2answers
106 views

“便利商店” (biànlì shāngdiàn) vs “便利店” (biànlì diàn)

Earlier when I was in China I learned "便利店" (biànlì diàn) to mean "convenience store". I think from looking it up in the English Wiktionary. But now that I'm in Taiwan when I used it people didn't ...
5
votes
3answers
232 views

Can 曾 be used alone instead of 曾经?

曾经 has already been well explained here, but I sometimes see ...曾 verb... as opposed to ...曾经 verb... Is there a difference in meaning or usage?
5
votes
3answers
159 views

When to use “下一个” and when just “下一” to translate English “next”?

When I looked up how to say "next" some time in the last couple of months I found "下一个". So I was using that and seemed to be mostly understood. But then I started noticing that just "下一" was used by ...
5
votes
2answers
381 views

How to say “politically correct” or “political correctness” in Chinese?

A lot posts online use 政治正确 to mean "politically correct" or "political correctness" in English and I can say it is wrong. A few posts use 政治委婉语, but it doesn't sound good to me either, because 政治 in ...
5
votes
4answers
134 views

How to translate 实时新闻定制和推送系统 to English?

I once worked on a project called 实时新闻定制和推送系统. Now someone translated it to English as Real-time News Ordering and Pushing System. However I feel strange with the word Ordering. I often hear the word ...
5
votes
2answers
115 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?
5
votes
2answers
77 views

Do 衣服 and 衣饰 carry different connotations or are they synonyms?

衣服 and 衣饰 both mean "clothing"; but are they truly synonymous or is the use of each term confined to its own specific context? Or is it simply a difference between colloquial and formal speech or ...
5
votes
1answer
78 views

When to use [time of day]+饭 vs [time of day]+餐?

I see both used seemingly interchangeably, what is curious to me is that the same person will sometimes use one over the other. Example sentences: "我想吃晚饭" or "我在煮早餐" Looking into the roots of the ...
5
votes
1answer
98 views

Which term is used for “oyster” in Taiwan?

According to the English Wiktionary there are four Chinese terms equivalent to English "oyster": mǔlì : 牡蠣 / 牡蛎 hǎilìzi : 海蠣子 háo : 蚝 háozi : 蚝子 Is one of these standard or most common in Taiwan? ...
5
votes
1answer
199 views

What is the difference between 准备, 预备 and 打算?

I seem to hear 准备 and 预备 used for “prepare” and not as often to mean “plan". 我们准备搬到美国; emphasizing the need for specific preparations for the move. Myself, I use 打算 for planning something. ...
5
votes
4answers
383 views

Difference between 喜乐 and 快乐?

Dictionaries lead me to understand 快乐 as happy. Whereas 喜乐 as delighted, happiness, joy. In English joy denotes a stronger, deeper emotion. Is the difference in meanings of 快乐 and 喜乐 great enough to ...
5
votes
1answer
632 views

Use of Honorifics

In Chinese films I've often heard characters refer to each other using some of these honorifics: 大姐 dàjiě (big sister; auntie) 大哥 dàgē (big brother) 师傅 shīfù (master) In what kind of ...
5
votes
1answer
90 views

Which of these words for “to carry” are actually used?

I compiled a list of different words for what we in English generally would translate to "to carry". Now, the fact that I found them doesn't necessarily mean that they are actually in common usage ...
4
votes
3answers
309 views

What's the difference between 江 and 河?

My daily newsletter contained the following sentence: 长江是中国最长的河。 According to the dictionary, 江 and 河 both mean "river", but they seem to be used differently. Am I right in assuming that 长河是中国最长的江 ...
4
votes
2answers
281 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
216 views

How to exclude an ingredient when ordering food?

I know I can order food using phrases like 我(想)要/请给我一份... But how would I exclude an ingredient, e.g. if I don't like garlic? 我要一份青椒肚片无大蒜。 我要一份青椒肚片不要大蒜。 我要一份青椒肚片没有大蒜。 Would any of those be ...
4
votes
4answers
131 views

How to express: I wish…

大家好! I had a question that I have often asked my native-Chinese speaking friends, but I have not been satisfied with the answer. In English, I find myself often saying, "I wish..." For example: I ...
4
votes
2answers
360 views

Is there a single word for “無用”

I wish to know is there in Chinese language a single word for "無用"?
4
votes
3answers
439 views

Translating the idiom “thinking outside the box”

I normally hate overused catchphrases in English, like "paradigm shift" and "out of the box thinking". But I was recently chatting (in Chinese) with a friend about an earlier situation in which ...
4
votes
4answers
204 views

What's an appropriate conversational response to 这是什么?

In English, if someone points to a book and says "What's that?", "A book" is a sufficient reply. In Chinese, if someone points to a book and says "这是什么?", can you say "书" or maybe "一本书"? What's the ...