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

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3
votes
1answer
147 views

Example of using 吧 in conversation

My textbook explains that 吧 is a modal particle, but I'm not a linguist and the "modal particle" article on Wikipedia didn't help. Can you give examples of using 吧 in conversation?
4
votes
3answers
233 views

Questions ending with 么

I was chatting online with a Chinese person and he sometimes added 么 at the end of questions: 你觉得汉语难么? 是因为声调掌握不好么? Can 么 and 吗 be used interchangeably? Do they have the exact same meaning?
3
votes
6answers
7k views

What shoud I use to say “I love you”: “wa ai lo” or “wo ai ni”?

Some of my chinese friends speak Chinese. I asked them how to say "I love you" in their language, but most of them said "wa ai lo" not "wo ai ni", how can this be? I look for google translate, it ...
3
votes
2answers
162 views

Difference between 清水, 淡水 and 自来水

My main aim is to try and find the best word to use when describing a freshwater lake. But what if any is the difference between the following: 清水, 淡水 and 自来水
1
vote
4answers
287 views

How to say “I can't help but…”

From a lesson in a Chinese text book was the following sentence: 他不由得哭 (Tā bùyóude kū) He could not help but cry I've never heard 不由得 used in a sentence, and I want to know if it is common and ...
3
votes
3answers
208 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?
3
votes
2answers
104 views

Use of 蓝 (Blue) in a Specific Context?

There is a song sung by William So whose title is 《有人喜欢蓝》 (Yǒurén xǐhuan lán - There are people who like blue.) What does 蓝 (blue) mean in this context? Is it a reference to the sky, sea, a mood, or ...
1
vote
2answers
114 views

Does the use of 就 and 便 vary by region?

就 and 便 are synonymous in many sentences: 这儿(就、便)是我们的学校。 我看了报纸(就、便)扔了。 如果你去,我(就、便)不去了。 I believe that 便 is more formal than 就; I've seen it in writing but never heard it in speech. However, ...
1
vote
4answers
167 views

很 and 最 - Questions of The Context

很 means very. 最 means truly, really. I was wondering in which context they would be most appropriate. 我最喜欢去组约。- I'd really like to go to New York. So 最 can be used as a descriptor in this ...
3
votes
1answer
106 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
777 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
107 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
109 views

Why is 语 used so much when describing the language media is presented in?

It seems that the "language" descriptor on a movie, tv show, or comic is always listed using 语 instead of 文. (国语, 英语, 德语, etc) instead of 英文. This is common even when listing the subtitles (although ...
2
votes
3answers
115 views

Ways to say “more”

I know a few ways to say "more" or "in addition", and I'm wondering which to use when translating this sentence. I came across the following English sentence and its Chinese translation on ...
12
votes
6answers
465 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
156 views

Difference between 继续 and 接着

I learned 接着 a while ago, and the CEDICT definition is as follows: to catch and hold on / to continue / to go on to do sth / to follow / to carry on / then / after that / subsequently / to proceed ...
4
votes
2answers
269 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
127 views

How to translate “doesn't lift a finger” and “without lifting a finger”?

I recently same across this stumbling block in conversation; in one case I wanted to say "doesn't lift a finger" and in another "without lifting a finger". These phrases mean that someone is extremely ...
4
votes
2answers
279 views

一起 vs 一块 - what's the difference?

一起 vs 一块, are these two expressions the same in Chinese, or is there a certain situation where one is more appropriate than the other? Can anyone explain what the difference might be? For example: ...
4
votes
2answers
115 views

Replacement for “他一个人” when used in a sentence about an animal

In the sentence: 他一个人在搬东西 Which could be translated as "He is moving it by himself", the important information is 'by himself' (他一个人). In English we could point to an ant and say "Look, he is ...
7
votes
3answers
365 views

了解 vs 明白 vs 知道 - what is the difference, and when should I use each one?

了解, 明白, and 知道 seem to be fairly synonymous in Mandarin, but there does seem to be some subtle differences between them. What exactly is the difference? When should I use each one? Could you give me ...
9
votes
3answers
424 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
159 views

Why 又 is used there instead of 再?

In this dialogue: A: 现在恢复得怎么样了? B: 没问题了,又可以爬山了。 Why is 又 used there and not 再? As far as I know (I might be wrong), both 再 and 又 are used for describing recurring actions, but 又 refers to ...
6
votes
4answers
598 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
86 views

Correct word to use for a suburban fence?

What should I be using to describe a suburban fence? Here is an image of what I am trying to find the right word for: Author: Greg O'Beirne - source I guess I might go with 篱笆 or 栏杆. Could I get ...
3
votes
5answers
318 views

What is the most common way to say 'indecisive' in Mandarin?

I have heard a range of different terms meaning 'indecisive' in Chinese - I'm not sure if they were in dialect, or there are several options for saying it in Mandarin, and so I'm curious to learn what ...
1
vote
4answers
123 views

Can 窝 be used for grouping any zodiac animal?

I have heard the saying 一窝猪 Yī wō zhū when describing a family or group of people who are all 属猪 (have pig as their zodiac sign). Is this something that can be applied to other animals e.g. 一窝龙 or ...
6
votes
2answers
507 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 ...
1
vote
4answers
207 views

Better translation for 春节联欢晚会 than New Year's Gala

On the night of New Years Eve in China many people watch the annual New Year's Gala. This in Chinese is called 春节联欢晚会 in English this is translated as New Year's Gala. So what exactly is a 联欢晚会? Can ...
6
votes
3answers
301 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。 ...
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?
2
votes
1answer
90 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
4answers
295 views

Correct terms for a roadside gutter and gutter on a roof

What is the correct terms for both a roadside gutter and a gutter on a roof? For the sake of making me look bad, my guess would be 水沟 but I've seen that applied to a large canal so I'm not sure if it ...
9
votes
7answers
531 views

What is the status of 什么来的 and 什么来着 in standard and colloquial Mandarin Chinese?

When I first moved to the south of China, I was surprised to hear the phrase "什么来的" used to mean "what," as in  这是什么来的?: "What is this?" As far as I could tell, in many cases there was no ...
9
votes
4answers
215 views

Difference between 对 and 双

For a pair of rabbits there is: 一对兔 yī duì tù And for a pair of shoes there is: 一双鞋 yī shuāng xié And for twins there is: 双胞胎 shuāngbāotāi How can I be sure when to use 对 and when to ...
3
votes
2answers
143 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?
10
votes
5answers
546 views

When should you use 尽管 (jǐnguǎn) instead of 虽然 (suīrán)?

虽然 and 尽管 can both be translated as "despite" and "although". I've been familiar with 虽然 for a longer time already but I recently came across 尽管 for the first time. Is 尽管 a more formal or poetic term? ...
8
votes
4answers
204 views

Is there any difference between 汤 and 羹?

Are 汤 and 羹 used to refer to different kinds of soup or is 羹 merely a part of the full word for soup (汤羹)? For example, is one used to refer to light soups while the other is reserved for heavy ...
7
votes
6answers
370 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
485 views

What's the difference between 学 and 学习?

I know both mean "to study" and I also know that while 学 (xué) is transitive, 学习 (xué xí) can be both intransitive and transitive, for example: 我学中文。 (I study «what?» Chinese) = transitive; 我在大学学习。 ...
9
votes
2answers
152 views

Using 一样 instead of 同一 for “the same school”

In my study software, I recently had the following sentence: 我想我们会上一样的学校. The context (a girl speaking to another girl who had just moved into the neighborhood) made it seem like the correct ...
6
votes
4answers
681 views

What is the correct way to say: “I thought you were somebody else.”

In English if you mistake someone for another person it is common to say "I'm sorry, I thought you were someone else". How should this be said in Chinese?
8
votes
3answers
342 views

What is the difference between 一只狗 and 一条狗?

I've been told by native speakers that the former refers to little dogs while the latter is for bigger dogs. I also have been told that the latter has a negative connotation. I'm wondering: how ...
2
votes
1answer
75 views

Is 搏杀 used in jest in this sentence?

In December, I read this in 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?
6
votes
3answers
332 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.
5
votes
1answer
623 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
127 views

Which tone is it (in pinyin)?

Following on from this question Asking "what's the pinyin/character for X?". I've had difficulty previously asking native speakers which tone I should use for a particular character if ...
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 ...
9
votes
2answers
141 views

Beginning of the week / end of the week

It is possible to say: 三月初 (the beginning of March) 三月底 (the end of March) Example: 我三月底要回国 You can also refer to: 年初 and 年底 But is there something you can use to convey the beginning or end of ...
19
votes
6answers
903 views

How polite is too polite?

I've noticed in China that people don't tend to use as many 'polite' words as we do in western languages, like 'please' or 'thank you'. I want to make it clear that I'm not complaining about this; I ...