5
votes
4answers
222 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
171 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
117 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
85 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
288 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
359 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
230 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
306 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
288 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
104 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
604 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
808 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
105 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
469 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
283 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
424 views

Number two in chinese: 二 vs 两

I always knew, from my studies of Japanese, that the number two is 二 (èr). I am not sure about the actual etymology, but looking at the character, it's understandable why it represents the number "2". ...
14
votes
4answers
232 views

Is this an exception in the use of 的?

I know that, when expressing possessives, we add 的 to the usual personal pronouns, such as 我的. However, in a question in my grammar textbook I saw: 你爸爸忙吗? = Is your father busy? Why not ...
12
votes
5answers
567 views

Is any simplified character also a traditional character?

I don't mean traditional characters that weren't simplified, thus being the same in traditional and simplified. What I ask if there is any simplified character which in turn has the same form of ...
12
votes
6answers
520 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
194 views

Asking “what's the pinyin/character for X?”

How do we ask someone to "translate" a character or some pinyin into the other one? The expressions I'm referring to are: What's the pinyin for this/that (character)/... ? What's the ...
7
votes
1answer
214 views

What are the different kinds of poems in Chinese?

In the question "Are there poems in Chinese that rhyme?", a debate started about what is considered a poem in Chinese. The texts I presented — 《三字經》 (Three Character Classic), 《百家姓》 (The Hundred ...
7
votes
3answers
242 views

“Actually” as a sentence-starter of speech filler

When casually speaking English I use the word "actually" a lot at the beginning of a sentance, or as part of the flow of my speech. e.g. Actually, next semester doesn't start for a month. ...
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?
1
vote
1answer
126 views

Where can I find a Chinese corpus concordance?

Compleat Lexical Tutor has a valuable tool here1 for searching for English words in a corpus and displaying them in sample sentences. This is useful for checking the usage of a word. Where can I find ...
7
votes
3answers
295 views

Why does Chinese lack some level of abstraction in some idioms? (e.g. 兄弟姐妹)

Example: in Chinese, you can't* speak of siblings in a general term, and in turn you have to enumerate all 4 combinations of sex and age: 兄弟姐妹 ( older brother, younger brother, older sister, younger ...
9
votes
2answers
150 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
133 views

What does this calligraphy by 張照 say?

I can make out bits of this calligraphy, but not enough to look up the poem. The first line (and the poet, which I assume is the last two characters) should suffice for the purposes of using a search ...
5
votes
2answers
316 views

What are the rules of writing a 对联 (chinese couplet)?

I have looked at the wikipedia article "Couplet (Chinese Poetry)", but I think it poses more questions than answers. So a 对联 (duì lián) is a "Chinese couplet". it is composed of two lines each line ...
5
votes
3answers
214 views

What is the correct orientation of “ㄧ” in zhuyin fuhao?

In zhuyin fuhao (bopomofo), "ㄧ" is equal to "i" or "yi" in Hanyu pinyin. I have noticed, when displayed on my computer, even with very complete fonts, I see a vertical line (similar to "|"), but when ...
5
votes
2answers
285 views

How can I improve the speed of my spoken Chinese?

I'm currently trying to learn '听妈妈的话' on SingChineseSongs, and I'm having trouble keeping up with the fast parts. I also have trouble trying to speak terribly fast in Mandarin anyway. Does anyone ...
11
votes
6answers
373 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
175 views

Meaning of 这么多好吃

I want to get the correct meaning of this sentence: 我恨不得一下子把这么多好吃的都吃完。 I understand this sentence as "I wish to eat up all those delicious things, all at once". I don't fully understand the ...
6
votes
4answers
508 views

Where can I find a downloadable database of English to Chinese words?

CC-CEDICT is a Chinese to English dictionary, available for use online or for download (as a data file here: http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php?page=cc-cedict). What similar projects provide an ...
5
votes
2answers
191 views

Where can I find sorted word lists used by native students?

I would like to find a sorted list of vocabulary that is studied by native students in primary (elementary) and secondary (middle) school in China, arranged by grade level. Is there any official place ...
9
votes
3answers
175 views

Which regions use 计算机 for computer?

Where is 计算机 used for "computer", and where does it mean "calculator". In regions where it means "calculator" what is the word for "supercomputer" (assuming that 超级计算机 is not used there)?
5
votes
1answer
3k views

What is the character with the greatest number of strokes?

I have seen an old and very rarely used character that consisted of four traditional dragons (龍). As I remember it meant "talkative." That makes a total of 64 strokes, are there any other characters ...
7
votes
2answers
255 views

Why does 有机 as in 有机食品 mean organic?

有 and 机 are some of the first characters we learn in Chinese, but only recently did I find out that they mean "organic" when put together. Can anyone explain why this is?

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