10
votes
5answers
371 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 ...
10
votes
7answers
4k views

How is the “r” sound pronounced?

One of the most trickiest sounds to pronounce correctly in Mandarin seems to be the "r" sound, as in 日本 (rì běn). It's not uncommon to hear people pronounce that like "urban." I have been told it's ...
6
votes
2answers
229 views

Is there a comprehensive list of vocabulary differences between 台湾国语 and 大陆普通话?

I've found many articles about differences in certain sentence structures regarding 台湾国语 and 大陆普通话, but does anyone have a large list of commonly-used vocabulary that are different? I spend a lot of ...
4
votes
2answers
125 views

Official place names

Is there an official list of place names (esp. for non-Chinese places)? If a bureaucrat or journalist in China is writing about a lesser-known foreign place, how do they determine the characters? I ...
1
vote
2answers
107 views

Tabletop Wargaming / Miniwargaming

Wargame is 战争游戏 and tabletop game is 桌上游戏 so i'm assuming that "Tabletop Wargaming" is 桌上战争游戏? Is this the term used? This type of game is also called "Miniature Wargaming" or "Miniwargaming," is ...
2
votes
1answer
63 views

What is Chinese for “Arts Festival”?

I am referring to events such as the Edinburgh Festival.
4
votes
3answers
210 views

Opposite of constructions using 得 (must / have to)

What is the correct way to form a sentence expressing the opposite of 得 (have to) as in "to not have to". I don't think 不得 is correct?! *我不得工作 I am thinking something like... 我不需要工作 or ...
0
votes
2answers
70 views

How do game and program developers solve the pinyin input problem in their programs

I always wondered about this and never felt the need to ask because I figured I would figure it out on my own. But I can't find an answer. All of these games, especially multiplayer games, we people ...
4
votes
2answers
274 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: ...
0
votes
1answer
106 views

日 and 月: Transition from pictographs to hanzi

I've read an article discussing transition of pictographs for Sun and Moon to hanzi. It raised following questions, but left them unanswered: Original pictographs for Sun is a circle with point in ...
2
votes
1answer
57 views

Are there transitive/及物动词 or intransitive/不及物动词 verbs in Chinese?

Problem: Lately I started to get concerned if there are pure transitive or intransitive verbs in Chinese. At first look, there are many verbs that do not require an immediate object/宾语 like 睡觉 or 吃饭. ...
1
vote
2answers
84 views

Why does the usual Verb-Object order seem to have been broken here (很高兴为您服务)?

The sentence 很高兴为您服务 (hen gaoxing wei nin fuwu) breaks down as: hen |gaoxing |wei |nin |fuwu very |glad |to |you |serve But the usual word order in chinese is Subject Verb Object, and here the ...
1
vote
2answers
69 views

Number of unique characters in the X most common words?

I assume this would be wouldn't be too hard to calculate with a proper database, but does anyone know the number of unique characters/morphemes used in the 5000, 10000, 30000, etc. most common words? ...
2
votes
3answers
314 views

What is the difference between 时候 and 时间?

When I want ask someone When will you eat?, can I use ni3 chi1 shen2me shi2jian1? I used to see sentences using 时候 to ask when the time? What is the difference?
4
votes
1answer
95 views

Proper letter writing etiquette

I've recently been writing a lot of letters in Mandarin and I have several questions regarding the form. Chinese has many salutations in letters. For the most part, is it okay just to use 亲爱? If ...
3
votes
3answers
246 views

Why so many definitions associated with each word?

I'm learning a little Chinese out of curiosity, and I have a basic question about the language as a whole, rather than a specific technical question about a particular word or character. Sorry if this ...
3
votes
4answers
166 views

成语 or expression for perservering

I am looking for an expression (maybe a 成语) which can describe the idea of, "I know I have a long way to go, but if I keep trying, I can succeed." For example, "我的发音还差得远,可是" Meaning, "My ...
6
votes
1answer
136 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
425 views

How to come from 二百五 to 二百九?

I know 二百五 stands for foolish/stupid and I assume I have to add up 二百五, 三八 and 二 to it to obtain 二百九. Is this right and if so, what does 二 mean and where did it get it's meaning?
1
vote
1answer
75 views

Can I have some Taiwan restaurant sentences?

Every time I go to a restaurant in Taiwan I say weird weird stuff. They always understand, but I'm sure I'm saying it unnaturally. Also, occasionally I don't entirely catch what they're asking. ...
1
vote
2answers
43 views

Colloquial Translation: Dynamics

It seems that a lot of colloquial English terms are actually seen to be quite formal or academic in Chinese. In English we have the term dynamics as in: group dynamics, social dynamics, ...
1
vote
1answer
40 views

Female Equivalent: 膀爷

It's summer time guys the 膀爷s are out on full parade! Although I haven't seen that many females as exhibitionist as the males - there's still a fair share of ladies showing off their midriffs. What's ...
4
votes
4answers
220 views

Searching for characters by parts

Are there any online or computer dictionaries that allow searching for characters by any sub-part of the character? Occasionally it I see a character the parts of which I can already type. But I ...
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 ...
5
votes
1answer
170 views

Meanings behind “吹牛” and “拍马屁”

I would like to find out more about the two sayings "吹牛" and "拍马屁". How these sayings come about and get their current meanings? 吹牛 chuīniú meaning to brag 拍马屁 pāimǎpì meaning to excessively ...
4
votes
1answer
113 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".
3
votes
2answers
83 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
1answer
287 views

When is it proper to use 托您的福?

I think it means that I succeeded in part because of your luck. I've heard this used when I was in Beijing a few times.
4
votes
2answers
81 views

Why 回 is used in 回事 instead of 件事?

In this dialogue: A: 昨天他开车的时候,头撞了一下。 B: 怎么一回事? Why is the classifier 回 used instead of 件?
10
votes
1answer
358 views

When to use 了 and when to use 过 to express past actions or events

I kind of have an idea when 了 and 过 should be used but it's mostly on a case by case basis, and I don't know the exact rules. So if I want to express something that happened in the past, when should ...
4
votes
2answers
199 views

What readers are available at the 1,000 word level?

I want to improve my reading and grammar skills by finding interesting things to read. What graded readers, basic textbooks, magazines, and other reading materials are available for adult students who ...
1
vote
2answers
107 views

How should one answer this question about 年?

Thanks to @xiaohuozi's wonderful suggestion. This is my question for the friendly contest. How should one answer this question 今年是什么年? (jin nian shi shen me nian) - which/what year is this? ...
5
votes
2answers
107 views

Chinese weather periods

The only time I have traveled to Beijing a taxi driver told me I had come at the worst and hottest time of year. He explained to me that the year was divided up in periods of roughly 16 days and the ...
3
votes
1answer
229 views

What is the exact meaning and etymology of 拜年?

Since Chinese New Year is on the way (and thanks to Xiaohouzi's great suggestion), I've been thinking all about the new year. One term the sticks out is 拜年. I'm very curious to know the exact ...
2
votes
1answer
305 views

Is there a Chinese equivalent song of 'auld lang syne'?

In Western countries (or New Zealand at least), auld lang syne is a very common song over the the New Year holiday. Is there an equivalent song in Chinese that everyone instantly associates with ...
6
votes
3answers
284 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。 ...
2
votes
1answer
187 views

Use of 龙 in the idiom 车水马龙

With the idiom 车水马龙 which is used to describe somewhere that is bustling and crowded, why was 龙 included considering it is a mythical creature? Does it represent something other than a creature in ...
7
votes
3answers
216 views

零售 - Why is the character for “zero” used in the Chinese word for retail?

Why is retail referred to as 零售 in Chinese? Why the combination of "zero" with "sales"? Certainly one expects to make (hopefully many) sales in retail so why is the character for "zero" used here? It ...
2
votes
3answers
103 views

What's the role of 曾经 in this sentence?

In this sentence: 他曾经在北京学过两年汉语。 what's the role of 曾经? I understand that 过 already implies that the action happened in the past.
8
votes
3answers
601 views

Why does the construction of 要是…的话 mean “if”?

I know other words like 如果 also mean "if", but why would 要是...的话 mean "if"? An example sentence: 要是你喜欢汉语(的话),你该听中国的音乐。 If you like Chinese, you should listen to Chinese music.
22
votes
7answers
803 views

Why is 有 (yǒu) the only verb that requires 没 while other verbs can use 不?

To negate something, we use 不 (bù) before the verb, such as in this short dialogue: A: 你是老师吗?= Are you a teacher? B: 不是。= I'm not. However, the verb 有 (yǒu) is the only one that requires 没 ...
2
votes
3answers
104 views

What digital illustrated dictionaries are available?

What dictionaries are available that contain separate illustrations for most of the terms? I would prefer something in online or digital format.
6
votes
3answers
162 views

Position of 面熟 in this sentence

In my textbook I found this sentence: 常常看着一个人面熟却叫不出名字来。 If 面熟 is an adjective, why is it used after 人 (to indicate a "familiar-looking person")? Can 一个人面熟 be rewritten to 一个面熟人 without ...
4
votes
3answers
96 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?
8
votes
3answers
2k views

What does 民以食为天 mean?

How to translate the old saying "民以食为天"? Would that be "Food is the priority of populace"? That doesn't sound right to me, though.
9
votes
2answers
209 views

Neverending 你好 exchange, is it normal?

When should exchanges of the phrase "你好" end? I regularly see a Chinese person who greets me with "你好." If I respond with "你好" he immediately says "你好", and so on. I normally end it with "Yes, I'm ...
8
votes
2answers
459 views

How are new words added to the Chinese language?

I'm always curious to know, as the world develops and new words come into existence, how are they adopted by the Chinese language? Is there some sort of government body that decides these sort of ...
4
votes
3answers
78 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?
3
votes
4answers
280 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
88 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 ...

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