Questions tagged [expressions]

Questions about more or less fixed expressions.

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2answers
212 views

Usage of 能骗就骗 (if you can cheat, then cheat)

There is a Youtube video by a popular Youtube blogger who lives in China and is married to a Chinese woman, and he says in that video that the Chinese language has the idiom 能骗就骗 ("if you can cheat, ...
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3answers
96 views

How to say 反常识的 in English?

How to properly translate 反常识的 to English in academic writing? I want to express a surprising and unusual phenomenon that shouldn't appear in an experiment, which is not expected and against the ...
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2answers
82 views

讷 as nò, an exclamation meaning “Here you go”

Encountered this in the Pimsleur transcript: Nánrén: Wô gêi nî yìdiânr Rénmínbì. Nò. Shí jiû kuài Rénmínbì. Xiànzài nî yôu duöshâo qián? 男人:我给你一点儿人民币。讷。 十九 块人民币。现在你有多少钱? Man: I’ll ...
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4answers
2k views

你好啊? or 你好吗? Which is more common?

I have recently come across the phrase 你好啊 and I was curious about its usage. It was in the FSI Chinese course with a meaning of 'How are you?', but I have only heard 你好吗 on other courses and when ...
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3answers
4k views

What is the best Chinese equivalent for “passion” or “to be passionate about something”?

In English, it is common to say you are "passionate about something" or "something is your passion" (e.g. My passion is rockclimbing). This use of 'passion' is different to 'passion' as in ...
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4answers
357 views
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1answer
58 views

Usage advice: 什么时候vs哪个时候

I am writing a formal business email to a client, and at the end I would like to ask him when would be his most convenient time to have a phone call. The sentence goes like this: 请您让我知道哪个时候您最方便接电话。 ...
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2answers
1k views

角/毛 (10 cents) for money: why?

from: List of historical Chinese currency terms 角 (litterally a corner / a horn of an animal) = 毛 (litterally "a feather of a bird") = 1/10 the main unit. Why use 角 and 毛 for, what we might call ...
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2answers
164 views

Is 得弄 one word here or two?

I have 首先得弄清楚我们需要什么。 I see 得弄清楚 is a fairly common combination of words. Is 得弄 one word or 2 words here? Should I read de nong or dei nong? Should I translate the sentence to 'First we need to find ...
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1answer
85 views

Selling it as soon as you've bought it — Chinese expression

In college, I had just started a physics class in relativity and I was so excited that I began explaining everything I had learned to my Taiwanese roommate. Perhaps my tone was a bit too arrogant or ...
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7answers
3k views

How did 东西 come to mean “something” in the expression “吃东西”?

I was chatting with a Chinese penpal recently and when I asked "what are you doing?", I received the following answer: 吃东西,你呢? Now, "东西" means "east and west" and so "吃东西" literally means "eat/...
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4answers
226 views

How to express “tend to ~” in Chinese?

According to a dictionary, tend to ~ is translated into the following words: 倾向 易於 走向 有~的倾向 But I think all of them are not used as often while reading, and thus is very awkward if I use them in ...
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7answers
616 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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1answer
125 views

Mnemonics for 汉字: examples and resources

Where can one find other mnemonics similar to 横戌点戍空心戊 and 已半, 巳满, 不出己 ? Also, what in your opinion are the most common, useful or interesting such mnemonics? What is the term for such mnemonics in ...
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105 views

Chinese expression for “go out early and return early”

I'm Looking for a Chinese expression that means something like "go out early and return early" or "the sooner you leave, the sooner you can come back". It expresses a wish for a person who is leaving ...
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3answers
765 views

In 很高兴认识你 is there an implied 我 at the front or is 很高兴 modifying 认识 as in “happily meet”?

I know that I'm asking about an expression which doesn't have to follow the normal rules of grammar. But if it makes sense to ask, I'd like to understand if that sentence is literally structured as "...
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1answer
219 views

What is the meaning of 臭石头 (slang)?

I remember that my dad used this occasionally when he was arguing with my mom. Google translate just returns smelly rock, but I know it's gotta be some sort of slang, as whenever my dad said it, my ...
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6answers
587 views

What's the role of 好了 in 你叫我(name)好了?

In this sentence 你叫我马丁好了。 what's the role of 好了? I understand this sentence as "You can call me 马丁."
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3answers
689 views

Difference between 好累 and 很累

我很累。 我好累。 What's the difference between those sentences? Both seems to mean "I'm tired".
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3answers
301 views

Is there an expression in Chinese for saying “I'm taken”?

In English you can say "I'm taken" to express that you already have a significant other (girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/etc.) and are not open to romantic advances from other people. Is there an ...
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2answers
1k views

How to say “until when do you stay here?” correctly?

In the following conversation: I: 你住在首尔吗? X: 来玩的 I: 那你到几天在这边吗? X: 对啊 I tried to ask "Then until when (which day) do you stay here?", but the opponent seems to take it differently, ...
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6answers
2k views

Why do people say 慢点儿阿(“man dianer a”) when you leave their shop?

When you leave a shop, you often hear the shopkeeper saying something like "man dianer a", which sounds like 慢点儿阿 (something parents say to their kids to get them to walk more slowly [even if they ...
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3answers
604 views

Meaning of “不了” in “忘不了/喝不了/…”

I know that 了 after a verb means a completion or termination of a certain action, such as: 吃飽了 (I am) full. 開始了 (It) has started. 不動了 (It) is not moving anymore. But what about 了 ...
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1answer
89 views

Usage and Grammar of 看我这脑子

Came across this phrase in episode 35 of Growing up with Chinese on CCTV. The father is having trouble sending an email and he says to his son, 咳,看我这脑子,我怎么把这事忘了。 Usage: I feel like 看我这脑子 would be ...
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7answers
21k 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 ...
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3answers
1k views

Why is 大家们 (dàjiāmén) a thing?

Searching Baidu for 大家们 (dàjiāmén) gives 8,770,000 hits. Question: Why is 大家们 a thing? It is surprising because 大家 (dàjiā) means everyone, and 们 (mén) is used to turn a few select words into plurals....
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2answers
60k views

Informal ways of beginning/ending an e-mail

I have been writing quite a few e-mails recently and I feel that I want to expand my vocabulary regarding acceptable phrases to use both at the beginning and end of an e-mail. When I say informal, I ...
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2answers
241 views

What does 三声无奈 mean?

There is this Min song called 三声无奈, lit. "three sounds helpless". This seems to be an idiomatic expression. I am not totally sure what it means though. It seems to mean "completely helpless". This is ...
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1answer
185 views

Why is the boss called 老板?

The primary meaning of 板 is 'board'. So why does 老板 or 'old board' mean 'boss, chief'?
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3answers
1k views

What does the phrase '我的妈来' mean when it is used to express shock or surprise?

I know the literal meaning, but could someone please tell me the meaning in english when it was used as an expression (for example, when someone see a huge mansion and he said: "我的妈来! What a huge ...
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3answers
754 views

Ordering take-out in Taiwan 带走 vs 外帶?

This may or may not be Taiwan specific, but on all the order cards the option for take-out is "外帶". Is this a Taiwanese vs Chinese Mandarin difference, or is this just a noun vs verb difference? ie. ...
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3answers
260 views

How did 马马虎虎 come to mean so-so?

Why does the above phrase (马马虎虎- lit. Horse horse tiger tiger) mean so-so or moderate? Curious as to how animals can represent expressions
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1answer
149 views

What are people saying when I buy something using the exact change?

When I buy something and give the exact change, the cashier will almost always say "[something] hǎo", but I'm not sure what [something] is. Question: What are people saying when I buy something using ...
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2answers
339 views

Does Chinese have an adage saying “It is better to hit to kill than to hit and injure”?

In "Driven to Kill - Why drivers in China intentionally kill the pedestrians they hit", it's claimed that there's an adage in Chinese of “It is better to hit to kill than to hit and injure.” Does ...
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1answer
120 views

How to say “it is actually something that does something”?

I'm just wondering how to say "it is actually (insert noun) that really (insert verb). The context is this: 有些人说,梦想点亮未来。我不同意。 Then I want to say: 其实我觉得是注意点亮未来。 Is my use of 是 correct? Thanks ...
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2answers
854 views

How to say that you were accepted/rejected from a college in Mandarin?

For example, how would I say something like "Harvard rejected me" or "Harvard accepted me"?
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5answers
258 views

Difference between 元宵节 and 灯节?

Is there a difference between the expressions 元宵节 and 灯节, or are they exactly the same?
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1answer
452 views

What is this a mistranlation of?

I ran across this pillow the other day and thought that the expression was a little odd. According to this one girl on Instagram (a very reliable source, I know) it's a #mistranslation. This, along ...
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3answers
563 views

一方面…另一方面 Can you use it with a positive and negative idea?

A Chinese teacher once told me that you can only put two positive or two negative adjectives in this construction. Is this correct? So I couldn't say for example: 我哥哥一方面有名,另一方面不帅。 Many thanks! G
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5answers
868 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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6answers
9k views

How should one translate “祝你年年有今日,歲歲有今朝” into English?

On my birthday a friend wished me "祝你年年有今日,歲歲有今朝". I can understand each of the individual words in this phrase, but the overall meaning is somewhat less clear to me (although I have some ideas about ...
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2answers
491 views

How do you say 'I hope you got to know a little more about me' [closed]

For a self introduction speech in my chinese class. P.s. please make it in "easy wording" with pinyin, thank you in advance. (not too complication)
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2answers
141 views

来不及爱你 Too late to love you

why the phrase 来不及 is translated into too late? why not use 太迟? 太迟爱你. what is the different between them? and why does 来不及 mean too late in the first place? 来=come 不=no 及=?? Makes little sense ...
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2answers
440 views

Which proverb / expression is original? — 爱及屋乌, 爱乌及屋, 爱屋及乌

In an ealier question (or thread) 爱、采 ( A trivalent verb takes 2 objects ) ... 3 variations/versions of a proverb or expression were mentioned : 爱及屋乌 == he loves her so much that he even loves the ...
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2answers
352 views

Translation English Expression “You can tell … by …”

I'm translating an English song in an exercise to learn Chinese One of the lyrics is You can tell he means it by the look on his face This is English expression. A less expressive lyricist might ...
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4answers
333 views

Chinese equivalent of expression

In English, if someone explains a simple joke that should be obvious they get the nickname "Captain Obvious", as the Wiktionary and Wikipedia say. Is there an equivalent expression in Chinese? If so, ...
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1answer
354 views

“May you live in interesting times”

I have often heard (and probably repeated) that there is a Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times." Is there really such a saying in Chinese? I can't think of one, and can't even think how ...
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4answers
497 views

Do native speakers think about compound words as “东西”?

Something that interests me from a linguistic/neurological point of view: Do Chinese native speakers actually thinkg about the parts of compound words that have a completely different meaning from ...
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1answer
72 views

what's the better translation of “you're out”?

like kids are playing an outdoor game and someone gets out. How to say "you're out"?
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1answer
428 views

Do people still use 炒冷饭?

I know that 炒冷饭 means to rehash a dead conversation. But is this still used in conversation? For example, could I say 你别再炒冷饭! I'm scared this expression is a bit old and is not used anymore.