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12answers
14k views

Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese

This is a specifically created Community Wiki which gathers resources for learning Mandarin Chinese and it has been approved by the Community itself. It should be clear that the resources are not ...
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8answers
1k views

How do we choose the correct characters for a westerner name?

Since there are many characters that share a common pronunciation and sometimes also the same tone, how do we properly choose which character best represents our name? Is it totally arbitrary or are ...
28
votes
10answers
8k views

的-地-得, when do you use which?

So the age old question of 的-地-得, when do you use which? When spoken, it all sounds the same, but on paper it depends on if it's a verb, noun, adjective. But I don't quite remember if that is all that ...
18
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14answers
2k views

Techniques for learning and retaining characters

For many of us, memorizing characters is a difficult thing. In Chinese, just because you can speak the word doesn't mean you can read it. Just because you can read it doesn't mean you can write it. At ...
10
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11answers
284 views

What etymology dictionaries are available?

What dictionaries (online, software-based or in paper form) explain the origins of a word and its evolution over time? E.g. how the character was once written, how the usage – and the meaning – ...
8
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5answers
1k views

Stative verbs in Chinese: only for adjectives?

I've recently discovered that in Chinese, adjectives can function as verbs. An answer on this site stated that "all adjectives in Chinese can function as verbs". This was obviously an interesting ...
26
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7answers
1k 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
541 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 ...
23
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8answers
921 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". ...
16
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3answers
762 views

Tense and use of 了

I struggle a bit to get my head around tenses in Mandarin, and in particular when I need to use 了 (le). Do you have any tips, examples or resources to help me out with this?
7
votes
1answer
254 views

Is there a tone sandhi rule that “4 3” changes to “4 0”?

This is a followup to my earlier question about the tones in the word "豆腐": On their own "豆" and "腐" have the tones 4 and 3: dòu, fǔ As a two-syllable / two-character word, "豆腐" has tone 4 but "fu" ...
1
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2answers
268 views

的确, 确实, 实在, and 真正: what's the difference?

(Related a bit to Difference between 实际, 现实, 确实, and 实在 I guess. Good to link to it for posterity.) 的确, 确实, 实在, 真正 My dictionaries all say that all four can be adverbs with a meaning of ...
12
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3answers
530 views

How does foreign word transliteration work in the context of Cantonese vs Mandarin?

If I understand correctly, Cantonese sounds very different from Mandarin, despite being written in the same way (omitting some small differences, which are irrelevant for the question). If it is the ...
21
votes
3answers
8k 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?
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6answers
2k views

Why is 的 (de) sometimes pronounced “di” even though it is used as a possessive particle?

I've noticed sometimes the word 的 is pronounced as "di" rather than "de". I'm aware that there is a valid use of 的 with pronunciation "di", which means "really and trully". However for the sentence: ...
17
votes
7answers
806 views

How do native speakers of Chinese pronounce Latin characters?

I hear that "Windows XP" is commonly called "Chā P" because the letter "X" may be pronounced "Chā". Are there other Latin characters that have similarly peculiar pronunciations?
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5answers
528 views

Learning how to use measure / count words properly

Chinese has measure (or count) words like “个” (一个人), “部” (三部车), etc. These always get me confused, and there way too many of them. Are there any general rules that can help me memorize them? Also, ...
9
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5answers
2k views

Why were some letters like Q, X, C, chosen for Pinyin which confuse non-Chinese speakers?

A romanization system is basically a system in which roman (latin) letters are used for languages that use non-roman scripts. This has the obvious benefit that people who can (maybe only) read roman ...
3
votes
3answers
651 views

What are the relative literacy rates in for simplified and traditional characters?

I'm trying to decide whether it would be better to use traditional or simplified characters for an iPhone game I'm making. If something is written in traditional, how many people will be able to read ...
6
votes
5answers
484 views

What was this online dictionary's name with ancient traditional and simplified characters and etymology?

I once found a Mandarin Chinese dictionary which for each character listed the ancient, the traditional and the simplified Chinese characters. For each it described its meaning and how it developed ...
5
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1answer
203 views

Strange pronunciations in Hakka song

I have stumbled upon Zhang Shaolin's Hoi-nam kai-fan. I asked three translation questions about it: 1, 2 and 3. THere you find the lyrics and a link to a video, and my translation attempt. This ...
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2answers
180 views

What is the nuance of 很好?

Beginning textbooks say 很好 means "very good," but soon add that 很 is usually just there to balance the phrase and does not really mean "very" in this context. S.Rhee's comment cites a much fuller ...
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vote
1answer
315 views

Help translating 海南鸡饭 - 3

I've come across Zhang Shaolin's Hoi-nam kai-fan (characters 海南鸡饭, lyrics only in subtitles), a song in Hakka. It is split into three parts. This question concentrates on part 3, part 2 being here and ...
8
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2answers
556 views

Help translating 海南鸡饭 - 2

I've come across Zhang Shaolin's Hoi-nam kai-fan (characters 海南鸡饭, lyrics only in subtitles), a song in Hakka. It is split into three parts. This question concentrates on part 2, part 1 being here and ...
6
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6answers
602 views

What is the difference between 餐馆 and 饭店? Is 饭店 used for restaurant or hotel?

饭店 and 餐馆 can both mean restaurant. My Chinese friend here in Dongguan tells me 饭店 is not commonly used to mean hotel. I want to understand in what contexts both of these words are used. 谢谢.
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votes
3answers
387 views

Why is 的 used in these sentences?

I have the following sentences: 你是哪一天出生的? (sentence 1) I'm trying to understand why 的 is being used in this sentence. I know it is used to express possession, but I'm not sure that's the case is ...
2
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2answers
334 views

Help translating 海南鸡饭

I've come across Zhang Shaolin's Hoi-nam kai-fan (characters 海南鸡饭, lyrics only in subtitles), a song in Hakka. It is split into three parts. This question concentrates on part 1, part 2 being here and ...
35
votes
9answers
6k views

How many characters do I need to learn?

How many Chinese characters would I generally need to learn to be able to handle most text in typical every day circumstances? How many would be required to be considered fluent? Are there any good ...
27
votes
11answers
22k views

Is it easier to learn Chinese after learning Japanese or vice versa?

For those who speak both Chinese and Japanese, would first learning Chinese make it easier to learn Japanese? Knowing that Japanese Kanji are derived from Chinese characters, how hard is it to do the ...
25
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5answers
2k views

Can native Chinese speakers distinguish tones in songs?

I already have a hard time distinguishing tones in normal speech. This gets significantly worse when I listen to Chinese songs, since the melody masks tones even further. Yes, I understand that ...
20
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9answers
3k views

Chinese input on Windows based on pinyin and tones

What is the best way for me to type pinyin using a keyboard on Windows? I've tried the built-in IMEs, but... they don't feel very intuitive to me. For example, if I want to get wǔ, I need to type wu, ...
19
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1answer
476 views

What is the difference in use between 以及, 和 and 与?

I have a book with the following lesson titles: 中文以及中国 聚会和饮食 交通与环境 Why are these terms connected with 以及 / 和 / 与, why not always use 和 for example? Are there any rules for proper use of these ...
20
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5answers
2k views

How can one determine the radical for a given character?

Many times, when reading Mandarin, I will happen across a character that I don't know. Usually, the radical along with some context will clue me into the meaning, but if I can't determine the ...
17
votes
4answers
711 views

How do I decide whether to use 可以, 会 or 能?

According to every dictionary I've seen so far, there is a big overlap in these: 可以 = can, may, be able to 会  = can, be able to, able 能  = can, may, able, capable How do I properly choose which ...
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votes
9answers
4k views

How offensive is 他妈的?

How offensive is the expression 他妈的? What is an English expression with a similar degree of offensiveness? In what situations is this expression appropriate / not appropriate?
12
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6answers
837 views

What's the difference between 学 and 学习?

I know both mean "to study" and I also know that while 学 (xué) is transitive, 学习 (xué xí) can be both intransitive and transitive, for example: 我学中文。 (I study «what?» Chinese) = transitive; 我在大学学习。 ...
10
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4answers
781 views

Confusion about bian 邊 and miàn 面

I'm having a little trouble with learning directions and positions. It seems that most often the word bian is being used to indicate a position: front side 前邊, back side 後邊, etc. But then I see stuff ...
5
votes
5answers
450 views

What are the common ice-breaker sentences in Chinese?

There are sentences in English like "What's up?" "What's going on?" "how have you been?" to begin a conversation with or to greet people (friends or relatives) So what are the common ice-breaker ...
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5answers
340 views

Question about “很好”

I've read that when asked the simple question 你好吗? ("How are you?"), answering 我很好 is the standard form, while 我好 is simply not used. 很 means "very", but 我很好 is simply translated as "I'm fine." and ...
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votes
2answers
497 views

Difference between 许多 and 很多

What's the difference between 许多 and 很多? For example, in this sentence I found on Jukuu both terms are used: After years of teaching, I have many memories to dwell on in idle moments. ...
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3answers
1k views

Difference between 与,和 and 跟?

Do the following three sentences mean the same thing, that is, can they be used interchangeably? 她的父母就来我们家与我的家人见面了。 她的父母就来我们家和我的家人见面了。 她的父母就来我们家跟我的家人见面了。
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5answers
1k 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 ...
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1answer
389 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 = ...
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4answers
1k 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
1answer
313 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 ...
6
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1answer
274 views

Dissimilation of bilabial finals following Middle Chinese (法, 品, 凡)

Middle Chinese syllables with the shape CVP where C is a bilabial stop and P is a bilabial underwent dissimilation to CVF, where F = P[-labial]. For instance, Baxter's reconstruction of 法 is *pjop, 品 ...
3
votes
1answer
721 views

How does the Chinese translation of an English name get established? [duplicate]

This isn't a question on how to choose a Chinese name equivalent, but how the one that most media and people use, gets used. For example, if some unknown person out there who never had a Chinese ...
2
votes
2answers
234 views

Still confused about putting 了 at the end of a sentence or right after the verb

Obviously this question is very similar to When should 了 be after the verb and when should it be at the end of the sentence?. I just wanted you to know that I consulted that before I posted this ...
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6answers
569 views

Do acronyms borrowed from English use neutral tone (aka tone 0 or tone 5) for all syllables?

I was just reading a Q&A here about Chinese words for DVD and the discussion also included other acronyms from English. It struck me that nobody wrote the pinyin for any of the terms which made ...
9
votes
2answers
410 views

Why is 月 used when speaking about anatomy?

One thing I've been curious about while learning Chinese is the use of 月 in many 汉字 representing anatomical features (for example, 脸, 腰, or 腿). What is the etymology of the use of 月 as a radical?

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