粘 can be read as either "nian" or "zhan", but in both way it can be translated as "sticky", so what is the difference? In other words what should I take in mind, when reading a text , in order to understand which pronunciation I should use?
I was taught at class, that zhan is the reading when 粘 is used as a verb, 'to stick, to glue'; the more common reading nian covers almost all the other cases, when its used as an adjective, 'sticky'. But I think this is not entirely correct.
Here's a long list with compound words. In most cases the reading is nian, in some cases zhan. Try to see if you can find a rule.
Interestingly, the Taiwanese Education Ministry's dictionary only lists nian as reading.
From a native Chinese perspective: 粘(zhan) = 粘 (nian1) = to glue, to stick = verb. 粘(nian2) = 黏 (nian2) = sticky = adj.
Although 黏 is more used in written, while 粘(nian2) is more oral.