Episode #125 of the Stack Overflow podcast is here. We talk Tilde Club and mechanical keyboards. Listen now

Questions tagged [mandarin]

Mandarin is a group of Chinese dialects that are considered the official language in many Chinese-speaking communities. The Beijing dialect is considered as standard pronunciation of Mandarin. Thus, when people say the "Chinese language", they implicitly refer to Mandarin.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
32
votes
10answers
4k views

How do we choose the correct characters for a westerner 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 ...
28
votes
9answers
11k 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 ...
40
votes
7answers
2k 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) ...
29
votes
8answers
2k 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?
13
votes
3answers
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 ...
2
votes
2answers
1k 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." ...
22
votes
3answers
31k 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?
8
votes
4answers
703 views

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

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 ...
7
votes
2answers
587 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'...
6
votes
2answers
396 views

Why no 的 in this sentence?

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: ...
3
votes
2answers
271 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 ...
34
votes
11answers
56k 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 ...
36
votes
7answers
5k 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
8k 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?
20
votes
7answers
633 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
596 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
8
votes
1answer
559 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" ...
5
votes
7answers
923 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. ...
4
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
151 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
369 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 ...
1
vote
5answers
337 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?
7
votes
4answers
396 views

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", "may", "could", ...
6
votes
4answers
1k 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?") ...
2
votes
1answer
423 views

What does 也 mean in this sentence?

A: 他迟到了。 B: 这也难怪。 今天地铁坏了。 As I understand it, 也 means also or too. I'm not sure how this fits in this sentence.
5
votes
5answers
625 views

Loanwords with Chinese Equivalents

How many loanwords in Chinese have Chinese equivalents? Example: 三文鱼 is a loanword, borrowed from English, meaning salmon, but Chinese also has the word 鲑鱼 meaning salmon. Are there a lot of these ...
27
votes
11answers
102k 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
493 views

Asking “what's the pinyin/character for X?”

How do we ask someone to "translate" a character or some pinyin into the other one? The expressions I'm referring to are: What's the pinyin for this/that (character)/... ? What's the character ...
16
votes
4answers
385 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?"?...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

What does 'duang' mean in 'online Chinese'?

I see this word popping up on Weibo and Taobao. It's not written with any character, but spelled out in Pinyin. What does it mean? EDIT: For the annals:
5
votes
1answer
695 views

Selecting resources to improve reading for upper-intermediate level?

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 ...
12
votes
5answers
12k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
284 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,...
6
votes
3answers
964 views

Is there a traditional Chinese New Year greeting?

I know people often say 新年快乐 to mean happy new year, but is there a traditional greeting used in Chinese to express your good wishes for the new year? If so, what, and how did it originate?
19
votes
12answers
3k 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 ...
11
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
1k 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" can be Nakashima or ...
8
votes
7answers
1k views

Is it correct to say “在手机”?

Would it be correct to use the phrase "在手机”/“在手机上” etc. to express that I am doing something on my phone? For example, could I say 我听音乐在我的手机上。 Or can 在 only be used for my actual physical location?...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

Origin of beautiful kingdom and hero kingdom

Why in Mandarin chinese, USA is beautiful kingdom and England is hero kingdom?
7
votes
4answers
459 views

That mystical 就 again

Here is a sentence: 厨房壁炉架上的那面镜子就把哈利吓了一跳 Below are my translation variants. Bold letters should be a 'jiu' english analog here. The mirror on top of the kitchen's fireplace scared Harry the most. ...
4
votes
4answers
465 views

Is 个 acceptable for all nouns?

My Chinese teacher says she doesn't care. But for future reference, is 个 acceptable as a measure word for all nouns?
4
votes
3answers
1k views

What qualities does Hong Kong Mandarin have?

With Mandarin making more and more in-roads into Cantonese speaking Hong Kong, I'm wondering what characteristics set it apart from Standard Mandarin or other regional Mandarin dialects and/or accents....
3
votes
3answers
555 views

Should I pronounce “er” as [ɚ] or [aɚ̯]?

What I learned growing up was that words with the pinyin “er”, like 儿, 二, and 耳 were pronounced [ɚ], but younger/more native speakers of Standard Chinese seem to pronounce it as [aɚ], and I was ...
3
votes
3answers
725 views

Using 色 with colors

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... ...
10
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
418 views

Why can't 去 or 回来 be used with 在 or 正在 to become progressive

So first off, I feel I should specify I am a beginner at Chinese. In my Chinese class, we were asked to write down a progressive question, using the 在...(呢) format. My question was, 你们没在去吗? which I ...