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I've been struggling with how to say "like" or "to be like" in mandarin. Other languages I know can do this quite tersely and basically all in the same way. Of course they're all Indo-European, and 3 of them are Romance, so that explains the similarities.

I've asked my teacher and she says 像 xiàng is what I'm after. When I look up this word it's not really clear how it expresses "like" or "be like". It often seems to require extra wording like (一樣 yǐ yàng)or (那麼/么 nàme + adj).

So I'm still not sure how to express certain basic concepts about "similarity", and it feels strange.

Compare:

French: comme moi
Spanish: como yo
English: like me
Italian: come me

French: comme ça
Spanish: así 
English: like that
Italian: cosí

F: Il est comme toi, il ne supporte pas ça.
S: El es como tú, no aguanta eso.
E: He's like you, he can't stand that.
....

Could someone help me translate the following sentences/phrases into Mandarin? Please provide pinyin if you can!

Please note these sentences are intentionally vague/ambiguous.

- Like this.
- Like that.
- Not like that.
- Don't do it like that; do it like this.
- We don't say it in Taiwan like they do in China.
- We say it in Taiwan like they do in China.
- Sally is like her mother.

Thanks, any help appreciated...

Ben

  • search web with e.g. "Chinese grammar: comparison"->Basic comparisons with "yiyang",Comparing specifically with "xiang" – user6065 Jun 16 '16 at 16:19
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  • Like this. 像这样。 xiang4 zhe4yang4.
  • Like that. 像那样。 xiang4 na4yang4.
  • Not like that. 不像那样。 bu2 xiang4 na4yang4.
  • Don't do it like that; do it like this. 别那么做;这么做。 bie2 na4me zuo4; zhe4me zuo4.
  • We don't say it in Taiwan like they do in China. 我们台湾人说话和中国人说话不一样。 wo3men Tai2wan1ren2 shuo1hua4 he2 zhong1guo2ren2 shuo1hua4 bu4 yi2yang4.
  • We say it in Taiwan like they do in China. 我们台湾人像中国人一样这么说。 Wo3men Tai2wan1ren2 xiang4 Zhong1guo2ren2 yi2yang4 zhe4me shuo1.
  • Sally is like her mother. Sally像她母亲。 Sally xiang4 ta1 mu3qin.

Comment: I think when learning languages that have very different origins, at some point, you'd have to give up trying to pair the words one-to-one to another language... Such a strict correspondence usually does not exist. You need to learn the language itself, not just such correspondences.

  • Also I just added the sentence "We say it in Taiwan like they do in China." I think "not like" is accurately conveyed by 不一樣 bù yǐyàng like you've done, but "say it like" meaning in a similar way is harder (for me). Most people would probably just say 一樣, but I struggle to express similarity not equality (一樣). – pixelearth Jun 16 '16 at 15:39
  • I agree about word-to-word translations/comparisons. As far as my post is concerned, I'm sorry if it comes across as seeming that that's what I'm looking for. Definitely NOT what I'm looking for. If anything I may be looking for a certain terseness or economy that I guess I've come to expect when expressing similarity. – pixelearth Jun 16 '16 at 15:41
  • @pixelearth I added the translation to your new sentence. I think 一样 is not simply 'equality'. Remember 样 indicates 'pattern', so it could imply the same pattern but not equality in entirety. – Fang Jing Jun 16 '16 at 16:36
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@Fang Jing provides the right answer.

For extending, you can also use "如", "似", "若" as the same as "像", let's see:

他激情如火 (He bursts like fire!)

她冷若冰霜 (She's as cold as ice)

如胶似漆 (Like glue and lacquer they clung together)

How to choose from them? --follow the rhyme scheme.

Also, "一样" means "as same as" and "looks the same", and can be replaced with "般", "一般", and so on--

死般沉寂 (Silence as dead)

Sally prepared a hearty dinner just like her mother will. (Sally她妈妈那样准备了温馨晚餐)

When talking in metaphorical terms, it's indeed express the impressions feelings, the function is complex in any language.

Also in Chinese, you can skip both "像" and "一样" and express your impression well:

炉火纯青 (Perfectly practiced)

闭月羞花 (A beautiful face, that even a flower will feeling shy, and the moon will feeling inferior if meet her.

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