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

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7
votes
3answers
897 views

How to Say the “something” in the phrase “Do something”

I was trying to explain the meaning of the phrase "hang out" to a Chinese friend, and the first thing that came to mind was 一起做什么了, with me intending 什么了 to mean "something". He seemed to understand ...
7
votes
6answers
421 views

What are the differences between 男女, 公母, and 雄雌?

In what situations would you use one of the following instead of the others? 男女 nán nǚ 公母 gōng mǔ 雄雌 xióng cí Is it a matter of formality or is each term confined to a particular ...
7
votes
2answers
145 views

Why always go up or down?

We (me and my parents) always say: "上厕所", and: "上卧室", ect. We (me and my parents) always say: "下厨房". Personally my house has the kitchen at the top floor. Why is that?
7
votes
4answers
888 views

What is the Difference Between 方法 and 办法?

Both have comparable definitions of "method", "manner", "means", etc. and describe or define a way of doing something. The phrase 没(有)办法 is often used to deflect responsibility by claiming ...
7
votes
2answers
332 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.
7
votes
4answers
718 views

What's the title for addressing an unknown young person the same age as you?

For example, you are a 20 year old male/female. You are walking on the street, then you see a male stranger who seems to be the same age as your. He is in hurry, you see him drop his wallet. You pick ...
7
votes
3answers
365 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
814 views

Difference between 合适 and 适合

Both 合适 and 适合 mean to fit/to suit. I know the grammatical form needed for each one is different: 在这个情况下,你在穿的衣服就不合适。 我在找一个适合我的女孩子。 Aside of that, I have been told they cannot be used ...
7
votes
2answers
191 views

Are “身份证” and “身分证” totally interchangeable?

When wanting to learn the word for "ID card" I seem to find both "身份证" and "身分证". They both have the same pronunciation "shēnfèn zhèng". I don't think they differ by being traditional vs simplified? ...
7
votes
1answer
181 views

“惡” vs “噩” vs “厄”

I have seen these three characters forming the "same" words (I cannot think of a better way to phrase this), such as 惡夢 vs 噩夢 and 惡運 vs 噩運 vs 厄運 As I tried googling for the difference, I ...
7
votes
3answers
956 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
3answers
579 views

Writing “Please Recycle” in Mandarin

How can one write "Please Recycle" in the context of an office paper room? I have tried: 请回收利用 but my friend says this is only for recycling batteries.
6
votes
6answers
348 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
601 views

What is the difference between 餐馆 and 饭店? Is 饭店 used for restaurant or hotel?

饭店 and 餐馆 can both mean restaurant. My Chinese friend here in Dongguan tells me 饭店 is not commonly used to mean hotel. I want to understand in what contexts both of these words are used. 谢谢.
6
votes
4answers
532 views

When would one use 临时 versus 及时?

Recently I read the following dialogue: A: 今天有转校生要来吗? B: 听说是这样,好象是临时决定的,所以才没有及时通知我们。 As I was trying to make out what they were saying, I noticed that 临时 and 及时 have similar meanings. The ...
6
votes
2answers
598 views

What is the formal/polite way to begin and end an email in Chinese?

In English, formal emails, e.g. emails to a professor, often start with "Hi", "Hello", "Dear" followed by the receiver's name (and title, if applicable). The ending is usually "Best", "Regards", ...
6
votes
5answers
908 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", ...
6
votes
3answers
437 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
3answers
167 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) ...
6
votes
3answers
462 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
4answers
749 views

Can I use "我知道“ to say I know some kind of food?

There are kinds of foods, such as malaxiangguo, that people often suspect a foreigner will not know and will not like. I can say "我吃麻辣香锅" (wo chi malaxiangguo). Is that the best thing to say? And I ...
6
votes
2answers
207 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
240 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
113 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
260 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", ...
6
votes
3answers
625 views

Is “ 事出必有因 ” the most accurate translation for “ everything happens for a reason ”?

Is " 事出必有因 " the most accurate translation for " everything happens for a reason "? If not, what is it? Thanks!
6
votes
4answers
238 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
1answer
121 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? ...
6
votes
1answer
166 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
1k 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
3answers
487 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
338 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
6answers
1k 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
470 views

Proper translation of “定位” to English?

This question is about choosing a proper English word for a Chinese phrase. Let there be given the sentence "What is the "定位" in the market of our products?" Then, what are the proper English words ...
5
votes
3answers
265 views

How formal is 如何 in the context of 最近如何?

I was told by friend who is a native mainland speaker that "最近如何", or anything using "如何" to inquire about the state of a person, is a very ancient/formal way of speaking. This was quite a shock to ...
5
votes
2answers
513 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
280 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
2answers
437 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
279 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
292 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
399 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
160 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
170 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
141 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
339 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
3answers
279 views

What's the difference between 词典, 辞典, and 字典?

I don't think they are necessarily different kinds of dictionaries, but is there a subtle distinction? Or maybe their etymologies?
5
votes
1answer
431 views

“同儕” vs “同僚” vs “同事”

I know that 同事 means colleague, but I have seen 同儕 and 同僚 used in similar context. Below are random examples of each I found on google: 在同儕關係中彼此地位平等、較能相互學習。 由於他過度地自負,同僚們不喜歡他。 Are these ...
5
votes
2answers
281 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
325 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
161 views

What's the difference between 否则, 要不, 不然, and 要不然?

They all mean "otherwise", and beyond that 要不 is more colloquially used I'm not sure how they differ in usage or meaning.