9
votes
3answers
265 views

您 vs 你 for parents?

Having studied French, I'm aware of the subtle social intricacies of the formal vs. informal "you." I figured Chinese was at least similar, i.e., informal for people of your generation, people you ...
9
votes
2answers
182 views

Difference between 生前 and 死前

Literally, 死前 means before death while 生前 means before life. They seem to bear the opposite meaning. However, in most cases, they actually mean the same thing, i.e., when someone was still alive. ...
9
votes
1answer
356 views

How do non-native speakers get to perceive tones in Chinese?

Recently I've been teaching an English-speaking friend some basics about Chinese, but inevitably he got stuck with the tones. I've demonstrated to him the 4 tones with audio files, yet it seems hard ...
9
votes
1answer
287 views

Is there a difference between 夂 and 夊?

Looking at the list of Kangxi radicals over at Wikipedia, I just noticed something I haven't noticed before. Radical number 34 (夂) and 35 (夊) are virtually identical. I write these radicals in the ...
9
votes
3answers
615 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
347 views

Rules for saying numbers

I just wondered what are the rules of saying numbers... For example: 10 = 十 19 = 十九 100 = 一百 1,000 = 一千 10,000 = 一萬 but 119 = 一百一十九 then 110 = 一百一 1,100 = 一千一 11,000 = 一萬一 and then 10,110 = ...
9
votes
4answers
207 views

案: why is a bench also a case?

Sorry about the cryptic title. 案 is a character that can mean "bench"/"desk" but it can also mean "(legal) case" or "file": 长形的桌子或架起来代替桌子用的长木板:~子。~板。书~。条~。拍~而起。 ...
9
votes
3answers
488 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
87 views

Is there a “Peking Opera dialect”?

Peking Opera has a distinct pronunciation, that is at first similar to Mandarin, but to astute listeners, certain characters appear to have alternate or even non-Mandarin pronunciations. Take certain ...
9
votes
1answer
86 views

Are there any style guides for Chinese?

There are many different style guides for English, such as The Chicago Manual of Style and MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. Are there similar publications available for Chinese? ...
9
votes
2answers
142 views

Does a dictionary exist that goes from full word -> abbreviation? Many only offer abbreviation -> full word

My question is about 简称 ("abbreviations"). The question is simple: where can I find a dictionary that includes abbreviations in its definitions? For example, the NDRC here in Beijing is technically ...
9
votes
6answers
408 views

家: why is a home a place for pigs?

The character 家 is a bit of a joke: it describes a dwelling (宀) for pigs (豕). Why is this strange construction used? Were pigs somehow important for homes in the past? 说文解字 describes 家 as 从宀,豭省聲 - ...
9
votes
2answers
155 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
343 views

What's the pronunciation of 不在乎

All the dictionaries I've checked say bu4 zai4 hu5 but should it actually be bu2 zai4 hu5 I get different answers searching for 不对, some dictionaries say bu4dui4 others bu2dui4, but as ...
8
votes
4answers
597 views

What does the expression “孤男寡女” mean?

What does the expression "孤男寡女" (gū nán guǎ nǚ) mean, exactly? Does it have inherently negative connotations? As an aside, why does Google translate it as "Needing"?
8
votes
9answers
259 views

Chinese equivalent of “I can honestly say…”

Is there a Chinese equivalent of "I can honestly say". It's a rather colloquial expression, and I was wondering if there were something equivalent in Chinese to convey the same earnestness of the ...
8
votes
7answers
473 views

How can I translate 不客气 here?

I'm doing some translations of New Practical Chinese Reader 2. In lesson 17, there's a dialog between two people, and 不客气 appears as a reply to compliments rather than someone saying 谢谢。Is it supposed ...
8
votes
8answers
856 views

Never mind in Chinese

I ask someone a question, but then realize I already know the answer. In English, I'd say: "Oh wait, never mind." What's 口语 for "never mind" in this context?
8
votes
6answers
504 views

How gender specific in writing is the character 他

A couple of years ago I wrote this comment below an answer: On mainland China 他 is used for both male and female. I've only seen 她 used as a stylistic thing for advertising and some old formal ...
8
votes
8answers
995 views

Difference between 是不是喝酒了? and 喝酒了没有?

What is the difference between 是不是吃了蛋糕? and 吃蛋糕了没有? or 是不是喝酒了? and 喝酒了没有?
8
votes
4answers
802 views

What is the purpose of the 中 in 在新标签页中打开?

So, I recently started using my android phone in simplified Chinese mode, to help myself internalize Chinese characters. In my browser window, when I press down on a URL, the "在新标签页中打开" button allows ...
8
votes
10answers
5k views

Tips for pronouncing X vs SH in Mandarin?

I'd like to think my Mandarin pronunciation is generally pretty reasonable, but I often get tripped up with X and SH - for example words like 雪 and 水, or 虾 and 莎. Even with different tones, I find ...
8
votes
4answers
338 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 ...
8
votes
9answers
1k views

How to translate “你给我滚” properly

In a sentence like: “你*给我*拿一杯水” You would translate it something like: Get me a glass of water. How is the "给我" in the sentence “你给我滚” supposed to be translated? Should it just be "Get lost / P*ss ...
8
votes
5answers
448 views

What is the original Chinese text to “liquid jade”?

The Wikipedia article on the history of tea mentions that Laozi described tea as "the froth of the liquid jade." What is the original text in Chinese? If it's not appropriate to ask such a question, ...
8
votes
7answers
361 views

Is 了 optional when a time word is present?

In sentences that already have a point in time word that indicates that the event happened in the past, is 了 optional? Or could there be some additional meaning with it present? For instance: ...
8
votes
3answers
383 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Effective and polite way to end a phone conversation

What are some ways that I can let the other speaker know I want to finish a phone conversation and am going to hang up. I frequently come across as too abrupt. Usually something along the lines of ...
8
votes
4answers
202 views

Etymology of 汉语

I knew a Chinese woman who taught me a lot about Chinese languages. One of them was about 汉语's etymology. I was told that all parts of these characters had a meaning connected to the History of ...
8
votes
3answers
763 views

Confusion about the ice radical 冫

As far as I know, the character for "ice" is 冰, and the radical derived from it is 冫 . I find it a bit weird that the ice radical 冫 is the radical for the ice character 冰 itself (ice + water = ice ...
8
votes
4answers
403 views

When to use 一倍 vs 两倍

I would like to have a clarification on this: I know that 倍 means "-times, -fold", but I don't understand why 一倍 seems to mean "twice as (fast)" in the following sentence: 开车最少比骑自行车快一倍。 while we ...
8
votes
5answers
868 views

Is there a site that can split characters into radicals?

For example, let's examine character heaven. It has a Ren radical (men). And then we add a strip to become Tha (big). And then we add another strip to get heaven. Now, is there a site to do so? I ...
8
votes
2answers
617 views

Usage of 目 vs 眼睛

Can I use 目 in daily conversations or its too archaic and I should use only 眼睛? What about 口 and 嘴巴? I am trying to teach my daughter Chinese with daily Chinese phrases and have dilemma - 目 is ...
8
votes
5answers
265 views

Why use 了 in saying I'm hungry?

Why do you use 了 after 我饿? I thought it was used to denote completion or the past tense of something, but isn't being hungry present tense?
8
votes
5answers
891 views

Why is 喂 used over 你好 when answering the phone?

The use of 拜拜 over 再见 at the end of a phone conversation is obvious as you haven't seen them so how could you see them again but I don't understand why 喂 is used as a greeting when answering the ...
8
votes
2answers
410 views

Is there a literal meaning of 对不起?

对不起 is one of the first phrases any student learns. We learn it as a set phrase, and don't question why it has this meaning. But we also learn the phrases; 听得懂 - "hear and understand" 听不懂 - ...
8
votes
4answers
426 views

Pronounce ellipsis 《●●● ●●●》 in Mandarin

When I'm reading ellipses in English out loud I usually say et cetera or and so on. What should I say in Mandarin? 等等?
8
votes
2answers
210 views

How to explain 讲 in 讲礼貌 and 讲卫生

In my understanding 讲礼貌 translates as 'be polite' and 讲卫生 is something like 'be clean', but how should I explain the 讲 to a new speaker? I take this as a set phrase, but is there a way to translate ...
8
votes
7answers
489 views

Two terms for “According to” - What are the differences between 根据 and 按照?

根据 and 按照 can both function as a preposition that can be translated as according to. I imagine that the translation does not capture the individual character of each term. What nuances do the two ...
8
votes
3answers
405 views

When do I use 确定 versus 决定?

The two words mean approximately the same thing but I find that there is a nuance I'm missing in terms of the appropriate context to use one or the other. How should I think about the difference ...
8
votes
2answers
366 views

Difference between 接受 and 接收

The first one (接受 jiēshòu) seems far more general and frequent: 我接受邀请。 I accepted the invitation. 他将接受口试。 He will take an oral examination. 他拒绝接受治疗。 He refused treatment. The second one (接收 ...
8
votes
5answers
181 views

How common is the use of “瞧” and which region?

I've seen 瞧 used every now and then in written Chinese, but I've rarely heard it said in spoken Chinese except for the occasional mention of 瞧不起. A couple of days ago I was watching Kung Fu Panda and ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

How to say “Please, go in front of me” when standing in a queue?

Imagine You stand in a queue in a super market and you want to let the person behind you in front of you. I have tried to translate it these ways: 请,在我前 去 吧 (putting only an adverbial in front ...
8
votes
3answers
456 views

What is the difference between 古怪 and 古里古怪?

According to my book, there is a pattern for building further adjectives from adjectives. If the original adjective is AB (two different characters), its derivation is A里AB. Unfortunately, this ...
8
votes
5answers
432 views

What is the meaning of 真是的

What is a meaning of 真是的. I heard for many times in context something like 你真是的! And yet I have doubts about proper meaning of this expression.
8
votes
2answers
338 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
209 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
214 views

Is there any difference between 汤 and 羹?

Are 汤 and 羹 used to refer to different kinds of soup or is 羹 merely a part of the full word for soup (汤羹)? For example, is one used to refer to light soups while the other is reserved for heavy ...
8
votes
5answers
433 views

When is the spelling and the pronunciation different?

I noticed that sometimes certain finals in Chinese sound differently when combined with different initials. For e.g., what is spelled "u" sometimes is pronounced "ü". Other times, I think the final ...
8
votes
5answers
270 views

Are there sentences where 跟 and 和 are interchangeable?

For example: 我跟朋友去公园了。 我和朋友去公园了。 Are both of these sentences correct? Are there any subtle differences in the meaning conveyed? If they are not entirely interchangeable, how do we know which one ...

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