Questions tagged [meaning]

Questions about understanding the meaning of words, phrases, etc. For in-context meaning, use [meaning-in-context].

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9
votes
1answer
365 views

When should I use the 是…的 construction?

I've been told that 是...的 is used to put emphasis on something, but I'm not sure when or why I should use it.
6
votes
2answers
647 views

To 了 or not to 了

I'm Chinese learner and as everybody else I'm puzzled by the verbal aspect 了. My research into the subject gave such results: 了 belongs to a class of perfective aspect markers just as many other ...
14
votes
3answers
897 views

Why is 月 used when speaking about anatomy?

One thing I've been curious about while learning Chinese is the use of 月 in many 汉字 representing anatomical features (for example, 脸, 腰, or 腿). What is the etymology of the use of 月 as a radical?
8
votes
6answers
750 views

A unified theory of 就 meaning

就 always bothered me. I couldn't (and maybe still can't) get a hold of its meaning. By looking at many examples of the usage I came to realization that 就 marks a process of becoming a subject to or ...
22
votes
5answers
37k 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?
22
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11answers
34k views

How offensive is 他妈的?

How offensive is the expression 他妈的? What is an English expression with a similar degree of offensiveness? In what situations is this expression appropriate / not appropriate?
11
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3answers
2k views

也 和 并 与 及 跟 而 同 difference? [closed]

I have read about connectives 也 和 并 与 及 and asked some questions about them but still I'm somewhat not satisfied with my understanding. Let me summarize my knowledge: 1. 与 connects: nouns only (...
4
votes
6answers
1k views

Why use combined characters that have the same meaning?

(rèn shí ) both characters means ( to know)and when combined it still have the same meaning. So why can't I use only one of them ?
5
votes
3answers
450 views

What is the meaning of 子 in words like 菓子(과자), 帽子(모자), or 獅子(사자)?

I'm learning Sino-Korean vocabulary at the moment and have noticed that many words seem to end in a '子' that doesn't seem to add much semantically to the other character in the word. What should I ...
15
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8answers
2k views

Sheep or goat? 一只羊跑过来

In the sentence: 一只羊跑过来 Would a Chinese person typically assume this is a goat or a sheep?
10
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6answers
1k views

How gender specific in writing is the character 他

A couple of years ago I wrote this comment below an answer: On mainland China 他 is used for both male and female. I've only seen 她 used as a stylistic thing for advertising and some old formal ...
8
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6answers
904 views

What is the meaning of 相声?

Today I read a blog post talking about a Canadian guy called Mark Rowswell (aka 大山) that appears on Chinese TV shows and who is able to do 相声. This 相声 is referred to as "the art of language". What ...
4
votes
1answer
173 views

What does the use of 'verb 了 verb' indicate?

This text is 囊萤照读。 In this short text I found 5 'verb 了 verb' repetitions: 擦了擦汗,晃了晃头,揉了揉脖子,挪了挪屁股,灯在耳边摇了摇 Do these just indicate repeated action? Or is it 'verb 了 noun': 擦了擦: wipe a wipe 晃了晃: shake ...
3
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3answers
2k views

What is the difference between 打算 (dǎ suàn) and 计划 (jì huà)

Are 打算 (dǎ suàn) and 计划 (jì huà) both synonyms for "plan," or are there some additional nuances here?
4
votes
2answers
658 views

Roots of the difference between 谈,论,说,讲,议, 叙,言,报,告,述

All those talk, discuss, chat and ect. In any language there are a lot of words expressing different connotation of people speaking. In my own language (russian) there are lot's of them BUT I can ...
1
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3answers
2k views

Difference between 哥 and 哥哥

Is there any difference between 哥 and 哥哥? Both are defined as “elder/older brother” in various online dictionaries.
1
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2answers
166 views

What is the purpose of verb reduplication?

In English, we can say: I sneezed a big sneeze. She sleeps a long sleep. "Waiting for a king to apologize, one can wait rather a long wait." (from the film The Kings Speech) and many more such ...
9
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5answers
2k views

What is the meaning of 真是的

What is a meaning of 真是的. I heard for many times in context something like 你真是的! And yet I have doubts about proper meaning of this expression.
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?
11
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2answers
112k views

Very frequently used word in Mandarin that sounds like “nica” or “nigah”

I work in a group where I am the only person that does not speak Chinese, thus I hear Chinese conversations all day every day. I've noticed that there's a word which is used extremely frequently, in ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

What does the `的` mean in `我是九点去上班的`?

In the reply to 你是什么时候去上班的?, what does the 的 in 我是九点去上班的 mean? I think that without the 的, the sentence makes sense in and of itself, right? And the meaning is that I start to work at 9:00 am...., ...
5
votes
7answers
87k views

What should I use to say “I love you”: “wa ai lo” or “wo ai ni”?

Some of my Chinese friends speak Chinese. I asked them how to say "I love you" in their language, but most of them said "wa ai lo" not "wo ai ni", how can this be? I look for google translate, it ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Talking future tense: 将,要,将要, 会, 将会

I have been looking at various explanations and definitions all over the Internet, but they seem mutually exclusive and quite chaotic. One explanation I got is that 要 generally means “going to”, or ...
21
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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 ...
14
votes
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 ...
9
votes
6answers
820 views

Using 老头 / 老头子 when speaking to others

I'm trying to get some clarification on whether or not it is impolite to use 老头 / 老头子 when speaking outside a group of friends when referring to a third party. From my understanding 老头 is quite ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

犬子: who's the dog?

犬子 (literally, dog + son) is an archaic, self-depreciatory term to refer to your son (occasionally it's used to insult other people's sons). This answer raises a question though; who is the dog ...
7
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5answers
362 views

太: Meaning in 灰太狼

灰太狼 灰太狼 (A character in a TV show) is translated in English as "Grey Wolf". What has happened to the 太, wouldn't 灰狼 be enough to mean "Grey Wolf"?
7
votes
5answers
1k views

When to use 想 versus 喜欢?

Could someone please give we a hint when to use either of those?! My take is that 想 is used for actions and 喜欢 for things!? Am I right?
6
votes
4answers
3k views

Difference between 我饿了 and 我很饿?

Someone tried to explain the difference in this answer https://chinese.stackexchange.com/a/43/38 saying that 我饿了 means "I became hungry", but I don't see the difference because we don't say I became ...
5
votes
7answers
2k views

What does 尽信书不如无书 mean?

After pointing out the many bugs in an online Chinese "how to give a presentation in English" webpage, one of my colleagues wrote this on WeChat: 尽信书不如无书 Jìn xìn shū bùrú wú shū Question: What ...
5
votes
3answers
414 views

What is the difference between 嘗試,試圖,and 企圖?

I'm trying to translate this sentence to Mandarin: She's trying to recover the torn photo. So I was trying to find a meaning of "to try" in Pinpin Dictionary, and I came up with three different ...
4
votes
7answers
2k views

What does 起来 mean in this phrase?

把被子收起来吧. Translation: Let's put the quilt away. In other circumstances, 起来 means to get up but here there is a different meaning, and from the definitions I can't decide which definition is used ...
3
votes
5answers
1k views

What does “大概” mean? Are there any words with the same meaning?

I looked up in the dictionary, there are 12 meanings for it! well aiblins anywhere belike supposedly probably prob. maybe mayhap presumedly presumably ordinarily somewhere easily mainly Just wonder ...
3
votes
3answers
586 views

Radical meaning vs characters in use

The radical 阜 and its other form 阝, used on the left, supposedly means mound or dam. Looking at image web search hits for 阜 or 阝, I get nothing related to dam or mound. When I look up the Chinese ...
3
votes
3answers
244 views

How does a body with no arms mean finished? 了子

Reading Henry's question about 了 below, I thought I would look up 了。 http://www.fantizi5.com/ziyuan/ You will have to enter 了。 了是象形字。 To my mind, a child with no arms, or its arms cut off, is '...
2
votes
4answers
206 views

“我被他当做(了)自己的儿子。” 干爹 gāndiē or 教父 jiàofù?

Here is an issue that came up while I was discussing a grammar exercise with my Chinese language partner. My grammar book has an exercise where the solution is "我被他当做(了)自己的儿子。" My language partner ...
2
votes
3answers
157 views

What would the meaning of '之前知道' be? And '之前知道了'?

If someone said '我之前知道【proposition】' would this imply that they knew it before, but no longer do? How about '我之前知道了【proposition】'? What about when the time is specific such as ‘昨天我知道【proposition】’? ...
2
votes
3answers
299 views

why is ‘fruit’ referred to as 水果 if 果 already means fruit?

i’m trying to learn chinese again for the first time after a very long time and i’m just looking at meanings of words to see what individual characters of certain words mean (like 饭 is rice and 店 is ...
8
votes
2answers
7k views

Who exactly is a 干妈

This dictionary translates 干妈 as "Godmother", and my pocket dictionary also gives "nominal mother". In English, "Godmother" and "Godfather" are very specific titles - Your Godparents are the people ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Difference between 正在 and 在?

I am a beginner in Chinese (Mandarin), and I am following a phone app to learn. However I cannot understand what is the difference between 正在 and 在 ? For example: 你正在干什么? and 你在干什么? The app ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

How is 马马虎虎 used?

I think it's used like 'so so' in English. Like 问题:你觉得怎么样? 回答:马马虎虎。 Am I correct in this? Are there other ways to use it?
5
votes
2answers
228 views

How to translate the phrase 利而物利章 in context?

I am reading a passage from 呂氏春秋. I think I understand the basic meaning of the three first quarters, but then it becomes difficult. The hard part is the tiny snippet below and especially the last ...
5
votes
1answer
162 views

Why is 饰界 used to mean “hinges” in a 1908 book?

I've got this translation here: The door turns on its hinges. 门靠着饰界转 I'm assuming 饰界 matches up with hinges. It's not a word I've encountered before or that's readily searchable online. The ...
4
votes
2answers
320 views

What does 三声无奈 mean?

There is this Min song called 三声无奈, lit. "three sounds helpless". This seems to be an idiomatic expression. I am not totally sure what it means though. It seems to mean "completely helpless". This is ...
4
votes
6answers
2k views

What is the difference between 听到、听过 and 听说?

There are 3 听 (hear or listen to). What is the difference between 听到, 听过, and 听说?
4
votes
3answers
802 views

What is the difference between 魂 and 魄?

Maybe this is a religious technical question and therefore a bit tricky. In English, soul and spirit are used more or less interchangeably, although their origins are dissimilar. spirit: mid-13c., "...
4
votes
2answers
419 views

What does 才 mean in 妈妈说,鼻子长才是漂亮?

What does 才 mean in this sentence? 妈妈说,鼻子长才是漂亮。 (Quote taken from a nursery rhyme.) After looking in the dictionary my best guess is that it means "just" or "only", so as to make ...
4
votes
2answers
234 views

What role does 的 play in the sentence 我不明白你刚说的第一句话?

I take 我不明白你刚说的第一句话 to mean "I don't understand what you said in the first line" I'm trying to understand what 的 does in this sentence (or grammar function). Relatedly, would it be possible to omit ...
4
votes
4answers
584 views

做 as the verb “to be”

Can someone please clarify how and when 做 is used to mean "to be" e.g. 不愿做奴隶人们 I am familiar with 做 meaning "to do" or "to make", and I would expect that if I was saying "I am a slave", “我是一个奴隶“ ...