Questions tagged [mandarin]

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

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46
votes
7answers
3k 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) ...
36
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7answers
7k 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 ...
34
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11answers
70k 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 ...
32
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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 ...
31
votes
13answers
13k 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 ...
31
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9answers
3k 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?
28
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11answers
105k 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 ...
22
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12answers
4k 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 ...
22
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5answers
40k 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?
18
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5answers
2k 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 ...
18
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5answers
6k 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 ...
18
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3answers
6k views

高兴 vs 快乐 vs 愉快 vs 幸福: what's the difference?

So, I'm a bit confused. All the time. 高兴 eg 我很高兴 It seems 高兴 has a connotation of impermanence .. you could be happy right now but unhappy later on. It appears to be the most common, most general ...
17
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10answers
25k views

Tips for pronouncing X vs SH in Mandarin?

I'd like to think my Mandarin pronunciation is generally pretty reasonable, but I often get tripped up with X and SH - for example words like 雪 and 水, or 虾 and 莎. Even with different tones, I find ...
17
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4answers
3k views

“Baby” vs “宝贝” - coincidence?

I am interested if the phonetic similarity between the English "baby" and the Chinese "宝贝" (baobei) is purely coincidental.
17
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5answers
10k 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?
17
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4answers
441 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?"?...
15
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6answers
2k views

Do all schools in China teach in Standard Chinese (普通话)?

When I went to China, it was apparent that many (sometimes most) people still spoke their local dialects instead of Standard Chinese/Putonghua (also known as "Mandarin" in English). I was told that ...
15
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3answers
1k views

What is the meaning of 当仁不让?

I was browsing the Chinese internet looking for a bank that supports Mac OS when I came across this site. They list a range of different banks under a range of different headings, the first of which ...
14
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4answers
1k views

How to pronounce “下载”

How to pronounce the word "下载", "xià zǎi" or "xià zài"? Most Chinese people pronounce it "xià zǎi", but there are some people insist on pronouncing it "xià zài". There are different also different ...
14
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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 ...
14
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4answers
4k views

What font size for reading simplified characters on screen?

I realize this sounds like a very subjective question, so I will try to ask it very carefully: I'm learning to speak, read, and write Mandarin. A lot of times (particularly on the web or in e-mail) I ...
14
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6answers
13k views

Which website/service can give good example sentences in Chinese? [duplicate]

Often when learning new words, I want to see them in context. It helps my learning process, and understanding how to properly use new vocab makes it stick in my mind that much more. Does anyone have ...
13
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14answers
43k views

Does 危机 really mean both crisis and opportunity?

A lot of people, mostly those who haven't studied Chinese, like to claim something along the lines of "In Chinese, the word for crisis 危机, also bears the meaning of opportunity." This is usually ...
12
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4answers
1k views

Why are 成语 (idioms) four characters long? Are there 成语 with more or less than four characters?

I really enjoying learning 成语 (chéng yǔ) in Chinese, and I'm curious to know why they are often or always four characters long? Where does this tradition stem from? And are there 成语 with more or ...
12
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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 ...
12
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6answers
4k views

被 (bèi) vs. 叫 (jiào) vs. 让 (ràng): regional difference? formality difference?

I know that with a 被 (bèi) sentence, you are allowed omit the object: S + 被 + (O) + Other elements, e.g. 河里的鱼都被毒死了 (Hé lǐ de yú dōu bèi dú sǐ le) whereas, when using 叫 (jiào) or 让 (ràng,) the object ...
12
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5answers
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?
12
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5answers
14k 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 ...
12
votes
7answers
4k views

What is the difference between 通常,经常,and 常常?

What is the difference between 通常,经常,and 常常? I hear them a lot in conversational Chinese, but I can't pick out the difference in meaning. The dictionaries I've checked don't seem to agree on their ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Anyone know why cellphones are called 大哥大 in Taiwan?

I was looking at Singapore Mandarin from the question here on Hong Kong Mandarin and came across the word for cellphone. I know it's popular now to refer to cellphones as 手机 but I remember in Taiwan ...
11
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 ...
11
votes
5answers
6k views

Translation for “sorry” as in “I am sorry to hear that”?

In English we can say "sorry" as an abbreviation for "I am sorry to hear that"/"I feel sorry for you" to express sympathy. Is there a Chinese word or phrase that bears the same meaning? I know one ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

What's the difference between 遇到 and 碰到?

Both 遇到 and 碰到 can be translated to "come across/run into" in those sentences: 遇到大学同学了。 碰到大学同学了。 What's the difference between 遇到 and 碰到?
11
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3answers
510 views

When do the tones change?

Sometimes, in certain combinations of tones or words, the tones change. Where can I find a complete list of all tone changes that occur in Mandarin?
11
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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 ...
11
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5answers
6k views

Chinese equivalent of: 'ew'?

When disgusted by something people will usually say, 'ew, yuck!' or 'ew, gross.' Is there an equivalent of 'ew' in Mandarin? The only things I was able to find about it (here) - just explain what '...
11
votes
2answers
346 views

Using 一样 instead of 同一 for “the same school”

In my study software, I recently had the following sentence: 我想我们会上一样的学校. The context (a girl speaking to another girl who had just moved into the neighborhood) made it seem like the correct ...
10
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3answers
10k 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

How is adding oil going to beneficial to the situation? 加油

Is anyone able to explain the history behind this cheer? At the face of it I'm unsure how this could be a cheer as 加 translate to add/plus/apply and 油 translates to oil/fat/grease you would think ...
10
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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 ...
10
votes
3answers
600 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
365 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 ...
10
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6answers
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, ...
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 ...
10
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2answers
1k views

Is there a comprehensive list of vocabulary differences between 台湾国语 and 大陆普通话?

I've found many articles about differences in certain sentence structures regarding 台湾国语 and 大陆普通话, but does anyone have a large list of commonly-used vocabulary that are different? I spend a lot of ...
10
votes
2answers
412 views

Is there a “Peking Opera dialect”?

Peking Opera has a distinct pronunciation, that is at first similar to Mandarin, but to astute listeners, certain characters appear to have alternate or even non-Mandarin pronunciations. Take certain ...
10
votes
8answers
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?
10
votes
4answers
374 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,...
9
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4answers
2k views

Origin of beautiful kingdom and hero kingdom

Why in Mandarin chinese, USA is beautiful kingdom and England is hero kingdom?
9
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4answers
3k 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 ...

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