7
votes
10answers
1k views

What does 非也 mean?

What does 非也 mean? I heard it used here: Is this XXX? 非也! It's YYY! Does it mean "Oh my god!" or something? Thank you very much for your help!
7
votes
8answers
547 views

Neutral Terms for “White People”

This is always a difficult topic because racial and ethnic identities are so complex, sensitive, and dynamic: what are the best (as in the most precise and neutral) terms for "White" people? I've ...
7
votes
4answers
509 views

How would one say “my computer died”?

I know 关掉 to mean "turn off" but it doesn't seem to convey the sudden-ness or unwelcome connotation of "died". 突然关掉 is more precise but still seems to lack the negitivity. Also, as this is a common ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the correct way to say: “I thought you were somebody else.”

In English if you mistake someone for another person it is common to say "I'm sorry, I thought you were someone else". How should this be said in Chinese?
7
votes
6answers
407 views

“小王” 和 “老王” how to determine which to use?

This is something I still haven't mastered and still just go with the flow. If I wanted to call someone a nickname, say for Mr. Wang, which one should I choose? What defines whether I should call him ...
7
votes
4answers
673 views

Origin of beautiful kingdom and hero kingdom

Why in Mandarin chinese, USA is beautiful kingdom and England is hero kingdom?
7
votes
5answers
875 views

Usage of 一定 vs 当然

I recently had a homework assignment to select the correct answer 我学了10年汉语了,含有水平 。。。 很高 I chose 一定,but the correct answer turned out to be 当然 Was my answer incorrect, why? How do these two ...
7
votes
3answers
270 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. ...
7
votes
3answers
528 views

爱老虎油 - is it slang?

Seen this phrase written by a Chinese person: 爱老虎油 [ài lǎo​hǔ yóu] What does it mean? Failed to find it in dictionaries. Is it some slang or 白话?
7
votes
3answers
329 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
668 views

Where can I find a list of commonly mistaken characters?

I want to quickly identify potential mistakes created by OCR software. Where can I find a list of all Chinese characters that visually look very similar and might often be confused?
7
votes
5answers
1k views

What's the meaning of “不见面也有不见面的好”?

I really couldn't understand the meaning of this sentences. 见面 means to meet, to see 不见面 means not meet, not see. 不见面也有不见面的好。 But I really couldn't get what it is saying.
7
votes
10answers
638 views

What is the Chinese equivalent of English idiom “As if!”?

The English idiom "as if!" is used to express the speakers rejection that something is possible: A: "In a few years I'll be driving a Ferrari." B: "As if you'll ever have a Ferrari!" Here, B, ...
7
votes
2answers
385 views

What is the proper usage of 而已 in Chinese?

I always hear Chinese people making sentences using 而已 - but I've never quite, 100%, understood how to use this in sentences myself. What is the correct way to apply it, and what is the English ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

What does 'duang' mean in 'online Chinese'?

I see this word popping up on Weibo and Taobao. It's not written with any character, but spelled out in Pinyin. What does it mean? EDIT: For the annals:
7
votes
9answers
245 views

Is 我妈妈 or 我的妈妈 more natural?

The possessive particle 的 is often dropped when I see an expression like this, especially when referring to a family member (such as in this case). Which is more natural in casual conversation and are ...
7
votes
2answers
899 views

Equivalent phrase to “Bon Appetit”/“Enjoy (your food)”

In European languages there's a phrase you can say when you or a waiter serves food. For example, - bon appetit (French/English) - buen provecho (Spanish) Does Chinese have a similar phrase?
7
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
7
votes
6answers
10k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
214 views

How can I skip characters I can't read when reading aloud?

As an example, I was at the cinema and I wanted to buy tickets for a film named 北京遇上西雅图 However, I can't read all of the characters. In English I'd say; Can I get a ticket for that film ...
7
votes
4answers
545 views

What is 人 doing in 你现在人在哪里?

I got this sentence in my "daily exercise" newsletter, and I really don't understand what's 人 doing there? Doesn't it mean the same when 人 is removed? Could this simply be a typo?
7
votes
4answers
280 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?
7
votes
1answer
567 views

Expressing “tea is not just a drink”

I encountered a misunderstanding today due to my poor Chinese language skill. What could I have done better? I was standing in a German hospital and a native Chinese asked me if I wanted tea or ...
7
votes
5answers
937 views

“不客气” (bù kèqì) vs “谢谢你” (xièxiè nǐ)

At home in Australia my neighbouring shop owners are from Shanghai and taught me some Chinese. From them I learned two ways of responding to "谢谢" (xièxiè): "不客气" (bù kèqì) "谢谢你" (xièxiè nǐ) So I ...
7
votes
7answers
1k views

Why do native speakers often say a character has “no meaning”?

Many times I will know all the characters in a name but one & I'll ask what that one character means. 9 times out of 10 the response is, "That character has no meaning". While it might be true ...
7
votes
3answers
462 views

How to translate “很不起眼儿” in English

What's the best (传神) translation of "很不起眼儿" in English? 例句: 不认识他的人觉得他很不起眼儿,认识他的人觉得他很优秀。 辨析: A more formal term that related to "很不起眼儿" is "其貌不扬", but "其貌不扬" will normally be "很不起眼儿", yet ...
7
votes
5answers
426 views

When native Chinese refer to China, what's the difference between 大陆, 中国 and 中国大陆?

Do they generally mean the same thing? Is one more formal than the other? Both 大陆, 中国 seem to have the same number of hits on Baidu.
7
votes
3answers
276 views

What is the difference between 夸张 and 过分

I often hear both used to describe a person or a person's action. The direct translations aren't the same, but from my experience, when used in context, I can't tell when to use one over the other. ...
7
votes
2answers
265 views

What is the difference between 整个 and 全?

The dictionary definitions for 整个 and 全 both use "whole" and "entire". However, 全 additionally has definitions of "all" and "complete". I have a homework assignment that asks me to distinguish their ...
7
votes
4answers
795 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: ...
7
votes
3answers
457 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
5k views

When are “《” and “ 》” and other brackets used?

In some texts, I have seen the following brackets: Carrot brackets: 《, 》,〈, and 〉. Square brackets: 【, 】,〖, and 〗. C-brackets: 〔 and 〕. L-brackets: 「, 」, 『, and 』. Some questions: What are the ...
7
votes
2answers
293 views

What's the difference between 房子 and 屋?

It seems like "house" is usually translated as 房子 (fáng zi) in standard Chinese, although 屋 (wū) is also a common translation, especially in Cantonese. Is there a difference between the two? When ...
7
votes
4answers
244 views

Why should I use 由 here and not 被?

I could choose 由 or 被. Why should I choose 由? Are there any good reasons for this choice? 这件事 _______ 公司负责。My girlfriend immediately said 由, but she couldn't say why. Considering the answers below ...
7
votes
2answers
350 views

If the simplified version of 態 is 态 is why isn't there one for 熊?

I ask because I'm curious as to what's the reasoning behind simplification. It would look something like: 太 灬
7
votes
6answers
1k views

Is 師奶 (see lai) strictly a Cantonese word? Is it a neutral word or does it have a negative connotation?

I had heard a husband refer to his wife in Cantonese as 師奶 (pronounced "see lai"). The way he said it sounded like an insult but I was told it's not a bad word. How would 師奶 be described in English? ...
7
votes
3answers
375 views

份, 个, 本, 两: How do they function in these sentences?

I've been working with Rosetta Stone for about 2 weeks now, and due to the immersion (from the start, the entire program is entirely Chinese—no English anywhere), they don't do any explaining of ...
7
votes
1answer
569 views

How to say a negative number in Mandarin?

There are plenty of posts for rules on numbers, but I can't seem to figure out how one would say, for example, -5 (negative five). I know that negative number is 负数, so would it just be 负五?
7
votes
1answer
259 views

How is the Kanji character 豚 related to the chinese 猪 / 豬

The Chinese character for pig is 猪 / 豬 (zhu1) In many Japanese restaurants around Hong Kong I've seen this somewhat different character 豚 which appears to also mean pig. How would you say it in ...
7
votes
4answers
977 views

Learning Traditional first with the goal of learning both

I found this in the Mandarin wikibook: "It is considered easier for people who learn Traditional to read both sets than people who learn Simplified only, but Simplified characters are less ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Are there differences in writing between Chinese languages, such as Mandarin and Shanghainese

There are already many questions about the different spoken languages that can be called Chinese. This question on the other hand asks about the written one(s?). Well, to start, is the written ...
7
votes
4answers
985 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 ...
7
votes
6answers
1k views

How do you say “I know that I don't know”?

How would I translate ""I know that I don't know" into Chinese? I can translate the similar sentence "I know that you don't know" as 我知道你不知道. However, saying 我知道我不知道 sounds strange. What's the best ...
7
votes
3answers
407 views

Is “你们好” (nǐmen hǎo) in actual use for greeting multiple people at once?

I just felt like typing "hello" in Chinese in a chat room (with no Chinese speakers in it but what the hey...) Halfway through it struck me that there's "你们" (nǐhǎo) for hello, "你" (nǐ) meaning you, ...
7
votes
6answers
10k views

How to say “hope you'll have a great day”?

I was writing a card to a friend and wanted to finish with "Hope you'll have a great day" but realised what I could think of wasn't quite the same meaning, or just sounded odd/weird. What I wrote in ...
7
votes
5answers
279 views

Equivalent expression to: “I don't give a f***”

Is there something in Mandarin like "I don't give a f***", something that expresses the same sense of "I don't care" but with more force.
7
votes
4answers
589 views

What does “不要紧” mean?

众人回头观望,而这一看不要紧,所有人都是不由大吃一惊 According to an online dictionary, "不要紧" means "not important". How does the sentence make sense? "The group looked back and that look was not important. Everyone ...
7
votes
3answers
176 views

Quotation Marks (“”) and Angle Quotation Marks (《》)

Based on my recent observation, most people use "" to enclose a quote and use 《》 to enclose the name of a book (or a movie?). However, since I began my Chinese study, I have been learning to use 「」 as ...
7
votes
3answers
872 views

How to Say the “something” in the phrase “Do something”

I was trying to explain the meaning of the phrase "hang out" to a Chinese friend, and the first thing that came to mind was 一起做什么了, with me intending 什么了 to mean "something". He seemed to understand ...
7
votes
3answers
183 views

我一字一字地学习汉语 OR 我一个字一个字地学习汉语

Which is the correct use of this grammar pattern? 我一字一字地学习汉语。 我一个字一个字地学习汉语。 The first one feels correct to me. The pattern is: 一{MW,N}一{MW,N} + 地 + V

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