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
330 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
437 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
358 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
381 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
197 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
745 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
393 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
818 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
613 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
264 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
2answers
394 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
421 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
206 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
471 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
402 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
361 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
179 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
416 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
324 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
208 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
213 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
427 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
269 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
409 views

Can 下次 mean “again”?

I found a sentence on tatoeba that isn't quite the translation I would expect. I will not do it again. Is translated as... 下次我不做了。 I checked mdbg.net to be sure, and 下次 is only translated ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

What font size for reading simplified characters on screen?

I realize this sounds like a very subjective question, so I will try to ask it very carefully: I'm learning to speak, read, and write Mandarin. A lot of times (particularly on the web or in e-mail) I ...
8
votes
5answers
377 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
805 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.
8
votes
3answers
324 views

When do I use 着 to indicate action in progress?

It seems like for some verbs (正)在 is used to indicate action in progress, but I have also encountered 着 for some, like 穿着. When should it be used, is there a rule to follow?
8
votes
3answers
698 views

What is the difference between 免费 and 无偿?

I'm trying to sort out the difference between 免费 and 无偿 as adverbs. Would you say 水果店的老板免费送了我六个苹果。 or would it be 无偿送了?
8
votes
6answers
381 views

Should the term 廁所 (bathroom) be used for both a home and public toilet?

I found this word, 廁所 (Cèsuǒ). Does it mean a toilet outside house like a toilet in the mall? However, for a bathroom in a house which has only a toilet and a shower and there is no bathtub. How can ...
8
votes
3answers
242 views

Asking “how many cousins do you have?”

What is a collective term for first cousins? Everywhere I've looked it is emphasized that the correct term for "cousin" depends on age, sex and whether the cousin is on father's or mother's side. But ...
8
votes
2answers
419 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?
8
votes
2answers
245 views

Where is the correct place to use 您 when addressing others?

Almost every foreign text book I've seen mentions 您 as a polite or formal address to others, however I rarely hear it said and rarely see it written except when addressing customers and occasionally ...
8
votes
3answers
743 views

Is there a significant difference in meaning between “欢迎你到中国来” and “欢迎你来到中国”?

I've asked quite a lot of native speakers about this and the general consensus seems to be that there is no significant difference in meaning between "欢迎你到中国来" and "欢迎你来到中国" (and similar sentences), ...
8
votes
2answers
204 views

Does “坊” also mean “square”, “plaza”, “piazza” like “广场”?

Where I am in Kunming there is a square that seems to go by two names: 金碧广场, Jīn bì guǎngchǎng, "Golden Square" 金马碧鸡坊, Jīnmǎ bì jī fang, "Golden Horse and Green Rooster Square" When I look ...
8
votes
1answer
568 views

Do 和 and 及 refer to two different kinds of “ands?”

At one level, they both mean "and." At another level, 和 also means "peace," while 及 means "to extend." This suggests different usages. Is one used to connect nouns, while the other is used to connect ...
8
votes
5answers
246 views

What are some ways that I can be self-deprecating about my Chinese speaking ability?

I live in an area where there are many Chinese so I get plenty of opportunity to use my language skills including shopping, eating at restaurants and meeting new people. The Chinese people I meet are ...
8
votes
2answers
416 views

The origins of “AA制”

Every since I learned the expression AA制*, I have been curious as to its origins. The morphology seems clear enough: AA + 制(定) = "to draw up (the bill) in an AA way". What is not clear is how AA ...
8
votes
2answers
179 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。
8
votes
3answers
438 views

Difference between 想 and 要?

I know both of them mean "want to" but have usage in differente contexts. When should I use each one? For example: 我要厺上海市 and 我想厺上海市 What's the difference in the meaning between them? Also, ...
8
votes
2answers
203 views

Are the Cantonese word 係 and the Japanese word はい related?

The Cantonese word meaning "to be", written as 係 (Jyutping: hai6) sounds similar to the Japanese word はい ("hai" in various Romanizations). Both words are used to answer "yes" or "it is correct" to ...
8
votes
9answers
642 views

What's the correct translation for 1.5 months? Is it “一个月半” or "一个半月“?

What's the correct translation for 1.5 months? Is it "一个月半" or "一个半月“?
8
votes
2answers
623 views

What do Chinese do if they forget how to write a character?

I've heard that character amnesia is becoming more and more common. What if a Chinese has to write something and he doesn't have a cellphone or computer with him, what does he do if he forgot the ...
8
votes
1answer
192 views

Have any fonts been released that are based on slender gold?

I remember the first time I saw slender gold I had something like an 'am I dreaming?' moment. That's not how characters were supposed to look! The lines aren't supposed to cross, etc., etc. But ...
8
votes
2answers
163 views

What is the difference between 有名,著名 and 闻名?

We know 名 means name or famous, what is the subtle difference between 有名,著名 and 闻名? Thanks!

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