7
votes
2answers
301 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
143 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 ...
7
votes
5answers
2k views

Take away (when ordering food): is it 带走 or 打包?

I was told that when you are ordering food you can say either 带走 or 打包. However, when you are not ordering food and you mean "take this away", then you use 拿走。 Is there a difference in context or ...
3
votes
2answers
299 views

What are some good dictionaries about Mathematics?

I have found a dictionary about Mathematics; however, it goes from Chinese to English. I have tried different bookstores in my city, but they don't have an English to Chinese dictionary. I have ...
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
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: ...
3
votes
2answers
393 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?
1
vote
0answers
344 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
110 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
365 views

Using 比 (bǐ) for comparison

I know how to use 比 in simple sentences like 哥哥比姐姐高 (my big brother is taller than my big sister) Would it be used for other sentences like You learn more words by listening than by ...
4
votes
1answer
114 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".
2
votes
3answers
234 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 this with this exact meaning before, so I'm wondering what the proper meaning is in English, and what the ...
3
votes
3answers
518 views

How did 东西 come to mean “something” in the expression “吃东西”?

I was chatting with a Chinese penpal recently and when I asked "what are you doing?", I received the following answer: 吃东西,你呢? Now, "东西" means "east and west" and so "吃东西" literally means ...
2
votes
0answers
72 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
110 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
341 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
4k views

What is the exact meaning of 吃豆腐, and where does the expression come from?

I'm not talking about eating tofu, but the expression that means something more like taking advantage of someone. What exactly does 吃豆腐 mean, and where does this expression come from?
8
votes
5answers
305 views

What is a good form of address for a male friend who is too old to be 小, too young to be 老, and too humble to be called 大?

I have a male "friend", last name 柯 (kē) who is over 30. From ages 18-30 or so, he went by 小柯, but that seems less and less appropriate as he gets older. Always going by his full name seems overly ...
6
votes
1answer
202 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"?
9
votes
3answers
409 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
248 views

What words are used to express the sincerity when texting your friends in festival period,such as the Spring Festival?

In the Chinese New Year period, many people will send text messages to their friends on the phone(via the SMS). I will also do that. When writing English letters, you may use "Yours," or "Sincerely," ...
9
votes
6answers
511 views

What's the difference between 星期X and 周X?

When accepting an answer, I noticed that the example used the word 周三 for Wednesday, but in my grammar, the days of the week are 星期一, 星期二, etc... They seem both correct but, what's the difference? ...
6
votes
4answers
158 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
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 ...
6
votes
4answers
581 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: ...
6
votes
3answers
257 views

How would one accurately translate “万事大吉”?

This is a four character phrase for which I have found no accurate translation online. I hear it all the time around CNY. 万事大吉
16
votes
2answers
357 views

Why use 非 and 亚 for continent names?

Why was 非 chosen for 非洲 (Africa) and 亚 chosen for 亚洲 (Asia)? I can't find a particular reason to use these characters.
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 ...
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 ...
3
votes
2answers
82 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
301 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
180 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
360 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 ...
10
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
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?
9
votes
3answers
386 views

What's the actual difference between 文 and 语?

Both mean "language" with some other related meanings. A friend of mine told me that while 文 refers more to the written language, 语 is more related to the spoken one. Is this a difference and is it ...
6
votes
3answers
248 views

What's chinese for “layer” in the Photoshop sense of the word?

I want to say "Do not print this layer" in Chinese, as past of a photoshop file. How does one say "Layer" in the photoshop sense of the word in Chinese? Google translate thinks the translation of "Do ...
7
votes
2answers
245 views

Character and meaning for the 四川话 sentence-ending particle 'ga'?

Scholars of Chinese will have a lot of work to do in the next 100-200 years, because eventually academics will take notice and want to document the self-emergent standardization of orthography for ...
6
votes
2answers
640 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
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 ...
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.
10
votes
2answers
340 views

What should a beginner be looking for when selecting a movie in Chinese? [closed]

To enhance my Chinese language skills I am looking for some Chinese movies or series that fit a beginner's level. Currently I know around 1000 Hanzi. Is watching movies or series too early with this ...
10
votes
3answers
269 views

What is the meaning of 当仁不让?

I was browsing the Chinese internet looking for a bank that supports Mac OS when I came across this site. They list a range of different banks under a range of different headings, the first of which ...
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 ...
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 ...
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? ...
4
votes
2answers
181 views

Which expression do native speakers actually use: Chinese New Year or Spring Festival (or other)?

In relation to the Chinese New Year (or Spring Festival) I've heard different names, as you can see from what I just wrote. In Chinese we have: 春節 / 春节 = Spring Festival Chūn jié 農曆新年 / ...
2
votes
1answer
416 views

Is the cantonese expression 五福臨門 present in Mandarin too?

A recent question prompted me to look for expressions related to the Chinese New Year and, among them, I found one that particularly stroke me as interesting: 五福臨門 = according to the poster it ...
4
votes
3answers
5k views

Does 危机 really mean both crisis and opportunity?

A lot of people, mostly those who haven't studied Chinese, like to claim something along the lines of "In Chinese, the word for crisis 危机, also bears the meaning of opportunity." This is usually ...
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 ...

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