12
votes
6answers
602 views

Are children's books a good starting place for beginners?

I was wondering if Chinese children's books might be a good starting place for adult Chinese language newbies (regardless of whether it be Mandarin, Cantonese, Wu, whatever), in particular for ...
12
votes
5answers
715 views

How widespread is the use of 妳?

When addressing a female, do I have to use 妳 instead of 你? How common is the usage of 妳?
12
votes
4answers
1k views

Are 明白 and 懂 synonymous?

Are 明白 and 懂 synonymous? If not, could anyone please elaborate on the difference along with some examples of usage?
12
votes
7answers
573 views

How do native speakers of Chinese pronounce Latin characters?

I hear that "Windows XP" is commonly called "Chā P" because the letter "X" may be pronounced "Chā". Are there other Latin characters that have similarly peculiar pronunciations?
12
votes
3answers
431 views

How does foreign word transliteration work in the context of Cantonese vs Mandarin?

If I understand correctly, Cantonese sounds very different from Mandarin, despite being written in the same way (omitting some small differences, which are irrelevant for the question). If it is the ...
12
votes
2answers
125 views

Is the usage of European punctuation acceptable in Chinese writing?

Chinese punctuation is a little bit different from European punctuation, for example: The full stop (period) is "。" instead of "." The ellipsis are six vertically centered dots (… …) instead of just ...
12
votes
1answer
314 views

Meaning of “~~” at the end of a sentence

I see quite often a few "~" characters placed at the end of sentences, especially in e-mails, texts, and social networks. Is this an informal exclamation or an emphasis mark? For example, the ...
12
votes
3answers
638 views

中文 vs. 汉语: What's the difference?

Apparently, both of these mean Chinese, and the Chinese language. I gather that 中文 is maybe more like "written Chinese," and 汉语 is "spoken Chinese." Is this correct? I've often looked at BBC ...
12
votes
2answers
5k views

Informal ways of beginning/ending an e-mail

I have been writing quite a few e-mails recently and I feel that I want to expand my vocabulary regarding acceptable phrases to use both at the beginning and end of an e-mail. When I say informal, I ...
11
votes
6answers
407 views

Do all schools in China teach in Standard Chinese (普通话)?

When I went to China, it was apparent that many (sometimes most) people still spoke their local dialects instead of Standard Chinese/Putonghua (also known as "Mandarin" in English). I was told that ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

What is the difference between 绿 and 青?

What is the difference between 绿 and 青? Do they refer to different shades of green? I know 青 can be used in many more contexts; it can be used to mean 'young' or 'immature'. I find it boggling how 青 ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

How to improve my Chinese writing

When someone has grasped the basic concepts of writing Chinese there comes a point where handwriting starts to look plain or mechanical. From what I have seen the lines look very straight and like ...
11
votes
6answers
484 views

When is it appropriate to address a lady as 先生?

Chairman Mao addressed Soong Ching-ling as 宋庆龄先生. Yang Jiang was also addressed as 杨绛先生 by the public. My dad used to tell me to address some of his female colleagues as 先生 too. I wonder why a lady ...
11
votes
4answers
698 views

How to pronounce “下载”

How to pronounce the word "下载", "xià zǎi" or "xià zài"? Most Chinese people pronounce it "xià zǎi", but there are some people insist on pronouncing it "xià zài". There are different also different ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

How do I say “damn!” or “bloody hell” in Chinese?

The phrase 他妈的 has been explained in this question. Since I'm a no-expletives guy, I don't feel comfortable so close to the f-word. :) I was wondering what would be the correct way to use some of the ...
11
votes
5answers
421 views

Learning how to use measure / count words properly

Chinese has measure (or count) words like “个” (一个人), “部” (三部车), etc. These always get me confused, and there way too many of them. Are there any general rules that can help me memorize them? Also, ...
11
votes
2answers
995 views

Does an Alarm clock 吵醒 or 叫醒?

I'm trying to figure out whether an alarm clock 吵醒我, or 叫醒我。 I'd like to say the sentence my alarm clock woke me up at 5:30 today my translation so far is 今天早上五点半, 我手机的闹钟叫醒了我。 Can 叫醒 be done by ...
11
votes
8answers
679 views

How to translate: 人是铁,饭是钢,一顿不吃烦得慌. What is the logic?

人是铁,饭是钢,一顿不吃烦得慌 I can not really figure out to translate this sentence. I guess it basically means that not eating is a bad thing. The first sentences - do they indicate that "iron" and "steel" ...
11
votes
9answers
3k views

Why Cantonese is considered as a dialect of Chinese?

Can someone explain why Cantonese is considered as a dialect of Chinese, instead of a language? It is also for any language exist in China, both land and Taiwan (Cantonese, Hunanese, Fujianese, ...
11
votes
6answers
608 views

How do Chinese speakers pronounce unknown characters?

I'm wondering what do Chinese speakers do when they are reading aloud and encounter a character they don't know (sometimes it happens, isn't it?). In phonetic languages, there is a possibility to ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

What is a polite way to ask “may I ask who is speaking?”

A man I don't know calls me and starts talking to me in Chinese. All is fine, except I don't know who he is. I sense I'm not the person he's looking for. How do I ask who he is without being too ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Why 纹 is the wrong character to write for tattoo?

I've only ever known tattoo (wénshēn) to be written as 纹身. I was reading an article from 凤凰财经 yesterday called 猪躺着也能挣:一张纹身猪皮值百万. What struck me, though, were all the comments on the article saying ...
11
votes
3answers
242 views

高兴 vs 快乐 vs 愉快 vs 幸福: what's the difference?

So, I'm a bit confused. All the time. 高兴 eg 我很高兴 It seems 高兴 has a connotation of impermanence .. you could be happy right now but unhappy later on. It appears to be the most common, most ...
11
votes
4answers
512 views

足: why is “foot” also “enough”?

足 is an ancient character meaning "foot". However, it also means "enough" or "sufficient", and this second definition is also very old. Consider this excerpt: 兵甲已足。——诸葛亮《出师表》 This is from ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Different names for each of the fingers

In English we have different names for each of the fingers: Thumb, index, middle, ring and pinky fingers. Are there special names for each of these in Chinese and if necessary what are the ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

Any difference between 早安 and 早上好?

Is there any difference in meaning, formality, tone, or otherwise between the "good morning" greetings 早安 and 早上好? Or just regional preferences? (I'm thinking perhaps the former may be more common in ...
11
votes
1answer
422 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
259 views

Which period in Chinese history produced the most chengyu?

There are tens of thousands of chengyu, many of them are historical in nature, whilst others are loaned from foreign sources such as Buddhism. Which period or dynasty in Chinese history produced the ...
11
votes
5answers
708 views

Difference between 特色, 特點, 特性, 特質, and 特徵

Looking up these five words in dictionaries gives results that are almost identical. In Chinese-English dictionaries, I find explanations identical or very close to: a characteristic; a ...
11
votes
3answers
236 views

Do the Chinese have a (potentially politically incorrect) way of imitating English speakers?

I do not mean to cause offence with this question; I ask only to potentially become better acquainted with Chinese vernacular, and, I must admit, a little out of curiosity. A politically incorrect ...
10
votes
7answers
477 views

Sheep or goat? 一只羊跑过来

In the sentence: 一只羊跑过来 Would a Chinese person typically assume this is a goat or a sheep?
10
votes
8answers
1k views

How should I introduce my wife?

It just seems that 太太、老婆、妻子 are all either overly formal or make my wife sound older than she is (she's not even 30). Maybe one of those terms is actually more acceptable than I think it is; I don't ...
10
votes
8answers
972 views

Are there word games in Chinese?

Do Chinese characters make it a lot harder to create or play word games in Chinese than it is in English? I have seen a few Chinese crosswords, but it seems like they aren't as densely cross-linked as ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

权力的游戏 - Game of Thrones names - latest episode - SPOILERS

So I'm practicing by reading Game of Throne tweets and it's the names and naming that gets me. Here's the tweet and 5 questions on names and naming conventions. ...
10
votes
4answers
526 views

Why are 成语 (idioms) four characters long? Are there 成语 with more or less than four characters?

I really enjoying learning 成语 (chéng yǔ) in Chinese, and I'm curious to know why they are often or always four characters long? Where does this tradition stem from? And are there 成语 with more or ...
10
votes
3answers
766 views

Difference between 与,和 and 跟?

Do the following three sentences mean the same thing, that is, can they be used interchangeably? 她的父母就来我们家与我的家人见面了。 她的父母就来我们家和我的家人见面了。 她的父母就来我们家跟我的家人见面了。
10
votes
9answers
2k views

I'm dying to learn Chinese [closed]

I'm new on this website and my only objective is to get some answers. But the main question I have is How and where to start learning Chinese? How to begin?
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Why do the names of some Chinese companies consist of “repeated” words?

I'm referring to the repetition of names such as "Dangdang" and "Renren." Why is this the case?
10
votes
10answers
233 views

What etymology dictionaries are available?

What dictionaries (online, software-based or in paper form) explain the origins of a word and its evolution over time? E.g. how the character was once written, how the usage – and the meaning – ...
10
votes
5answers
566 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。 ...
10
votes
4answers
203 views

Are there standard dictionaries for Chinese?

Standard dictionaries have had a profound effect on languages like English. They've helped normalize spelling and pronunciation and provide reference for meanings and disambiguation. When thinking of ...
10
votes
3answers
269 views

Use of 十年中 to express duration

Does 十年中 mean "in ten years"? I found it in this sentence from tatoeba.org: 他十年中第一次回家。 He returned home for the first time in ten years. It seems like I could use the same pattern to say, ...
10
votes
6answers
505 views

Do acronyms borrowed from English use neutral tone (aka tone 0 or tone 5) for all syllables?

I was just reading a Q&A here about Chinese words for DVD and the discussion also included other acronyms from English. It struck me that nobody wrote the pinyin for any of the terms which made ...
10
votes
5answers
3k views

Various ways to say “nice to meet you”

When I first started learning Chinese I knew the in order to say "Nice to meet you" or "Pleased to meet you," I had to use the following expression: 很高兴见到您。 But recently I've come across other ...
10
votes
4answers
853 views

Does 多 always come after the measure word?

I've realized that I still don't fully understand the placement of "多“ a relatively common word. Can you never place 多 before a measure word? A friend recently corrected my "四多快美金“ into 四块多美金” but ...
10
votes
4answers
525 views

Confusion about bian 邊 and miàn 面

I'm having a little trouble with learning directions and positions. It seems that most often the word bian is being used to indicate a position: front side 前邊, back side 後邊, etc. But then I see stuff ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

When and why is right to left writing used?

I have encountered characters written horizontally right to left on signs (at the top of a gate) and on vehicles. When is this used and why? Was this more common in the past? Are the individuals ...
10
votes
3answers
301 views

When do the tones change?

Sometimes, in certain combinations of tones or words, the tones change. Where can I find a complete list of all tone changes that occur in Mandarin?
10
votes
4answers
701 views

Classical Chinese Literature - What languages could be written with it? And why?

I understand that classical Chinese (see Wikipedia) was very different from spoken Chinese (at least in the last centuries of its usage). Nevertheless, despite or maybe even because of this, it was ...
10
votes
6answers
3k views

What's the meaning of 缘分 in English?

I asked a similar question on English Language & Usage site, but no one seems to come up with a good answer for me. I have decided to give our Chinese site a try. Bonus: how will you describe the ...

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