Questions tagged [expressions]

Questions about more or less fixed expressions.

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2
votes
3answers
72 views

What is the Chinese equivalent of “time to [A]”?

In English, we have a "time to [A]" phrase that indicates something like "now is the appropriate moment to [A]" or "now is the moment at which [A] will happen". Examples ...
5
votes
3answers
966 views

How to say “head” and “tails” when flipping a coin?

While talking about probability with mainland Chinese students I asked what they say for heads and tails of a Chinese coin. I was tossing a one Yuan coin, and they decided I could say in English "...
5
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2answers
252 views

Meaning of the expression 黄毛小儿

Is 黄毛小儿 a sort of idiomatic phrase? Literally it would mean a "yellow haired child." I saw it on a TV drama, but from the child in question was definitely not yellow haired. Since the speaker was ...
2
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2answers
13k views

How to express “have fun!” or “enjoy!” in Chinese?

In English, when a friend is doing some activity, we typically say to him/her: Have fun! or Enjoy! How can we say this in a idiomatic way in Mandarin Chinese?
3
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2answers
80 views

What are the repeatedly used structures in 4-character expressions (e.g. chengyu) and what do they mean?

In today's reading, I encountered the expression 敬而远之. However, I noticed this x而y之 structure is repeated in many other 4-character expressions (Pleco search ?而?之): 敬而远之 大而化之 等而下之 分而治之 换而言之 久而久之 取而代之 ...
3
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2answers
318 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 ...
0
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1answer
62 views

“你我未来,由此展开。” Is this a real Chinese expression?

Is this an authentic Chinese expression? If it is, then why is the only place I see it in use on the Chinese-language version of the US Census website?
3
votes
3answers
837 views

How and when to use 不见不错 vs. 不见不散?

Could someone please explain me how and when to use these expressions? Is there any difference between the two of them? Is it something like "see you later/see you there/see you soon"?
7
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3answers
606 views

The mysterious role of 占 in 对占人口绝大多数的民众来说,还是觉得有钱应该省着花

I know that 占 means "to occupy/to take up". But in this following sentence, I can not figure out what it adds to the meaning as a whole: "对占人口绝大多数的民众来说,还是觉得有钱应该省着花" If I take "zhan" away, would ...
7
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3answers
440 views

How old is the expression “老百姓”?

I have searched on line text bases, especially for 三国志 since the 2010 television version of that is what made me wonder. But I do not seem to get reliable results that way. Perhaps if I understood the ...
4
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4answers
671 views

Why is 我的朋友今年住在美国 translated to both “my friend [is living in / lived in] America this year”?

Here I am trying to translate two different English sentences to Chinese. "My friend is living in America this year." He is still living in America at the point of stating this fact. Translation :...
6
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8answers
10k 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 ...
2
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1answer
72 views

What does 他得经历九九八十一难 refer to?

I was watching a 西游记 adaptation from Little Fox Chinese and I've come across a sentence with numbers I can't quite understand. I read the translation but yet it doesn't make sense: "观音菩萨吃惊地看着信使。“...
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2answers
97 views

What does 我知道 and 应该的 mean in this dialogue?

There's this dialogue here: (3:20) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yelfxueMlvc 请问,洗手间在哪里? 洗手间?在那边。在那里的右手边。 哦,好。我知道。谢谢. 不客气,应该的。 So... "我知道" certainly doesn't mean "I know" here. ...
3
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3answers
888 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 "...
8
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5answers
936 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 ...
8
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3answers
2k views

Difference between 曾经 and 已经

In this question I was asking about 曾经 and one answer says it means 'already'. What's the difference between 曾经 and 已经? Do the two sentences below have the same meaning? 他曾经在北京学过两年汉语。 他已经在北京学过两年汉语。
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2answers
2k views

Chinese of “No one will think you’re mute because you don’t speak”

Does anyone know the correct Chinese expression that goes something like no one would think you’re mute because you don’t speak? And how it’s correctly written in Chinese? I’ve read the translation a ...
10
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3answers
6k views

Are these two form of “I live in…” both correct? 我在意大利住 and 我住在意大利

While studying I came across a useful expression to say "I live in..." which is "...在...住" such as in this sentence: 我在意大利住。= I live in Italy. Wǒ zài Yìdàlì zhù. But then I saw a different one ...
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5answers
1k views

“哩勒公蝦毀” what does this mean?

What does “哩勒公蝦毀” mean? A Taiwanese guy said that to me after I had, accidently, mistyped two words in an idiom I used on him. He also used an expression of surprise (I presume) which went like “蛤?!” ...
7
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3answers
332 views

Meaning of 一人付一半 in 车费我们俩一人付一半,怎么样?

In this sentence: 车费我们俩一人付一半,怎么样? I don't fully understand the meaning of 一人付一半. I have found that 付一半 can mean "pay half", but 一人 confuses me (if it refers to one person, why is that form used ...
7
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3answers
217 views

Why is 面熟 used after 人 in 常常看着一个人面熟却叫不出名字来?

In my textbook I found this sentence: 常常看着一个人面熟却叫不出名字来。 If 面熟 is an adjective, why is it used after 人 (to indicate a "familiar-looking person")? Can 一个人面熟 be rewritten to 一个面熟人 without modifying ...
4
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3answers
224 views

Is 得弄 one word or two in 首先得弄清楚我们需要什么?

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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5answers
5k 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 ...
1
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1answer
34 views

Is 噷 a common way to express thinking?

I'm looking for a way to express "hmmn" as in "hmnn... what should I do?" when I stumbled upon 噷. In wikipedia, it says that it is a way to 'indicate thinking' but in baidu, it doesn't appear to have ...
3
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2answers
218 views

What does the expression 方便倒是方便 mean?

"方便倒是方便" seems like a fixed expression, and from context it seems to be rejecting "is it convenient?" as a reason for doing something. I can't find an actual definition, though.
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7answers
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 ...
2
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3answers
438 views

How to show exasperation?

If I were to write "aiyaa, 这是太贵了!“ Wondering how to show exasperation in writing? Or how to write the aiyaa?
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2answers
1k 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
112 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 ...
1
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2answers
160 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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3answers
5k 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
455 views
0
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1answer
66 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
2k 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 ...
5
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1answer
91 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
4k 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/...
4
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4answers
247 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 ...
20
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7answers
696 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 ...
1
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1answer
136 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
136 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 ...
8
votes
6answers
747 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."
7
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3answers
862 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".
3
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3answers
739 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 ...
1
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2answers
2k 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, possibly ...
5
votes
3answers
805 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
131 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 ...
11
votes
7answers
24k 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 ...
2
votes
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....
27
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2answers
71k 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 ...