Questions tagged [mandarin]

Question specifically about the Mandarin dialect. (Not for arbitrary questions that happen to involve Mandarin.)

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Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese

This is a community-maintained list of resources for learning Mandarin Chinese. Alphabetical Index Add-ons (browser) AI chat bots Apps Books Dictionaries Language Exchanges Lists of Resources News ...
36 votes
10 answers
6k views

How do we choose the correct characters for a Western 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 ...
Alenanno's user avatar
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10 votes
3 answers
884 views

Why there is no 的 after 你 in 你国家的医院好吗?

I got a translation of “Are hospitals in your country good?” from a native speaker of Mandarin as: 你国家的医院好吗? Why there is no 的 after 你? It is after a pronoun for instance in such a sentence: ...
MrVocabulary's user avatar
49 votes
7 answers
4k 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 (méi) ...
Alenanno's user avatar
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35 votes
9 answers
4k 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?
Cocowalla's user avatar
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33 votes
13 answers
16k views

What is a good technique for remembering tones?

I find it a great struggle to try and remember tones for all the new vocab I learn, and aside from gradually picking up tones by listening and talking with native speakers, I can't really remember ...
Ciaocibai's user avatar
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16 votes
3 answers
1k 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 ...
KT.'s user avatar
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7 votes
3 answers
407 views

Why does 他没看书 use 没 and not 不 in this dialogue?

I was reviewing some old Anki cards that I created from HSK Standard Course 1 by Jiang Liping and I came across this dialogue: A: 喂你在做什么呢 B: 我在看书呢 A: 大卫也在看书吗 B: 他没看书。他在学做中国菜呢 A: Hello, what are you ...
JBentley's user avatar
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5 votes
3 answers
1k views

What do these two characters on cufflinks signify? (Characters identified: 福 and 壽/夀)

I was given a pair of gold cufflinks by my grandfather who was in Shanghai 100 years ago. Each shows a Chinese character (Mandarin, I guess) and I would like to know what these mean. However I have ...
pnuts's user avatar
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3 votes
3 answers
3k 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 "really." ...
Ming's user avatar
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24 votes
5 answers
53k 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?
Ciaocibai's user avatar
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10 votes
5 answers
1k views

Which verbs DO NOT go with 了 and or 过?

I remember reading that some verbs don't accept 了 or 过. Side question: When I use a word like 昨天 or 以前 do I use 了 or is it redundant? e.g. 昨天我去买了一台电脑 or 昨天我买一台电脑
Henny's user avatar
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9 votes
4 answers
856 views

What was this online dictionary's name with ancient traditional and simplified characters and glyph origins? [duplicate]

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 ...
user9948's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
970 views

The development of rhotic vowels in Mandarin

Schuessler's reconstruction of the Old Chinese reading of 二 is *ńźi. It seems there is a correspondence between OC syllables beginning in *ń or *ńź and Mandarin syllables romanised as er. However, I'...
jogloran's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
392 views

Why does the `请` take two duplicate words on its verb occasionally (e.g. `请洗洗你的袜子`)

I've read these sentences in my Rosetta Stone courses: 请洗洗你的袜子 请洗一下楼梯 However, why does the first sentence use two 洗 consecutively before taking the object? Also, how can I tell when to use one verb ...
Blaszard's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
1k views

Why is there such a difference between "first name" and "last name"?

I'm learning how to translate "What's your last/first name?" with Duolingo and Google Translate. Both apps indicate that the correct translations are 你的姓是什么? and 你叫什么名字 There are many differences ...
Jonas Sourlier's user avatar
39 votes
7 answers
9k 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 ...
Orion's user avatar
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36 votes
11 answers
92k 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 ...
Gabriel Fair's user avatar
21 votes
5 answers
11k 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 ...
Kevin Thompson's user avatar
19 votes
5 answers
3k views

How do we know what characters correspond to Chinese names?

Recently I've asked "How do we choose the correct characters for a westerner name?", and now, I'm facing a similar, yet kind of different problem, which I think applies to any westerner or Chinese ...
Alenanno's user avatar
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18 votes
5 answers
14k views

Is there a rule of thumb for distinguishing male and female names in Chinese?

I often get tripped up when reading names of Chinese people, and trying to work out if they are male or female. Is there a good rule of thumb to follow to determine which is which?
Ciaocibai's user avatar
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12 votes
4 answers
3k views

Is there a difference between "几点" (jǐ​diǎn) and "什么时候" (shén​me​shí​hou)?

Both "几点" and "什么时候" seem to mean "what time?". Here are two examples that contain "几点" or "什么时候": 我们什么时候开会? (My interpretation: "When is the meeting?") 现在几点? (My interpretation: "What time is it?") ...
Matt Kleinsmith's user avatar
11 votes
4 answers
481 views

Pinyin of 車 in idioms

In Cantonese, 車 has two pronunciations: [ce1] and [geoi1]. In Mandarin, 車 also has two different pinyin: [che1] and [ju1]. [ce1] corresponds to [che1]. [geoi1] corresponds to [ju1]. In most idioms,...
Tang Ho's user avatar
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11 votes
4 answers
5k views

Pronunciation of 那个

I'm surprised this question hasn't been asked yet! The pinyin for 那个 is nà gè, but in conversation, Chinese people often pronounce it more like nee-guh than nah-guh. I asked my teacher and she says ...
Mark E. Haase's user avatar
10 votes
3 answers
14k views

How many syllables does Chinese have?

I'm just reading a book about China and Chinese customs from Heike Barai. She says that Chinese only has around 300 different syllables, whereas modern German has about 10 000 and I suppose English is ...
Pedroski's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
718 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" ...
hippietrail's user avatar
  • 4,025
10 votes
4 answers
683 views

Does Chinese have a phrase equivalent to "For all I know"?

There is an expression in English: "For all I know, ...." The following clause often has a modal expressing uncertainty or the hypothetical nature of the assertion, like "might", ...
Stumpy Joe Pete's user avatar
5 votes
7 answers
1k views

How to say, “In Chinese" in Chinese

If I want to tell someone they can speak to me in Chinese, how can I say it? My guess is: 你可以给我说用中文 Is this correct, and is there any other way to say it, for example using the 把 structure (i.e. ...
salamander's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
777 views

Selecting resources to improve reading for upper-intermediate level? [closed]

There is a great question on 'how to practice reading for beginners' at the moment that's got a lot of really useful answers, and so I figured I'd ask for some useful things closer to my level. Does ...
Ciaocibai's user avatar
  • 4,626
5 votes
2 answers
5k views

Characteristics of Northern and Southern accents

My first language is Cantonese. I learned Mandarin as a second language. Native speakers of Mandarin often understand me with no major issues. Of course, they recognize the Southern accents right ...
user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
1k views

Using 色 with colors [duplicate]

I'm making something to teach students Chinese colors... Let's say they have to match a color to a square- Is it okay to just use 红, 蓝, 紫, etc on each block just as long as they know 色 means color... ...
user3871's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
1k views

Mandarin pronunciation for <hen> and <yuan>

Consider for example the words 很 (hěn) and 员 (yuán). I constantly hear each term pronounced in at least two distinct ways by native speakers. The issue is really the vowel sound in the finals. ...
Corellian's user avatar
  • 157
4 votes
2 answers
1k views

How do non-Mandarin speakers type Standard Chinese Writing System?

As far as I know, people in Hong Kong speak Cantonese but use Mandarin when writing official documents or homework using Mandarin. 粤语白话字 is not allowed in such cases. How does this work? Does this ...
炸鱼薯条德里克's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
322 views

How to determine if character can be used separetely?

This question might be weird, but I haven't been able to find an answer to this. Some characters seem to be used only in combination with other characters. For instance, I believe 儿 cannot be used ...
MrVocabulary's user avatar
2 votes
4 answers
573 views

Does 芋頭 have a different pronunciation in Taiwan Mandarin vs Mainland?

My friends in Kaohsiung just taught me the word for "taro" 芋頭. I looked it up and found yu4 tou5 but my friends here insist it's yu4 tou2. Is this a pronunciation difference between Taiwan vs the ...
hippietrail's user avatar
  • 4,025
2 votes
2 answers
385 views

Mandarin: different ways of asking if someone prefers A to B

This question is similar but doesn't address this question of comparing different ways to express the notion of preferring A to B. Are all these ways valid grammar for asking if someone prefers A to ...
Crashalot's user avatar
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1 vote
4 answers
2k views

Difference between 製作 and 製造?

Both 製作 and 製造 mean "to make" according to this dictionary: http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/words/2913/ http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/words/6021/ It seems like 製造 might ...
Crashalot's user avatar
  • 2,131
1 vote
5 answers
379 views

How would you say "he does not take criticism well" in Cantonese and in Mandarin? [closed]

How would you say this in Cantonese and how would you say this in Mandarin?
Crashalot's user avatar
  • 2,131
30 votes
12 answers
109k views

How to describe differences between Cantonese and Mandarin?

When I tell people I speak Cantonese I'm often asked, "What's the difference between that and Mandarin?". This inevitably leads to a very poor explanation that includes references to the differences ...
Zann Anderson's user avatar
24 votes
12 answers
5k views

Why do native speakers often say a character has "no meaning"?

Many times I will know all the characters in a name but one & I'll ask what that one character means. 9 times out of 10 the response is, "That character has no meaning". While it might be true ...
aelephant's user avatar
  • 1,160
18 votes
4 answers
565 views

Is this an exception in the use of 的?

I know that, when expressing possessives, we add 的 to the usual personal pronouns, such as 我的. However, in a question in my grammar textbook I saw: 你爸爸忙吗? = Is your father busy? Why not "你的爸爸忙吗?"?...
Alenanno's user avatar
  • 6,485
14 votes
6 answers
5k views

Is "biang" a phonologically possible syllable in Mandarin Chinese?

One of the local specialty favourite dishes in Shaanxi province where I am now is Biángbiáng miàn. Photo by hippietrail The hanzi character for "biáng" is usually the focus of discusssions of this ...
hippietrail's user avatar
  • 4,025
14 votes
5 answers
17k views

Various ways to say "nice to meet you"

When I first started learning Chinese I knew the in order to say "Nice to meet you" or "Pleased to meet you," I had to use the following expression: 很高兴见到您。 But recently I've come across other ...
Alenanno's user avatar
  • 6,485
13 votes
3 answers
7k views

Are there differences in writing between Chinese languages, such as Mandarin and Shanghainese

There are already many questions about the different spoken languages that can be called Chinese. This question on the other hand asks about the written one(s?). Well, to start, is the written ...
Falko's user avatar
  • 395
13 votes
6 answers
2k views

Are there rules about the differences between pinyin spelling and pronunciation?

I noticed that sometimes certain finals in Chinese sound differently when combined with different initials. For e.g., what is spelled "u" sometimes is pronounced "ü". Other times, ...
Village's user avatar
  • 2,235
13 votes
3 answers
755 views

Why is the Pinyin for 波 bo1 not buo1? And why is 多 duo1 instead of do1?

Recently I started to learn Pinyin. The system is relatively easy to follow but some ambiguity does exist. For example, I found the usage of finals o and uo confusing: why the Pinyin for 波 is bo1, not ...
techie11's user avatar
  • 231
12 votes
5 answers
2k views

Are people's names always pronounced the same in Mandarin?

In many languages, you can not be really sure how to pronounce a person's name, so you have to ask them first, and remember. For instance, "Broglie" can be brɔɪ or brɔˈgli, "中島" ...
Nicolas Raoul's user avatar
12 votes
5 answers
2k views

Why does 有机 as in 有机食品 mean organic?

有 and 机 are some of the first characters we learn in Chinese, but only recently did I find out that they mean "organic" when put together. Can anyone explain why this is?
Ciaocibai's user avatar
  • 4,626
12 votes
2 answers
2k views

我(也)很好 and tone sandhi

What are the (resultant) tones in those sentences, where all the words in isolation have 3rd tone? 我很好。 我也很好。 Reading tone shandhi rules on Wikipedia, there is no explanation about tree or four ...
dusan's user avatar
  • 2,633
12 votes
7 answers
5k views

What software can correct pronunciation?

What software is available which can record my voice and warn me about problems with my pronunciation and tones?
Village's user avatar
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