10
votes
5answers
307 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
2answers
100 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?
9
votes
3answers
267 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?
6
votes
2answers
149 views

中东 - “Middle East” or “Eastern China”?

The dictionary lists both Middle East and Eastern China for 中东. Is one of these meanings more common? What would be a native speaker's first impression of the word? Does the meaning vary from ...
11
votes
5answers
305 views

How do we know what characters correspond to Chinese names?

Recently I've asked "How do we choose the correct characters for a westerner name?", and now, I'm facing a similar, yet kind of different problem, which I think applies to any westerner or Chinese ...
4
votes
1answer
108 views

What is the meaning of 不同而不同?

This is taken from the phrase: 口感依成分不同而不同 Sounds like it means "manifold" or something like that?
8
votes
2answers
188 views

Specifics of the idiom “四海一家”

There are several sayings and idioms similar to 四海一家 which reference "四海". Does the 四海 actually refer to 4 specific oceans such as the Indian, Pacific etc. or is it more of a metaphor for all of the ...
7
votes
2answers
142 views

Is 再过[时间] the most common way of expressing “in [amount of time], something will happen”?

I ask after encountering the following sentence in Tatoeba: 再过两、三个月,你就能说得一口流利的英语了。
3
votes
3answers
83 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
198 views

What is the difference between 总是 and 一直?

I've always (no pun intended) wondered what the difference is between the 2 words. I thought they both meant always, but I've never quite grasped in what context they should be used. Could anyone ...
6
votes
3answers
301 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
218 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
263 views

What is the difference in use between 以及, 和 and 与?

I have a book with the following lesson titles: 中文以及中国 聚会和饮食 交通与环境 Why are these terms connected with 以及 / 和 / 与, why not always use 和 for example? Are there any rules for proper use of these ...
6
votes
2answers
273 views

What's the difference between 咁 (gam3) and 噉 (gam2)?

What does "gam" mean in these two contexts, and why is a different character used in each? Note 咁 used in this sentence 我睇見你坐喺梳化椅處, 唔停咁同張太太,何太太,王小姐佢哋傾偈。 (ngo5 tai2 gin3 nei5 co5 hai2 so1 ...
0
votes
1answer
229 views

Describe or explaining the Engineering occupation [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How are the words “engineering” or “engineer” translated in Cantonese? I love what I do and my family has no idea what I really do. I can ...
3
votes
2answers
284 views

Cantonese Romanization schemes

The Cantonese romanization scheme that I know is Yale Romanization, which to me makes the most sense and is the easiest to read of any that I've seen. It seems to give a very good idea of how to ...
4
votes
2answers
108 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
253 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
353 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
898 views

Characteristics of Northern and Southern accents

My first language is Cantonese. I learned Mandarin as a second language. Native speakers of Mandarin often understand me with no major issues. Of course, they recognize the Southern accents right ...
8
votes
2answers
140 views

Is there a rule that tells what characters can be omitted?

I have a habit of using too many characters when I speak and write. For example: 我回我的家。 我的 is not needed, and we can simply say 我回家。 Is there a grammar rule for when to cut characters? A ...
6
votes
4answers
251 views

Is there a nuance 今天早晨 conveys that 今天早上 does not?

I have a feeling that one might mean slightly earlier. Is this right?
6
votes
2answers
406 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
219 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
4answers
409 views

What does 厉害 mean, and in what context does it mean what?

This has to be one of the more ambiguous words I have struggled with. 厉害 can be: very well performed = 玩得很厉害; harsh = 骂得很厉害; severe = 生病得很厉害; probably a bunch of other stuff... Can anyone give a ...
2
votes
2answers
339 views

What is the English equivalent of 拜托, and what is it's proper usage in Chinese?

I quite like the expression 拜托, but I've never been 100% sure of what exactly it means in English, and I'm not quite sure how to use it properly in Chinese. Little help?
5
votes
1answer
101 views

How can I express 'having' in an intimate sense?

In English, given a conversation between P1 and P2, it's possible to say: P1: My wife died. Now I feel like I've got nothing. I'm so sad. P2: Don't say that. You've still got your son. You have ...
2
votes
2answers
155 views

What is the meaning and proper usage of 凭什么?

I was watching a TV show and heard them using the expression 凭什么 to say 'why' - I hadn't heard it with this exact meaning before, so I'm wondering what the proper meaning is in English, and what the ...
1
vote
0answers
318 views

How to communicate with (Chinese) foreign exchange students? [closed]

This past week my school hosted some foreign exchange students in from China. On several occasions I attempted to communicate with them but it immediately felt awkward if they didn't know English too ...
4
votes
1answer
89 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
5answers
2k views

What is the correct way to write 'niu bi', and how did it get its meaning in Chinese?

'niu bi' (牛逼? like the bees knees in English) is one of the more amusing expressions I learnt in my time in China. The literal meaning in English is quite colourful, so I won't describe it here, but ...
2
votes
0answers
68 views

What level of Chinese can be reached in one year ? (one evening class a week) [closed]

I have almost completed my first Chinese course (15 classes of 3 hours). I estimate we have learned about 100 words. I plan to take the HSK-1 test at the end of March. If I continue at my current ...
6
votes
4answers
154 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
300 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
177 views

Why is tofu used in 心急吃不了热豆腐?

Why is tofu, among all foods that can be enjoyed hot, used in the expression "心急吃不了热豆腐"? Why not "心急吃不了热饭" or "心急吃不了热牛肉"?
24
votes
7answers
1k views

Is there a lot of value in learning to write Chinese characters?

I have noticed that a lot of my friends that study Chinese at university spend a lot of their time learning to write Chinese. I would estimate more than 50% of their chinese study time is spent on ...
5
votes
3answers
465 views

Is there a traditional Chinese New Year greeting?

I know people often say 新年快乐 to mean happy new year, but is there a traditional greeting used in Chinese to express your good wishes for the new year? If so, what, and how did it originate?
6
votes
3answers
332 views

Why is it written LIU in Pinyin, when there's clearly an O sound?

Does anybody know why this decision was made in Pinyin, about not writing any hint of the sound /O/ in liu, instead of writing something like liou or liow ? Because the first reaction of any ...
9
votes
5answers
218 views

Why isn't 到 (dào) used in this sentence?

Earlier while chatting, I wrote a sentence and a native speaker told me it was correct. The sentence was: 某天我去北京。= Someday I'll go to Beijing. (mǒu tiān wǒ qù Běi jīng) I noticed that no ...
4
votes
1answer
155 views

What does 触控 mean in this sentence?

I was busy reading about Apple's new textbook announcement on Engadget China, and I came across the following sentence: 使用者将可轻松地以触控的方式浏览教科书内容. What is the meaning of 触控 in this sentence? (My ...
5
votes
1answer
99 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
78 views

Time periods relating to Chinese holidays (暑假, 寒假 etc.)

From my understanding most Chinese workers only have one major holiday around the time of Spring Festival. So are holidays 暑假, 寒假 only for students? Roughly speaking how long are they and when do ...
5
votes
1answer
130 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 meaning? 吹牛 chuīniú meaning to brag 拍马屁 pāimǎpì meaning to excessively flatter ...
3
votes
2answers
76 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
75 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 the classifier 回 is used instead of 件?
9
votes
1answer
274 views

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

I kind of have an idea of 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
573 views

Recommendations for novels written in colloquial Chinese [closed]

Like many language learners, I enjoy reading Chinese novels as a way of learning new vocabulary and practicing my reading skills. Nevertheless, in the process of muddling through Chinese fiction, I ...
3
votes
1answer
237 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.
2
votes
3answers
1k views

What Chinese podcasts are available to improve my listening skills? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese I'm a big podcast fan, and I think listening to Chinese podcasts would be a great way to improve my listening skills. I enjoy ...
1
vote
4answers
119 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 ...

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