Questions tagged [mandarin]

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

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5answers
3k views

Learning Traditional first with the goal of learning both

I found this in the Mandarin wikibook: "It is considered easier for people who learn Traditional to read both sets than people who learn Simplified only, but Simplified characters are less ...
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4answers
5k views

How to convert from hanyu pinyin to IPA?

Where can I find a table showing the relation between Hanyu pinyin spelling and IPA for all phonemes in Mandarin?
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3answers
935 views

What's the main difference between 为 and 是?

It seems like both 为 and 是 mean "to be". In which cases is one used but not the other? Is it something like the difference between "estar" and "ser" in Spanish and Portuguese? (In the sense that one ...
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6answers
27k views

How to say “hope you'll have a great day”?

I was writing a card to a friend and wanted to finish with "Hope you'll have a great day" but realised what I could think of wasn't quite the same meaning, or just sounded odd/weird. What I wrote in ...
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1answer
4k views

What is the correct pronunciation of 垃圾?

The word 垃圾 is sometimes pronounced laji, but other times I've seen it pronounced as lese, which pronunciation is deemed to be more correct? Are they both interchangeable?
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5answers
742 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
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1answer
619 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" ...
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1answer
766 views

吗 and 吧 at the end of a question

I heard that ba (吧) can be used at the end of a sentence just like ma (吗). Per my understanding, it's not interchangeable with ma (吗) but a more playful way of asking the same question. (Some girl ...
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1answer
734 views

Correct usage for 跟。。。过不去

This question has two parts: What's the precise meaning of this expression? What is the correct usage? Question (1) I understand it to mean that the person referred to (eg, 跟她过不去) is uncomfortable ...
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2answers
592 views

How Recent Is the Divergence In Taiwan- and PRC-Accented Mandarin Speech?

Many have compared the differences in standard (news broadcaster) accents in of Taiwan 國語 and PRC 普通话 to the differences in British and American accents. What linguistic factors have contributed to ...
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937 views

Why 你在笑什么?, why not 你笑在什么?

In English, you say What are you laughing at? I'm laughing at this situation. Here, the preposition "at" refers to "this situation" and "what", respectively. In German it's more clear, since the ...
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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?
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3answers
352 views

“Actually” as a sentence-starter of speech filler

When casually speaking English I use the word "actually" a lot at the beginning of a sentance, or as part of the flow of my speech. e.g. Actually, next semester doesn't start for a month. ...
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4answers
884 views

What is the purpose of the 中 in 在新标签页中打开?

So, I recently started using my android phone in simplified Chinese mode, to help myself internalize Chinese characters. In my browser window, when I press down on a URL, the "在新标签页中打开" button allows ...
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4answers
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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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5answers
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Why is 喂 used over 你好 when answering the phone?

The use of 拜拜 over 再见 at the end of a phone conversation is obvious as you haven't seen them so how could you see them again but I don't understand why 喂 is used as a greeting when answering the phone....
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6answers
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What does 厉害 mean, and in what context does it mean what?

This has to be one of the more ambiguous words I have struggled with. 厉害 can be: very well performed = 玩得很厉害; harsh = 骂得很厉害; severe = 生病得很厉害; probably a bunch of other stuff... Can anyone give a ...
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467 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", ...
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4answers
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How to pronounce 儿 in conjunction with other characters

The textbook I'm reading now has liberal sprinklings of the 儿 character suffixing words that I have not previously seen suffixed. For example: 空儿。 How should this be pronounced? Are there any rules ...
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2answers
3k views

What is the difference between 对不起, 请问, 不好意思, and 抱歉 to express “excuse me” or “sorry”?

I always wonder whether there is any difference between these four terms to say "excuse me" or "sorry". The difference between 对不起 and 不好意思 is explained in this question, but I'm not sure about the ...
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4answers
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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?") ...
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2answers
569 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 ...
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1answer
836 views

Difference between 更好 and 比较好?

I'm confused about the difference between 更好 and 比较好. Since both seem to mean "better", how are these used differently? In what cases would you use them?
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1answer
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How to ask someone to take a photo?

Recently on vacation I wanted to ask a Chinese tourist if they would mind taking a photo of my wife and I - but I didn't know how, so just asked 你可以吗? (nǐ kěyǐ ma?) while pointing to my camera. How ...
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4answers
765 views

What is an idiomatic way to say “This is not good” in Mandarin?

The title mostly covers the question, but some elaboration might help. In English, there is a common construction of ideas whereby the speaker makes a statement about an action or event, and follows ...
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5answers
1k views

What is the most common way to say 'indecisive' in Mandarin?

I have heard a range of different terms meaning 'indecisive' in Chinese - I'm not sure if they were in dialect, or there are several options for saying it in Mandarin, and so I'm curious to learn what ...
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4answers
15k views

How to say “thank you for …”?

In order to say "thank you", I can say 谢谢 or 谢谢你. What if I want to be more specific and say "thank you for (something)"? As an example, suppose I was invited for dinner at someone's place, and I ...
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3answers
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How Cantonese and Mandarin writing can be identical

Forgive any ignorance on my part - I am a beginner, studying Mandarin. If "Apple" in Mandarin is "苹果" (píngguǒ), then I guess in Cantonese it is also "苹果", though no doubt pronounced completely ...
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3answers
597 views

冰雪聪明… only for girls?

Is the expression 冰雪聪明 (bīng xuě cōng míng) really only used for girls? The literal translation is "snow smart" and I understand it means something along the lines of "extremely smart" but the times I'...
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3answers
627 views

“I will,” “I can,” “I will (probably)” A fundamental problem with 會

I've always been a little wary of talking about the future in Chinese using the character 會, my early teachers made it ambiguous or demanded that I use a 的 at the end of every 會 sentence, but then ...
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4answers
482 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. ...
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781 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 ...
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1answer
227 views

How did Middle Chinese “hæwk” evolve into Mandarin “xué”?

So I was wondering why the on'yomi reading of Japanese 学 was "gaku" and the Korean reading of 學 was "hak", since I knew that in Mandarin, 学 was "xué", which is radically ...
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2answers
863 views

Describing a person that can speak Mandarin

Yesterday I met a person that can speak Mandarin. We had a nice chat and I was going over it in my head today. I want to tell another friend that I met someone that can speak mandarin, but I'm having ...
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337 views

How did 秘 “bi” become “mi”?

I came across this comment just now: “秘”声符是“必”没问题,但是并不是说“秘”和“必”一定同音,“秘”这个字是北京话读错了,其实应该读bi,“秘鲁”一词还残存bi的读音 Which got me thinking. 秘 is still read "bi" in: surnames transcriptions (e.g.: Peru) ...
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2answers
459 views

Are there Chinese approximations for the colloquial/slang English terms “snot rocket” or “bushman's blow”?

In English I know of two colourful terms for blowing your nose without use of a handkerchief or tissue by holding one nostril closed and expelling mucus from the other: bushman's blow [1][2] snot ...
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7answers
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Correct/Polite way of asking “Can we speak in chinese?”

I would like to preface this by saying I'm Australian and speak with an Australian accent when I'm speaking English which can be hard to digest for a lot of people new to Australia. A lot of 1st gen ...
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2answers
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What is the proper usage of 而已 in Chinese?

I always hear Chinese people making sentences using 而已 - but I've never quite, 100%, understood how to use this in sentences myself. What is the correct way to apply it, and what is the English ...
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2answers
390 views

Is it correct to use 首都 for capital of province?

I am trying to do a cultural project on the city of Harbin. However, I'm not sure if it is correct to say this. I found out that Harbin was the capital of the province of Heilongjiang. If I said, ...
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2answers
2k views

Which is the most frequently used tone?

The most difficult for me in learning Chinese is memorizing the correct tone. I tried to find on web what the most frequently used tones are, but it seems to be hard to find. I suppose if one tone ...
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5answers
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Chinese views on Erhua

I'm already well acquainted with erhua (儿化) in putonghua, essentially appending 儿 to the ends of words (or reading it when 儿 isn't written, as sometimes people do with 花 or 八点 etc). Many of these ...
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2answers
182 views

How did 舆论 come to represent Public Opinion?

How did the word 舆论 come to represent the concept of Public Opinion? I know the meanings of the individual characters but I just don't quite see how the combination of these two meanings leads to the ...
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3answers
548 views

How formal is 如何 in the context of 最近如何?

I was told by friend who is a native mainland speaker that "最近如何", or anything using "如何" to inquire about the state of a person, is a very ancient/formal way of speaking. This was quite a shock to me&...
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How to Say the “something” in the phrase “Do something”

I was trying to explain the meaning of the phrase "hang out" to a Chinese friend, and the first thing that came to mind was 一起做什么了, with me intending 什么了 to mean "something". He seemed to understand ...
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3answers
8k views

Difference between learning Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese Hokkien for visiting Taiwan

I'm planning on visiting Taiwan as a tourist for about one week next year. Both Wikipedia and Wikivoyage say that Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese Hokkien are common languages there. What advantages ...
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2answers
581 views

留学: Why the use of “留”?

I'm sure like many students of Chinese, my first encounter with the character 留 was in the word 留学, meaning "to study abroad". Some time later I encountered 留 as an independent word, meaning "to stay"...
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167 views

How do expressions like “二嫂” work in Mandarin?

From what I've known from watching Chinese dramas, siblings or fellow disciples may refer to each other as: "big brother/sister" (oldest/first) "2nd/3rd brother/sister" (in-...
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2answers
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What is the English equivalent of 拜托, and what is it's proper usage in Chinese?

I quite like the expression 拜托, but I've never been 100% sure of what exactly it means in English, and I'm not quite sure how to use it properly in Chinese. Little help?
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727 views

Too many synonyms. How do I know which words are too formal/informal?

Particularly when it comes to verbs, I've noticed that there are so many synonyms. For example, "To resist": 抗,抵抗,抵制,抗拒,反抗 etc. "To feel": 感觉,觉得, 感到,感,感觉到 etc. "To handle": 处理,办理,处置,应付,办 etc. Right ...
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4answers
771 views

How to add emphasis to sentences

Last week a kid wrote on the office white board "Give me all your cheese now!" and I attempted a translation into Chinese (mostly to practice my handwriting). I wrote 马上给我你的奶酪。 I felt like this ...

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